2018-2019 Fischer Ranger 102 FR

As I noted at SIA / OR and in our First Look of the Ranger 102 FR, I was pretty excited about this ski as soon as I saw it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of products that end up being a bit of a letdown once we actually start testing them.

The Ranger 102 FR has not been one of those products.

I’ve had a blast skiing it in conditions ranging from firm, early-morning groomers to slushy afternoon chop. It never felt terribly out of place in any of the conditions I got it in, and it’s probably one of my favorite skis I’ve been on this year.

Factory Tune

While I’m not usually that picky when it comes to ski tunes, my first turns on the Ranger 102 FR immediately made it apparent that this ski had an extremely sharp factory tune. This was the sharpest tune I’d ever felt on a ski, and the Ranger 102 FR felt very one-dimensional as a result (it only wanted to stay in very precise, carved turns).

So, after my first run, I detuned the whole ski, taking a coarse diamond stone to the tips and tails, and then running a soft gummy stone over the whole length of the ski. The ski felt much more versatile and intuitive after this detune, and I ended up further detuning the tails to make them easier to release. But by no means did this render the Ranger 102 FR useless on firm snow — it still carves and holds an edge very well.

Tune is very personal, so you might get along better than I did with the sharp factory tune on the Ranger 102 FR. But if you’re looking for a slightly looser feel while still maintaining good firm-snow performance, I’d consider detuning the ski (and particularly, the tails).

Playfulness

After detuning it, the Ranger 102 FR felt significantly more willing to break its tails free, but it’s far from the loosest or surfiest ski in this category — it still feels like it prefers to be on edge when heading down the fall line, rather than sliding sideways down it.

When it comes to the flex and pop of the Ranger FR 102, you need a significant amount of effort and / or speed to get this ski to bend. But once you do, it provides a lot of energy. At 5’8”, ~155 lbs, I had to really press hard into the tips and tails to pop off them, and was then rewarded with lots of energy / pop.

Same story in a carved turn. Once I got it up to fairly high speeds and really made an effort to bend the ski, the Ranger 102 FR provided lots of energy out of the turn. I think heavier and / or stronger skiers will have less trouble bending the ski, but for lighter skiers, the Ranger 102 FR requires more effort to bend than the (many) softer options in the all-mountain freestyle class.

In the air, the Ranger 102 FR feels pretty light, which I think is due in part to its thin “Carbon Nose.” The Ranger 102 FR feels like it has a slightly lower swing weight than I’d expect given that it weighs around 2100 grams.

Luke Koppa reviews the Fischer Ranger 102 FR for Blister.

Luke Koppa on the Fischer Ranger 102 FR.

The Ranger 102 FR’s twin tail does its job — you can definitely ski switch on it, just don’t expect it to feel as intuitive when compared to skis with more symmetrical shapes and more centered mounts.

Overall, the Ranger 102 FR feels like a playful, but still directional ski — it feels best when going fast downhill, but it can still be slashed, pressed, and skied switch. However, where exactly it falls in that playful vs. directional spectrum does depend a bit on the mount point, which brings us to the next section:

Mount Point

One of my main questions about the Ranger 102 FR was how sensitive it would feel to moving the mount point of the bindings. I really like skis that I can drive and ski with a forward stance when I want, but that are also able to break free into slashes and feel fairly balanced in the air. So, when I saw the Ranger 102 FR’s fairly traditional mount of -9.9 cm from center, I was eager to try it with the bindings moved forward a bit.

At the recommended line, the Ranger 102 FR feels very traditional, and I could drive it as hard as I wanted without any hint of it folding up on me (again, I’m only around ~155 lbs).

At +2 cm (-7.9 from center), the Ranger 102 FR felt easier to break free and I could ski it with a slightly more centered stance, but I still felt like I wanted a bit more of a balanced feel.

I ended up settling on +4 cm (-5.9 from center) as my favorite mount point. Here, I could ski from a fairly centered stance, flick the ski around easier, and still drive the front of the ski quite hard. Basically, everything I was looking for.

So, if you’re looking for a more playful ride and / or are used to skis with more centered mounts, I would not immediately write off the Ranger 102 FR due to its traditional recommended mount point.

Groomers

On groomers, the Ranger 102 FR feels like a natural carver and provides very good edgehold (again, even after my detune). It prefers medium to large turns, and feels very strong, stable, and precise on consistent groomers.

When the groomers get a little more roughed up, the Ranger 102 FR does get knocked around a bit, but it feels significantly more planted and stable than the other skis I’ve used in this narrower, all-mountain-freestyle category. But if the Ranger 102 FR is not quite as smooth and damp as heavier skis, it’s also poppier and more playful than many of them. The Ranger 102 FR’s stiffer shovels also allowed me to ski with an aggressive stance and pressure the front of the ski to help keep it composed at speed (even with the bindings mounted at -5.9 cm).

Luke Koppa reviews the Fischer Ranger 102 FR for Blister.

Luke Koppa on the Fischer Ranger 102 FR.

If your legs are tired at the end of the day and you want to take it easy, the Ranger 102 FR can pretty easily be slid around at slower speeds on groomers thanks to its rocker profile and relatively low swing weight. But you’ll definitely want to detune the ski if you plan on doing a lot of this.

Moguls

This is the only area where I have any real complaints about the Ranger 102 FR. The ski’s tails are pretty stiff, and I definitely noticed that in bumps. I still found the ski to be manageable in more open moguls, but in steep and / or big bumps with deep troughs, I had to concentrate pretty hard on staying forward to avoid being bucked by the tails. The Ranger 102 does not encourage lazy skiing in bumps.

