Expert Review: 2023 Black Crows Corvus Freebird Skis [with Video]
Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. tested the 2023 Black Crows Corvus Freebird skis on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. got their hands on the 2023 Black Crows Corvus Freebird this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every skier is different; if you have any questions about the Corvus Freebird or need recommendations on which skis would be best for you, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Black Crows claim about this ski? [Daryl] The brand claims that this is a really awesome ski for touring and that it is primarily going to be great in heavier snowfall, lighter snow, and anything in the backcountry. It is going to do really well uphill, but it is still going to be a competent ski on the downhill, particularly when you're skiing powder.
[Theo] This ski is a pure backcountry ski. It's not marketed as something you would ski in the resort. It's a light, wider option for skiing fresh snow out of bounds. This ski is a pure backcountry option, according to Black Crows. I completely agree with that. It's light and wide. It's for skiing fresh snow out of bounds, putting tech bindings on, and skinning up to access fresh powder.
What is your overall impression of this ski? [Daryl] My first impressions were basically exactly what I was expecting. It is a very light ski, and with the added lightweight binding, which is the Kingpin here (a straight touring pin binding), it was really chattery and definitely not something that I would pick as a resort ski. I would not put anything besides a touring binding on these. It was really not designed to be skied in a resort — not really designed to be carving on groomers.
[Theo] I will offer a disclaimer about this ski. I never recommend skiing a tech toe binding, which the Marker Kingpins that we have on this Black Crow Corvus Freebird are. I never recommend skiing with that binding in resorts. Those are purely for backcountry skiing. You should be skinning if you are skiing a tech toe binding. It doesn’t have certified DIN release values. It is meant for skiing out of bounds.
It is dangerous at the resort. It's just not the best option. I did ski the Corvus Freebird at the resort. I can offer an opinion on its performance, but I can't endorse it for use within a resort. This is a very light ski. It would be fantastic for skinning uphill. I love to have this as a ski for longer ski tours. It was good with the tech binding, even a heavier tech binding like the Marker Kingpin in terms of overall weight.
Why would you say this isn’t a resort ski? [Daryl] What I mean by this not being a resort ski is that it really excels at going uphill and skiing in powder. So typically what I view as a resort ski is something with a heavier binding — a little bit heavier of a ski that can handle variable terrain and can be pushed really hard. This ski to me is much more useful in lighter caliber terrain. I would definitely use this as a low-angle touring ski. Not something that I want to be going and hitting big cliffs on or going into couloirs with, but something that's a little bit more mellow that shaves a lot of weight off on the way up the hill.
Do you see people skiing their touring setup in the resort? [Theo] I do see a lot of people skiing Black Crows, Black Diamonds, and Dynafit inbounds with tech bindings on firm days. I've heard from a lot of ski patrollers that that really worries them. And they feel with the explosion of ski touring that in the last few years people bringing their touring setups inbounds has raised the number of injuries, just because the bindings aren't as reliable. They don't have certified release values. You can either choose to lock in your toe (the binding won't release, and you'll blow a knee), or they'll release too often if you don't lock in your toe. They're just not going to be as consistent as a binding that's designed for the resort.
If I was looking at a bunch of touring skis, is there anything in particular that distinguishes this one out of all the options out there that's worth calling out? [Theo] In terms of touring skis, this does sit firmly in a category that a lot of brands have focused on recently, which is a mid-fat lighter ski. It's got more waist width than big-line, consequential, couloir chute skis, and it's not as playful and doesn't have the freestyle inclinations of a lot of freeride backcountry skis. That does mean that it would be good for a lot of skiers who are skiing low-angle soft snow in the backcountry, who are skiing trees, and who aren't opening it up on big faces necessarily.
How does it turn? [Theo] When carving on the ski, I felt like it was about to snap. The more you lean into a turn, the more it bends, and there's no point of rebound at which you feel like you're going to be propelled into the next turn. That's because it's a backcountry ski. It's not meant for skiing groomed terrain. It's not designed for that. The fact that I was skiing groomed terrain and had issues with carving should not be taken into account when purchasing this ski, as anyone looking to acquire it would be skiing it purely in the backcountry.
How about edge hold? [Theo] It was quick edge to edge.
Is it stable? [Daryl] These Kingpin bindings are not certified in the same manner that your regular bindings on skis are. And so they're not something that I would recommend skiing in a resort. The one other thing to add to that is that these particular bindings paired with this ski contribute to it being more chattery. So you're going to feel everything underfoot, and you're going to feel every little piece of snow. And in the resort when you have so many people skiing around and creating all these bumps, that's going to translate onto your feet and make you feel really kind of unstable and shaky.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the ski? [Daryl] It's not damp at all. It is a super soft ski. So let me clarify. It is fairly good at eliminating underfoot chatter, but you can feel the tips and tails flopping around when you're skiing. And the more you lay into this ski when you're carving it, the more it's going to feel like you're out-flexing the ski. When you over-flex the ski, what happens is you end up losing your edge in a carve. It’s not the same thing as chatter, but typically that's like a soft ski will give you that feeling, and you'll feel like the ski is about to just slide out from under you. You're going to lose your edge, so that's definitely something that I experienced with these guys.
