2023 Black Crows Ova Freebird Review
It’s not a backcountry powder plank, but it sure is quick in steep, technical terrain
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This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Crud Performance: 6
- Responsiveness: 7.5
- Stability at Speed: 5
- Flotation: 4
- Playfulness: 6
- Forgiveness: 6
- Versatility: 5
- Quickness: 8
- Price: $700
- Lengths: 156.1, 163.5, 170.3, 176.1, 182.3
- Dimensions: 123-85-107
- Radius: 17
- Weight: 1,125g
- Level: Advanced, Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Quickness, Responsiveness
- Cons: Floatation, Versatility
On its third update, the new Ova Freebird is quick and energetic in terrain where it matters most. It’s surprisingly powerful for its slim 85mm waist, but soft enough to feel accessible for skiers who aren’t looking to put the pedal to the metal in the backcountry. This season, the most significant change to the Ova is updates to the core and flex profile to stiffen it up while also adding more energy and rebound. These changes make the whole ski feel a bit sportier than previous iterations.
As the second narrowest design in the lineup, the Ova’s zippy yet stable feel is thanks to the light paulownia wood core laid up with a mix of carbon and fiberglass for torsional rigidity. These qualities make the Ova Freebird a top choice among testers for spring ski mountaineering missions that involve long approaches and engaging descents. Shifting to a semi-cap construction and ABS sidewalls this season lowers the swing weight while upping the durability. The slight tip rocker makes for intuitive turn initiation, camber underfoot inspires confidence and a solid edge hold in the steeps, and flat tails provide a platform for solid kick turns and snow anchors. “The only available size for me to ski was 175cm, which is about 10cm longer than I prefer,” said 5-foot-2 tester Jordan Garrett. “That said, I was surprised at how easy it was to flick around through the trees and in the bumps. If you’re looking to tackle some volcanoes, couloirs, or enjoy busting out hot laps at the resort before work, look no further.”
Read more: Learn How the Black Crows Ova Freebird Stacked Up Against the Competition
With low marks in Floatation and Versatility, the Ova Freebird is not the ideal choice for sniffing out powder stashes or ripping big lines at top speeds. Testers found that it has a speed limit—it gets twitchy and hard to control when skiing fast on hard and crusty snow—and tends to get overwhelmed by deep, heavy snow. Still, the Ova Freebird is a confidence-inspiring tool for those looking to keep their cool in steep, technical terrain if controlled, knife-like precision is what’s required. “It’s a fantastic couloir ski for spring skiing,” said tester Lily Krass, who likes to bag big peaks in her backyard of Jackson Hole. “This ski shines in tight terrain and firm snow and is super zippy through anything where you need to think on your feet.”
Testers agreed that the Ova felt far more accessible than previous iterations, precisely what Black Crows was going for when revamping it. “Ability wise, any skill level can have an incredible time on this ski,” said Garrett. “Beginners will appreciate the softer tail, allowing it to release easily from turns, and experts will appreciate how agile this ski is while moving it around in a tight couloir.”
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.