Originally Posted by Jimski
I can't tell if I'm being diss'ed or what.
Who is BWPA's designated translator this week?
LOL. It's not you being dissed; it's the teen-aged braggarts with the too-long skis.
There was a time when it was next to impossible to get a ski that was stable and resistant to vibrating off your feet at high speeds that was anything less than 215 cm long. If you skied fast, you had long skis; if you didn't have long skis, you obviously didn't ski fast. Those days are long gone. Today, a good 165 cm SL ski is every bit as vibrationally stable as an old-school 215 GS ski (though they can get wobbly if not on edge). Even back then, the effect was somewhat lessened by soft snow, but extra length did help with float in powder.
As far as difficulty goes, a longer ski will be more resistant to pivoting the ski via user-supplied torque, and will require a little more precision (because the tip is so far away from the boot it can exert more torque on you, thus compounding mistakes) when controlling your direction by tipping and carving following the tip. However, at today's lengths (even today's longer ones) it really only takes a little while to get used to the precision required by the extra length unless you are fighting the ski, and the payback in fore-aft forgiveness in rough terrain is huge. Unless you specialize in bush whacking very tight trees, there's no need to worry about going too long as far as difficulty goes; if you don't know what you're doing and have to fight the ski to make it turn, you will regret length, but once you learn the correct moves it won't bother you. The real reason not to go too long is that the ski won't excel unless it is operating as designed, which means bending the right amount for the snow conditions, turn size, speed, and weight of skier.
Once you have settled on a type of ski to suit the snow conditions, length should be based on your weight and how fast you ski, as those two factors combined will determine how much force you have available to bend the ski, and longer skis are usually stiffer and thus require more force to bend. Getting a ski that is too long means you are spreading your weight along too long an edge and it might not have enough pressure to dig into the ice or hardpack, and it means that your ski will not be decambered as much just running straight in deep snow thus diminishing how easy it is to get a turn started by simply tipping a bit. In the old days you might have to put up with the drawbacks of a too-long ski in order to get the added stabillity, but not any more.
Because spaces are more wide open out west, you will likely be skiing faster in those spaces (kind of like going 70 mph on a 4-lane highway as opposed to 20 mph in a narrow laneway), hence the recommendation for a longer ski.
It's not just about length. I suspect the peak 88s were higher performing than the AC20s for a host of reasons. For short turns I prefer my 165 cm skis SL-shaped skis, for maximum speed skiing with ability to ski anywhere if needs be I have 208 SG skis. General rules and the laws of physics hold, but the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Best bet is to try before you buy, but failing that, listen to folks who have tried the model ski you are interested in skiing and can tell you how it behaves when skied the way you will ski it. When I got my 208s, I tried out lengths on either side (205 and 215 I think) over a week end at Tremblant. The 205s weren't stable enough at top speed and the 215s were too much of a work out for my legs at what I would call cruising speed in moguls (but then again I sucked at moguls).