Black Crows 2018 Range Rundown
We’re excited to be the first store in the UK and one of the first in the world to get our hands on the winter ‘17/’18 range of Black Crows skis, with most models in-store already and yet more still to come. The Chamonix-based brand has long been a favourite of ours for their superb performance and classy, chevron-clad style – and the coming season sees the range take another step forward with some interesting introductions, tweaks and reimaginings.
In this Range Rundown, we’ll take a look at what’s new and interesting for this season, and take you on a whistle-stop tour of the range so you know what to look out for.
Julien Regnier’s award-winning Big Mountain brainchild, the Atris, became Black Crows’ biggest-selling ski last year, and for good reason. With a versatile 108 waist and hybrid rocker-camber-rocker profile, the Atris was a superb weapon to have at your disposal in a whole range of conditions.
Surprising then, that Black Crows chose to make any changes to what was already such a popular ski, but they clearly felt they could make the Atris even better – and from what we can see, it looks like they might just have nailed it.
The 2018 Atris is back with a bigger 20m sidecut radius – a 2m increase that should help to improve the ski’s stability at speed. They’ve also softened the flex slightly to make it more compliant and given it a more progressive tail rocker to help with those steep turns. The best just got better.
A varm velcome to the Vertis
At 85mm and 18m, the original Ova featured one of the narrowest waists and tightest sidecuts on offer in last season’s Black Crows range, and it lives-on for this season in the form of the Ova Freebird touring ski. But in 2017/18 the regular Ova makes way for the out-and-out piste-oriented Vertis, which joins the Orb in completing BC’s Resort collection.
The all-new Vertis comes with the same 85mm waist, but an even tighter 15m turning radius, making it ideal for laying out those edge-to-edge carves around the resort. With a sporty and playful flex, and long, classic camber profile, the Vertis delivers bags of confidence-inspiring fun for the discerning groomer fan.
With the Vertis, Black Crows are saying: “Hey, it’s cool, you don’t have to be a fan of the steep’n’deep to be down with us! We know as well as everyone else does that there’s nothing better than smashing down a piste with the wind in your face and a huge grin spread across it.” We couldn’t agree more!
Release your inner Daemon
Heard of the Volkl Mantra? Thought so. It’s been a supremely successful ski since it stormed onto the market a few seasons ago, somehow managing to deliver firm-snow stability and control from a full-rocker profile. Well, for 2017/2018 Black Crows are gunning for the Mantra’s crown with the Titanal-plated Daemon.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the Daemon in our recent ISPO trip, where Julien Regnier himself was on-hand to talk us through the finer points of a ski that they were very excited and quietly confident about releasing to the world.
With a 99mm waist and 20m turning radius, it’s built for hard charging across the whole hill. The full rocker profile behaves as you’d expect in the pow, with float for days, but it’s on the hard stuff that the Daemon really impresses. If you can lean it over onto an edge and engage that 20m radius then you’re rewarded with a tremendous carve. A super stiff flex underfoot maintains control on solid snow, while the softer tip and tail deliver float and crud-smash-ability in spades. Welcome to the future!
Explore the range
The Black Crows 2018 range is, thankfully, pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Their core models are broken down into Resort, All-Terrain and Big Mountain first and foremost, and many of the skis from within that selection will also appear as a ‘Birdie’ (girls) version, or ‘Freebird’ (touring) version. While shape, sidecut and profile will remain the same across regular, Birdie and Freebird, subtle differences in the core construction, flex or centre mounting point will fine-tune them to their intended end use.
Let’s take a closer look at each ski section, before rounding it up with an at-a-glance comparison table at the end…
With their resort range, Black Crows are acknowledging that ‘piste’ isn’t a dirty word. They’re opening the brand up to skiers who share their passion and love for the sport, but like to spend most of their time on the groomers – because let’s face it, who doesn’t love running a high-speed train of laid out carves down a blue run with your buddies!
The aforementioned Vertis is the narrower and more accessible option, with a super tight turning radius and a compliant flex. Light, poppy, and super-quick edge to edge, it’s ideal for intermediate skiers looking to progress their skills. But whatever level you’re at, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
The fairer sex can find the Vertis in a Birdie version too.
