So I just skied three days in Hakuba, Japan, and I'll give you a review of the 2005/2006 172 cm Legend 8000s, by day.First day
: Skied at Hakuba 47/Goryu, and it was still snowing. They already have about 12 feet of base up top, and on my first day, I was greeted by up to 16 inches of powder on the runs and at least 2-3 feet of it in the trees, which amazingly no one had touched. This was my first day of the season, so I was getting my feet wet real quick. I think it may have been slightly more due to the first day than the ski, but I struggled big time in the deep stashes.
As for the ski, from the first day, I can definitely say that I wouldn't want to ski this if there's more than 12 inches of powder on the ground, though on steep slopes it would be capable because of the additional power you'd gain at higher speeds. I had a tough time getting enough float in the trees, though the ski was very capable in terms of turning quickly, and I didn't feel like making turns in tight spots (given enough float) would be difficult.Second day
: Skied at Happo One, and it was still snowing just a little bit throughout the day. There was still loads of powder to be found on the runs. Because it had been a day since the snow was falling hard, the snow had settled such that it'd be very hard to sink more than 12 inches. Happo has longer, steeper and more open runs, so I was really able to get a much better read of the ski than on the first day.
Maybe chalk it up to the steeper slopes and/or to the powder being a bit more settled, but WOW. These skis provided enough float, were fast and stable, and were incredibly quick turning. Probably the thing I liked most about them was the energy coming out of a turn. I was able to get quite a hop from the one turn to the next -- easily bumping in and out of the powder. It was FUN.Third day
: Still at Happo. It had cleared overnight, and the cats had done quite a bit of grooming, so I was able to test these skis out a bit on a groomed trail or two. I also skied an out of bounds slope that was maybe 500-600 feet of vert on a 35 degree pitch, untracked, on which the powder had settled quite a bit.
Groomers: Get the skis on a high edge angle, and they carve wonderfully. They can make short snappy turns with some effort, but I prefer to just let them carve slightly longer turns on their own. I did find the speed limit, and without difficulty. They are fairly stable at high speeds, but when compared to the 186 4x4s I used to ride, they get knocked around quite a bit. That said, they are a major step up from my Pocket Rockets on the groomers, and I think will be capable enough for my groomed ski purposes.
Out of bounds slope: Since I would only sink in about 10 inches, wow. These skis were wonderful! It felt like I was on my CMH Heli trip all over again.
Really, if it isn't too deep, these skis perform wonderfully in the powder. They ripped.Bottom Line:
On the size issue, I think I easily could have skied the 178s. They would have given me more float in the deeper powder and more high speed stability on the groomers. That said, I wouldn't want anything longer than 172s for skiing in the trees or the moguls (though I didn't get to ski any bumps). Since I plan on using my 175 Pocket Rockets for big powder days when I go back to the states, these skis will be used by me to find stashes in the trees, to ski moguls, and to rip the groomers. For two of those three criteria, I'd choose the 172s. Only for groomers would I choose the 178s.
Were this to be my only ski, I would actually prefer a 178 length due to better float in the powder. But please keep in mind that I am 10 pounds heavier than you. Given your weight, I think you'll be more than happy in the 172s.
If you're still in doubt, it's probably worth the extra cash to spend a day demoing. If you ski like I do, my guess is that you'll love this model, and will only have to decide which length. Hope this post helped. Gambatte!