Originally Posted by Bob Peters
You're comparing a bunch of really great skis.
Amen. IMO the issue is how hard core do you really want to be. This will take some self-scrutiny. A SL race ski, properly set up and maintained, will give you otherworldly edge grip and control at surprising speeds and angles. Amazing stuff. But the tradeoff has to do with how specialized they are. They are built to turn precisely, over and over and over, on ice and hardpack. They do not much enjoy being off edge, and they have favored turn radii, and they do not much tolerate sloppy technique. Nor do they much like crud and slop and bumps and other conditions everyone encounters on the way down to the beer.
So the scrutiny: a) Have you had any race training? If yes, go to (b). If no: Have you had a coach, instructor, or racer tell you that you have strong enough mechanics to really use all that precision? If yes, go to (b). If no, go to a different ski.
Now b) Do you have the focus and stamina to stay ON every run, all day long? If yes, go buy a race ski and rip. If no, along about lunch you will begin to wish you had bought something a touch more versatile and forgiving whatever your skill set. Go buy a different ski. Or bring two to the slope, which is what most folks try to do if they can.
My soapbox: As Bob says, these days a lot of different skis are really nice. Not many duds anymore at the higher performance levels. Realize that many not-quite-racers are used by instructors, true experts, Masters and Club racers, so we're not talking hamburger here. Yes, they give up a touch of bite and precision, but they give back a lot more versatility and even (gasp) the ability to relax for part of a run. IMO while carvers of the same length do vary a little in how they handle particular challenges, the salient differences are more about feel. Some are damper, some are smoother, some are livelier, some have more tail at the end, some have more front at initiation, and so on. Each design will produce a different conversation between you and your ski.
What you choose has to fit with your style and personal preferences, so demoing helps. As does a realistic analysis of what your style and preferences ARE. So if you haven't ever skied a Head, definitely worth the effort (I own, letssee, four Heads including the SS and the ski that became the SS Speed, so I must love 'em) But that doesn't mean a Head's significantly "better" than a Blizzard on icy hardpack (Sorry Bob
) Just talks differently to you....