An Expert Guide to Fischer Skis

Published on 01/30/2023 · 9 min readSki Expert Adam St. Ours gives you all you need to know about Fischer Skis, from their history to their best offerings, so you know you are getting the best gear.
Adam St. Ours, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Adam St. Ours

Photo courtesy of Fischer Skis

Fischer has been making high-quality skis for almost 100 years and is the only family-owned major ski brand in the world. As a result, Fischer skiing gear is synonymous with quality and performance, dominating the Nordic skiing market and carving out a passionate and fervent fanbase in alpine skiing.

Company History

Josef Fischer Sr. founded a wagon-making business in a barn in Reid, Austria, in September 1924. Initially focusing on wagons and toboggans, it wasn’t long before alpine skis were manufactured, and by 1928, the company had sold over 2,000 pairs of skis. In the years leading up to World War II, Fischer saw significant growth, and demand continued during the war thanks to extensive orders by the army. After the war, Fischer continued to grow and innovate, including the newly introduced glued multi-component construction. Unfortunately, in 1959, Josef Fischer Sr. passed away shortly after the company produced its one-millionth ski.

Following the death of his father, Josef Fischer Jr. drove the company to evolve in many ways, including constructing one of the first metal skis. After being initially rebuffed by the athletes on the Austrian national ski team, Fischer found an unlikely ally in the Germans. Eventually, the Austrians, and most of Europe, came to embrace the performance of the “Alu Steel” ski, culminating in Egon Zimmerman winning gold in the 1964 Olympic downhill on the ski. Fischer built on that success and became a dominant force in ski technology pioneering and innovation. Fischer used its racing success as a marketing tool and built the largest ski factory in the world, with a capacity for 400,000 skis per year. Before that was even completed, they began work on an addition to almost double capacity. By the time the dust settled at the beginning of 1970, Fischer Skis could produce over a million skis each year.

It was right around this time that Fischer began to produce cross-country skis. While inspecting ski factories in Scandinavia, Josef Fischer Jr. noticed a significant opportunity to implement his modern ski technology in the Nordic space. The “Europa 77” ski debuted in 1971 and featured a fiberglass wrapping that made it lighter and stronger than any other ski on the market. Within a few short years, Fischer came to dominate the cross-country segment unlike any other brand, a reputation that continues to this day. In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Fischer won a record 108 medals, besting their previous record of 74 medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games. The vast majority of these were in Nordic sports. Fischer has only improved from there, winning 126 and 129 medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, respectively.

About Fischer Skis

As one of the top-performing brands in ski racing, Fischer skis have developed a reputation for top quality and delivering high performance. While you certainly don’t need to be a racer or an expert skier to appreciate a Fischer ski, they are generally best skied with an athletic and dynamic style, in a forward stance, while driving the shovels of the skis into turns. This style will get the best response from the ski, and they’ll be more responsive and highly energetic when exiting turns.

This has a lot to do with the fact that Fischer focuses on their skis being very torsionally stiff. Most people think of stiffness in regards to how you can bend the skis end to end, but Fischer’s view is that equally important is how the ski flexes side to side while being skied. Thanks to this stiffness, a lot of the energy of the skis comes from engaging the full length of the edges in a carve, rather than running the bases flat with a centered stance and turning with the area underneath the binding.

Fischer believes in this so much that every ski they produce is individually tested for flex and stiffness and gets matched up with a ski with the same flex values. For the largest ski factory in the world to individually test each ski, then put it aside until it matches with another ski with identical properties, is a testament to their commitment to producing the highest quality skis in the world.

Fischer skis are developed as unisex models. They believe that each person skis in their own way, and subsequently, there are no men’s or women’s models, just skis across a broad range of sizes and attributes. This is becoming more common in the ski industry, where it’s now commonplace for ski brands to offer women’s skis that are constructed identically to men’s but dressed in different topsheets and ski lengths. Fischer, however, has taken it a step further than most by removing gender labels completely.

Different Types of Fischer Skis

All-Mountain

Holding true to the classic Austrian views of skiing, Fischer’s “all-mountain” skis are generally considered carving skis in North America, with a focus on stable, quick turns on mostly groomed snow. The RC ONE 86 GT is considered a wide ski option for most of Europe; however, on this side of the Atlantic, it’s a strong, stable ski mainly for groomed slopes, capable of holding an edge on firm snow, plowing through when the trails are chopped up at the end of the day, and taking the occasional run through moguls.

