When the SNEWS team visited Fischer HQ in late November, most parts of the country were still dry. Despite the scarcity of snow nationally, warehouse shelves revealed little reserves left for fill-in orders, which made Nordic brand manager Peter Ashley very happy. Still, he was quick to point out that "winter has to show up" for this to be considered a good season for retailers and launch the sales into next year.
Fortunately, in December, winter arrived with a vengeance, dumping snow and driving demand at the retail level, which bodes well for Fischer and its dealers heading into the 2003/2004 buying season and the SIA trade show.
Since Fischer has been on an innovative streak over the last few years -- ShortCut Camber three years ago, S-Bound two years ago, and Nordic Cruising last year -- the company has elected to slow things down a tad to let the market catch up and breathe a bit.
Overall, expect to see slightly higher prices chiefly because the Euro is doing so well against the dollar. Ashley said he believes the increases will be minor, but consumers will still see $10 to $15 hikes on average.
Shipping and delivering efficiency has improved for Fischer this year due to the fact that Europe was prepackaging the skis. That allowed Fischer in the United States, which receives the majority of the company's shipments (other than boots from China) through Montreal, to turn around orders much more quickly to dealers.
"Fischer Austria was very, very accurate with orders this year and we will be continuing that practice in the future as it is so good for our dealers," said Ashley.
As for innovation from Fischer, while there is no "earth shattering" news to speak of, the company is hard at work tweaking the entire line making subtle changes and additions to improve performance of its overall ski line. Many of the changes are nothing more than adding features once found only in high-end or specialty products into a more broad range so those features will benefit more consumers.
Speed Tip (pictured right) and Speed Tail (pictured below) are now added to the RCS Classic and RCS SkateCut. The advantage of the tip and tail is very clear as the realized weight reduction reduces skier fatigue and aids the skier when cornering, making step-turns, and herring-boning (yeah, our favorite thing to do!), as well as optimizing swingweight for increased tempo.
On the S-Bound front, the Outtabounds Crown with 88-68-78 cm sidecut and SnowShocks was added last year -- essentially a beefier Rebound -- and did so well the company is adding a wax version for this year.
Nordic Cruising captured a lot of attention at SIA last year because of increased control and stability without reducing glide, and based on our extensive tests of the high-end Orbiter model, the concept will continue to have significant impact at retail. The adult ski line is available in three sizes based on a skier's weight (Small - 164 cm, Medium - 174 cm and Large - 184 cm) and as a result is a very easy line to work with and merchandise, retailers have told us.
This year, two more models are added to the line. The Pacer is the first skating introduction in the Nordic Cruising family and features the company's new AirTec core for a strong, yet lightweight and economical construction. Sizing is slightly different for the Pacer (Small - 151 cm, Medium - 174 cm, and Large - 184 cm). The Pacer should make retailers smile as it is a ski they've been asking for and Fischer has finally delivered.
The Jupiter targets entry-level skiers and is Fischer's answer to the skier who doesn't want to spend much money on a ski they won't use that often, but will get immediately turned off if that "value" ski doesn't perform well. Fischer is betting that the ski will do so well for those customers, they'll want to upgrade and try skiing more often.