Before we begin the review, we teamed up with Fischer to give a pair of these Ranger 102 FR skis away on Instagram! Head on over to @SkiEssentials for details, the winner will be announced on Monday, March 9, 2020.
And now to the Ranger 102 FR. This ski was introduced for the 2019 season and is back again for 2020 unchanged, although we got a new 191 cm length for 2020. The ski is structurally the same for 2021, except we get new graphics, and it’s not what you might expect. For 2021, Fischer is basically offering most of their skis in two different colors. They aren’t necessarily differentiating them specifically for men or women, either. Just two color choices, you can pick which one you like best. And which one do we like best for the Ranger 102 FR? I mean… how can you possibly dislike a pink ski?
That’s right, for 2021 you can get a Ranger 102 FR in the pink graphic all the way up to the 191 cm length. Is skiing getting cool again? It certainly feels like it. Not that it was particularly uncool, but I personally feel like there is a return to the fun-loving, no-cares, counter-culture attitude that got me hooked on the sport back in the 80s and 90s, and this ski is a perfect example.
Let’s summarize construction and shape, in case you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher. The Ranger FR line in general is designed with more freestyle and freeride influence than the Ranger Ti models. The ski uses a poplar and beech wood core in a sandwich style construction, but Fischer’s Aeroshape design gives the ski a look that’s relatively unique. The wood core is built in an Air Tec style, where materials are milled out of the core to reduce weight, but retain torsional stiffness. There’s also a little bit of metal underfoot, but not much, and it’s mostly for binding retention. Then, of course, we get Fischer’s Carbon Nose, which has been proven to provide excellent turn initiation and plenty of torsional stiffness, yet does it with incredibly light swing weight. The shape of the Ranger 102 FR looks like a park ski blended together with a directional freeride ski. It’s 102 mm underfoot, of course, and has a distinctly twin tip profile. We get both tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot, although there is longer tip rocker than tail rocker. The 177 cm length has an 18 m turn radius. There’s a little bit of taper in the tips and tails, but not much. It would be more accurate to describe it as just a nice rounded off tip shape rather than abrupt early taper.
So, that’s the design of the Ranger 102 FR. The result is a ski that’s exceptionally versatile and a ton of fun to ski. It’s also extremely interesting how many different types of skiers enjoy it. As we did in the video that goes along with this article, let’s talk about 3 different skiers who all have been skiing pink Ranger 102s this season. First up, Ryan. Ryan works at a well-respected race shop here in northern Vermont. He himself has a successful race background, and absolutely rips. It’s not uncommon to find him at the top of the podium of our local Ski Bum race series, often distancing himself from the majority of the field by full seconds. Watching him lay down carves on the Ranger 102 FR is mind-blowing. It doesn’t make sense that a ski with this shape and build can hold an edge as well as it does or be as responsive and energetic out of a turn. Ryan’s constantly surprised and reminded by it too. He spends a lot of time on race skis, yet when he gets on his Ranger 102 FR you can often hear him saying things like “I guess you don’t really need metal!” Now, the Ranger Ti models do take the performance to another level if you’re talking firm snow carving performance, but this Ranger 102 FR does it really well, especially for a ski that falls more into the twin tip, freeride category than anything else.
Next, we have Marcus. You’ve seen him in our content, he manages the inventory here at SkiEssentials.com, and you often find him deep in Smuggler’s Notch seeking out untracked, technical lines. For Marcus, he benefits from the maneuverable, playful nature of the Ranger 102 FR in off-piste scenarios and deeper snow conditions. It’s not as wide as most dedicated powder skis, but you get reasonably good float of out it, especially in the longer lengths. Fischer’s Carbon Nose has a tendency to stay on top of the snow, which is a valuable characteristic in a ski like this. The light swing weight also makes it very flickable, so Marcus can maneuver through the tight trees here in Vermont without worry or without becoming overly fatigued. While he chose to mount his Ranger 102 FR with a Look Pivot 15 (it looks pretty sweet), we also wouldn’t be surprised to see Marcus put a binding like the Salomon/Atomic/Armada Shift or the new Marker Duke PT on it. The Ranger 102 FR is certainly light enough to justify making it part of your alpine touring setup.
Then we have Noah. Noah has a freestyle background. He competed in halfpipe and slopestyle years back and these days is the head coach of Green Mountain Academy in Stowe, a freestyle and freeride focused program. You can often find Noah chasing powder with Marcus, but you also see him in the park a lot. Noah chooses to mount his Ranger 102 FR a little further forward than Ryan or Marcus, as for him it doubles as park ski just as much as a freeride ski. Switch takeoffs, switch landings, sliding rails, it’s all no problem on the Ranger 102 FR. As we mentioned earlier, it is a more directional ski than a lot of twin tips, but you can still move the mount point up a little and create a more balanced ski for spins and similar tricks. For Noah, it’s a perfect coaching ski. Whether the kids want to ski powder, park, or anything in between, the Ranger 102 FR is a proper tool.
Simply put, this ski can do a lot. It’s not a ski that’s chasing superlatives, Fischer just wants it to be fun. It’s not the stiffest, it’s not the most powerful, and it doesn’t have the best edge grip. It’s also not the lightest, nor is it the most playful for a true park skier. It is, however, an incredible blend of performance that will put a smile on the face of just about anyone who skis it. And it’s pink. Like, really pink.