Expert Review: Black Crows Atris Skis · 2023
This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for 5 days in February of 2023.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for 5 days in February of 2023.
In my opinion, the 2023 Black Crows Atris is ideal for advanced to expert-level skiers looking for a versatile and reliable ski to be used in Western snow conditions. As an aggressive freeride skier with a racing background, I find the Atris can handle any terrain and snow conditions I throw at it, including groomers, glades, moguls, chutes, and cliffs.
About the skis I tested
- Model: 2023 Black Crows Atris Skis
- Size: 184.3
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 195lbs
- Experience: 25 years of skiing
- When I tested these: I plan on purchasing them at the end of the season, but I have demo-ed them many times out of the ski shop I work at in Jackson Hole. I tested the Atris in January and February of 2023.
- Days I tested: 5
- Mount Position: Company suggested mount point
- Boots: 2021 K2 Mindbender 130 Flex Ski Boot
- Boot Size: 26.5
- Bindings: 2020 Look SPX 12 Konect GW Bindings
- Where I’ve used it: Hobacks, Rendezvous Bowl off of the Tram, Sundance Trail and groomers off of Casper Lift, Saratoga Bowl off of Apre Vous Lift, Headwall and Casper Hike-To terrain, Shots off of Crags, expert Chutes, Alta Chutes, and Tensleep Bowl.
- Terrain: Groomers, Trees, moguls, chutes, shots, cliffs, couloirs, park, side country.
How they perform
What I was looking for
I’m looking to replace my old Black Crows Atris with skis that can handle my aggressive ski style. Also, I’m looking for a pair of skis that are as fun, playful, maneuverable, and versatile as my 2019 Atris on soft snow. I’m hoping that my new skis will help me tackle bigger lines and features in more technical gladed terrain, offering me the same maneuverability that I got out of the 2019 Atris.
Why I chose to test this gear
I think Black Crows made this year’s model more versatile by slightly stiffening it up and decreasing its width, resulting in a more stable ski. The added stiffness on this year’s 2023 model gives me the confidence to push the ski harder and faster across various terrain without worrying about its stability, which was a slight concern with previous models.
When searching to add another freeride-oriented ski to my quiver, I highly considered purchasing the Atomic Bent 110s or the Dynastar M-Free 108s. After testing all three skis, I’ve found that the Atomic Bent’s were a little too soft and light for my aggressive ski style and, as such, felt like I was being thrown around on moguls a little too much. And I’m not going to lie, I likely would have been happy with the M-Free 108s because they ski similarly to the Atris. However, I’ve found that the M-Free 108’s soft rockered tip and tail don’t offer me the same stability that the Atris does.
What I love about them
- Speed: I enjoy the Atris’s medium to firm flex at speeds because it offers me the stability underfoot I enjoy in an all-mountain, freeride ski on soft snow. That being said, the ski gets a little squirmy on hardpack because of its soft tip and lack of metal in its core/laminate. Strangely enough, I still enjoy it because of its playful feel.
- Edge hold: I find the Atris’s edge to hold very well on deep carving turns. Its pronounced side-cut and 20-meter turning radius is ideal for holding an edge on big giant slalom turns or tight slalom turns.
- Turns: One thing that stands out about the Atris is its ability to effortlessly turn in all conditions. Jump turning in powder down a tight couloir or maneuvering through wide-spread glades in moguls isn’t an issue because of its lightweight poplar wood and fiberglass core. When carrying a lot of speed after hitting jumps, I feel comfortable quickly pushing out the Atris's tails to turn and control my speed.
- Groomers: As someone who skis exclusively out West, its 105mm width shines on groomers, whether fresh snow or corduroy. Its medium stiffness makes it stable when arcing turns on groomers and playful when hitting side hits. I don’t consider the Atris to be solely a groomer-oriented ski; however, it very much holds its own on fresh corduroy. If I were to take out a Black Crows ski predominantly on a groomer day, I’d take out the Black Crows Camox (97mm underfoot).
