2018-2019 Black Crows Anima

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.

Cy Whitling reviews the Black Crows Anima for Blister Review
Cy Whitling on the Black Crows Anima at Mt Bachelor.

Mount Point?

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.

Bottom Line

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

21 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.
    Thanks!
    Fred

  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.

    • 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?
      Thanks!

  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.

  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…

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