Originally Posted by mudfoot
...I think there is a point where the big guy doesn't want or need float equal to a smaller skier who has less momentum plowing through the snow.
Although I'm sure the Sumo and Prophet are great in bottomless snow, they are very specialized and not what most skiers are looking for when adding the first "powder ski" to their quiver. Hopefully someday we can ski together and field test my 198 10EXs against your 168 Explosivs in some deep stuff. I believe that the added length allows for sitting back on the flats without digging the tails in thereby getting less bogged down, but we'll never know for sure until we try it out. IMHO, the longer the ski, the bigger the sweet spot, and the bigger the smile.
A couple things you said caught my attention. While I would agree that it is not necessary to float over the powder to enjoy it, float will make powder easier to ski, especially for someone starting to venture into it (away from the hardpack/groomed). You mentioned "sitting back on the flats without digging the tails in", and that got me shaking my head a bit. The greater surface area of a wider ski would facilitate floating over, instead of plowing through, the flat spots (where momentum is key). Furthermore, generally sitting back anywhere is not a good idea. First off, leaning back is arguably to most common issue in people's skiing, especially in powder, not only does it limit your ability to make proper/effective turns, but it will also burn out your quads, reducing the amount of time on the snow and increasing the recovery time needed.
I find that most of the time in powder when people are leaning back, its because they are trying to counteract the resistance of the snow against the boot, they are not comforatble with their depth in the snow. Add more float and this resistance starts to lessen, thus enabling people to get forward and begin to execute better turns and carry momentum better.
Now in all the skis I've skied over the years, I cannot agree that a longer ski means a larger sweetspot. Maybe you just found that ski that clicks for you, which is great, but I fail to see the corellation between length of ski and size of sweetspot. I've skied some shorties with a huge sweetspot, and some long skis with a very minimal sweetspot, and vice versa.
I agree that skis like the Prophet 130 and Sumo, and anything else in the 110+mm underfoot have very little practicle use other than those few days you might catch some bottomless, skis in the 90-100mm underfoot range can still be used regularly on a variety of terrains and can be brought out many times during the year, which is a great choice for someone purchasing a first powder ski.
A powder ski beyond its physical size also comes down to money issues. Are you, the consumer, willing to spend the money on a ski that you may only use once or twice in a season? Or would you rather spend your money on someting that will get more use but yet still be effective. No one realy, truly NEEDS a wider ski, and anyone can choose to only have one pair of skis for everything, including powder, its all just personal preference and how much you're willing to spend, and how you view your own usage of your investment.
To me, having what I feel are the right tools and having the most energy left at the end of the day (let alone not requiring an extended recovery time) make for the biggest smiles. I think everyone should experience powder skiing with their primary skis before jumping into another purchase. Compare the performance of the skis to what you would like, something longer, wider, more sidecut, less sidecut, softer flex, stiffer flex, etc. Ultimately, its all about finding the right tools for you.
*mudfoot, I hope you do not take this as an attack on you, as it is not meant to be that in any way.