With a wider 91mm waist and more significant nose rocker up front, the Orb is flirting with that line between resort-focused and all-mountain. The 18m sidecut and double lengthwise Titanal plates make this ski phenomenally solid, grippy and carvey on an edge, ideal for tearing up the piste. But with more width and rocker, it begs you to take those side hits and propel yourself into the pow – where you’ll find it more than capable.
With that kind of all-round, hard & soft snow capability, it’s unsurprising that you’ll find a Freebird version of the Orb lurking in the Touring section too.
All-Terrain, All-Mountain, whatever you want to call it – this is the segment of the BC range that’s designed to go everywhere, do everything, tear it up and leave you begging for more. It’s acknowledging that everyone loves a bit of pow, but conditions aren’t primo every day, and you invariably need to ski some hard pack or chop to get there. So why not prepare yourself for any eventuality? With modern ski tech, we’re getting ever closer to that one ski quiver, and Black Crows are giving it a pretty good nudge with this lovely lot.
At 90mm in the waist (slightly narrower than the Orb) and with a comparable 17 or 18m turning radius, the Captis is another ski that’s skirting the Resort-focused/All-Mountain borderline. The key difference here is the introduction of a tail rocker for those switch landings, and a slightly softer flex thanks to the absence of Titanal plates in the core.
It’s aimed at skiers who are a little less about the hard charge and a little more about getting jibby with it – think butters, side hits, and runs through the park. It’s still got camber underfoot for grip though, and it’s quick edge-to-edge, so it’s very much more than a one-trick pony.
Jib-chicks will find their own slightly softer-flexing version in the Captis Birdie.
Knocking on the door of fat, with its 97mm waist, is the Camox. And with that extra width it’s really trying to find the sweet-spot between hardpack performance and soft snow float.
It shares the 18m turning radius with the Captis, but it’s stiffer underfoot – with carbon and Kevlar strips to add torsional strength – lending itself more to the hard charge. A step-down, tapered construction in the rockered tip and tail gives more flex to deflect soft snow and crud, while reducing swing-weight to improve pivot.
As we’ve covered already, the Daemon is BC’s futuristic full-rocker destroyer. The riding technique it requires takes a little getting used to, but if you can master it, you’ll get rewards in spades. It’s obedient on hard pack if you lean it on its edge. It’ll pivot beautifully through trees and that full-rocker shape delivers unreal float when you open her up down a steep, untracked face.
Obviously, chicks dig progress too – so you’ll sure as hell find a Daemon Birdie in the range.
Being the widest of Black Crows’ All-Terrain skis, with a longer turning circle to match, the Navis is more of a traditional, directional, alpine-flavoured option – almost offering the antithesis to the Daemon. It’s still delivers plenty of nose rocker to match that 102mm waist and keep you floating, but the flatter tail is more present, combining with a classic camber underfoot to give great edge-hold all the way through the turn on harder-packed snow.
Still very lively, despite that wider waist, the Navis brings a more old-skool feel to match its superb all-around capabilities – for those of us that are firmly of the mindset, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
If you find yourself tempted by the uphill in search of those fresh lines, you can find that unmistakeable Navis ride in a Freebird version too.
Black Crows’ Big Mountain collection is aimed firmly at the domain of the freerider, the powder hound – those of us who like to spend the bulk of our time in the side and backcountry, charging steeps, snaking trees, dropping cliffs and popping pillow lines. BC describe them as ‘serious days’. Because when conditions get serious, you need a serious ski, and these are the big guns.
As we’ve already mentioned, the best-selling Atris is a massively popular ski. At 108mm it’s the most accessible ski from the Big Mountain stable, meaning it’s still pretty versatile, but with stiff and stable double-rocker design it’s just an absolute weapon in the deep.
The Atris is the fattest ski that gets a girls-specific version in the shape of the Atris Birdie.
A little wider than the Atris at 109mm, and with a slightly longer 21m turning radius, the Corvus is still very comparable. But like the Navis, the Corvus offers a more alpine feel, with a nice long camber underfoot and less in the way of tail rocker, to suit the forward-friendly traditionalist who’s not so fussed about their switch landings. Point them downhill and go – they won’t disappoint, whatever gets in your way.
But if you find yourself at the bottom, short of a lift and thirsting for more, you might want to consider the Corvus Freebird to get yourself back up top.
