THE SHORT VERSION:
LOCATION: VA, Southern PA, WV
HEIGHT/AGE/WEIGHT: 5'7", 34, 215 (trending downward, hoping to be closer to 180-190 by next season)
ABILITY LEVEL: intermediate
BUDGET: $500 (with some wiggle room)
CURRENT SKIS: Defiance Arrow 72, 160cm
WHAT KIND OF SKI DO YOU WANT: Versatile and playful
THE LONG VERSION:
We took our 4yo girls skiing with us for the first time this year, and they're hooked. That means two things: 1. We're going to be doing a LOT more skiing starting next year, and 2. I'm going to be mostly limited to whatever slopes the kids are comfortable with until they're old enough to ski on their own. They've taken to it pretty well already, so my contribution to their skiing is mostly to be there to help them up and just keep an eye on them.
I'm looking for something that'll let me have a bit more fun while I'm on dual duty as a skier and chaperone... seek out some side hits, cut through some trees alongside the runs when the snow is there, learn some butters, stuff like that. One of the kids has already shown an interest in freestyle and park skiing, so I'd like to work my way in that direction so that I can enjoy that with her when her skills catch up to her interest. At the same time, although I am not a charger by any means I'd still like something that I can take up to the tougher blue or black runs when I get a chance to take a solo run or two.
I have looked around a bit, researched some of the Armada ARV series, Fischer Ranger FR, Rossi Black Ops, etc... but I'm at the point that I'd like to get some opinions from some folks that know what they're talking about, especially since my town has no real ski shop to do some more in-person research.
I've always enjoyed watching skiers with a more creative and playful style... so in my mind, taking my kids along feels like a great opportunity for me to start over and learn a whole new approach to skiing.