2018-2019 Black Crows Anima

Cy Whitling reviews the Black Crows Anima for Blister Gear Review
Black Crows Anima

Ski: 2018-2019 Black Crows Anima, 188.4 cm

Available Lengths: 176.8, 182.1, 188.4, 194.3 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 185.8 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (182.1 cm): 2150 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2183 & 2190 grams

Stated Dimensions: 143-115-128 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 142-116.5-129

Stated Sidecut Radius: 21 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 79 mm / 64 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~1 mm

Core Construction: Poplar, carbon, & kevlar strips

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -6 cm from center; 87.0 cm from tail

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Strider Pro 130 / Tyrolia AAAttack² 13 AT

Days Skied: 5

Test Location: Mt Bachelor, Oregon

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 17/18 Anima, which was not changed for 18/19, apart from graphics.]


While we’ve reviewed several Black Crows skis this season (the Camox Freebird, the Corvus Freebird, the Atris, and a comparison of the Atris vs the Corvus), we’re going to be weighing in now on the Anima, Black Crow’s wider, big-mountain ski.

Black Crows calls the Anima, “a very stable ski and extremely stable at high speed. It will embrace a skier’s creativity (big lines, jumps, quick pivot) and keep him on his feet.”

On paper, the Anima looks remarkably similar to skis like the Armada ARV 116, ON3P Kartel 116, and Moment Blister Pro. And Black Crow’s description of the Anima makes it clear that it is not just meant to be a jib noodle, it’s also supposed to be capable and stable.

Reviewer Paul Forward also put some time in the Anima, and we’ve now added his impressions and comparisons to this review, too.

We’ve also now posted our Deep Dive Comparisons of the Anima to a host of other playful powder skis, so become a Blister member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our comparisons.

Flex Pattern

I’d sum up the Anima’s flex pattern like this:

Tips: 7
Shovels: 8
Underfoot: 9.5
Behind the Heels: 8
Tails: 6-7

The Anima has a very smooth flex pattern that ramps up gradually, with no hinge points. It’s stiffer throughout than the Armada ARV 116 JJ, and feels very similar to the ON3P Kartel 116. Black Crows uses the word “stable” twice in their description of the Anima, and this flex pattern should contribute to this ski’s stability — it’s on the stiffer end of the spectrum for playful skis of this width.

Shape and Rocker Profile

The Anima falls right in line with the current crop of playful but versatile skis of this width. It’s not drastically tapered, and its 21-meter sidecut radius is pretty standard. Here again, it looks very similar to the ON3P Kartel 116, and Armada ARV 116, which seems like a good thing given that both of those skis do a good job being quick and playful without giving up too much variable-snow performance.

The same can be said about the rocker profile. The rocker lines don’t run too deep, and there’s a fairly long cambered portion underfoot. But the camber underfoot isn’t too pronounced, so that should help the ski grip in variable snow without making it too hooky to slash and butter.

Overall, nothing really stands out as particularly unusual about the Anima, other than its odd, angular tips. Personally, I don’t really notice or care how they look, and I really don’t think they’ll have any effect on how they feel on snow.

Mount Point

For this class of skis, the Anima has a fairly normal mount point of -6 cm from center. That’s a little further back than the ON3P Kartel 116 (which has a -4 mount point), but should contribute to the stability and versatility that Black Crows touts, and it’s right in line with the Moment Blister Pro, which has a similar shape and intended purpose. We’ll experiment a bit with the Anima’s mount point, starting at the recommended -6 cm, then moving closer to center.

A Few Questions

(1) Where on the Stable vs. Playful spectrum does the Anima fall? Is it more of a very playful all-mountain ride like the Line Mordecai and J Skis Friend, or is it a more capable ski with a bit of a playful side, like the Moment Blister Pro or ON3P Kartel 116?

(2) How does the Anima perform mounted closer to center? Does it feel remarkably more maneuverable? Less stable? About the same?

