2020 Black Crows Orb Birdie

The Orb Birdie from Black Crow’s is the women’s edition of their redesigned Orb all-mountain ski. Although it’s segmented as a women’s ski, there’s really nothing that sets it apart from the men’s version, except for being available in shorter lengths. The Orb Birdie uses an 88 mm waist width with a 19 m turn radius throughout every length, ensuring that no matter what length you choose, the ski will perform as Black Crows intended. Long camber is combined with tip rocker to give the ski easier turn initiation, while retaining good edge grip. A poplar wood core is boosted by H-shaped titanal laminates, giving you good stability underfoot and while on edge, but with a lighter weight than if it used full sheets of metal.

Shelby Parenteau tested the 164.4 cm Orb and “loved this ski!” The only score under 4 out of 5 from Shelby was for flotation. Everything else received at least 4 out of 5, including 5 out of 5 for quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, and overall impression. “A favorite of today. I found it to be playful, forgiving, and easy to turn and get edge to edge.” Part of the goal of the new Orb Birdie was to make it more accessible for more than just advanced and expert level skiers, and they seem to have accomplished that. “The little bit of metal gave it some nice stability, but the ski was still nice and light. As an advanced skier, this was a great, confidence-inspiring ski for me.”

Allison Ruschp tested the 164.4 cm length as well. Just like Shelby, she found it was “lightweight and easy to turn.” Alli’s highest scores were for quickness/maneuverability and playfulness, much like what we saw from Shelby. She thought it felt relaxed and also found it performed well in softer snow conditions. Mar Kuhnel, on the other hand, tested the 169.2 cm length. She found it was “happiest going fast,” which suggests that the length you choose may have a significant effect on performance. Easy turn initiation? Go shorter. More stability? Go longer. Sure, that would be true with any ski, but the feedback from Alli and Mar suggests it’s exceptionally true with the Orb Birdie.

Elise Magnant skied the 164.4 cm length and was able to “test it on soft spring snow and some firm patches,” which are great snow conditions for testing a ski. High scores from Elise, with only flotation and torsional stiffness/edge grip dropping below the 4 out of 5 mark. The rest of our criteria received 4 out of 5, with overall impression rising to 5. That’s a sign of a very versatile all-mountain ski. “Really playful ski! Really held a turn and had a nice ‘rebound’ feel. Nice and maneuverable on a narrow woods trail and going over bumps.” Our testers on the Orb Birdie weren’t finding the highest levels of stability or the most edge grip, but they all shared the same opinion of versatility, maneuverability, and playfulness. Elise mentioned she would “ski it all day!” and we think a lot of eastern skiers would feel the same.

For east coast skiers, an 88 mm waist width is pretty darn perfect as an all-mountain ski. The Orb is lightweight, maneuverable, and fun, but with the H-shaped metal, it still has reasonable amounts of vibration damping and stability. It’s not the most powerful ski out there, but it’s much more forgiving and easier to ski than heavier, stiffer skis. We think it would be a good choice for women who don’t consider themselves hard-chargers, but enjoy skiing the whole mountain and challenging themselves with new terrain.

Testers

Allison Ruschp

Age: 32Height: 5'5"Weight: 135 lbs.

Ski Style: Ex-racer who's calmed herself down

Shelby Parenteau

Age: 27Height: 5'2"Weight: 130 lbs.

Ski Style: Snowboarder

Elise Magnant

Age: 26Height: 5'6"Weight: 135 lbs.

Ski Style: Sleek and smooth, with a penchant for clean carves

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