Here is my run down - mostly opinion but some fact or at least an opinion based on fact [img]tongue.gif[/img] .
1) Elan (Excellent construction on most of their high performance line, which wont be outskied by 95% of the general public).
2) Stockli (availability keeps it from being #1, WC perfornce available to consumers can't be beat)
3) Salomon (freeride skis are great for most skiers and race stock skis are simply amazing)
4) Fischer (Race skis are superior to most out there, race stock or not)
4) Nordica (I consider them tied with Fischer. Nordica doesnt have a huge market share or a huge following, but they are still a young company as far as the ski market goes. They offer very high performance race skis (possibly the most high performance retail skis out there, minus Stockli) and their other line has a very solid build to their skis. I don't like the direction they are going since Marker took over the binding end of things. I would like to see them start building a free ride ski like they build their race skis like Elan and Stockli do)
5) Volkl (Volkl has a great line of high performance skis, aswell as race skis, i would like to try their race stock boards... this season their SC and GC skis feel much stiffer and most substantial than last years - should be a good retail race ski ride)
5) Blizzard (Another tie, great skis, but its unfortunate that we dont see them very often... they have a solid line this year, but due to the warehouse burning down in the US, we wont be seeing any of those skis this year - very sad
6) Rossignol (why so far down the list? I am not impressed with the technology in their retail skis. Their race stock WC boards are amazing and are right at the top of the list as far as race skis go, but the way they are building their skis recently makes no sense at all... The split PPS plate is the dumbest thing i have seen in my entire life... and they claim increased torsional rigidity... dunno about that one...)
6) Head (Head skis are alright, but im not terribly impressed with the whole intelligence thing... seems alittle rediculous to me... kinda like a Monday morning quarterback thing - to quote some commercial i saw while watching football yesterday. I skied an intelligence ski and wasnt that impressed. Railflex is good, and their i.GS and i.SL RD race stock skis are very good skis, but that isnt how the whole line is built, unfortunately)
7) Atomic (Everyone loves atomic right? Why? history of course. When Beta was introduced 6 years ago (or so) it was a technology that was heads and tails above the competition. No company could produce a ski that skied like an atomic. They were well built with two wood cores, and rediculously stiff, so you only saw the best skiers on them - since only the biggest and best skiers could bend them... Nothing in the last 5 years has changed with Atomic. Beta tubes are hollow now... so the skis are amazingly light, but to me they feel hollow. If you also notice, they are slipping off the world cup podiums recently too. They still have to "gift" for their speed skis, but i think that Beta Technology is over rated and out dated - and yeah some of you will say not to fix what isnt broken, but i think that their skis and popularity has been falling off in the last few seasons because of the lack of innovation)
8) Dynastar (Autodrive... was great a few years ago... now the toe and heel float on the auto drive plate... seems like Dynastar gets Rossignol's hand-me-downs, since that is exactly how the PPS plate works, both began with a fixed toe and floating heel and later adapted a floating toe and heel to the plate. They are good skis, but i think there are better choices for performance reasons)
9) K2 (Who?? I don't like K2's and never have - personal thing. Not bad skis for the majority of the population, but they are definitely another hand-me-down company now that marker is building their plates and binding systems... my guess is that Marker is going to control several of the weaker ski companies within a few years - meaning Volkl/Technica will own the market... a very depressing thought. K2 has slow race skis too)
I think that covers the big ones, feel free to disagree, im sure that many do, especially atomic fans... That list is not however a list of the companies with the best marketing, because that list is entirely different. Salomon, Volkl, Rossi, and Atomic being the big 4 there...