(3) Finally, a big related question that I’m very curious about: Black Crows makes the “Freebird” version of the Anima, with a lighter layup and the same shape. If the Anima lives up to its similarities with the regular Moment Bibby / Blister Pro, then how does the Anima Freebird compare to the Bibby Tour? There aren’t too many skis that directly compete with the Bibby Tour, so it will be very interesting to see if the Anima Freebird has the potential to do that.

Bottom Line (For Now)

On paper, the Anima looks like it has the potential to be a very versatile but playful all-mountain ski. I’ll be weighing in shortly on how it performed at Mt Bachelor, and how it compares to skis like the Armada ARV 116 JJ, ON3P Kartel 116, etc.

NEXT: The Review

29 comments on “2018-2019 Black Crows Anima”

  1. You guys going to review the Blizzard Rustler 11 this spring? So many skis in the ~115 play/charge category these days, it’s going to be hard to choose…

    • The 194 is better on piste than a 190 Bibby, it offers more grip on hard snow and/or ice. It doesn’t float in deep snow as well as a 190 Bibby (both mounted @ -6cm). The Anima isn’t as stiff as a Bibby, and thus doesn’t plow through cut up snow as well as the Bibby, but weighs less. I see the 188 Anima as a touring ski with some resort days and the 194 more so as a hike and resort ski. I find the 194 Anima to be a great all-round ski and not just a pure pow ski, there are other skis that perform better in deep snow. If you think the Bibby is a great one ski quiver, but too short, then the 194 Anima should be on your radar depending on where you live and what you like to ski.

  2. Hey,

    im wondering why you you wrote that the Factory Recommended Mount Point is -6 cm from center?
    When was in contact with Black Crows they recommended true center als a mounting point for the Anima.

    Thanks for your answer

    • I think you might have misunderstood the difference between true center and the recommended mount point. True center is the half way point of the ski and usually only park skis are mounted in that location. So when the recommended mount point says -6 cm, that means -6 cm from true center. The ski was actually designed around that -6 cm mount point.

  3. Hey, Thanks for the review! I am looking for dedicated powder skis for the alps und could get my hands on a pair of Animas in the 182 length. However, I’m 6“1 and I think the 182cm will be to short for me. Also because they seem to measure short according to your review. Do you see me getting away with the 182? I would describe ‘s level as medium to advanced.

  4. Hi Cy, thanks for the Anima review. In the market for a new pow-touring ski, & am super interested in the possibility of an Anima Freebird vs. Bibby Tour comparison test you hint at here. Any chance of a first look along those lines anytime soon?
    Sniffing around Black Crow’s website, I noticed they’ve taken a page from the Moment playbook & significantly decreased the amount of camber in the Freebird, touring version of the Anima. Since I primarily tour in relatively dense coastal snowpack here in the Sierras, I’ve learned that camber height can be just as critical as side cut to the way touring skis perform in deeper, inconsistent backcountry snow.
    This leads to the camber measurement of ~1mm that Blister has published at the top of this review of the regular Anima. Scrolling up to the base profile pics just above, there looks to be a good half-inch of daylight between ski bases. This would put the camber height for the “resort” Anima at ~6mm. Typo perhaps?
    For the sake of a future Anima/Anima Freebird to Blister Pro / Bibby Tour comparo, it would be awesome to see Blister revisit the camber numbers for both parings. I’ve skied both of the Moments, and neither of the Black Crows, so that would be a useful cross reference.

    • I agree w your Camber comments on Anima ….have you learned anything more since you posted comment ? I am looking at these as welll. I have the Daemon and really like those too

  5. Yes on Camber from Matt above ??? Looks like way more than 1mm that Black Crows states.

    Please clarify professors at Blister when ya can.

  6. Hello,
    As I see you guys measured the 188’s at roughly 184 cord length, would you know if the 194’s also measure a few cm’s shorter.
    Did the 188’s seem to ski shorter?
    Also any input on the mounting position.

