That's easy. Any company whose chief designer (or the chief's confidant) is less than 60 years old and has designed less than 20 top, successful ski models. I'm totally going with experience. You can feel it in the skis.
I bet your quiver is purdy!
Five years ago I was skiing on a pair of 183 Salomon X-Scream 700s, I had traded for them at a used sporting goods shop. I liked them just fine, and I had skied about half of a miserable El Nino season on them. I really liked them, but one day I got a core shot, and since I had no knowledge of base repair, having only recently returned to skiing after more than a decade away from skiing, and being fearful of getting water in the core. I decided I had to put them in the shop for a base weld. It snowed huge that night.
I rented a mediocre pair of of all mountain Dynastars and managed to double eject somersault a couple of times before realizing the rental shop had set the bindings for a a type 1 skier instead of type 3. I never wanted to waste money renting so it became clear I needed a second pair of skis, as I had learned many of the people on the mountain seemed to consider standard practice. I thought the use of the word quiver was clever.
I was turned onto EBay by someone on the mountain, and after much searching (it was during these searches that I first encountered epicski.com) and reading reviews about the various skis up for auction, I found an auction for a pair of 173 Volant Powerkarves. My winning bid was 30 cents. I had been planning on spending much more than the $30.30 I had, and quickly found a pair of 188 Volant Gravity Chubbs, which cost me $106 shipped (I had been told by a 30+ year veteran of Snowbowl, that fat skis were great in a lot of the conditions which were troublesome for me at that time, wide skis were strange to me, but I took his word for it, I thought that the 87mm G Chubb was really wide!)).
The difference in smoothness and stability in chop and crud was phenomenal. I decided that I might as well get more of them, as I planned on skiing for a long time. I was in the process of assessing my fourth or fifth pair (188 Ti Power) when I registered in the Barking Bear forums.
Anyway, I bought many pairs of them because they were inexpensive, I knew I would like the feel of them because they all had steel caps and wood cores. I became an addict of buying skis on ebay, I lusted after the steel, the steel was treasure, it was power! I became the curator of a strange museum of Volants, I acquired many different models, and even aspired to collect them all for a while there. I also got a real rush off of getting these big packages delivered, it made me feel special!
I am now a recovering addict, I sold off four pairs of skis last year, and only bought two. One pair were some bargain skinnies I bought to get the bindings off of. So really only 1 pair.
I have 13 pairs of skis currently mounted and skiable. I don't plan on adding any (in fact I want to reduce my quiver), but if I did, it would be another pair of 185 Machete FB, which are the best all around ski I've ever been on, and which have rule-the-universish dampness and stability. Also, a pair of 185 Machete Sin would be nice to try. There is a certainty that these skis will work just the way I want, so it comes down to whether I have the resources or not, whether there are any available, and whether I am looking when the price is right.
I bet your quiver is shiny
Its kinda cool to hear the VA story