An even chunkier ‘double-beak’ bird than the Atris, the 115mm-waisted Anima is one of Black Crows’ biggest of big hitters. The Poplar core’s been reinforced with carbon and Kevlar underfoot, to strengthen things up and maintain edge-hold across that medium-length camber section, while the rockered nose and tail have been thinned-out to increase flex and reduce swing-weight, delivering awesome deflection, pivot and manoeuvrability for those steeps and trees.
It’s a formidable weapon that’s going to eat up the most serious of serious days, but if you’re so hungry for fresh lines that you feel the need to hike, they even make a tour-friendly Freebird version.
Beyond the realms of touring – for those mythical, uplift-assisted days that will stay with you forever – exists the Nocta. With a frankly ridiculous 122mm waist, 26m turning radius and full rocker profile, you won’t find a better ski to be on when the chips are down and things get real.
The addition of Paulownia to the core keeps this ski surprisingly light, while fibreglass layers and extra ABS in the sidewalls help to keep things durable. Ideal if it’s so crazy that you didn’t happen to notice that tree or house-sized boulder buried somewhere in the deep.
There are a few other skis out there that are aimed at this target market, but the Nocta is one of the lightest and most manoeuvrable. Highly recommended.
Hopefully by now you’ve worked out that the suffix of Birdie denotes a female-specific ski. And the great thing about Black Crows is that they have respect for chicks who shred. You’re not just getting an updated colourway or more feminine look and feel – with each Birdie ski, BC have thought about how to adapt performance to suit a generally lighter female frame.
In most cases that takes the form of tweaks to the core, to relax things up and a add a little more flex, while centre mounting points move forward to give a better position overall. With the Vertis Birdie, Captis Birdie, Camox Birdie, Daemon Birdie and Atris Birdie there’s something for pretty much everyone in the collection.
Black Crows’ Freebird touring range is built for the backcountry. When you need to go further and deeper to seek out those fresh lines and truly unique experiences, the Freebird collection is with you every step of the way.
Each Freebird ski shares the same waist width, turning radius and profile with its regular and Birdie equivalent, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Paulownia joins Poplar in cores across the collection to reduce weight for the climb, while we see more carbon fibre making an appearance to add structure and stiffness.
In waists ranging from the modest 91mm Orb to the beefy 115mm Anima, and with plenty of diversity in twin-tip and directional shapes, the Freebird collection has something to offer most backcountry skiers, niches and conditions.
The Black Crows 2018 range, at a glance
Now that you know your Birdie from your Freebird and your Camox from your Corvus, we’ve pulled together the key differentiators into one place so you can easily compare and contrast across the range.
Most models are in stock right now, so once you know what you’re looking for, go ahead and Shop all Black Crows. Happy hunting!
What's a Step Down Tip & Tail?
Just in case you missed it, there are a few skis in the Black Crows range that feature what they call a Step Down in the tip and tail construction. This is basically a thinning of the ski towards the extremities that has a number of benefits. It reduces the ski's swing weight, which improves pivot performance, and can also add a little more flex, improving float and helping the ski to deflect powder and chop.
It's not essential to every ski, and whether it's neccessary depends very much on the construction of the ski underfoot. But if you want to have a more solid ski underfoot, a Step Down in the tip and tail can help to keep overall weight down, as well as providing those other benefits in terms of pivot and flex. We've outlined in the table which skis have a Step Down and which don't - so now you know!
