Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Backcountry Skis

2023 Black Crows Ova Freebird Review

It’s not a backcountry powder plank, but it sure is quick in steep, technical terrain

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and more benefits with 25% off.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

25% Off Outside+.
$4.99/month $3.75/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.

  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Brand: Black Crows

Model: Ova Freebird


Tip / Waist / Tail (mm)


Lengths (cm)

156.1, 163.5, 170.3, 176.1, 182.3

Radius (m)


Waist Width (mm)





Advanced, Expert


Stability at Speed, Quickness


Floatation, Playfulness

Stability at Speed

5 / 10

Quickness / Maneuverability

8 / 10


6 / 10


6 / 10

Crud Performance

6 / 10


5 / 10


7.5 / 10


4 / 10

On its third update, the new Black Crows 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.

Learn more: Ski technology and terms to know

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.”

With low marks in Floatation and Versatility, the Black Crows 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.”

Compare the Black Crows Ova Freebird to the other best backcountry skis of 2023

This post contains affiliate links, primarily provided by our priority partner We may earn a commission if you buy through these links. Read more about our policy.