Freeride Ranger Series

The Fischer freeride ski lineup got an overhaul this year. The all-new Ranger series is more versatile and approachable across a wide range of sizes and widths. From carving on firm snow, slashing into the moguls and trees to surfing powder-filled bowls and everywhere in between, the skis are intuitive to ski, energetic and playful, and offer good stability in choppy snow. All skis feature a tailored titanal metal insert along the core to provide increased stability and dampness. The narrower skis feature a larger piece of metal that covers more of the ski, while the wider skis feature less metal. This lets the narrow skis grip firm snow better while allowing the wider skis to flex and float in powder.

Ranger 90

The Ranger 90 features the most amount of metal in the ski to provide the most stiffness and dampening effect. The skis are excellent at carving on groomed runs, snappy and stable even when pushed hard. It’s an intuitive ski, easy to get up on edge in a turn, but like most Fischer skis, it has strong tails behind the bindings. If you can keep out of the backseat, you’re rewarded with a ski that’s versatile and energetic everywhere across the front side of the mountain.

Ranger 96

The wider Ranger 96 ski features a little more width and flex for increased mixed snow performance. However, it’s still an excellent carver in its category. It would make a great do-everything ski for most anywhere, from someone in New England who mainly skis off-trail in the powder and trees to skiers in the Rockies or on the West Coast who want a true 50/50 on/off trail versatility and rarely get out in the truly deep snow.

Ranger 102

As the Ranger skis get wider and feature less metal in the construction, they become more approachable to ski. The tails are less stiff and less punishing when you end up in the backseat off-trail in tight terrain. The Ranger 102 is best skied with a forward stance because it lets the entire ski edge engage in turns and provides an energetic pop-out of turns. But in funky off-piste snow, it’s more tolerant of a centered stance than its narrower siblings. It’s not the most demanding ski nor the easiest ski. It sits somewhere in the middle ground and is an excellent choice for many people.

Ranger 108

As the widest all-mountain Ranger option (setting aside the powder-specific Ranger 118 “Big Stix”), the Ranger 108 is a maneuverable and lively ski that skis most conditions predictably and well. It’s easy to turn and pivot with a centered stance, but also able to be driven hard and will be fairly stable and secure on firmer snow. It’s quicker and more forgiving than true wide directional chargers, but it’s also a more stable alternative to many wide freestyle skis.

Touring Skis

Fischer has a robust lineup of touring skis, with a strong focus and pedigree on “alpine touring” in the truest sense of the term. In Europe, where it originated, touring was a way to cross the Alps and traverse the region, rather than just hiking up to ski down the same run. With this in mind, their narrowest touring skis are named “Transalp.” Featuring waist widths up to 90mm, they use carbon as a stiffening agent, which makes them incredibly light and nimble, and are focused on the uphill (or across) as much as the downhill. Their wider “powder” skis are named "Hannibal," after the infamous Crossing of the Alps by Hannibal against the Romans.

Fischer Ski Boots

In what can be considered either helpful or confusing, Fischer uses very similar naming conventions for their ski boots as they do for their skis. For example, their “all-mountain” piste-specific boots are called either “Curv” or “RC” (depending on their width), their freeride boots are called “Ranger,” and their touring boots are called “Transalp” or “Travers” (depending on features). While Fischer does offer women-specific boots, there is no difference in build or construction from their men’s boots; their stiffer boots are marketed as unisex options, forgoing gender labels entirely. Fischer also adjusts their boots' width (or last) based on the sizing. So while their alpine boots all use the ONE naming convention to designate a wide-fitting boot, the actual width will change as you go up or down in size.

Conclusion

Fischer has long been known as a high-quality ski brand with a reputation in the racing world for quality and performance. As they prepare for their 100th anniversary in 2024, the focus on innovation translates to their consumer products, where many Fischer skis are strong and hold up well to aggressive skiing. This does not mean that only advanced skiers can enjoy a Fischer product; I think many people would benefit from driving a Fischer ski through turns and feeling the rewarding energetic pop transferred from the ski. In addition, the efficient power transfer between their bodies and the skis would provide a good dose of confidence to many skiers and encourage them to ski more confidently across the entire mountain.

If you have any questions about Fischer ski products or would like to get a personalized set of recommendations created just for your unique situation, reach out to a Ski Expert like myself to discuss.

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