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A lightweight touring ski that is versatile enough to explore the whole mountain - we test the Orb Freebird from Chamonix based Black Crows.

Level
Expert
Terrain
All Mountain
Best for
Ski touring and off-piste skiing for experts
Price
£520
Season
2016/17
lengths
166,172,178,183
Bindings?
No
Versatility
9
Up-hill
9
Value
7
Downhill
9
Performance
8
Overall Score
9

Black Crows have created a loyal following of freeride skiers that go well beyond their heartland base in the Chamonix Valley. The Orb already becoming one of their classic models in a range dominated by wider skis orientated towards off-piste skiing.

At 91mm under foot, the Orb is one of the narrowest models in the collection, but of course it's still wide enough to handle most snow conditions.

We tested the skis in a touring binding set-up that provided a smooth progressive ride over most of the snow we encountered. Light and easy to steer, they skated happily over a mix of chopped-up crud and pockets of leftover powder. On groomed snow, they managed to keep a solid grip through the turn and are fun and lively to ski on.

They could handle a longer tour quite comfortably and because they are easy to turn, they can be controlled well at lower speeds - sometimes a wider ski just wants to take you everywhere fast and you don't always want that, you need control, and the Orb provides that and would suit a lighter skier with a high level of technical ability.

The dictionary definition of an Orb states: 'a golden globe surmounted by a cross, forming part of the regalia of a monarch'. The only thing stopping you from becoming king of the mountains will be your ski technique.

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