The Third-Edition Black Crows Atris is Here.
Not that you asked—but my first ski purchase as a Powder7 employee was the Black Crows Atris. It was 2017, and Powder7 was the preeminent North American dealer of Black Crows, a fresh Chamonix-based ski brand full of pizazz. The ski instantly became my all-time favorite, leapfrogging all of about three other skis on that list. Five and a half years later, both Black Crows and the Atris have exploded in popularity and scope—and I’ve skied a lot more skis.
For the 2022-2023 season, the brand announced the first update to the ski (beyond graphics) since the 207-2018 model year. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to put the new ski through its paces and see how it stacks up to the previous versions—and a slew of other impressive skis in the Big-Mountain/Freeride category.
2022-2023 Black Crows Atris Review: Field Notes
The new Atris carries forward a lot of similarities with the last version. Importantly, too, Black Crows says that it’s the same ski as the women’s-oriented Atris Birdie, another all-time Powder7 favorite.
Like the 2021-2022 Atris, the new ski features a poplar and fiberglass core. Weight and turn radius also stay the same, at right around 4,000 grams per pair (184 cm size) and 20 meters. Same for the fairly progressive mount point, at -8cm.
You’ll find the differences in the ski’s shape, flex, and rocker profile. The new Atris sheds some girth, slimming down from 108mm underfoot to 105mm. Contact points move out toward the tips and tails, shortening up the rocker. And, as with the 2022-2023 Captis, the flex softens slightly. The Black Crows claim? These updates make the Atris more versatile. They want the ski to be viewed as a wider all-mountain ski rather than just a freeride ski. It’s a subtle difference, but one they hope will further expand the Atris’ reach.
Tester note: I measure 5’7″ and weigh in at 160 pounds. I skied the Atris in the 178 cm and 184 cm sizes.
With the Atris slimming down to a 105mm waist and taking on a new shape, I looked forward to pushing the ski on groomers. These skis will probably never rail carves as well as some more burly skis in this category, like the Volkl Mantra 102, Salomon Stance 102, and Nordica Enforcer 104 Free. Kind of like how I’ll never be asked to reach things on the top shelf.
But that said, plenty of people who love freeride skis actually enjoy carving wider skis with more progressive flex patters, especially in softer snow. I’m for sure one of these folks. And the new Atris carves much better than its predecessor.
While the previous Atris felt kind of like most other mid-fat skis on groomers—just fine, but not remarkable—the new version snaps in and out of carves with a lot more energy. It also holds a better edge. And even with that progressive flex pattern, it allows you to lay into it with confidence at all speeds, especially from a centered stance. I, for one, find that mix of a softer flex with a more pronounced sidecut to be very, very fun. And I try not to use the word “very” to describe anything…
Of course, those skis with metal provide more power and more stability, and even with refined contact points, the Atris won’t feel bulletproof on icy groomers. But I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt to lay these skis over in between off-piste zones. In that way, they do feel more all-mountain-ish than the previous version.
Trees and Bumps
One of the best things about the previous Atris was how well it drifted through tight places, pivoting with ease. That made it ideal in trees, chutes, and inconsistent or rutted bump runs. It was forgiving rather than punishing, smooth, and intuitive. It also packed enough mass through the tips to keep from getting bounced around in those spots.
The new version proved just as able in those same types of places, but the ride felt different. That snappy feel and quick maneuverability that I mentioned above translates great to trees and bumps. In slimming down to 105mm underfoot, the new Atris did become quicker in tight places. It also, though, became a bit less drifty. Rather than smear through its lines, especially in inconsistent or rutted bumps, the new Atris felt better engaging its edges and attacking the fall line. That slight different sets it a bit more in line with those more aggressive freeride skis when you get into tight places. Conveniently, though, the Atris feels lighter, softer, and more forgiving than those skis. So, while it drives through tight places differently than the previous version, I found it just as accessible and user-friendly when I drove the ski rather than drifting it.
Powder and Mixed Snow
In mixed snow conditions, ranging from soft chop to crud, the new Atris flashes its versatility. Like the previous version, it’s still not a ski that wants to overpower everything in its path (read: no metal). But that refined flex pattern and those fairly soft tips give the ski a smooth and reliable feel plus nice suspension. It rewards dynamic skiing, skipping across piled-up snow and moving quickly edge-to-edge when things firm up. In crappy snow, you’ll want to stay on the skis and remember you’re not driving a tank. Those tips can get deflected at high speeds on variable or cut-up pitches. But in most snow on most days, the new Atris no doubt handles the whole mountain better than average for its waist width.
In powder, this ski as some big shoes to fill. One of the most remarkable things about the previous Atris was that it floated untracked snow like a much, much wider ski—better in my book than any sub-110mm ski I’ve ridden.
Full disclosure: I didn’t get to ski the new Atris in more than about eight inches of fresh. But in that poor-man’s-powder, this ski felt light, playful, and surfy. Again, it’s not as drifty as the previous version, and I am skeptical that it will float quite as well with its new dimensions and shape. But set against the other skis around 105mm underfoot, the Atris still rises toward the top of the list on the best days of the year.
One other note: While I did find the new Atris less drifty than the old one, it is just as playful—if not more-so. Even this pretty boring freeride skier was able to bring around a couple nose butters, and the Atris loves launching, spinning, and slashing as much as you’d hope.
If you loved the old Atris and hate change, you may want to stock up. Although the differences are subtle, they are there. If you loved that boat-ish 108mm profile that drifted effortlessly and floated like a fatty, you may not get as stoked about the new version. That said, I’m about as much of an Atris purist as you’ll find, and after giving the new version a legit change, I came away solidly impressed.
Also—and you probably already know this—if you’re an aggressive big-mountain skier who prefers chargey, directional skis over playful skis, a few other skis in this category will better fit your needs.
Like they said they would, Black Crows made the Atris more versatile and more of a viable all-mountain ski, albeit a wide one, for 2022-2023. It’s user-friendly for anyone with intermediate ability or higher. It lives and breathes for soft snow, much like you and I, and it holds up in most less-than-ideal conditions. It’s playful, snappy, versatile and—like the Atris should always be—way too much fun.