Cochise 106

The Cochise 106 knows how it should be skied, even if you don’t. It’s well aware that it won’t be able to carve a short turn at minimal speed, so it keeps close to the fall line until it can shift into third. Once it reaches cruising speed, it dons its dancing shoes and shows just how indifferent to heinous crud a ski can be.

The Cochise 106 is one of the few Big Mountain models that doesn’t get the heebie-jeebies on hard pack. Its imperturbability where other skis literally tremble is due in part to its classic, wood and Titanal construction and in part to its Flipcore baseline.

This latest incarnation of the Cochise represents a return to its roots as an all-terrain ski, as it was conceived to be. While the 21/22 version of the Cochise is a bit easier to bow, it’s still a fall-line-loving powerhouse. If it’s afraid of anything it sure doesn’t show it.

Whether riding a high edge on groomers or banking off a wind berm, the Cochise provides an unwavering platform you can depend on. It’s the perfect match for the expert who won’t flinch in the fall line. Even though Cochise has changed over the years, it hasn’t contorted into something it’s not: it’s still the same Power ski it always was.

FX106 Ti

Any clear-eyed assessment of what transpires on a powder day at any popular resort would conclude that the “powder” part of the day begins around 9:00 and ends around 10:00. For the rest of the day, all accessible terrain devolves into something considerably less idyllic. The Kästle FX106 Ti is built to cope with this reality, for it wields its smear-ability like a weapon when deep snow switches from a fluffy texture to something closer to tapioca.

During the “powder hour,” any ski with approximately the FX106 Ti’s dimensions will spool out mid-radius turns with unconscious ease; once perfect conditions are in the past, the real work begins. It’s in the slop that the FX106 Ti’s stout, wood-and-Titanal construction proves its mettle, planing over afternoon porridge that would kick a lesser ski off course. With two full sheets of Titanal in its guts, the FX106 Ti isn’t one of those fat skis where the width isn’t noticeable; rather, its heft imparts confidence that in the battle against crud, its pilot is well armed.

Left to its own devices on firmer snow, the FX106 Ti likes its turns long and laid over. Not that its probable owner is likely to be a big fan of groomers, but they’re an unavoidable aspect of resort skiing, so you might as well make them fast and fun.

Ranger 107 Ti

In 19/20 Fischer re-designed the flagship of its Ranger Ti series, returning to a lay-up with twin Titanal laminates for stability and liberal use of carbon to make it responsive. Carbon inlays in the tip and tail help make the extremities thin and light, so the latest Ranger 107 Ti is easier to foot steer when necessary. “It’s user-friendly but still can be skied aggressively,” notes one admiring tester. “You can take your foot off the gas and it’s still responsive.”

Compared to the Ranger 108 Ti that preceded it, the Ranger 107 Ti has a slightly less shapely silhouette and a longer contact zone underfoot, giving it more directional stability and an overall calmer disposition in the sloppy seconds that prevail on so-called powder days. Its new sidecut favors the skier who can maintain momentum through a series of rhythmic, mid-radius turns that neither enter nor exit the turn too suddenly.

The Ranger 107 Ti is a Power ski that doesn’t take a lot of Power to handle. Its weight comes in handy both on hard snow, where its Ti laminates are of particular value, and in the kind of crud that bites back. After years of struggling to find the right formula for its off-trail collection, Fischer is showing promising signs of getting its Alpine, in-resort act together.

M-Free 108

The M-Free 108 isn’t a twin-tip by accident, but by intent: it expects its pilot to break the bonds of gravity at every opportunity, and doesn’t want to limit his options. When one is taking off and landing in loose, uneven snow, the instinct to smear is essential to survival.

The M-Free 108 is able to stay calm while tearing through crud in high gear because it wraps its unusual PU and poplar core in a fiberglass torsion box, which is essentially a giant, coiled spring. Just because there’s just a touch of Titanal in it underfoot – a lesson learned in the Cham series history – doesn’t mean it’s some sort of dainty pixie. It has some heft to it, enabling it to stand up to crispy crud.

The 3 sizes of the M-Free 108 couldn’t be more different. If you want it to feel “extremely stable for the amount of tip and tail rocker,” as Sawyer X. from Bobo’s found it, you’d best be on the 192cm. Don’t worry about the M-Free 108 losing its capacity for short turns, as its progressive shape and short platform underfoot can always be twisted sideways.

As long as this son of Cham has a cushion of snow to push on, it’s a secure ride with “surprising hold on hard conditions,” according to Robbie from Footloose. America’s youth will probably gravitate towards the 192cm, but in its shorter sizes its suitable for designation as a Silver Skier Selection.

Mindbender 106C Alliance

The Mindbender 106C Alliance ties together several strands of K2’s DNA. One strand is K2’s pioneering history of women’s models; since K2 introduced its first women’s ski, I dare say they’ve marketed more women’s models than any other brand. Another spiral of its genetic make-up is K2’s early adoption of rocker, giving it a wealth of experience in mastering flotation and ease of operation in deep snow. The baseline of the Mindbender 106C uses a low, gradual rocker on both ends, so all that surface area can take care of job one.

The third embedded gene is K2’s integration of its Women’s Alliance test team in its product development, a process that has been going on for over twenty years. Kim Reichhelm has been a leader of K2’s Alliance since its inception, and continues to contribute every year. Last year she filed a review of the Mindbender 106C that provided peek behind the curtain at her role at K2.