Originally Posted by tdk6
...If you are an intermediate skiier and want to improve your skills dont ski on 157cm SL skiis, they will only make you cheat the proper technique of skiing...
I agree. What you should do is get yourself a set of Atomic 120cm boards.
Well, any similar "boards" will do... They will help you to understand carving with both feet - because that is how they work best, and they tell you so - quickly. They will help you with knowing where your body is front to back, because they inform you when you are in the backseat or foolishly too far forward. Because they are turny to the point of silliness, they will educate you about ever so gently rolling your feet to get an edge on the snow with little or no turning - and about controling your turn radius with your edges overall. They will also show you that most of your preconceived notions about the correlation between length and speed are wrong.
Seems to me that good carving technique and front-to-back control make for a darn good foundation in terms of evolving your skiing. If you have those down, adding to your quiver of skills should be relatively easy - short skis or long. If you have no foundation, you have no ability to build up your toolbox. Given the choice between rock solid carving or the ability to skid for an initial foundation, I'd go with the carving.
If anything, using longer and less shaped (=wider radius) skis probably condemns vast numbers of people to a lifetime of skiing mediocrity. Because the ski's feedback is ambiguous (to the average intermediate or novice anyway), people think they and the skis are doing things they are not. As others have noted, people think they are carving, but they are swishing - and so on. The result is that they can not adjust or add to their skillset because they don't really know what they are doing with their skis and edges in the first place. Rut, rut, rut.
I can say all of this with some authority
I started skiing as an adult - 5-6 years ago. So, unlike people who started as kids or have been doing this forever, memories of a beginner's frustration and learning progression are both fresh in my mind. Ongoing as a matter of fact... After my first few seasons, I thought I was doing all kinds of things I was not. A combination of good instruction and shorter skis (and a willingness to spend lots of time embarassing myself!) helped me enhance my skills quite a bit. I am far, far from expert, but at least I know what a good carve feels like. And that, as they say "has made all the difference". If I want a short or a wide carved turn, I know what I should do to get it. Since I know what it should feel like, I know if I accomplished what I wanted to or not (the ratio is slowly moving in the right direction). Being able to carve has given me a frame of reference for better skidded turns and for turns in softer/deeper snow.
Bottom line: Equipment that provides immediate feedback and makes it easier to develop good carving skills is a big win. It speeds learning and adds to the fun of skiing. It does not limit adding additional skills as someone progresses. Under many (maybe even most) conditions, short tight radius skis fit that bill. I wish someone had put me on high quality super-short, super-tight radius skis when I started. I'd be a better skier today - on skis of any length or width.