    • Hi,
      Nice review,
      I’d like to add my personal experiment with the mounting point : I started with – 4 as you guys said it changes not to much, just a bit jibbier. But I end up with some trouble to keep the tips above the snow in deep powder, I had to leen pretty hard on the back to keep the tips floating and it wasn’t that fun anymore…
      Then I changed to – 6 and I didn’t have that problem anymore, just if I want by over driving my shovels.
      If you’re thinking about mounting yours for a jibbier ride I wouldn’t go further forward than – 5 cm.
      The tips raise up quite fast so when they go in the snow it slow you down and tend to drag the skis deeper in the snow, if your stance is really straight and you’re never driving your shovels it could maybe work with – 4 but think at it twice ;)

    • Hey Josh, (or other 194 Anima owners)
      Do you find this larger size maneuverable still? Do they feel very rockered or very long?

      I’m currently enjoying the 17/18 Bent Chetlers (192cm), but looking to make a switch. The Chetlers are massively rockered which makes them work in tight trees – which I love. Unfortunately I’m finding them weirdly complex and unpredictable on anything remotely hardpack.

      My preference of skiing is 60% fast/chargy and 40% tight/techy. I’m 6’3″ and 200 lbs. Think I’ll find balance with the 194s or do they feel like an alpine only ski?

  7. I have the 194s, I’m 6’1” 210. I tried the 188s and ended up on the 194s because I felt too much tip dice on the 188s at my size so it was either mount back a couple cm or size up. I find the 194s to be decently maneuverable and don’t mind them all in the bumps. They aren’t near as quick as the 188s for me and feel like a slightly longer turn radius than stated, maybe 25m v 21. Where as the 188s felt spot on 21. They are good in decent spaces trees for me but in the tighter stuff, I find them to be a little big as they like to move fast and are hard to throw sideways in tight spaces for speed checks. I’ve been tempted to try a 2cm more forward mount to see if that improves pivot speed in tight places.

    Overall, these skis rock for most of what I ski. They hold an edge on firmer snow and has become my go to ski unless it’s really hard pack. They are my daily driver for Arapahoe Basin (great for 40-60 mph for making smeared turns on the Spine) and just absolutely slay wide open spaces at Vail. They are pretty incredible for high speed runs in the chop at the end of a powder day in the Bowls and I find plenty of float and no tip dive in the larger size. They are one of the best skis I’ve been on for landing drops with stability.

    • Looking back at my comments, I’d want to edit it slightly for clarity. The Animas do pivot well and they are easy to throw sideways in bigger spaces. My comment about being hard to throw sideways is more about the size of the ski (194) versus the space in tight trees.
      I got back on my Super 7s (188) yesterday and those are much easier in the trees, but absolutely suck in comparison to the Animas at speed or on groomers/ chop. Honestly, the Rossi’s seem like an intermediate ski in comparison, which is why I turned them into my Dynafit mounted touring ski for the most part.

  8. I am considering this ski for a powder ski and also days where it is chopped up. I am also looking at the Black Crows nocta. Was curious if the anima would be better for me overall because i like jumping off cliffs but also want to be able to ski fast and stay stable when I hit the groomers. I am 5’10 155. Would the anima be plenty for me on deep powder days or should I be looking for at the nocta? I have a pair of Rustler 11’s already but I know the anima is a very different ski than the rustler. I appreciate all the help.

    • Hey Riley, did you end up with the Noctas? I’m still debating on these or the new Rossignol Black ops 118? Comments anyone? Thanks

  9. @ Riley, they’re awesome skis. This review nails it all I would add is that despite looking like it has a lot of camber, the feel underfoot is more pivoty and loose than other, full rocker skis I’ve tried like the Völkls. The skis literally beg to be spun around and skied switch and my fat old ass might even learn a proper butter here pretty soon on these things. I’m 5’8 200# and the 188s are perfect and float and charge like a dream.

