Ok I know there are other posts on this topic and I think I've read through most of them, but I still need some perspective from those of you that have already been through this. Most of what I've read has been about the transition is how to carve on groomed snow, which has never been my thing. New to the forum.
Skiing has been a big part of my life ages 2-35, but now coming back at 42 after a too long stint in SoCal I have new equipment and of course shaped skis. Used to be bumps in the 80's, short stints as an instructor and ski patrol, then some ski mountaineering to get to the glacier steeps when I moved from Boise to the NW and couldn't find decent zipper lines, then just all mountain skiing. Spent a season in France and thought I had gone to heaven when I discovered Le Grave, even though it was a bad snow year. Now back in Boise and today was my first on new Nordica Nitrous 178s at Bogus. Nice day with about 8 inches of day old snow already tracked pretty heavily.
Now I've never been a gear-head, been cheap, and haven't paid much attention to the skis. They all pretty much did their thing, some better than others, usually didn't last too long anyway. Used to mostly ski Dynastars 200 cm, but also had a pair of Hagen 220s. I probably over-skied most equipment so the subtleties haven't mattered much. Hadn't skied shorter than 195 as an adult. Last pair I bought had been Volante Machetes at 200 -- skied mainly Mt Baker on them, some up at Blackcomb. I liked them for hard driving off-piste work but didn't think much about it. Snapped them down in SoCal overshooting one of these newfangled snowboard ramps and landing on the flats.
So I didn't have much choice but to get the little shaped skis (the Nordica Nitrous 178), though apparently they are my size at about 6' and 185 lbs. Skied pretty lame today. Felt like I was skiing on blades without much stability. Occasionally I had some decent linked fairly tight turns, but didn't feel the pop that I'm used to with a ski flexing out of a tight radius on hard snow. They were relatively well behaved on the groomed, but in the very forgiving fresh stuff off piste I didn't feel like I had much of anything to work with.
I do have a question I'm trying to get to. Off piste I'm used to skiing fairly fast, usually weight on both skis on softer snow, relying on fairly strong tail up unweighting often followed by driving my knees/ jamming my shovels into the terrain to create a resistance point that I can use to change course. I think I developed that in the bumps and used a more extreme, slower version when skiing steep challenging conditions. Sometimes at slower speeds, either for the fun or to get out of a jam, my tips would stay jammed on the snow and my tails would arc through a lazy 30 degrees to a new heading. Sorry for the lack of technical description here. This has worked well for me, allowing (what feels like) grace on challenging conditions. But I can not imagine I can do anything like this with my short tips. Also, a fast banked turn mostly in the air, pivoting around a pole plant, to quickly alter course -- I'm not back there yet -- but I can't imagine having the stabilizing weight to pull me back to center. I also wonder about grip with such a short edge on a hard packed 45 degree couloir. I guess I'll know before I get back to those.
Another thing -- I tried to get into a few little bump lines initiating with a wedelen or two to get into the zipper, and no go. Felt like I was glued to the snow and every time I missed the line. Clearly that isn't going to work, and least not the way I was used to. Of course, having hardly skied for 5 years some of this could just be due to my weak legs and fuzzy mind, but I could always slide into at least the first bit of the line.
Now to tell the truth, I've never been much of a technical skier, I just get too lazy on the groomed runs for tight radius turns and usually end up doing poor man's super GS, which are of course carved if not beautifully. So I do look forward to learning how to craft consistent nice slalom turns -- its about time, I suppose, and should help me on the glaze ice when I make it back to the alps (that was the one condition on which those french really seemed to beat us western skiers). I'll have faith and reread the forums about carving on shaped skis. But what about stability on what I've always considered the real mountain? Any hope there? I don't see much about it, and frankly, I don't see other skiers pushing the off-piste boundaries as much as I used to. Is this because of the puny skis, or because so many youngsters are snowboarding the easier path to the black diamonds (not that there is anything wrong with that), or because, you know, back in the day we were all something else.