This Testers’ Choice winner is a great choice for the advancing woman “who wants to spend time perfecting her turns with a patient teacher,” as one tester put it, and move to the expert realm. Experts loved it also but found it most comfortable at about five below the speed limit. A powerful tail zips you out of turns and keeps you honest in the bumps. It gets a tad squirrelly running flat, but that serves as a helpful reminder for the improving rider to get it up on edge.
The Koa 80, with its 80-mm waist width, is a high-performance women's frontside carver. It features a fairly stiff flex for aggressive, expert-level women, with carbon-fiber reinforcement of its wood core. It's sold only as a system - this year with a new, sturdier 10-DIN binding, rather than last year's 9-DIN binding.
Fischer's Koa collection of women's specific skis is a broad series comprising six models ranging in width from 110 down to 75. All models are rockered (narrower models in the tip only; wider ones in the tip and tail). All (except the value-priced, foam-core Koa 75) are wood-core, laminate constructions with full-length/height sidewalls. Wood is used for durability and responsiveness; full sidewalls for optimized edge grip and solidity underfoot. The sidewalls are angled - less edgy than vertical sidewalls and more resistant to damage caused by the opposite ski's edge. Fischer's women's skis get all-poplar wood cores, which are lighter and softer flexing.
Family-owned Fischer Skis is based in Reid, Austria, where all its skis (and many of those of other brands) are built. Fischer says its factory in Reid is the second largest manufacturer of skis in the world.