Before getting the Anima on snow, I’d said that it appeared to have “the potential to be a very versatile but playful all-mountain ski.” After three days on the Anima at Mt Bachelor, I’ve been impressed by how well the Anima has lived up to that possibility.
Of course, we’ll need to get more time on the Anima in deeper snow and more terrain early next season, but so far, it’s done a very good job of blending a playful nature with stability and predictability, and has felt reminiscent of some of our favorite skis in this class, including the Moment Bibby / Blister Pro and the ON3P Kartel 116.
My Three Questions
In my First Look, I had three main questions about the ski, and after time on the Anima at Mt Bachelor, I’ve come away with some answers — plus a few more questions that we’ll be looking to answer once we get the Anima into some deeper snow.
How Stable / Playful is the Anima?
So where on the “Stable” vs. “Playful” spectrum does the Anima fall? We’ll be publishing a Deep Dive article soon on this, but more generally, on one end of the spectrum are skis like the J Skis Friend and Revision Subtraction that are very, very playful and easy to ski. These skis sacrifice stability in favor of a jibby, poppy, easy ride. They feel pretty at home in the park, but they’re too light and soft to inspire confidence in variable snow at higher speeds.
On the other end of the spectrum are skis like the Moment Blister Pro, the Blizzard Gunsmoke, the ON3P Jeffrey 114, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Kartel 116. These are all capable skis that are comfortable going fast in less-than-perfect conditions, but sacrifice some jibbiness, and some of that easy, playful nature. The Anima belongs on this end of the spectrum. It’s pretty damp, not excessively tapered or rockered, and has a more substantial flex than many other skis in this group. On snow, it immediately felt pretty reminiscent of the 186 cm ON3P Kartel 116 and the 184 cm Blister Pro.
To be clear, the Anima isn’t the burliest ski out there, but for a 116mm-wide ski with a fairly playful shape, it felt very capable in the softer, hot-pow conditions we were skiing at Bachelor. In these (pretty forgiving conditions) I’d be hard pressed to pick a clear winner between the Kartel, Blister Pro, and Anima — they’re all quite capable and predictable here.
And yet, for all its stability and versatility, the Anima doesn’t sacrifice too much playfulness. I found that it was easy to pop off both the tips and tails, and the ski felt balanced in the air. I even took a few laps through Bachelor’s terrain parks on the Anima, and was very pleased with how playful and easy to jib it was.
My second question was how the Anima would perform mounted more forward? I started out with the Anima at the recommended line, -6 cm from center. That’s a little further back than some skis in this category (like the Line Mordecai or ON3P Kartel 116), but it’s right in line with the Moment Blister Pro. After a day with the Anima at -6 cm, I moved forward to -4 cm … and didn’t notice a huge difference. The flex pattern of the ski is consistent with no weird hinge points, and moving the ski forward 2 cm didn’t drastically change the ride.
That being said, the Anima did feel a little more balanced in the air at -4, and it didn’t feel like its stability really took a hit. So personally, I’d mount the Anima at -4 cm, since I just didn’t find a downside to the more forward mount, and I have a tendency to like skis mounted a little closer to center. But I don’t think you’ll go wrong with the recommended mount, either.
What About the Anima Freebird?
Having now skied the Anima, I’m even more curious and excited about this question. There are not a lot of playful, twin-tipped touring skis on the market, and the one in this category that really stands out is the Moment Bibby Tour. It’s a great ski, and the thought process behind it makes a lot of sense. Take a playful / capable pow ski, keep the same shape and dimensions, but use a lighter core and layup process? Sign me up! I really enjoyed being able to transfer back and forth between the Bibby Tour and the Blister Pro this winter. It’s really neat to be able to have a similar experience on very similar skis whether you’re skiing inbounds or out, and it makes for a bit of an easier / more coherent transition from the skin track to the lift line, since your touring ski doesn’t feel entirely different than your inbounds ski.
Given that I’ve been very impressed so far with the Anima as an inbounds ski — and given that it feels pretty similar to the 184 cm Blister Pro — I don’t think it’s a stretch to hope that the Anima Freebird is comparable to the Bibby Tour. More competition in that market can only be a good thing, and we’re excited to get time on the Anima Freebird next winter and compare it to the Bibby Tour.
2nd Look — Paul Forward’s Take
I also spent a bit of time on the Anima at Mt Bachelor, so will be weighing in with a bit of a different perspective.
After skiing the Nordica Enforcer 110, Nordica Enforcer Pro, Moment Bibby Pro, ON3P Billy Goat, Head Kore 117, DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist, DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist, Volkl Confession and the Salomon QST 118 all within in a week of being on the Anima, I had a lot of time on skis of comparable widths and stated purposes. I also have a different skiing style and background than Cy, and weigh a good (or bad!) 30lbs more than him.
Based on all of that, my immediate thought when I started my first run on the Anima was, “Wow, this is really a powder ski.” I didn’t get to ski it in cold pow at Bachelor, but the Anima immediately felt much looser and wider underfoot than any of the other 115-118 mm wide skis I had been on recently, with the exception of the QST 118, which I would classify as an excellent pow ski (especially for its width).
When I did get the Anima into a few turns of hot pow, it definitely provided more float and pivoted easier than the skis mentioned above, further backing up my theory that these would be a hoot on a pow day.
As Cy mentions, the Anima feels light underfoot, well balanced, and has energy in the tips and tails that beg them to be loaded up into ollies, shifties, and nose butters. I really hope I get a chance to pop and slarve around on a pair of these in powder someday. Like the Salomon QST 118, I think the Anima is best thought of as a powder ski that I think will perform much better in deep, soft snow than the typical ski in this waist width.
That feeling of extra width and flotation did, however, feel like it came at the cost of the Anima’s ability to engage and hold a carved edge on firmer surfaces. Even the ON3P Billy Goat (with its asymmetric sidecut) was easier to engage and hold an edge on firm snow. With a bit of effort and commitment to the downhill ski’s inside edge, I was able to lay down some carved turns, but of all the skis mentioned above, the Anima strikes me as the least fun to arc down firm snow.
That said, the Anima does offer a reasonably damp ride, and I suspect it will be totally capable of skiing fast through crud and chop back to the lifts on a pow day. Based on my initial impression, it just won’t be the best powder ski for carving trenches.
Anyone looking for a versatile, playful all-mountain pow ski in the ~115mm-wide range should give the Black Crows Anima serious consideration. It blends a pretty consistent and predictable ride in variable conditions with the ability to jib and play all over the mountain in a way that’s reminiscent of some of our favorite skis in this category.
If you’re looking for a more playful ski, there are lighter, softer options in this class. But if you want to haul through variable snow between your jibs and spins, the Anima is a great choice. It would make sense for those coming from a park background who are looking for a more stable ski that can charge, but it could also a good choice for more traditional skiers looking for something a bit more playful that won’t feel too unfamiliar from what they’re used to.
DEEP DIVE COMPARISONS: Black Crows Anima
Become a Blister member or Deep Dive subscriber to read how the Anima stacks up against a number of other playful powder skis, including the J Skis Friend, Armada ARV 116 JJ, Line Mordecai, ON3P Kartel 116, Moment Blister Pro, Atomic Bent Chetler, and K2 Catamaran. and more.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics