Ski: 2022-2023 Black Crows Anima, 189.2 cm
Days Skied: 10
Available Lengths: 176.6, 182.1, 189.2, 194.4 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 187.4 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2259 & 2279 grams
Stated Dimensions: 147-115-136 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 146.2-114.8-135.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (189.2 cm): 19 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 64 mm / 55 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 6 mm
Core Materials: poplar + carbon & kevlar stringers + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -6.3 cm from center; 87.4 cm from tail
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 20/21 Anima, which returns unchanged for 21/22 and 22/23, apart from graphics.]
The Anima has now been in the Black Crows line since the 15/16 season, serving as a playful big-mountain powder ski that slots between the reverse-camber, 122mm-wide Nocta and the narrower Atris and Corvus.
The Anima had always seemed appealing to me since it appeared to work well for both hard-charging Freeride World Tour athletes like Kristofer Turderll and more playful riders like Callum Pettit. Of course, those guys are so talented that I’m sure they could make just about any ski look cool, but that blend of stability and playfulness is something Black Crows emphasizes when describing the Anima, and that sort of combo is something I tend to love.
Apart from graphics, the Anima had gone unchanged since it was introduced, but Black Crows decided to update it for the 20/21 season, and those changes carried over into the 21/22 and 22/23 seasons. We’ve now been able to get multiple reviewers on the Anima over the course of two seasons, so it’s time for our full review. First, though, we’ll kick things off with our First Look from when we first got our hands on the ski:
What Black Crows says about the Anima
“A rejuvenating treatment for the animal to improve its performance on hard ground and at low speed.
The side lines have been lengthened to the extremities to reinforce its hold, its flex has been homogenized, its heel lightly drawn-out and its tip enlarged. With better weight balance, this freeride beast has an improved performance on hard snow and has gained precision.”
To expand on that brief explanation, Black Crows lengthened the effective edge of the Anima for 20/21 by moving the widest points of its tips and tails slightly closer to the ends of the ski (i.e., decreased the amount of tip and tail taper).
While the Anima is still 115 mm underfoot, the 20/21 version also has notably wider tips and tails: comparing the new 189 cm Anima to the old 188 cm version, the tips grew from 143 mm to 147 mm and the tails grew from 129 mm to 136 mm.
This results in a few things. First, the 20/21 Anima has a tighter stated sidecut radius (19 meters vs. 21 meters on the old version). That should make it easier to get on edge at slower speeds. Second, there’s now slightly less of a difference between the width of the tips and the width of the tails, which I’d assume is what Black Crows is referring to when they say the new version offers “better weight balance.” Lastly, the Anima’s wider tips and tails should equate to just a bit more surface area, which could help improve flotation.
As for the flex pattern being “homogenized,” we thought that the previous Anima had a pretty smooth flex pattern with no hinge points, but as we’ll get into below, the new Anima’s flex pattern does feel pretty consistent when comparing the front- and back-halves, so maybe that’s what Black Crrows is describing. Black Crows designer, Julien Regnier, also said that he made the new Anima slightly stiffer overall in an effort to balance the new ski’s tighter sidecut radius; because the new ski should be easier to get on edge and bend into a turn, the stiffer flex pattern is designed to keep it from feeling too eager to bend into tight turns.
Shape / Rocker Profile
While the Anima’s shape features some noteworthy changes, the overall look is pretty similar to the previous version. The original Anima wasn’t a dramatically tapered ski, compared to other playful pow skis, and the new version is now slightly less tapered.
Overall, the Anima looks fairly similar to skis like the Moment Wildcat and Whitedot Altum 114. Those are two shapes that we really like, since we find that their moderately tapered tips and tails do a good job of keeping them fairly loose when needed, but without feeling twitchy / unstable at speed.
The new Anima’s rocker lines look fairly similar to the previous version, though its tail rocker line looks like it’s a tiny bit shallower and its tip rocker line is maybe a bit deeper. But more notably, the new Anima’s tip rocker line is now more low-slung — it doesn’t rise as abruptly, and combined with its slightly longer effective edge, I think that could help improve the new ski’s carving performance on firmer conditions. The new Anima also has slightly less tip and tail splay than the previous version, though I’d still call its tail a nearly true “twin.”
The 20/21 Anima maintains camber underfoot, and it actually has a lot of it. We measured 6 mm of camber underfoot on our pair of the new Anima, and decambering the ski to get the tip and tail splay numbers required a notable amount of effort on my part. I’m curious if this will also help the new ski’s edge hold (and pop?), and I’m also eager to see if that camber has any sort of effect on how loose and surfy the ski feels in fresh snow.
