For half a decade the Black Crows Anima has established itself as a sturdy big mountain ski with a dash of freeski pedigree. I’d heard all about the Black Crows’ charging pow ski, a combination of full-length carbon and Kevlar stringers built to go—and go, fast—but, slowly maneuvering my way down the goat path, this hardly seemed like the time to let it loose. A promise of wide open powder deliverance a mere 200 vertical feet away, I moved gingerly, a little nervous to be on a new pair of sticks in a tight situation.
Yet, the more I gave in to the fall line, the more I felt the Anima under my feet. Despite a 115mm waist width, the ski cut precise turns, helping me turn around and through frozen snow piles lurking in the narrowing choke with welcomed efficiency. Precision is a big part of the Anima’s latest facelift, a ski that features a slightly tweaked sidecut and lengthened rails to provide more edge bite over more surface area—a welcome reprieve from the squirrely mess we associate with powder skis in variable or hardpack conditions. In fact, 2020-2021 Anima has reduced its sidecut radius a whole two meters—from 21 meters to 19 meters—a noticeable difference when the going gets tight.
But the new Anima isn’t just about improving performance at slower speeds. True to its big mountain roots, the 2020-2021 iteration has also introduced a stiffer flex pattern, providing a stable ride through the chute and out into the apron. A slightly wider tip and tail adds a bit more flotation, while the added stiffness lets you cut through chopped up snow and manky conditions.
The new Anima hasn’t changed completely, however, and that’s a good thing. The ski still relies on a poplar core with carbon and Kevlar strips, providing strength and dampness without the knee-torquing weight of other skis in its big mountain class. It also still maintains its progressive tip rise for an easy, playful float when the going gets deep.
After navigating the tight trees, I got to experience that traditional Anima goodness firsthand, breaking free into a 700-foot shot of powder bliss. While the Anima’s propensity for speed was hard to ignore, the ski’s enhanced turn radius made it easy to check speed before launching little poppers and pillow stacks, and actually felt surprisingly light and maneuverable in the air. The Black Crows team says they added a bit of weight to the 2020-2021 Anima, but honestly I had a hard time finding it. If anything, that extra weight translated directly to stability, helping me cut through late day chop and reduce leg-numbing chatter as I worked my way toward the final bell and parking lot après.
The Anima’s legend preceded it, but I was happily surprised with the ski’s new look for 2020-2021. Long billed a versatile big mountain powder ski, it feels like the new Anima is more equipped than ever to wear that crown.
Black Crows Anima skis retail for $889.95. Find out more on Black Crows’ website.