Blizzard Black Pearl 88 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Quick edge to edge, strong carving ski
Cons: Need to be engaged to ski it well, not much excitement, sinks in deeper snow
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Blizzard Black Pearl 88 - Women's
|Price||$649.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Quick edge to edge, strong carving ski||Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level||Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price||Great stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than others||Superbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold|
|Cons||Need to be engaged to ski it well, not much excitement, sinks in deeper snow||No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound||Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly||Only for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide them||Too burly for lighter gals, not nimble|
|Bottom Line||Though not especially playful in deep powder, this ski is our top choice for carving with its skinny waist and quickness edge to edge||A great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiver||A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag||This model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skier||A good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste|
|Rating Categories||Blizzard Black Pear...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96|
|Stability At Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (15%)|
|Specs||Blizzard Black Pear...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96|
|Waist Width (mm)||88||98||96||96||96|
|Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm)||128-88-110||132-98-120||136-96-111||127-96-117||135-96-119|
|Available Lengths (cm)||147, 153, 159, 165, 171, 177||151, 158, 165, 172, 179||154, 162, 170, 178||155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187||149, 156, 163, 170|
|Length Tested (cm)||171||172||178||171||170|
|Rocker Style||Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot||Tip and tail, camber underfoot||Tip and tail, cambered inside edge Amphibio tech||Tip and tail, camber underfoot||Tip and tail, camber underfoot|
|Weight Per Pair (lbs)||8.0||8.1||7.4||7.9||8.5|
|Construction Type||Sandwich compound sidewall||Energy Ti W||SST sidewall||Sandwich||Full sidewall|
|Core Material||True Blend Woodcore||Performance Wood & Metal||Tubelite wood||Paulownia & Poplar||Beech and poplar|
|Intended Purpose||All-Mountain||All-Mountain||All-Mountain||All-Mountain, Big Mountain||All-Mountain|
Our Analysis and Test Results
With their True Blend Woodcore technology, Blizzard mixes different combinations of wood in different portions of the ski, successfully making the platform underneath your feet stiffer than the tip and tail. Our testers felt the Black Pearl 88 benefited from this additional stability underfoot, creating a dependable constancy - but only if we managed to stay on top of it. If we got a little lazy or tired and weren't coming back to the sweet spot every turn, we found it felt a little sloppy and unreliable. Regardless, the Black Pearl's ability to dig railed tracks into the snow in a carved turn, and its lightning speed transition from one edge to another, earned it our carving award. Our ski tuners also commented on the quality construction and materials in this ski.
Stability at Speed
The Black Pearl 88 integrates Blizzard's Carbon Flipcore technology, and as long as you are continuously moving forward on the ski at the start of each turn, it rewards you with a stable ride at most speeds. If you forget to shift forward to the ski's sweet spot, or you just simply want a break from the constant physicality of making an aggressive turn, the ski starts to feel just slightly looser.
Some of our heavier testers also commented that it did not feel as though this ski was built to withstand the forces created by a larger skier. If you're a medium weight female, and you're willing to put in the effort to stay on top of this ski, they should provide a solid and dependable experience at higher speeds.
In the world of tipping and ripping carved turns, the Black Pearl 88 reigns supreme. It much prefers to dig into the snow and hold an arc; when we tried to flatten the ski and butter across the surface, the Black Pearl was not as interested in participating. This propensity for edging does not make it an ideal companion for tree skiing or sliding on boxes and rails in the terrain park, but it does make digging high-speed trenches an absolute hoot.
As noted earlier, the Black Pearl 88 demands a competent captain at her helm; she won't roll over for just any common sailor. If you can stay alert and move forward at the start of the turn, she'll engage securely and you'll be in for a fun ride across the fall line. However, this particular maneuver on this ski is not for novices. It's not the type of ski that simply arcs when you look at it sideways - you have to know exactly what you want from it to make it happen. Once you do, though, the Black Pearl moves incredibly quickly between sets of edges, giving the skier a much more exhilarating ride than we remember from older Black Pearl iterations.
While this ski has one of the shorter turn radii on paper in our test group, at 15m, all our testers agreed that it didn't really feel like this was true to reality. It feels like it takes the Black Pearl much longer than a 15m radius would imply to arc its natural carved turn shape. If you enjoy carving a medium to large radius turn, this could be a great choice for you; but if you enjoy a tighter turn, don't let the 15m marking fool you into thinking the Black Pearl turns that snugly.
With its skinny little 88mm waist, the Black Pearl was not built to be a powder hound. Its slightly rockered tips help it maintain flotation in about 6 inches or less of the fresh stuff, but more than that and it tends to flounder.
Even in small amounts of fresh snow, the Black Pearl has a thin frame underfoot that does not allow for it to build a platform of snow to push against and spring back to the surface. When we tried to use this tactic, it simply sunk deeper. Therefore, in lighter consistency snow, or lesser amounts, it can be coerced to twist and turn from within the layers. Just don't expect them to always stay on top if things get deeper or heavier.
Our testers were impressed with this ski's performance in chunky off-piste conditions. The stability underfoot that we discovered on the groomers proved functional and appreciated when taking this ski into variable terrain.
The Black Pearl 88 is stiff enough to slice through choppy snowballs, and its agility when moving between edges allowed it to change directions as quickly as necessary in the crud. Perhaps because the tips are not excessively rockered nor fat, they do not seem to get deflected by lumpy snow conditions.
While we did find the new Black Pearl 88 to have more spring in its step than older and fatter skis from this line, we still felt like we were pulling teeth a bit to get it to come out and party. If we really pushed it on the groomers, in a high-speed carved turn we could feel more rebound than on Black Pearls of old. However, this was the only environment where we felt its playful side showed itself.
It is a reliable and sturdy ski, but isn't particularly sprightly and doesn't love to fly. The flat tail feels sketchier to ski backwards with or land switch onto.
While its desire to carve rather than skid and pivot makes them a poor choice for anyone just learning to ski bumps, the quickness of the Black Pearl from edge to edge makes it a solid tool for an advanced bump skier.
The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 sits just within the upper half of the price range compared to the other skis in our test, but this is a quality-made ski that would provide high-end carving performance for the right skier. As one of our ski tuners pointed out, the quality of steel used in the edges is far superior to many in our test, which should allow for many multiple tunes before the skis must be retired. The only thing lacking with this ski is versatility; if you're searching for a mostly on-piste ski that's good for carving, the value is there. But if you're looking for a one-ski quiver to take you on powder and tree skiing adventures too, you'll want to find something more skilled in all our metrics in order to fill that role.
The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 performs highly in our front-side oriented metrics of carving and stability at speed, and actually handles well in off-piste crud, but falls a little short in other areas. We really enjoyed its edge-to-edge quickness and carving prowess, enough to award it our Top Pick for Carving. If you spend the majority of your time making a high-speed carved turn on groomed terrain, you might love this ski.
— Renee McCormack
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