Overall, the Anima’s rocker profile isn’t anything out of the ordinary for a playful pow ski. Compared to skis like the Moment Wildcat, Whitedot Altum 114, and Armada ARV 116 JJ, the Anima’s rocker lines (particularly its tail rocker line) are slightly on the shallower end. But this still looks like a rocker profile that’d encourage a playful approach to skiing.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Anima:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-10
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-9
The Anima has a pretty round, symmetrical-feeling flex pattern with smooth transitions from its softer extremities to its stout midsection. Overall, it is a strong ski — especially compared to other options designed with playful / freestyle skiing in mind. Its tips and tails are notably stiffer than those on skis like the K2 Reckoner 112, Armada ARV 116 JJ, and Liberty Origin 112.
The Anima’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the Whitedot Altum 114 and Moment Wildcat, though the Anima’s tips and tails are stiffer than the Wildcat’s.
Like the previous Anima, the 20/21 version features a mount point that’s right around -6 cm from true center.
Frequent readers of Blister will know that this is a mount point that a lot of our reviewers really like, since, on most skis designed around a -6 cm mount point, we find that we can ski them pretty centered and also with a more forward, driving stance. It’s nice to have that option, particularly on a ski that’s supposed to be good for throwing tricks and skiing hard through more variable conditions.
Our pair of the old 188 cm Anima came in at ~2186 grams per ski, which wasn’t particularly light or extremely heavy. The new 189 cm Anima gained some weight, with our pair coming in at an average measured weight of 2269 grams per ski.
Combined with its strong flex pattern, the 20/21 Anima’s weight makes me very optimistic about its stability and suspension in rough conditions. I’m sure it won’t feel as nimble in the air as some of the really light skis in this class (e.g., Atomic Bent Chetler 120 and Line Vision 118), but I’d be willing to bet that the Anima is going to feel pretty composed in chop and crud compared to many other playful pow skis.
For reference, here are our measured weights for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples to apples.
1625 g Moonlight Cruiser 50/50, 186 cm (21/22–22/23) – stated weight
1710 & 1744 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm (18/19–22/23)
1808 & 1809 Line Pescado, 180 cm (16/17–22/23)
1873 & 1878 Line Vision 118, 183 cm (20/21–22/23)
1870 & 1895 Faction La Machine Max, 186 cm (20/21–22/23)
1895 & 1906 Folsom Trophy Carbon, 188 cm (18/19–22/23)
1897 & 1913 Majesty Vanguard, 188 cm (20/21)
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm (17/18–20/21)
2006 & 2063 Elan Ripstick 116, 193 cm (20/21–22/23)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2019 & 2051 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm (19/20–22/23)
2024 & 2031 Line Outline, 186 cm (19/20–22/23)
2034 & 2052 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm (17/18–21/22)
2043 & 2046 4FRNT Inthayne, 188 cm (18/19–22/23)
2062 & 2080 Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM, 190 cm (19/20–21/22)
2081 & 2115 Faction Candide 5.0, 183 cm (18/19–21/22)
2105 & 2185 Head Kore 117, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2125 & 2134 Kye Shapes Metamorph, 185 cm (19/20–21/22)
2136 & 2174 K2 Reckoner 122, 184 cm (20/21–22/23)
2149 & 2158 DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, 191 cm (17/18–20/21)
2173 & 2204 4FRNT Renegade, 191 cm (19/20–22/23)
2174 & 2187 Moment Wildcat, 190 cm (18/19–19/20)
2212 & 2215 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm (17/18–22/23)
2222 & 2278 Prior CBC, 184 cm (17/18–22/23)
2237 & 2315 Salomon QST 118, 192 cm (19/20–20/21)
2240 & 2250 Volkl Revolt 121, 184 cm (19/20–22/23)
2250 & 2280 Movement Fly Two 115, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
2259 & 2279 Black Crows Anima, 189.2 cm (20/21–22/23)
2280 & 2286 Icelantic Nomad 115, 191 cm (19/20–22/23)
2329 & 2344 Blizzard Spur, 189 cm (20/21–21/22)
2341 & 2357 Dynastar M-Free 118, 189 cm (18/19–22/23)
2343 & 2360 J Skis Friend, 189 cm (19/20–21/22)
2346 & 2351 Nordica Enforcer 115 Free, 191 cm (17/18–22/23)
2416 & 2468 Liberty Genome, 187 cm (17/18–20/21)
2438 & 2480 DPS Foundation Koala 119, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2438 & 2492 Rossignol BLACKOPS 118, 186 cm (16/17–22/23)
2561 & 2585 Kye Shapes Numinous, 189 cm (19/20–21/22)
2700 & 2703 Armada ARG II, 187 cm (19/20–21/22)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) The new Anima is supposed to be playful and stable, so our main question is where exactly it will fall on that spectrum. Do you need to be throwing tricks, skiing switch, etc. to really enjoy this ski? Or could more directional skiers also get along well with it?