[Theo] In terms of skiing the Black Crow Corvus Freebird, or any light touring ski with a tech binding inbounds, the issue you're going to run into is it isn’t damp at all in terms of a setup. The binding is going to send the vibrations to the ski, and the ski's going to send vibrations to the binding, which is going to send a whole wave of motion in terms of vibrations up your body. You're going to feel that chatter on any sort of ice and choppy snow. That's why it's best to stick to a binding that's designed for resort skiing like a Griffon STH or a Look Pivot. A Tyrolia Attack would be a good one too. A tech binding's designed for the backcountry where conditions aren't as rough, and it saves a lot of weight by not having a full release on the toe, which these don't either. That compromises safety for weight, which isn't as big a deal if you're skiing fresh snow inbounds. However, it's not a choice that you want to make.
In terms of the ski, a light ski is going to have more chatter. It's not going to be as damp. It's not as stable. You're not going to be able to push snow around. That goes for most backcountry skis, with the major exception of the 50/50 category. There are a lot of great skis in that category, such as the Volkl Blaze or the Bent Chetler 120.
How does it perform at speed? [Daryl] It is not a ski that I would ski very, very fast. It, again, chatters a lot. It gets unstable when you ski it really fast. But it’s highly maneuverable, which is where they're great. So if you're skiing trees or tight trees or just trying to take some mellow backcountry touring laps, it is a great option for that. It doesn’t take a lot of energy for you to ski it, and the ski itself does not have a lot of energy. It’s not going to be pushing you around. You're going to be able to maneuver it super easily and just not be so worried about having really heavy skis that you have to lug around.
How is it on jumps? [Theo] In terms of freestyle potential in the backcountry, many athletes will ski the Kingpin, hit cliffs, and throw some tricks in the backcountry with a powder landing. This would not be the best setup for that. It doesn't have a twin tip — it has an extremely flat tail. You could hit a few small areas if you were landing in powder.
How would it be in powder? [Theo] At 107 millimeters underfoot and fairly light with a nice wide shovel, I'd love to ski this in powder in the backcountry. I think it would be great in most soft snow conditions, with the exception of really heavy spring corn.
How is it on uneven terrain? [Theo] In uneven terrain, chop, chunder, or anything rough, this ski is going to be really, really hard to keep control of. It is so exceptionally light. It's designed for the backcountry. If you're in the backcountry and you're skiing in those conditions, they're not at all going to approach what I skied in the resort. Track snow inbounds are almost entirely rougher than what you'll find in the backcountry unless you're skiing straight avalanche debris.
How is its maneuverability in the trees? [Theo] I did get to take this through the trees in fresh snow. That's where the ski really shined. I can totally see the backcountry potential that this has. It was super fun and maneuverable, and it had plenty of float. It was snappy in the trees because I wasn't carving. When I was carving on the groomed train, as I said before, it gave cause for concern. But in the trees when you're dancing side to side and weaving through trees, its light, playful manner really comes through, and I think that it would be fun to take it out of bounds. I'd love to tour with this ski.
Is there any location you'd avoid with this ski? [Theo] I would not recommend this ski to someone who's going to be touring in a lower snow area, like the Northeast.
Who would you recommend this ski to? [Daryl] I'd recommend this solely to people who are touring. If you're trying to tour and shave some weight and just care about the uphill a lot, this is a good ski for you. It's still going to ski relatively well downhill, but it is not going to be a big-mountain class ski. It's going to be something that you can ski a little bit slower and can maneuver really well in trees, but definitely not something to charge super hard on.
In the backcountry, these would be great. I would love to test them as an actual backcountry ski and tour up on them. See how they go and then ski down. And yeah, the thing I like about these is that they're the kind of ski that's not going to tucker you out on the way up when you're touring. So when you come down, you're not going to feel like you can't ski because you're so tired from going uphill.
[Theo] It is a do-it-all ski. If you're someone who spends a ton of time in the backcountry, I think you couldn't do much better than the Black Crows Corvus Freebird. Put a tech binding on it — something light to accentuate how light the ski itself is. It'll be a fun setup in soft, fresh snow on the downhill, and it will give you no trouble in terms of weight on the uphill.
So to sum up, this is a good ski for a majority of backcountry skiers who are out there to have the most fun possible in fresh snow. You're going to want to take this when you're skiing fresh, soft snow in the backcountry. It's a touring snow ski.
Who should avoid this ski, there are other better options for them out there? [Daryl] I would not ski it inbounds if I were you. And I definitely would not ski it with Kingpins inbounds. They're going to be limited by that for sure, by what they can handle.
[Theo] I wouldn't recommend this ski to someone who skis really hard, incorporates freestyle maneuvers, is stomping cliffs, or is skiing choppy snow frequently in the backcountry. It's not something for skiing huge consequential lines. There are other options like the Blizzard Zero G for that. It's also not a spring touring ski. It's a little wide for that purpose. If you're looking for a backcountry freestyle ski, there are much better options like the Bent Chetler 120, ON3Ps, or something from 4FRNT.
What bindings would you recommend for this ski? [Theo] If I had to recommend a binding to put on this ski, any of the bindings from ATK would be really fun. They're light. I can highly endorse those. The Shift wouldn't be the worst binding in the world if you are worried about downhill performance in the backcountry. However, I wouldn't want that to tempt you to ski this in a resort. There are many other good options from Black Crows that are resort skis. You should definitely look at those if you're looking for a Black Crow ski to ski and bounce.
Skis work differently for different types of skiers. If you have any questions about the Black Crows Corvus Freebird or want help finding the right skis for you, reach out to Daryl, Theo, or any other Ski Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.