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Fischer

Were one to distill Fischer’s essence, the resulting elixir would be made of equal parts precision and speed. Rigorous quality control is the driving force in the corporate culture, a comforting thought for a brand that also makes components for aircraft. The infatuation with speed comes with the territory—namely Austria—where winning World Cups is considered a national necessity on a par with strudel and water. 

Despite the recent spectacular results of American racers on the World Cup, American interest in alpine racing remains a pale shadow of Austria’s national obsession with the sport. As skiers, we gravitate towards models that are more forgiving than precise. Except where Fischer is concerned.

The models our panelists prefer from this brand run contrary to the Zeitgeist of the smeared turn; they are unapologetically accurate and geared to run smoothly on the Autobahn. In the language of realskiers, Fischer excels at making Power models that reward speed and technical skill. 

In an odd twist of fate, Fischer’s alpine boot division has led a resurgence of interest in the brand. Fischer has been making skis practically since the era of barrel staves, but didn’t elbow its way into the boot market until roughly a decade ago. A few years ago they commercialized a means of vacuum-molding the ski boot shell—not just the inner boot—to the skier’s foot. The technology earned instant accolades and swift market acceptance as boot fitters discovered the effectiveness of this breakthrough in customization.

When the same people who are flocking to Fischer boots for their precision realize that the same brand specializes in skis every bit as precise as their malleable footwear, Fischer skis will earn an ever-widening circle of fans.

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2016 Addendum

Austria is the world’s foremost skiing power, so if Austrian manufacturers sometimes appear obsessed with hard snow performance, it’s because they are. Fischer always puts its best effort into what we at realskiers describe as Power skis and they keep fiddling with their Finesse formula, this year applying their domed Aeroshape and Air Tec Ti technologies to the off-trail Ranger series.

The heart of this lay-up is a wood core that’s been whittled by a 5-axis milling machine to pare away every gram of excess mass. Square sidewalls are replaced by sloping shoulders that slice easily through 3-D snow. A thin Titanal shell reinforces the ski underfoot and the Carbon Nose lowers swing weight and helps stabilize the rocker zone.

Whether one prefers the behavior of a square-sidewall, two-Titanal-sheet RC4 race ski or the minimalist Air Tec Ti models depends on one’s predilections, but what one can’t deny is the preposterously light skis the latter design make possible. While we normally steer clear of the BC market, we can’t resist referencing the Alpattack, made for the insane activity of running up the nearest Alp. Made in the svelte, domed contours of Aeroshape around a pared-away, Paulownia Air Tec Ti core, the Alpattack weighs a trifling 650 grams, or about 1/3 the weight of an average alpine ski.

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In-depth reviews of 12 models—with key performance ratings ( ? ) and genre model comparisons ( ? ) —are in our member section

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RC4 World Cup RC

traditional

Power:  A+

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  115/68/97
Radius:  18m @ 175cm
Lengths:  165,170.175,180,185
Weight:  n.a.
MSRP:  $1250

rc4 worldcup rc

Fischer’s work with the aerospace industry gives them access to cutting-edge technologies like featherweight carbon, and their legendary leadership in the cross-country market has honed their expertise in ultra-light cores, but their very best alpine skis, like the RC4 Worldcup RC, are also their most traditional.

Okay, the construction includes an element of Air Carbon that didn’t exist 20 years ago, but for the most part the RC4 Worldcup RC hews to a classic formula: a wood core bracketed by two sheets of Titanal on one axis and square, ABS sidewalls on the other.  As assembled by a meticulous factory with stringent quality control on every component and process, this enduring design demonstrates that traditional values retain their relevance in today’s what-have-you-done-for-us lately market.

If you pay any attention to the World Cup, you might notice that Austrian GS skis are on the podium ad nauseum.  The RC4 Worldcup RC isn’t as powerful and fall-line focused as a genuine FIS-sanctioned GS, thank goodness, but it gives us mere mortals a sense of what it would be like to have that level of control and authority.  It’s particularly exhilarating to drive through a long, banked turn that can’t be broken loose by boilerplate, wind-blown berms or heavy spring slush.

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RC4 World Cup SC

traditional

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  122/68/100
Radius:  13m @ 165cm
Lengths:  150,155,160,165,170
Weight:  n.a.
MSRP:  $1250

rc4 worldcup sc

The Fischer RC4 Worldcup SC is the slalom counterpart to the Worldcup RC (reviewed above), built to identical specs except for sidecut and length.  As befits a slalom specialist, its turn radius of 13m in a 165cm mimics the mandated shape of a World Cup SL, and it’s available in sizes small enough to make a complete turn inside a cubicle.