(2) Given its fairly heavy weight, how damp and smooth will the new Anima feel on days when soft snow is nowhere to be found?
(3) On that note, how well will the new Anima carve on firm snow? And with its 19-meter sidecut radius, what types of turn shapes will it want to make?
(4) Conversely, how well will the Anima float in really deep snow, particularly compared to skis with softer flex patterns and / or deeper rocker lines?
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): I skied the Anima during a few resort powder days and, as you’d expect of a ~115mm-wide ski, it’s a lot of fun in fresh snow.
In terms of flotation, I never had any issues with the 189 cm Anima; the deepest snow I got it in was probably about a foot deep. It’s not a super rockered, soft pow ski that instantly planes above the surface of any and all powder, but I never felt like it was really getting bogged down.
In soft snow, the Anima is also a bit looser and easier to break free than I expected, given that it’s not a radically rockered or tapered design. Regardless, when I was snaking my way through tight trees looking for leftover stashes, the Anima was pretty easy to slash and slide around.
Dylan Wood (5’10”, 155 lbs / 178 cm, 70 kg): I was also fortunate enough to get the Anima in some powder, including one of the 20” days we had in December 2021. I would agree with everything Luke said; the Anima is pretty average for its width and length when it comes to flotation in pow.
I would also add that the Anima wasn’t particularly inspiring to ski with a forward, directional stance in powder; rather, it encouraged a more centered stance in deep snow. From a centered stance, it was easy to pivot and quickly slash around, as Luke mentioned.
Reviewer Paul Forward (6’, 200 lbs / 183 cm, 90.7 kg) also got on the 189 cm Anima for a day when he was down at Mt. Crested Butte, and while his experience was brief, we wanted to include some of his quick thoughts:
“The Anima was a really nice balance of stability and quickness. It felt pretty light underfoot and I had an easier time with it in tight and steep spots than the other skis (Folsom Cash 117) I tried that day, but the Anima still felt good when I could let them run. I’m surprised it has such a tight radius; it didn’t feel like hooky at all to me, which I sometimes associate with sub-20-meter radius skis. It would be fun to A/B against the OG Moment Bibby/Blister Pro. My guess is that it will get knocked around more but will float quite a bit better.”
Luke: There are looser and/or float-ier pow skis than the Anima, but I thought it stood out from many similarly wide skis when the snow was not untouched. In short, this ski offers pretty good stability in chopped-up conditions, while still being pretty easy to ski.
The Anima doesn’t match class leaders like the Rossignol Blackops 118 when it comes to high-speed stability in chop, but especially compared to other pow skis designed with playful / freestyle skiing in mind, I’d say the Anima sits on the more stable end of the spectrum. Especially in freshly cut-up, lower-density chop, I rarely felt the need to dial back my speed on the Anima. And as in untracked pow, the Anima remains pretty easy to throw sideways and shut down when you need to.
Dylan: Yep, the Anima does shine in soft chop. It makes it fun to rally through soft chop and test your own speed limit. Not only this, but when things do get out of hand, the Anima is pretty easy to quickly throw sideways and dump speed. While the 2400+ gram chop-destroyers of the world are likely better options for those who place an absolute premium on composure in chop, I found the Anima to be a bit easier to ski and quicker than those options.
Firm Chop / Crud
Luke: The Anima continues to perform better than its waist width and design intentions might suggest when chop gets more consolidated and firm.
Again, this isn’t the most stable ski, but it’s also definitely not the least. The Anima offers nice enough suspension that I don’t dread being on it when I encounter some really firm crud, and in conditions softer than fully refrozen crap, the Anima offers enough suspension and composure to be skied pretty fast.
I’d pick a narrower ski if I planned on skiing a lot of shallower, firmer crud; wider skis just tend to put a lot of torque on my knees in those conditions. But for what it is — a fairly wide, playful ski — the Anima handles rougher snow quite well.
