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Thread Starter 
New skier from NC. Have skied 30 days out west in last 2 years. 6'1'', 195. 46 yrs old, strong, athletic, and fit. Aspire to be advanced all-mountain skier (ex. Vail would be prototypical mountain to "conquer"). Will stay on-piste. Skiing preferences: First love, to scream down cruisers, slalom and GS turns. Second love, to blast the bowls (struggling, not there yet) Third, to become (at least) proficient in the bumps. Need to blast through crud on a stable platform . Mostly want to ride hard but also need to ski laid-back at times with girlfriend who is more tentative and slow. I have custom ("conformable") Lange high-performance boots.

Recently skied Volkl AC40 Carbons at 184cm (82mm) for 10 days. The idea was to have max platform, speed, flotation etc and develop into these ski's. Love'em, but feel length and un-forgiveness may actually be holding-back my development (maybe should have been riding the 178's?). I want the absolute best ski's to enhance my development and ability, without consideration of price. Now thinking Stockli Stormriders. Specifically, XXL (in 178?) or XL (174?).

Ski questions: What is your comparative analysis of these two ski's given my bio? How is flex compared between the two, and compared to the AC40's? I've heard the Stockli's ride more in the snow(?) ... what is the resulting impact, feel as compared to AC40's? Net impact of top-sheet vs. sandwich construction?

Binding questions: What binding set-up for the two ski's? Markers have been overwhelmingly recommended by the ski shops - Marker Duke's, Jesters, motion control etc. Have heard that piston control is not necessary(?) What is the downside of piston control, if any? Would I want "risers" to enhance carving? "Plates" etc? Last, do you think I'm focusing on the wrong ski's?

While understanding the many variables and resultant subjective nature of choosing skis, I have received a lot of inconsistent info and recommendations. Binding options have been particularly confusing. I would really, really appreciate any advice you pro's have for me. Thanks for your time and consideration!