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2024-2025 Blizzard Black Pearl 88 Review

Still the boss. 

When I started at the shop four years ago, I was told the Black Pearl held the crown as one of the most popular women’s skis and something I could safely recommend to female skiers looking for a quick, fun, and supportive ski that wouldn’t beat them up to much. The second I got to take a lap on her, I knew this was true. A few years went by without much change, and I had a feeling something might be brewing in Blizzard’s R&D department this year. Turns out, we have an entirely new Black Pearl series. So, is it still the boss lady? What changes have they made? Fear not, skier. We dive into all of it in our new Blizzard Black Pearl 88 review. 

blizzard black pearl 88 review

Blizzard Black Pearl 88 Review: Field Notes

Let’s dive into what changed. The Black Pearl starts from scratch with a new mold, new True Blend wood core, and new metal construction. The shape of the metal is pretty intriguing. It includes the same Flux Form metal shape from the Rustler/Sheeva series, with a twist—full strips of titanal run from tip to tail along the edges. In addition to the layer with those strips, an additional layer of metal below fills the space between the two strips. That adds up to a full sheet, just on different layers that allow them to shear independently. On snow, that makes the ski feel less torsionally rigid but still powerful. Previous versions of the Black Pearl didn’t have metal in them. 

The shape is treated to deeper rocker in the tip and tail, with healthy camber underfoot. That combo makes for increased maneuverability and smooth turn initiation. You also get an updated True Blend wood core to go along with the updated molds and construction.

I got to ski the Black Pearl 88 at Vail early season, but thanks to Vail’s high elevation, we had a smattering of trails and even some bumps. I skied the 170cm (at 130lbs and 5’8″), which is a length I’m happy riding for this ski. 

black pearl series lineup
The full new collection: Black Pearl 84, Black Pearl 88, Black Pearl 94.

Groomers

This is where I was most excited to try the new model. The Black Pearl 88 was always a ski I could get down with to carve on for a day, and this one is no different. I think the new model keeps so much of that Black Pearl DNA that women shredders everywhere have come to love while leveling up the ceiling of skill and aggression you can ride it with. 

The new shape and construction help you lean into a turn and ski it harder. It supported longer turn shapes and pretty high speeds, all without requiring it. I felt like I could lean into it harder, take a more forward stance, and trust the ski to support that whole turn consistently. 

For me, the new Black Pearl feels more powerful underfoot. I’m not sure if that’s the new True Blend core, but the ski felt more strout and rigid right underfoot. That adds loads of confidence in your edges and support the ski can provide, especially in less-than-ideal snow conditions.

I most enjoyed skiing the Black Pearl through some afternoon groomed trails, where the snow is less pristine and more chopped up. I wouldn’t say it’s as glued and planted as some of these other metal models like the Volkl Kenja or the Nordica Santa Ana. But, it was never unpredictable, nor did I feel “unstable”. You can fully feel those edges lock in and feel you can hold your turn. At the same time, it doesn’t require mega-high speeds or World Cup technique. You can ski it more cautiously and at slower speeds while retaining the liveliness and fun of it. For that reason, it makes it a great option to progress alongside, without feeling beat up.

Bumps and Trees

Alright, if confidence inspiring is how this ski feels on-trail, quick is how it feels off-trail. It reacts quickly and helps you change lines on a dime. Quickness and confidence go hand in hand—if you feel like you can get this ski maneuver on a dime, you can whip tighter turns and take more challenging lines. It also feels like less work than something more charge-y (and maybe a little slower edge-to-edge).

The quickness in bumps was always something we loved about the old model. The subtle tweaks to the construction just help dampen it. So when bumps were scraped off, the ski remained consistent and predictable. I thoroughly enjoyed how the ski also never punished you for winding up in the backseat and was forgiving at slower speeds. Skis with lots of torsionally rigid metal can feel plank-y or unforgiving in that kind of terrain. But the Black Pearl’s metal shape allows for a little flex while giving you power right at the spots you need it to.

I found its more traditional mount point and directional shape make this feel like it leans on the more directional side of things, or more “carve-y”. If you spend more time on groomed terrain, or firmer snow conditions, or know you prefer a more traditional ski shape, the Black Pearl 88 will do you right. It feels less easy pivot or slash sideways compared to the Armada ARW, Salomon QST Lux 92, or Faction Prodigy 1. So if you spend a lot of time in bumps and trees, or really want to progress in that terrain with an easy-to-release tail, there are more playful options out there to check out.

blizzard black pearl 88 review in bumps
Slicing and dicing bumps has never been easier.

Mixed Snow and Powder

This was the arena I was about with the Black Pearl 88 before. Considering I didn’t have truly fresh snow (or deep mixed snow) to test this on, I’ll be sure to come back and update this once I’ve gotten to spend more time on it mid-winter. That said, here’s some initial thoughts. 

Considering how predictable the ski feels in shallow mixed snow on the terrain we did have to ski, I do think this Black Pearl levels up the choppy snow performance. But, it’s still an 88mm underfoot ski that isn’t all that heavy. In deeper mixed snow, you’re fighting the snow with a lot less surface area to push through things. For the record, I did get some laps on the new Black Pearl 94, which felt like a nice step up for off-trail performance. 

Downside?

Per usual, a ski’s strength can be simultaneously its weakness. The lively energy of this ski doesn’t translate to a supremely damp ride. For folks who like ultra high-performance suspension at the cost of ease-of-use, this ski probably won’t give you the “glued” to the snow feeling you are searching for. I’d point you in the direction of the Volkl Secret / Kenja series and Salomon Stance 88.

It’s also going to be a touch trickier for beginner to intermediate types in the bumps. That’s why I put it on the “leans carve-y” end of things, just because of that directional shape and mount point.

Bottom Line

When I would recommend the Black Pearl to folks before, the words to describe it were confidence-inspiring and quick. It made for a great first ski for intermediates, all the way up to experts who valued a lively quick ride. This hasn’t lost that at all, and it’s probably best in class now for that reason with new tech and a refined shape.

Its newfound precision on firm snow and bumps makes it a notch more difficult to ski, honestly. But if you think of the range of skiers who will enjoy this, Blizzard raised the ceiling much more than it raised the foundation. More skiers than ever will have a good time on the Black Pearl 88, and they’ll probably be better skiers for it. It’s rare to find a ski that helps you progress, with an accessible entry-point, forgiving riding as you challenge yourself, and support for more aggressive skiing.

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