Originally Posted by Gpaul
Will renting the "Performance" level of skis make me a better skier?
It may...and it may not.
It depends on a number of factors...
But since you're talking about renting, then obviously one of the most important factors is - when you go to a particular mountain, what skis are available to rent? How many rental places are there? How convenient are they for you to get to? How much time/energy are you will to spend in the process?
Here's a real world example. In my area (Southern Oregon), our local small mountain (Mt. Ashland) has a rental shop - with a selection of ordinary skis and some higher-end/better ones available (for higher rental fees). But if you want to ski on the REALLY GOOD ones (and, yes, there are differences), then, often, in our area, what you must do is rent them from the local (and excellent) Ski Shop in the nearby city of Medford. This takes more time and effort - but the selection of skis is vastly greater. The other benefit of renting from a good ski shop is that, usually, they will deduct any rental fees from an eventual purchase.
Because, if you keep on skiing, and keep on getting better - and if you ski a variety of better and better skis - then, eventually, you will find that one pair of skis which, at the time you ski them you will fall in love with. And when you find them, all of a sudden, it will become worthwhile not only to buy them - but also to take them on your ski trips, no matter how complicated it is (how many plane changes) ... simply because they ski so much better than every other pair of skis you've ever been on.
Is it worth going to extra trouble to find better rental places? That's a question you have to answer for yourself.
When I go skiing at Mt. Bachelor (a huge and excellent ski mountain in the central Oregon Cascades) there are a lot MORE rental alternatives than at my local mountain. The Ski Resort itself has a large an excellent rental/demo center - with, usually, three different levels of rentals- the standard ones ... the improved sport/performance ones... and, finally, the high-end 'demo' skis. THey usuually cost more to rent. Is it worth it? Yes...usually...provided that you can't find that ONE great ski you have been looking for. The good thing about the Demo rental deal is that you can exchange skis and ski multiple ones (something I'm sure you already know) - but it helps if you want to find that one great ski which will elevate your skiing to the next level.
It's always easier to rent from a place on the mountain - but often there are shops in the (sometimes nearby) town which either have a better selection of high-end demo/rentals - or, possibly, stock the brand you're interested in trying out. Suppose, say, you want to check out the newest cool Nordicas? Or Elans? Well, guess what? Not all rental places have them. But some (depending on where you are or go) might - which is yet another reason for making the extra drive, or taking the extra time to look for them.
In a nutshell, however, the answer is usually yes. But it depends on what you are looking for - and how much time and energy you can put into it. Generally, the more thought and energy you put into it ... the more you will be rewarded, down the line.
Good luck with your choices - and good skiinG!