|Category||Ski||Waist||Radius||Description||Profile||Flex||Core||Weight (Pair)||Step-down tip & tail?|
|Resort||Vertis||85||15m||Dynamic and playful short-radius piste carver||Long classic camber, slight front rocker||Sporty and Playful||Poplar wood core||3350g @175.4||No|
|Resort||Orb||91||18m||All-terrain hard-charger with width and rocker to tackle powder days||Medium camber underfoot with moderate front rocker||Energetic||Poplar wood core with double Titanal layers||3750g @178||No|
|All Terrain||Captis||90||17m/18m||Medium-width and accessible resort ski that's quick edge-to-edge||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker||Comfortable and accessible||Poplar wood core||3500g @178.3||No|
|All Terrain||Camox||97||18m||A great all-rounder: mid-fat & carvey with rocker to tackle that powder||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker||Medium flex, solid underfoot, softer in tip and tail||Poplar wood core with carbon & kevlar strips||4000g @181.2||Yes|
|All Terrain||Daemon||99||20m||NEW: A full reverse-camber ski that offers all-terrain control and stability||Full reverse camber||Solid underfoot, progressive in tip and tail||Poplar wood core with 120cm Titanal layer underfoot||3700g @183.6||No|
|All Terrain||Navis||102||19m||Medium-width and carve-friendly with crud-smashing front rocker||Long camber underfoot, progressive front rocker, light tail rocker||Medium flex||Poplar wood core||3850 @179.4||No|
|Big Mountain||Atris||108||20m||Stiff and stable best-seller with plenty of float and pivot to match||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker, progressive tip rise||Stiff and consistent||Poplar wood core||4000g @184.2||Yes|
|Big Mountain||Corvus||109||21m||Where it all started. Super responsive and built for charging the steeps||Long camber underfoot, progressive front rocker, light tail rocker||Stiff and consistent underfoot, progressive tip and tail||Poplar wood core||4400g @183.3||No|
|Big Mountain||Anima||115||21m||A big-mountain blend of power, stability and agility||Short camber underfoot with double rocker, progressive tip rise||Stiffer underfoot and progressive in the tip and tail||Poplar wood core with carbon & kevlar strips||4300g @182.1||Yes|
|Big Mountain||Nocta||122||26m||The ultimate toy for big conditions - super wide yet surprisingly light||Full reverse camber||Moderate flex||Paulownia / poplar / paulownia with fibreglass and ABS sidewall reinforcement||4000g @185.5||No|
|Girls||Vertis Birdie||85||14m/15m||Dynamic and playful, short-radius piste carver||Long classic camber, slight front rocker||Sporty and Playful||Poplar wood core||2650g @152.6||No|
|Girls||Captis Birdie||90||17m/18m||Medium-width and accessible resort ski that's quick edge-to-edge||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker||Tolerant flex, slightly softer than unisex version||Poplar wood core||2750g @157.3||No|
|Girls||Camox Birdie||97||18m||A great all-rounder: mid-fat & carvey with rocker to tackle that powder||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker, flared tip||Medium flex, solid underfoot and softer in tip and tail, slightly softer than unisex||Poplar wood core with carbon & kevlar strips||3300g @165.2||Yes|
|Girls||Daemon Birdie||99||20m||NEW: A full reverse camber ski that offers all-terrain control and stability||Full reverse camber||Solid underfoot, progressive in tip and tail||Poplar wood core with 100cm Titanal layer underfoot||3550g @170.2||No|
|Girls||Atris Birdie||108||20m||Stiff and stable best-seller with plenty of float and pivot to match||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker progressive tip rise||Slightly softer than regular Atris, consistent||Poplar wood core||3550g @178.3||Yes|
|Touring||Orb FB||91||18m||Super light for the climb, with a balance of stability, pivot and float||Medium camber underfoot with moderate front rocker||Moderate flex||Paulownia wood core with mixed glass and carbon fibre, Titanal reinforcement under bindings||2750g @172.1||No|
|Touring||Camox FB||97||18m||Great grip on hard-pack, stable at speed and plenty of float||Medium camber underfoot with double rocker, slightly raised tail||Medium flex, solid underfoot, softer in tip and tail||Paulownia / poplar / paulownia wood core||3200g @171.4||No|
|Touring||Navis FB||102||19m||Balancing fatness and skiability - wild in powder but good on hard pack||Long camber underfoot, progressive front rocker, light tail rocker||Medium flex||Paulownia / poplar / paulownia with mixed glass and carbon fibre||3350g @179.4||No|
|Touring||Corvus FB||109||21m||Alpine-style ski with plenty of width that blends stability and agility||Long camber underfoot, progressive front rocker, light tail rocker||Stiff and consistent||Paulownia / poplar / paulownia with mixed glass and carbon fibre||3600g @175.1||No|
|Touring||Anima FB||115||21m||A double-rockered fat ski that's been slimmed down for touring||Short camber underfoot with double rocker, progressive tip rise||Supple longitudinal flex||Pawlonia-poplar with carbon & fiberglass layers||3700g @182||