Originally Posted by skiingaround
Really surprised people feel the need to buy big skis for the big moutain stuff. My 178 K2 PE's are great everywhere. The last two years have been great in switzerland with some deep serious powder and that lenght is fine. I really feel the whole super fat, super big ski thing is a gimmick. Maybe it will help you ski it a bit easier, but other than deep powder, they're a waste of time. A good quality all mountain ski is really all you need if you want a good day any day in any condition.
It's not really a question of necessity; it's a question of style and comfort. I moved from the US about 5 years ago, and when I first skied in the Alps, I was on a pair of rented Volkl All Stars (probably about 10 cm shorter than my height). Those were far more than what I needed for groomed/hard pack in terms of edge hold and turn radius. In fact, skiing on piste with them became boring because nothing short of polished ice offered any sort of challenge; the things practically turned themselves. Off piste/between pistes, because of the short length and skinny waste, they were almost adequate, as long as I only did slow, boring, repetitive turns.
Now, I understand that a lot of people dig that type of skiing, but it doesn't really float my boat. So, when it came time to buy my own gear, I went with something fatter and longer (182 cm and ~110 mm, but traditional camber). It's not that I need something that big to make it down the mountain; I already proved I could make do on a pair of short carvers in Verbier. It's just that, the bigger skis are better suited for the style of skiing I like to do, which is a slightly faster and more playful ride on mellow to semi-serious off-piste terrain, trying to make use of terrain features and occasionally trying switch landings and other small tricks. And, on the odd occasion where I'm in a European resort that has trees and they aren't off limits, I like to ski the trees. Groomed pistes are merely transport routes for me, and I can handle them just fine on big skis.
Maybe some Americans just like to ski a different style that bigger skis are better suited for. And maybe some are still stuck in the mindset that bigger skis are the sign of a "bigger" man. Either way, who cares?
When you see people on blades, do you lecture them about how a proper ski is more stable and blah, blah, blah? If people want to slide around on ski blades, good for them. If they want to spend the day on Pontoons, that's cool too. If an 80-mm ski rocks your world, then stick with it.