To all intents and purposes a GS construction in a SL shape, the RC4 Worldcup SC has a speed ski’s affinity for running hot, but unlike any GS ski extant, the SC doesn’t mind backing off the RPM’s and slinking together a sequence of round, well-finished turns at what any racer would consider a sedate pace.

But racers aren’t the only experts on the hill.  Instructors in particular can use a tool to demonstrate how to carve a turn at speeds that won’t result in them pulling away from every student in the class.  The SC finished third in this elite genre for its tractability at low speed while also earning above average marks for its accuracy at high speed. 

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new for 2016Progressor F19 Ti

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  122/75/104
Radius:  13~17m @ 170cm
Lengths:  163,170,177,182
Weight:  3050g  @ 174cm (with binding)
MSRP:  $1050

progressor f19 ti

Among Fischer models, the Progressor probably has the largest fan base in America, in part due to the longevity of the nameplate and partly because over the years Progressors have been stout carving sticks with a lot of racing attitude.

The latest series to bear the Progressor family name retains the carving proficiency but takes the edge off, literally and figuratively. The flagship of the 2016 clan, the Progressor F19 Ti, is built around the Air Tec Ti chassis, a construction that shaves weight wherever it can.  The core is milled out following a formula Fischer mastered making über-light cross-country skis.  Material is also removed from the top and sides so the finished structure is domed, practically coming to a point over the edge.

Changing the core profile has altered the Progressor’s personality, toning down its aggressive tendencies while retaining its prompt response to pilot input.  The F 19 Ti feels lighter and more agile than its ancestors, with less emphasis on Power and more focus on Finesse.

Skiers who lament the passing of the race-bred Progressors of yore should dab their eyes and buck up: over in the Non-FIS Race winner’s circle are a couple of RC4 Worldcup models that should fill that void in your life quite nicely.

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new for 2016Progressor F18

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  122/74/103
Radius:  12~15m @ 167cm
Lengths:  153,160,167.174
Weight:  2800g  @177cm (with binding)
MSRP:  $950

progressor f18

Fischer has been a leader in lightweight technology for many years, a history they continue to write with their silly-light mountaineering models.  The Progressor F-18 fits into this story as part of the first generation on the Progressor family tree to use Razorshape, that domes the core so the ski’s shoulders are sloped, not square.

The Progressor F-18 sheds more g’s by excising the 2 sheets of Titanal sported by its big bro, the F-19 Ti, and its Air Tec core uses a unique off-set milling method to subtract 25% off the usual core mass.

As for how the F-18 handles, its Dual Radius sidecut (more shape up front than in the rear) is largely responsible for how quickly it hooks up an endless stream of short turns without once feeling twitchy. 

There are more powerful skis in this genre, but power isn’t everything.  The F-18 strikes a fine balance between Power and Finesse, making it a good choice for the skier transitioning from advanced to true expert.

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Motive 95 Ti

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  132/95/122
Radius:  19m @ 180cm
Lengths:  168,174,180,186
Weight:  n.a.
MSRP:  $850

motive 95 ti

Sticklers for statistical details will scratch their heads over our scores for the Fischer Motive 95 TI.  What’s a ski with a higher aggregate score for Finesse properties doing on our list of Power Picks? 

We confess to exercising editorial override and positioning this ski among our Power elite because the Motive 95 TI is in all respects a strong, technical ski.  It just happens to be mindlessly easy to ski as long as one brings some skills to the party.

The Motive 95 TI’s Power properties derive from its classic wood and metal sandwich construction, with two sheets of Titanal and square, ABS sidewalls.  Its surprising Finesse attributes can be traced to its Air Tec Ti core that borrows technology from Fischer’s market-leading XC department that mills out offset core sections to reduce weight without losing torsional strength.

Put it all together and you have a ski so responsive it feels energetic even in wet spring snow.  Its peppy reflexes help the Motive 95 TI to earn high marks for short-radius turns in a category where they’re generally in short supply.

Whether you consider the Motive 95 TI a powerful ski with a light touch or a gentle ski with a spunky, can-do spirit, both camps can agree it’s a well-rounded ride. 

 

Scored on 1.00 to 10.00 scale:

early to edge
continuous, accurate carve
rebound/turn finish
stable and accurate at speed
short-radius turns
low speed turns
drift and scrub
off-piste performance
forgiveness/ease
finesse vs. power balance
race
technical ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
frontside ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain east ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain west ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
big mountain ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
powder