Dylan: At Mount Crested Butte, we often get days after a storm when most of the mountain is firm crud, but there are certain areas of the mountain that have not been open since the snow fell and a rope drop could happen any day. The Anima was a good ski to take out on days like this where I’d be hoping to find some powder and soft chop, but likely skiing a lot of firm crud, too.
While I probably wouldn’t use the Anima as a daily driver for a place like Mt. CB, I thought it handled the crud I encountered well for the reasons Luke mentioned above.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
Luke: The 189 cm Anima we tested is a pretty accessible ski in tight terrain, though it’s one where I think momentum is your friend. E.g., it felt pretty sluggish and cumbersome when we were stopping and starting a bunch to set up photos, but much less so when I was just skiing along (even if I wasn’t going particularly fast).
I’m sure the 182 cm Anima would feel at least a bit more nimble in really tight terrain, but if maximum maneuverability and minimum swing weight are your priorities, you’ve got better, lighter options. But keep the 189 cm Anima moving down the fall line, and it actually feels pretty maneuverable for its size. It’s also not a really punishing ski, and I felt like I could shift my weight fore / aft a pretty significant amount without feeling like I was out of control.
Dylan: Yep. Keep things moving, and the 189 cm Anima handles tight and technical terrain well. It takes a lot of effort to hop and jump turn your way through the tightest of stuff on the Anima, but as long as you have enough room to maintain some speed (say, 7 mph / 11 kph), the Anima can be slid and pivoted around with relative ease, especially for how long and wide it is.
Luke: The Anima does just fine on groomers for a powder-oriented ski. The tighter (relative to the previous generation) 19-meter sidecut radius of the latest Anima makes it pretty easy to get it on edge and it digs into firm snow quite well for its width. At the same time, I personally didn’t notice any “grabbing” or “hooking” when making big turns on roughed-up groomers, which I have sometimes noticed on tighter-radius skis (the Salomon QST Blank being the main one that comes to mind). So I obviously wouldn’t pick the Anima if groomers were a big priority, but it’s fun on them for a 115mm-wide ski.
Dylan: I don’t imagine anyone who spends the majority of their day on piste is considering an Anima (and well, you really shouldn’t be if that’s you). But for those who are seeking out soft, ungroomed snow all over the mountain, the Anima carves well enough on groomers to make those inevitable runs back to the lift enjoyable. I’d say it is a slightly above-average carver for a 115mm-wide ski, mostly because it is easier to get on edge and carve at slower speeds than many of the other options out there (the 25m-radius 184 cm Moment Wildcat comes to mind).
Luke: The Anima is a ski that’s playful in some regards (easy to release / slash, lets you ski centered, skis switch pretty well) and less so in other regards (fairly heavy, not super poppy, not the loosest).
We’ve thrown around the phrase “playful directional ski” and I think that applies to the Anima. It’s happy to be skied with a traditional, forward stance and feels like a pretty maneuverable, yet fairly stable ski when you do that. But it also feels more balanced in the air and allows for a more centered stance than many pow skis with more rearward mount points. It just doesn’t feel like some ultra-playful ski that wants to slash, spin, and pop around on everything.
Dylan: Luke hit all the main points. The Anima is a relatively playful ski, but there are better options out there for skiers who prioritize a very freestyle-friendly ski.
Who’s It For?
Intermediate through expert skiers who are looking for a versatile, fairly stable, pretty playful soft-snow ski.
If you’re looking for a dedicated powder ski and tight-terrain maneuverability is a priority, something a bit wider, more rockered, and/or lighter might make sense. And if you’re looking for something that’s exceptionally stable in crud and deep chop, you could go heavier.
But the Anima does a lot of things quite well, especially considering its width. And while it is a pretty maneuverable ski, it’s got the suspension and stiffness to still handle some higher speeds in inconsistent conditions, making it a ski that doesn’t have a super specific ideal demographic, but rather a very broad one.
With the latest Anima, Black Crows have made a wider ski that’s more versatile than its girthy dimensions might suggest, and one that can work for both more playful, freestyle-oriented skiers and those who just want an intuitive, maneuverable soft-snow ski that can still be skied pretty hard.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Anima to see how it compares to the DPS Foundation Koala 118, Moment Wildcat, Salomon QST Blank, Rossignol Blackops 118, Dynastar M-Free 118, J Skis Friend, 4FRNT Inthayne, Volkl Revolt 121, 4FRNT Renegade, Line Vision 118, Atomic Bent Chetler 120, Line Outline, Elan Ripstick 116, Head Kore 117, Icelantic Nomad 115, Prior Northwest 116, Nordica Enforcer 115 Free, Season Forma, & K2 Reckoner 112.