ssh, can only agree to a point that the tradeoffs will become less and less, and don't agree at all that that's why certain sports have limitations on equipment.
Here's my reasoning:
1) Yep, tradeoffs have become less dramatic compared to a generation ago. But we've always felt like this year's XYZ blah blah was The Answer. I can recall skiing on a new Rossi 4S when the mags were trumpeting it as the ultimate ski to go everywhere on the mountain and the afficianados were complaining it made high level skiing too accessible. Hmmm.
Will the tradeoffs keep getting smaller? The cost-benefit math says that ski companies aren't exactly using cattle prods on their R&D these days. It's a small mature sport, no big profits anymore. Companies dole out ideas they've had for a while, one change per season, making sure their pace matches their competitors. We get all excited about a new locating pin on a binding, or an extra piece of metal under the topsheet. Whoopee! When the demand for short fat carvers has flattened, you can be sure the new R&D will take us another direction, however we love our fat carvers.
More relevant is whether our technique will follow. 4S comment shows I'm old enough to recall when instructors taught those little itty-bitty turns (wedalyn? sp?) and were all about steering and pivoting. Modern short fat carvers encourage us to think about nice round railroad tracks, over and over. Does this mean that modern equipment gets us closer to the perfect (racing-derived) turn, or that equipment drives technique, no matter what? What if the market moves toward longer radius skis that are optimized for bumpy crud and backside slush in the nice warm winters to come? Will you guys still seek the perfect tip and turn? Will short radius carvers help you as much as they do now? An argument for challenging our comfort zone, I'd say.
2) Equipment limitations are not to prevent a few super-hero performances using perfect gear, but mainly to prevent an overall "arms race" among pros in which access to technology overshadows the skill set. And some sports necessarily have safety oriented rules (helmets, roll cages, restrictor plates, break-away stirrups).
I'd guess that the more technology impacts things (think F1 racing or olympic sailing here) and the greater the financial reward for winning (think NASCAR or golf here), the denser the rules about equipment.
That lets skiing out. And in truth, it doesn't seem to have so many rules about equipment, compared to most sports. Just length and curvature. You could make your skis out of redwood and use bear-traps if you wanted, no? Reminds me of tennis, a technological cousin also in the demographic pits.
So I honestly don't see skis getting too facile at everything for our own good. And to be REALLY blasphemous around here, I personally find the B-5 to be a one trick pony, stiff and heavy, with poor snow feel. Prediction: It'll be replaced in a couple of years by longer radius, softer, lighter model that is better in glop (eg, offspring of new B-5/M-11 mated with a Sugar Daddy). We'll then worry about whether it makes skiing backsides too easy...