Well, I can sort of give an answer (before checkracer jumps on it and gives you the compay history)... In 2000/2001 Nordica was brand new - meaning they had just formed their own company from the ashes of Kastle. There is another thread around here somewhere that discusses the transition between Kastle and Nordica. The first few years of production of the skis, there were no graphics and the skis were very bare bones minimum in terms of features. The race skis were exactly that - race skis from the world cup that the sponsored racers didn't want. There was essentially no difference between their race stock skis and the retail models. In years following those first two, the company started to begint o commercialize. They introduced a "binding" for their skis over the course of two seasons that was ultimately a flop and was sold to VIST, and started to get into the twin tip ski market with the Beast series. They seemed to dabble in the system category, but nothing seemed to materialize.
The high end race skis were still very good, but the line began to have holes in it. Since Marker made the move to start building "system" bindings for Nordica I have seen an improvement. The improvement that I have noticed is that they are focusing on performance, just as they did when the skis were first introduced. Look at the race line, the new Hot Rods, and the Speed Machine skis (note the name - resurrecting a legendary Kastle ski). The SUV skis never really took off, but I think they have hit something recently with the Hot Rods and Speed Machine series. They are building good skis, and have a great binding manufacturer behind them. I personally choose to race on Nordica skis (made the switch last season), and have loved the stuff they are building right now. Their skis are a good mix of Austrian/German power and French dampening/smoothness - if that meas anything to anyone.
I think that the company tried to go the route of mass producing skis for the general public - kind of like Salomon has recently - and realized that they needed to change their brand image, fast. Hance the reason for the very high end skis recently. I think that the market is changing rapidly, forcing maufacturers to push the performance envelope of their products... there seems to be less brand loyalty recently - meaning consumers will buy a great ski regardless of what company it is from. The image they want to convey is performance. I hold them at the top with Atomic, Fischer, Head, and Volkl in terms of performance... and ironically enough they ski like an Atomic crossed with a Fischer who had a Volkl parent... born and raised in France.