And here it’s important to note that I prefer a more relaxed style in moguls — pivoting and sliding rather than mashing the tips of my skis into troughs. If you like to rage through bumps with an aggressive, forward stance, I think the Ranger 102 FR would probably work significantly better for that style as its shovels are quite supportive. But if you like to slide your way through bumps, there are plenty of easier and more forgiving options out there.

Soft Chop

I’ve mostly been skiing the Ranger 102 FR in warm, spring conditions, so by around noon each day, the mountain basically turns into a minefield of soft piles of chopped-up or pushed-around slush. These sort of conditions are where the Ranger 102 FR shines.

This ski offers a really fun combination of quickness and stability. I’ve been able to blast through the softer piles at speed, then gun for a bigger patch and pop off it, easily throwing shifties and (usually missing) grabs.

There are easier and more playful skis in this class, and then there are more stable, often heavier directional options. But the Ranger 102 FR fits pretty nicely in between those two groups. It’s been stable enough in soft variable snow for me to ski pretty much as fast as I want, but it still feels comfortable slashing, popping off little lips, and skiing switch.

Luke Koppa reviews the Fischer Ranger 102 FR for Blister.

Luke Koppa on the Fischer Ranger 102 FR.

I haven’t had the Ranger 102 FR in a lot of firm chop or very rough variable snow, so I can’t yet comment on its performance in those conditions. I suspect that it will handle this sort of snow better than the softer and / or lighter options in this category, though, based on my time on the Ranger 102 FR on roughed-up groomers, I don’t suspect that it will offer class-leading suspension due to its fairly stout flex.

Who’s It For?

Because of that fairly stout flex pattern and preference for longer turns, I’d recommend the Ranger 102 FR to high intermediate to advanced skiers. And more specifically, I think the Ranger 102 FR could work very well for two groups of skiers:

First, I think directional skiers looking for a slightly more playful, but still pretty stable all-mountain option will get along quite well with the Ranger 102 FR. This ski definitely rewards a forward stance and good technique (especially at the recommended mount point), but it lets you play around more than most of its flat-tailed competition.

Second, I’d also recommend the Ranger 102 FR to strong, playful skiers that are looking for something that they can trick, but that will also handle high-speed run-outs and in-runs better than some of the softer and / or lighter all-mountain freestyle skis on the market. The Ranger 102 FR is not the best choice if you love to butter and make lots of small turns at slower speeds. But if you’re a skier that likes to make big, fast turns while seeking out all the side hits the mountain has to offer, then the Ranger 102 FR is worth a look. And to those people, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend bumping the bindings forward a few cm’s in front of the recommended line.

Bottom Line

Unlike many products I’ve used, the new Fischer Ranger 102 FR has actually lived up to, and even exceeded, my expectations. It’s not the easiest, most playful, or most stable all-mountain ski on the market. But it combines some of the playfulness of less stable, freestyle-oriented skis with much of the stability and precision of more traditional options. The result? A ski that I’ve been able to ski quite hard while still taking a playful approach to the mountain.

Deep Dive Comparisons: Fischer Ranger 102 FR

Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Ranger 102 FR to see how it stacks up against the Line Sick Day 104, Atomic Bentchetler 100, Nordica Enforcer 100, J Skis Masterblaster, ON3P Kartel 108, Faction Candide 3.0, and more…

NEXT: ROCKER PROFILE PICS

9 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Steve April 22, 2018 Reply

    Compare also to Ranger 98ti and Masterblaster please.
    Thanks
    Steve

  2. bPlaTyPuS April 23, 2018 Reply

    Wow, that’s a rather heavy ski… 2100gr for a 102! Thought it would be a competitor for the new Icelantic Natural 101, but I think this last one is going to be much lighter.

  3. Blister Member
    JohnnyG April 23, 2018 Reply

    Will this be an SN108 replacement with a tighter radius? Tip and tail dims are very close, as is the length. These are lighter by 2-300 grams.

  4. Tyler April 23, 2018 Reply

    Only comes in a 184? Where’s the longer length? Ski will have to be outstanding to make up for it

  5. Ben May 11, 2018 Reply

    Can you compare to some stiffer twin tip skis like the Blizzard Peacemaker or Moment PB&J? I’ve been happy with my Peacemakers (186) but they are beat and this ski looked to be like a good replacement. I’ve skied my brother’s Ranger 108 in 188cm length, and really liked them EXCEPT for the tail which even with significant detuning stayed a little too locked into a turn for my tastes. In general I think a bit more running length in combination with a loose tail suits me and my style best, which is why I think I had a lot of fun on the Peacemakers. I would also say the ability to lean on the nose a bit sounds like a good feature here, I’ve been able to play with the mount point on the Peacemaker with demo tracks and I’ve settled on +2 cm (so -4 cm from true center) as a great tradeoff between skiing hard in a neutral stance and throwing them sideways in slashes, but on an occasional turn through firm snow off piste I would wish for more front support and drive in the tips.

  6. Jamie May 11, 2018 Reply

    Sounds like this could be a solid replacement for my QLab.Stiffer up front by the sounds of it but potentially more playful. Interesting!

  7. Blister Member
    Steve May 18, 2018 Reply

    What are a few of the better alternatives in your opinion for steep and big bumps in the 94-100 width?
    Thanks

  8. Blister Member
    Swisschris June 23, 2018 Reply

    Why can’t I find this on the Fisher website? Checked the US site in case it was US only but couldn’t see it there either?

    • Luke Koppa Author
      Luke Koppa June 23, 2018 Reply

      Hi Swisschris,

      The Ranger 102 FR is brand new for the 18/19 season, so it’s not currently available. It will become available this coming Fall.

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