  10. Ok I had a strange experience with this ski this year. I am 5’11” 175 lbs year-round skier who lives at resorts in Montana and Chile and Heli /Cat skis 20+ days a year. I have skied Blizzard most of my life and the Bodacious (the year they softened it a bit) has been my go-to ski in all conditions for years. Being 53 years old I decided to ramp down from a pure charger ski to this combo speed / playful category and chose the 188 Anima and had it mounted at the recommended point. I was having a little trouble adjusting to the ski in any conditions outside of pure powder but still had some fun days on it so chalked it up to an adjustment period. On a particularly challenging heli day in BC (with a crust on the top half of the runs) the ski became really hard to control. I was experiencing severe tip dive and compared to folks on the Rossi Super 7s I had to work way harder (literally using my arms jumping straight up and down) to free the tips into the next turn. I chalked that up to the relative stiffness between the two skis and moved on. But most of the way through the season on the Anima I retained this “uneasy” feeling outside of pure powder. I was skiing slower and noticeably more careful than in years past. “Just getting old” I thought. Then this week on a mixed condition day I went back to the Bodacious and confidence and speed immediately went back up 20% (including hard sideways turns to dump speed in trees and we know the Bodacious isn’t designed for that). I was shocked at the difference between the Bodacious and the Anima and kicked myself for not doing the comparison earlier.

    I post this not as a negative review of the Anima itself. As I mentioned I had some fun days on it especially in pure powder and may keep it in the quiver as a pure powder ski. But I do think that trying to find a ski that charges AND is playful in mixed conditions may still just be in the realm of marketing if my experience means anything.

    I’d be interested in other’s thoughts.

    I’m back on my Bodacious and looking for more of them from the year Blizzard softened them because I’m not getting any younger. But clearly this old dog still likes to charge.

    • From Blister’s reviews, the obvious recommendation is the Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro. Also the Rossignol Black Ops 118 may well be interesting, check out Blister’s write-ups on both skis.

      The Anima is a kind of an outlier in the Black Crows line up for me: the next one down, the Atris, is clearly more all-mountain-oriented, and the reverse-cambered Nocta is clearly more powder-oriented. The Anima does add width compared to the Atris, and, I suppose, it does add all-mountain versatility compared to the Nocta but I found it somehow uninspiring when I demoed it; it doesn’t seem to improve either of the surrounding skis in the line up in a way that would appeal to me. Personally, I’d prefer something stronger (stiffer & maybe more precise) than the Anima; I own both the Atris & the Nocta. Actually, the current 189.7 cm Atris (skied it 2-3 days last winter) felt roughly what I’d hope the 188.4 cm Anima to feel like (just add width; but, currently, I’ll be personally sticking with the 188 cm 16/17 Candide 4.0 in the 118 mm category = wide ski for the Alps for me). I don’t know if this clear up anything, but IMO the Anima probably works best in easy, fairly consistent, and soft conditions. And I could adjust to it, too, but don’t really want to.

      Also, it may be worth noticing is that Blizzard brought the old Bodacious back. Don’t know if it is the same flex as “the year they softened it a bit” but maybe somebody else does…

  11. I’ve been skiing the 194 Anima (2018/2019) for about 25 days now, half resort and half backcountry, mounted to the Shift binding, on the recommended line.

    I bought this ski as my one-ski quiver and earnestly give it 10 out of 10 stars. It definitely enjoys the speed, and feels more capable the harder you push it. You can charge it quite hard over chop/bumps – its not the stiffest ski I’ve been on by any means but it tends to act damp when you need it to. At first I found the turning radius to be really long and thought I could only carve super big turns, but after some practice I now really enjoy the edging it offers on smaller radius turns also. (I demo’d the 188 and found it turned much lesser radius btw). In soft snow, the turn is your creation; the ski is totally happy from edging to sideways.

