I am reluctant to get into this discussion for fear of sounding entirely elitist (too late now), but I want to see jamesgig matched up with a pair of skis that are going to suit his actual ability, and allow for future advancements - not hinder development (and probably fun as well) as a skier. The skis and help that everyone has offered so far is great, but did anyone read and take into consideration the following:
Originally Posted by jamesgig
After reading several descriptions of levels (provided by people on this site) I would describe myself as a high 8-low 9. These levels are mostly described as being able to make dynamic parallel turns on almost anything, which I do. I do not know what would happen if I were put in powder since I have never seen more than 3 inches so I disreagarded that part. I have been skiing for three years and have taken about 80-90 lessons so this will be my second pair of skis, hence the Verse 5.
Open parallel turns on mostly groomers is about a level 6 I think. This describes a developing skier - which makes sense after learning that jamesgig has only been skiing for 3 years - on a Salomon Verse 5 - might as well be a section of door casing. The equipment answer to this dilemma is not a Volkl All-Star or an SL:11 - despite how lofty or ambitious the skier's goals are. For those not aware of what an open parallel turn is by definition, here is a link of our very own dchan performing the task as PSIA defines it.
Good turns - yes. Level 9 skiing - not even close. A level 9 skier can perform that task - but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In contrast this is what would classify as level 9 skiing.
[Yes the first guy - Nick Herrin]
Now that we are all on the same page a few skis can be suggested. Since this guy is skiing mainly groomers, coming off a short, soft, mostly terrible ski, and still developing - it is probably smart to keep the waist width below 72mm (which if memory serves me correctly is the waist width of your average Salomon Verse 5). Going too stiff, and too torsionally stiff will probably make this guy lose a filling or two and possibly drop an ACL over the course of the learning process. A somewhat narrow ski with a tight turning radius and soft(ish) flex will suit jamesgig perfectly.
Some skis to consider are of course the Fischer RX6, Volkl 5-Star, Elan S10, Elan Speedwave 12 (new S10 replacement), Dynastar OmeCarve 9, Dynastar Contact 9 (maybe 10 but that might be pushing it), and the Atomic IZOR (whatever is just below the top ski in that series). These kinds of skis are going to be PLENTY of ski and will offer a great base and easy learning curve for a skier to build some really solid skills on. In most cases they only give up a little bit of edgehold and rebound from the top models that they share a name with. When you're learning those are two characteristics that is they are extreme can really hold you back as a skier. An additional factor being flex... they also flex softer/easier than their high end stable mates. Bling factor isn't all it's cracked up to be - especially in this instance.