Many of you won't agree with me, but I think that most skiers - including some very good skiers on these threads - do not ski "in control," if that means having the capability to react appropriately to any unexpected but statistically likely event on a recreational slope. Why?
1) Like most drivers, most skiers overestimate their skills. It's one thing to carve lovely fast S's down an underpopulated blue run, no pressure to turn, and it's another to handle a stairstep with skiers popping into view below you after you've taken a little air on what you thought was an empty line, or a kid swerving right in front of your nice S turn so you have to STOP THIS INSTANT.
2) If you're going say 35 mph, you can't. Like the driver weaving in and out of lanes one car length behind me at 70 mph, you have to assume certain regularities in my/the other skier's behavior. You cannot react fast enough, or slow your car enough, to avoid crawling up my tailpipe if I suddenly hit something or get a blowout. You're depending on my driving to make you feel like a hero. Just like you're depending on the skiers in front of you doing rational things, or at least doing irrational things far enough away that you can avoid them.
2) Even those of you like M.C., experts who plan your route carefully and ski precisely and fast, probably cannot avoid the rarity in front of you: the intermediate who swerves into your path when every shred of evidence indicates she/he'll keep traversing away from you, or the beginner who appears blindly out of the woods, or the rut that makes you lose an edge in the same instant that that guy falls in front of you. I don't care if you're fresh off the World Cup circuit, this is basic physics and basic neuropsychology. We underestimate the liklihood that weird stuff happens, and we overestimate our time to deal with it, given the relative closing velocities and our reflexes. This is why comparatively good skiers die hitting trees every year.
3) Personal example: In Canada two weeks ago on a sparsely populated blue/black, I had an woman out of nowhere (must have been way uphill) zoom just past, then abruptly turn UPHILL into me to slow down. I was doing medium radius turns at about 25 mph, sure enough in the direction of her uphill turn. I tightened my turn radius hard, got slowed to about 10 mph, decided to dump so that my skis would be away from her body, clipped her back hard with my shoulder on the way down. We came to a stop her standing and me on my side. We both checked to see if everything still fit in its sockets, she apologized profusely, we went on our ways. No harm no foul. But trust me, if I had been doing 35-40 mph, like a lot of the hotshots on the slopes that day, one or both of us would have been in a sled.
4) OK, you say, but I would never ski that fast under those conditions. Hmmm. I guess it's everyone else who speeds. Or as research into driving beliefs shows, if I'm speeding I can handle it; it's the other guy who's in over his head.
5) Well, you counter, it's not my fault if that kid swerves in front of me; sh*t happens. True enough, but that isn't the topic. The question is whether we can actually do what we claim we can - keep from having an ski accident when we want to. I say generally no, and especially no to the racer wannabes who think they can lay out ersatz race lines in their heads on recreational slopes and zoom along "in control," largely dependent on everything else being predictable.
6) The bottom line, then, is not very digestable: We are NEVER justified in skiing fast on recreational slopes, especially on green or blue runs. Our brains just can't beat the physics.
7) So prove me wrong. But that doesn't entail going on about how much better your control must be than mere mortals because of all the training gates you've squeaked through or all the close calls you've avoided. I have the upmost respect for racing, also lust after carving technically perfect arcs, and believe strongly that I've never had a serious auto accident because of my driving skill.
But try this: Test your reaction time to the truly unexpected in real world conditions. Get a Garmin on a nice cold day about 4 pm. Have some friends put out some pylons you can't see until you're right above them, ideally in a place where it's icy just where you'll need to turn. Or better, have them hide in the woods and toss something large and padded, like a overstuffed pillow, right in front of you as you're 10 feet uphill. Measure your stopping distances or swerve radii (or slide length) at different speeds, just like a car test. Then we can talk about control.