My last post about how many skis I seem to cart about these days got me thinking, can you buy a real all-round ski these days? What would I use if I could only take one pair of skis with me? I'll leave anything race related out of the equation for the moment, since you would only really want race skis for racing.
That leaves piste, off piste and the park, for me at least. So the ideal ski for the piste, something stiff and shaped like a slalom or skiercross ski. The ideal off-piste ski would be fatter and usually softer, while for freestyle you want a twintip ski with not too much shape or width.
If you have no interest in jumps and tricks then a narrower freeride ski makes a good compromise between on and off piste. Some have a slightly raised tail allowing some switch manouvres as well. This type of ski has a bit of everything without really specialising in anything. Examples include the Salomon X-Wing Tornado and the Rossignol B74 (I'm not particularly endorsing those companies over all the rest, I just happen to have their catalogues to hand).
Until a year or so ago, my use-everyday-go-anywhere-skis were Dynastar Troublemakers; Twintips that were stiff enough to be fun on piste, soft enough to be good off it and my favourite ski that I've tried in the park. My other skis stayed in the ski rack most days and I thought for a while they were the perfect all-round ski. The downside was that while I was having fun, I lost out on the piste performance of a stiffer, more shaped ski. Like most twintips, they are all too easy to ski on with your hands in your pockets. Of course, twintip skis come in all kinds of width and stiffness, some better for powder, some for piste and some purely for the park. Most people with an interest in freestyle can find a twintip that will suit them out of the park as well.
I suppose my conclusion is that most people can find a reasonable all-round compromise ski to suit most aspects of their skiing. However, if you want to keep progressing you really need to spend some time on a high performance piste ski now and again. If you don't own a pair, rent some for a day on your next trip.