Expert Review: Black Crows Anima 115 Skis · 2022

Published on 07/13/2022 · 9 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.
Jack Wise, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Jack Wise

Dropping into Saddle Chute at Powder Mountain on the 2022 Black Crows Anima. All photos courtesy of Jack Wise

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.

My take

The Black Crows Anima is one of the absolute best big mountain freeride skis on the market. If you’ve watched Kristofer Turdell on the Freeride World Tour, this is the ski he podiumed and took home the championship with in 2021.

If the Anima is enough ski to carry Turdell to the top spot of the best skiers in the world, it’s enough for anyone, but it’s also incredibly accessible for those of us who merely aspire to ski at his level.

I’ve been skiing the Anima as my daily-driver ski in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and all over the West. I’ve owned previous iterations of the Anima and the version I like the most and have the most experience on is the 2019-2022 version of the ski in a 194 length, which is unchanged except the graphic for the 2023 season.

Lining up a double underneath Paradise lift at Powder Mountain

About the gear

  • Model: Black Crows Anima
  • Size: 194cm

About me

  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 160lb
  • Experience: 30 years

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: December, 2020
  • Days tested: 100
  • Mount position: Recommended
  • Boots: Roxa R3 130 TI
  • Boot Size: 27.5
  • Bindings: Look Pivot 15
  • Where I’ve used it: Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming
  • Terrain: Big mountain, freeride terrain, cliffs

How it performs

High Speed Stability
Turn Ease

What I was looking for

Using the previous version of the Anima, I felt the ski was a little squirrely at speed and a little loose when I wanted to carve hard. When I got to chat with the Black Crows team a few seasons back about the Anima. When I gave my notes on what I’d like changed, they smiled and said that it was exactly what they had done for the new version.

By increasing the effective edge, lowering and elongating the early rise, along with evening out the flex, the Anima is now much more stable at speed through variable snow, and holds an edge without washing out on hard snow.

High visibility on the undersides of the Anima make it photogenic

Why I chose this gear

The big mountain ski category is flush with exciting options, and one of the biggest reasons I chose the Anima was because after years of skiing on long, wide, stiff skis, a lot of the options kind of felt the same. After demoing the Anima, it became clear to me that this was the ski I was looking for.

For reference, other skis I like are the Nordica Enforcer 110 and Enforcer Pro, the Blizzard Rustler 11, the Icelantic Nomad 115, and the Salomon QST Blank, all of which come in 190cm+ sizes. The Anima is a really incredible ski, and to me, it felt just a little better for my skiing style than the competitors. It felt more stable and intuitive to ski for my style.

"we are on a mission"

