Hi ChrisG -
Thanks for the new info ... so it really was something about those particular skis and/or bindings.
1) Easy things first - binding marks on Volkls: My several year old Volkl Explosivs (fatty) have a long (~3 inches), very clear, white fore-aft arrow on the sidewall pointing towards the front of the ski. The tip of the arrowhead is where the boot toe should be mounted. There is printing near the arrow that says "boot toe" in German. OTOH, my newer (2000-2001) Volkl p40's only have a small black line (1 cm long by 1 mm wide) running transversely (L-R), printed on the topskin of the ski to indicate where boot center should be located. I don’t remember seeing any writing or any other indication of the purpose of this easy-to-miss line. This line can get covered up by many bindings, especially those with plates running from the toe to heel pieces. (That’s the case with my p40’s.) Quite a few modern boots have a similar small transverse line on their underside to mark "boot center". If the lines on the ski and boot match up, you are done.
2) Possible edge bevel problems: In the case of your experience in spring slop, I can say unambiguously that the edge bevel angles had absolutely nothing to do with the problem you experienced. In soft snow like you described at Snowbird, you probably could have pulled the edges off of the skis and not have noticed the difference. OTOH, obviously, on firm snow, the edges really matter.
3) Finally, black toes & ski instability:
The only thing that can give you black toes is if your toes are driven forcefully into the front of the toebox. Altho I could be wrong, I don't believe any ammt of toe curling, an excessively tight front buckle, etc. could do it without your toes being simultaneously forced into the front of the boot.
Clearly, its possible to have a temporary fit problem arise from things like removing the inner boot (eg, to dry) and it then deforms and/or does not reseat itself properly when you re-insert it in the shell. Something like this could push your toes into the front of the boot, but I'm going to assume that you checked for (or would have felt) obvious problems like this.
So, assuming it wasn't some simple but transient problem with the boot, given the geometry and stiffness of ski boots, pretty much the only way for toes to get jammed into the front of the toebox is by being levered forward due to sitting back. When this happens, the upper rear lip of your boot presses into the rear of your lower leg and the lower leg pivots foward, around this point.
Because of the above argument, I maintain that even if it was slight and you didn't realize it, you *must* have been sitting back for some reason, and the reason is probably exactly what you said, ie, you were uncomfortable with the performance of those particular skis in that type of snow (since you clearly stated that you don't have this problem on other skis). Sitting back in soft snow is also consistent with your complaint of TIP instability (ie, in contrast to a complaint like tails washing out).
Assuming the binding location is OK, my best bet is that its the skis themselves, namely, you are using a ski that is classified as groomed snow carver in crud, and you didn't like what you were feeling, so you reacted defensively.
Those skis probably are too soft, too narrow, and have too much sidecut for (a) spring slop, (b) the speeds you were going, and (c) your weight. As I recall, the entire Vectris line (v31, v21, etc.) is fairly soft compared to skis like Volkl’s g4 and Atomic’s 10ex which are stiff crud-busting specialists. Also, I think the shape of the Vectris series is something like 105/65/92, which is more shapely and *much* narrower at the waist than skis like the g4 and 10ex (i.e., around 117/84/109).
Now, someone may chime in and say, “you can use any shaped ski in crud if your technique is correct … they are all so much wider than straight skis, etc. etc.”. While this is true, having an appropriate ski for the conditions makes the demands on your technique soooo much less.
Finally, a bunch of questions / suggestions:
What are some of the other skis that you had no problems on?
Do you still own any of these other skis? If so, why don't you do a side by side comparison and flex them by hand and see how their stiffness compares with your Vectris. Take a ruler and measure the other skis at their tip, waist and tail. Construct a table showing forebody sidecut (i.e., tip minus waist in mm) and aft sidecut for each of your skis. How do the Vectris’ compare to the others?
BTW, exactly which model of Vectris do you have?
What do you weigh?
To be continued ...
Tom / PM
PS - Take a look at:http://www.epinions.com/otdr-review-...38893505-prod3
It appears that this guy considers the v20 Vectris suitable only for intermediates or light experts and "a bit narrow for powder, lacks drive in the crud ... a bit intimidated in the crud", ie, along exactly the same lines as I was thinking.