Hi! Fairly new skiier here, been about 10-12 times (starting at age 27, 29 now) primarily in Colorado at Loveland, Copper, and Keystone. So the brunt of my question is this: how much impact do beginner / budget skis have on ability to cut and overall performance on steep grades, and how much of that equation is the skiiers skill? Thus far I've been skiing on budget rental skis by HEAD (I don't have the model unfortunately, but a picture below is the best I could find. I do know there were 160 cm). More details continued.
So the gist of my experience is this. If you put me on a green, say schoolmarm at keystone, I find myself passing fairly aggressively and mostly avoiding kids, familys, and new people. Obviously those runs are for that skillset and I don't begrudge them for being there at all; that's just a reference point of where I fit in skill wise in that group. No real issues all the way around.
Put me on a blue run at a big resort like keystone, and for the most part this is where I have the most fun. However, that fun seems to be somewhat dependent on conditions. If there is about 2-4 inches of powder or mushier snow I really don't have any problems at all, independent of slope angle. However, if conditions get icy, I find myself cutting very hard to get the skis to responds (overly much so according to my girlfriend, and I agree. I spend way too much stamina doing this to last the 20+ runs we do in a day, throwing my body hard at the ski). The other thing I notice immediately on hard packed snow or even icy-ish areas is the skis tend to 'wobble' more for lack of a better word. They don't seem to track very well unlike when they are in 2-4 inches of what I consider 'nice' snow which is a dream by comparison. Because of this, I can't really just glide down the hill side to side how I would in better snow and spend that energy trying to keep speed under control with hard cuts. Also in terms of speed, I'm probably in the bottom half. Not that speed is important by itself but beginners with any sense generally don't go too fast, so it's another reference point for you. Occasionally someone burns by me going three times as fast straight lining while still in control and it's just kind of awe inspiring lol.
On a black, I can get down, but I spend the majority of the time going slow with enormous stamina burn. Reason being is I have to cut obnoxiously hard and slowing down often takes 4-8 seconds otherwise (again conditions were very hard packed snow with some ice). I don't trust going faster since longer than 4-8 seconds of sliding is too long with a risk of hitting someone for my comfort level anyway.
It's also worth noting I've skiied somewhat varied terrain with little divots / ditches (jumps is too strong of a word), hills, and such, and that tends to be more fun than anything. So I don't think I'm entirely bereft of any skill. Things I'm working on are keeping my skis closer together (this is challenging with the aforementioned wobbling though on hard pack snow), and using more of the terrain (I have a tendency to cut too much too often, again hard to tell how much of this is me and how much is a function of skis that don't track all that well on hard pack). I use much more of the hill in a natural way on blues with good snow. This is also of course heavily 'traffic' dependent; this past weekend was extremely busy.
Anyway, appreciate any thoughts. Feel free to hit me with 'keep practicing, it's you and not the skis'. But I'm happy to go out and spend 1000+ dollars on new skis, bindings, and boots for general alpine groomed skiing if it will make all the difference (recommendations welcome). Also my ski's were 160's which I believe is a bit on the short side (chin height), but I found shorter skis are easier to turn and cut in general, although as I've gotten better I've found that to be less of an issue than when I started.
More details about me:
Experience: been about 10 times
ski's: HEAD budget rental 160's
Thanks for any and all help!! Recommendations for general use alpine groomed resort skiis welcome as well.