Minor top sheet chipping over 100 days of use

What I love about it

  • Speed: This ski is built to go fast and it doesn’t have a speed limit. It’s nice and stiff underfoot and behind the heel and it does a great job of keeping me in an aggressive stance and out of the back seat.
  • Edge hold: The Anima is built to hold an edge in any condition at high speeds, and the 21 meter turn radius seems a bit too long for a carving ski, but the once you get the Anima up to speed, it grips incredibly well on firm snow.
  • Turns: Skiers shouldn’t be afraid to size up on this ski. I chose the 194, the longest size. I’ve never felt like this ski is too heavy or too long for tight maneuvers, but I do prefer to ski fast with longer radius turns, and the long ski responds better to that high speed skiing. In technical, big mountain terrain and tight chutes, though, the Anima stays nimble despite its width and stiffness.
  • Groomers: The lower and longer early rise of the Anima helps it stay stable and carve well. Groomers are easy to ski if you’re used to a wide ski, and you’ll actually be able to lay them over and carve.
  • Powder: I ski primarily at Powder Mountain in Utah, and there is an abundance of soft snow that makes it incredibly worthwhile to have a wide ski. The 115mm width of the Anima makes a little bit of fresh snow feel deeper, and lots of snow feel bottomless.
  • Durability: After two long seasons of use, these skis have held up remarkably well and have taken impacts from rocks and banging around better than a lot of other skis I’ve used. As with most skis, they have some top sheet chipping, but no more than any other ski will have after two seasons of hard use. I’ve even used the ski as a cutting board for lunch and charcuterie, and to open champagne.
  • Switch riding: The Anima is a big mountain ski, but it is also a freeride ski and it is comfortable landing switch tricks and can do a nose butter, but the design team worked incredibly hard to find the perfect spot to mount the skis. There are Black Crows team riders that prefer a center mount, though, so if you’re looking for a playful charger that you can ski switch with ease, the Anima will do it well, it’s just a bit more directional in its mounting point and flex.
  • Stability: The Anima is a swift and silent ski that doesn’t chatter and doesn’t give in to variable terrain or conditions.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Trees: Although the Anima makes nice agile turns and you can throw it sideways when you want, the 194 is quite long for tightly spaced trees, and does better with more open glades.
  • Moguls: A 194 big mountain ski is not the choice for moguls, unless you want to skip over them.
  • Park: Just as the Anima is not for moguls, it’s also not a park ski, but if you find yourself passing through, go ahead and send some jumps or even rails, though it’s a bit heavy and wide for that.
  • Backcountry: The Anima is also a bit heavy for a touring setup, but if you want to mount a hybrid binding like the Shift or Marker Duke PT, you’d be fine with that. Several Black Crows team riders even have the Anima mounted with tech touring bindings as well, and it’s been surprisingly adept at big mountain touring like they do in Chamonix.
  • Weight: The heavy weight of the Anima is an asset in big mountain terrain, and the materials are heavier to make it stiffer and more robust. Still, there are heavier options out there, so the weight isn’t a total deal breaker.

Sabering a bottle at Powder Mountain

Favorite moment with this gear

On my birthday in February, I go skiing. It’s historically one of the deepest days in the Wasatch, although that hasn’t really held up to expectations the last couple years. However, I did get some soft snow and got to ski with my friends the last two years, and the Anima is my go to ski setup for deep, mid winter conditions.

When I dropped into Powder Mountain’s Saddle Chute in the late morning last season, it had filled in deeper than any other spot on the mountain with its leeward aspect to the wind storm we’d had the day before.

The deep snow was fast and smooth, and I made three turns before barrelling out the apron where it was wind-scoured, choppy, and beat up with avalanche debris. When I got to the bottom and hollered to my friends, I was amazed that I was able to hold on so well through that variable snow with such ease. The Anima solidified its place next to the Black Crows Nocta as my favorite ski(s) in my quiver.

The wide surface of Anima lends itself to charcuterie platters and other uses

Value for the money vs. other options

Black Crows skis are on the upper end of the price spectrum, but that’s consistent with the amount of research, development, and engineering that go into the design of these skis. Black Crows is a company focused on performance and they create skis that are designed with a specific purpose, rather than just building a series of skis that come in different widths.

Final verdict

Black Crows really built the perfect big mountain freeride ski for me, and I feel incredibly confident on it. I have plenty of other skis that fill the same role as the Anima, yet I keep coming back to it for nearly any day I’m out on the slopes.

I am a huge fan of Black Crows skis, and I have four sets, including the Atris, the Corvus, and the Nocta. The Atris is a great all mountain oriented ski that can do big mountain stuff, but the Anima is really the freeride ski for big, exposed lines and high speeds. For the deepest days, I choose the Nocta, as it is a freeride, powder specific ski. If I were skiing in an area with more firm snow and if I liked to do a little bit of park skiing and lower speed laps, the Atris would be my choice. If I were patrolling or skiing in high alpine terrain, I would reach for the Black Crows flagship ski, the Corvus, though, as it’s very stiff and has a flat tail.

But since I like to ski hard and fast and go through big mountain lines, I am most comfortable and adjusted to the performance of the Anima.

The unique departure of the Anima, and Black Crows as a whole, is the cohesive and unique aesthetic of the brand. Each ski model has a motto which is printed on the center sidewall. The Anima reads “we are on a mission.”

If you, too, are on a mission to crush big mountain lines with full confidence and stability through any conditions or terrain, the Anima should be a serious contender. The Anima isn’t the right ski for everyone, but if you want more info on this ski or would like to find out if it’s right for you, reach out to a Curated expert.

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