- Powder: One of the times I took the Atris out was after we got 8-14 inches in Jackson Hole. I took them up the Headwall Hike to our side country (over Casper Bowl and Crags), where there was tons of fresh snow, and I thought it floated VERY well. I felt its early rise Double-Rocker profile shine and increase its floatiness and playfulness. On deeper snow, I enjoy taking out the Black Crows Anima (115mm) or Nocta (122mm) because of their added width; however, the Atris’s 105mm hybrid width is ideal for someone looking for a jack-of-all-trades ski.
- Trees: I feel the Atris’s maneuverability increase in tree and gladed terrain. Its soft tip and lightweight core give me the confidence to ski aggressively in trees because of the reassurance of speed control and the ability to smear turns and pivot quickly.
- Moguls: As someone who prefers a lightweight ski in moguls, the Atris checks this box. As a result of its increased maneuverability, poppiness, and dampness, it slightly took the burden off of my legs each time I hit a mogul. However, when I take the Atris out on firm hardpack days, its lightweight and wider width results in it sliding out in the troph.
- Park: I don’t spend much time in the park because I’m not as park-oriented; however, after hitting a couple of jumps and box grind features, the Atris seems to hold up very well. I think Black Crows are more freeride and big-mountain oriented, which usually isn’t as tailed towards more traditional park skis. That being said, I could foresee its softer profile and wider width being troublesome for more park-oriented skiers who like a more narrow and stiff ski for dampness (vibration absorption).
- Backcountry: After taking the Atris in side country many times and bootpacking White Spider Hike (25 minutes), I’ve found that its light weight makes bootpacking more manageable. I recently mounted a pair of Salomon Shift Bindings on the new Atris and look forward to skinning to new zones in the backcountry.
- Weight: Weighing in at 1975g per ski, I find the Atris to be slightly on the lighter side, which I enjoy in freeride skis given the soft out-West snow conditions I usually ride. I enjoy its light weight for bootpacking to new zones and its playful and poppy feel.
- Switch riding: As someone who doesn’t ride switch much due to recent injuries, I find the Atris to ride well on groomers and remain poppy and stable on soft snow because of its partial twin tip.
- Stability: The Atris has been my top ski for many years because of how poppy, playful, and relatively stable I feel in various snow conditions. Given the type of ski I’m looking to purchase, its stiffness lies in line with what I find to be ideal. In comparison to known stiff and stable skis, such as the Volk Mantra (96mm), K2 Mindbender (99mm), Blizzard Bonafide (97mm), or Nordica Enforcer (100mm), the Atris provides less stability but compensates with a more playful and fun ski experience.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Durability: I don’t consider the Atris to be the most durable ski. From my experience, the topsheet tends to chip easily with the occasional core shot. I feel like it's due to its medium flex and wood material being susceptible to abrasions on the ski. That being said, some exposed cliff areas I ride aren’t the most conducive for keeping skis in top shape.
Favorite moment with this gear
I know it sounds corny, but I feel like I can fly every time I’ve put on a pair of Black Crows Atris skis. I’ve ridden very technical lines off of Paintbrush and Mushroom Chutes at Jackson Hole with high exposure cliff areas, and they give me a high sense of confidence that if I need to quickly stop or turn, I never question their ability to do so. One of my fondest memories on the Atris’s was stomping Day Dream Cliff at Jackson Hole. Although there was tons of soft snow on the landing, its dampness took away the pressure from my knees, giving me the confidence to ride out smoothly and leaving me grinning from ear to ear.
Value for the money vs. other options
As a boutique ski brand, this 2023 Black Crows Atris model retails for around $899.95, and I believe it’s worth every penny. Between its high versatility, playful feel, and stability, the Atris gives an advanced to expert skier the most bang for one's buck to confidently tackle all-terrain and conditions. Comparable options would be the Dynastar M-Free 99s or 108s or the Salomon QST 106s, but after extensive demoing and comparisons, I find this year’s Atris to be everything I’m looking for in a freeride ski. Start saving up, I promise it’s worth it.
The 2023 Black Crow Atris unlocks a world of possibilities for aggressive freeride skiers. Whether I’m carving up groomers, hammering out mogul fields, or skiing technical lines in glades, the Black Crow Atris is what I want on my feet due to its playful and stable feel.