Skier219's last comment seems directed at my observation about seeing plenty of good skiers on Mantras. I disagree with his statement that "You could just as easily draw the opposite conclusion (eg, popular ski = mediocre ski) from that." IMO, popularity is poison around Epic not because it says much about the skis one way or the other but because many folks here like to think they're so much more discerning and choosey than the unwashed masses.
Now, I stated that I've seen a number of "good" skiers using Mantras with AT and Tele bindings in New England. Why do I think they were "good?" They were hitting tight choppy glades with lotsa old bumps, keeping nice balance and active COM's, they were carving well on scratchy groomed, and they gracefully handled tough transitions from wet chop to ice and back well. (Yep we ski all that in NE). So the argument that popular ski =mediocre skiers seems irrelevant in this particular case.
Past that, I've seen a LOT of people skiing Mantras all over North America for the past four years, and I can only recall a handful who were what I'd call intermediates. Obviously I'm missing the hotbeds of mediocrity where they pass out fat Volkls. (Mel Brooks scene: "OK, listen up! All village idiots come get your Mantras!")
Second, the only skiers I've seen on 94's have been out west, and I've heard a number of compliments about their quickness and versatility. I've also heard two specific complaints: That they lost stability at speed in rough snow and that they tended to chatter on hard groomed if pushed. I've seen one pair of 84's up here, and the skier (icy day) said that they gave him "more snow feel than I really want." I've owned several recreational Fischers and can agree about their, uh, feedback at speed on hard or rough snow. It's an acquired taste; obviously many like it. And just as obviously, Fischers rock at racing, so they know how to make skis that grip.
But it's a reasonable conclusion that the lack of Wateas up here - given that there are bunches of RX's, and decent numbers of AMC's - in part reflects their preference - compared to Mantras - for softer snow. Obviously it also reflects that fact that Fischers have never sold as well as Volkls in general. Neither I nor Skier219 can decide which of those two conclusions counts for more without additional info.
Finally, I agree with Skier 219 that a Mantra would not be on my short list if I were looking for a powder/soft snow ski. Because it ain't. OTOH, the places MXPS skis (apparently as a visitor, not a local) don't exactly qualify as powder havens. It was sleeting at Smuggs and raining hard at Stowe yesterday; I've managed to hit Killington once in 5 years when they really had a dump (well, for Killington that is; about what Tahoe can get in a morning), and I've been skiing Waterville twice a week since December, with exactly one day of more than 4" of nice wet New England fresh. When these areas do get "powder," it's mostly skied out by noon. Once everything's softened and refrozen the next day, you're dealing with stashes of soft chop surrounded by stiff crud and oh yeah, the odd frozen waterfall underfoot. So unless you live next to a resort, and have a boss who doesn't care if you take a day off whenever it snows, why exactly do you want a ski that's biased toward powder/soft now ski in the east? Why wouldn't you want a ski that can do quite well on the inevitable hardpack while you seek out the soft stuff?
Now about Sierra Jim's Dynastars