    I’m 6’3″ and about 200 lbs, and I dont find the 194 particularly long either in sensation or its turning characteristics. I would not hesitate to recommend the longer length is someone felt between sizes. It has a noticeably low swing-weight, and a deep rocker line when the camber is compressed. Tight trees are just fine as long as you stay off the toilet. The tails are actually a little softer than the shovels but you still need to be active about getting the weight off them when making tight turns. (Sorry, maybe thats just skiing generally…)

    It really does pivot well from under the boot. On firm pack it wants to be driven just a little in front of the boot I find. In pow (and especially at speed) it skis very upright and centered. The landing point for cliffs/jumps is about as forgiving as anything could be. Like any ski, it has its nuance. There are subtleties to figure out, but its by no means an eclectic weirdo. I would say its easy to learn and more forgiving than punishing.

    If I had to choose an ideal line for this ski, it would include a cautionary-snow run-in, cliff drop to medium-pow, and a chargy exit over dynamic terrain. If I wasn’t skiing fast, or hadn’t sold my other skis, or only toured in primo powder, then I wouldn’t choose the Anima again. Its amazing for your typical alpha wannabe-pro. Given its width and length (194cm x 115mm) it has quite poor floatation. Skiing deep pow at slow speed is probably its least favourable function. But even then, its not bad. I’m working hard to find the fault in this wonderful ski. It just feels so appropriate in such a wide range or snow and terrain scenarios. I should note here that the 188, for me personally, was utterly useless in any deep snow. The 188 felt quicker edge to edge for some reason, but totally submarined any power it found. Long sticks for wins I think.

    Big thanks to Blister: the original review as well the comments on this site really helped me decide so I wanted give back with this mini-review to potentially support the decision of others.

  12. I’m struggling to choose between the Anima and the Nocta. I currently have the Atris and freaking love this ski. It’s the most fun I’ve had on a ski. Problem I have is I likely a variety of things. I love carving huge surfy turns at high speed on powder on steep terrain, I highly value a nimble ski that can turn quickly for tighter turns and regularly ski through the trees. Of course every powder day ends with chopped up terrain so what I get needs to handle that well too. The fast chatty nature of the anima sounds awesome but I’m also wondering the if the Nocta would be better since sometimes i hit resorts with tree runs that are less steep. I should mention I’m 5’11” 165 lbs, advanced skier. Earnestly working on getting to expert. Any help is appreciated.

  13. Blahe
    I have the Nocta and the Anima freebird. I would choose the Nocta. Hands down. And in reality I DO choose the Nocta over and over again if its any kind of soft snow condition. The Nocta is light, surprisingly stable at speed, loves to slarve and carve huge turns, yet is amazingly nimble in tight terrain. It skies chop well too. I feel like a heavier ski would do better there but the width and reverse camber feel predictable in chop. They are a hoot on soft groomers. Anything but ice. I bought the Anima freebird for longer tours and for soft snow that wasn’t “super deep” but, I feel like they are TOO similar a ski and I keep reaching for the Nocta because it does what the Anima does in soft snow but, better. I havn’t skied the Atris but, I suspect if you are looking at more mixed conditions the Atris would ski them better than the Anima and if you are looking at deep or not deep soft snow the Nocta would ski those conditions better.

    • @John thanks so much for your response this is very helpful! May I ask what length you went with? I’m 5’11” and 165 lbs without gear. Leaning towards the 185 so I can maneuver in trees but I want to make sure I have enough float for the chop at the end of a powder day so wondering if I need the 190’s. I can’t imagine sinking on a 122 mm wide ski though at the 185 length. The only time I feel tip dive on my 184 cm atris is through chop.

  14. Leaning towards the anima to mount with some tecton. Would use it for some backcountry and softer resort days. Reviews overall seem positive. Do most feel they can ski the trees well with this ski? Or is there another ski of similar width people might recommend for that intended use in the Wydaho region (Tetons). Thanks.

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