Hi Laseranimal -
I just saw this thread and your question directed to me. Unfortunately, I'm probably not the right person to answer it from personal experience because what worked in the very unusual case of my daughter probably won't work for your fiance.
The reason is that while my 65 lb daughter certainly did fine on the 165 Explosivs in 2 - 3 feet of new snow, she did it in a way that probably can't be (and probably shouldn't be) extrapolated to other skiers. She is extremely light compared to most adult skiers; the Explosivs have so much load bearing area; and, the snow we encountered (the day you are referring to) had a fairly high water content. The result of all three factors is that she stayed almost on the very surface of the snow, and was able to ski it pretty much as if it was packed powder, even though everybody else on the hill was sinking in a foot or more (even with skis on). It looked like she was "surfing", but it really was just that she was skidding her turns (with hardly any flex to her skis).
This might work if you weigh 65 lbs and already are a decent skier, but your fiance is probably twice her weight, will sink into the snow much more, and need to turn IN soft snow like most people, ie, by riding the flex of the ski around the turn. If her skis are down in the snow (because of her wt) and she tries to skid sideways like my daughter was able to do on my Explosivs, it just won't work. In fact, having any sideways component to your motion in soft and/or irregular snow will feel very uncomfortable and unstable to her. In fact, I suspect this is exactly what she is trying to do right now.
You already had a number of good responses, particularly with respect to technique. In the area of equipment, not withstanding what I said above, IMHO, a *soft* fat ski (ie, that she can flex) certainly will feel much better to her in soft snow/crud, and certainly isn't going to hinder her learning proper technique. In fact, it will probably make it easier (and keep her frustration level low while she is learning). There are lots of teenaged boys that probably weigh about as much as your fiance that are very happy with PR's. I suspect you wouldn't go too far wrong with a ski like that.
Tom / PM
[ April 06, 2003, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]