2017 Blizzard Black Pearl Ski Review: Lighter, Stronger, Better // Ski Reviews
If you follow our Chairlift Chat blog you may have seen our preview of the 2017 Blizzard lineup back in early February. Blizzard has been turning out some awesome skis in the past few seasons. Perhaps most notably since the introduction of their Flipcore construction used across their all mountain and freeride collections. Probably the biggest news for 2017, however, is the new Quattro line of frontside carving skis that use different technologies than the all mountain skis. We’ve already taken a closer look at the Quattro RX and Quattro 8.0 Ti from that collection here on our blog. As for the all mountain Flipcore skis, we took a look at the updates to the ever popular Brahma and Bonafide, but haven’t yet dived deeper into the changes to the women’s all mountain collection, which all received major construction updates for 2017, including one of our favorites, the Black Pearl.
As we mentioned in our preview article, Blizzard has added some cohesion to their women’s skis in reference to both the construction and the graphics. In past years, the women’s skis haven’t had the same streamlined look as the men’s skis. Their men’s all mountain skis have become famous for both their performance as well as the stylish bull graphic that varies in color across each model. The women’s skis, however, were a bit of a hodgepodge of images with nothing really carrying over across the whole line. For 2017, however, Blizzard has used a subtle feather graphic on all their women’s all mountain skis with varying colors from ski to ski. We absolutely love the new graphics and we think most women skiers will agree. Unlike before, it now feels like a complete line of skis, just like the men’s side. The Black Pearl, which we’re focusing on in this article, has a deep purple underfoot that fades as it reaches the tip and tail, with the subtle white feather graphic on the tip.
So the new graphics look great, but what about the new construction? This is where things get really exciting. Blizzard has updated the construction of their women’s skis with a lighter weight wood core and a sheet of carbon fiber. The construction is specific to their women’s skis and is referred to as Carbon Flipcore WSD. As you may recall, the men’s collection also received carbon over the past few seasons, but use a different layup with different wood, resulting in a heavier ski. We are always very pleased when ski companies take the time to actually cater to the specific demands of women skiers, instead of the classic “shrink it and pink it” technique where companies just make a men’s ski smaller and throw some “girly” graphics and colors on it.
Since the Black Pearl was introduced a few seasons ago it’s been one of, if not the most popular women specific ski on the market. It has developed a following due to its high performance across varying terrain and conditions and overall versatility, even in reference to different ability levels. Essentially, just about every woman skier who got on a pair of Black Pearls thoroughly enjoyed them. How did the changes in construction effect performance? The most noticeable differences are the reduced weight and the energy and responsiveness that carbon provides. We sent out a few different testers back in March and April and they were all very impressed by the new ski. It’s important to note that all of these testers have had experience on the previous version of the Black Pearl as well as other skis in the Blizzard collection, so they had a good base of comparison.
The overwhelming consensus of our testers is that the new version of the Black Pearl is quicker turning and more playful than the previous version and also has better responsiveness and a little more energy giving the skis a fun, snappy characteristic. Everything that made the Black Pearl so popular is still there: the 88mm waist width is extremely versatile, the tip rocker helps both initiate carving turns as well as allow the ski to pivot in softer and variable conditions, and the flat tail drives the ski out of a carve for skiers who like to make aggressive, powerful turns. The changes in construction only enhance the versatility of the ski. The reduced swing weight makes them even more maneuverable than previous versions and the carbon adds some stiffness and responsiveness that were arguably missing in the original Black Pearl. Blizzard’s Flipcore line is well-known for its grip and edge hold on firm conditions when compared to other rockered all mountain skis, and the carbon, just like it did for the men’s collection, actually improves upon this characteristic. Our male ski testers absolutely loved the addition of carbon to the Bonafide and Brahma, and our female testers that skied the Black Pearl all agreed that it’s a definite improvement.
It’s always a little nerve-wracking when a company takes an awesome product and decides to change it. We’re sure there are some women out there that are worried their favorite skis have changed. To those skiers, we can confidently say that it has changed, but it’s changed for the better. We really don’t think there will be many (if any) skiers who prefer the previous version of the Black Pearl. Not to take anything away from that ski, as it’s always been one of our favorites, but Blizzard has really hit the nail on the head with the construction changes in their women’s collection. The same lighter weight wood core and carbon laminates are found across the entire line, so if you’re looking for a different width, like the Samba, you can rest assured it also received these updates.
Blizzard has done a limited early release of certain 2017 models, the Black Pearl being one of them. As it’s bound to continue its trend as one of the most popular women’s skis on the market, if you have your heart set on a new pair of Black Pearls, it would be safest to pick up a pair sooner than later in case they sell out early in the season (something that we’ve seen happen with popular Blizzard models in the past). If you’re not set on a new pair of skis, we definitely recommend getting on a pair to demo in the coming ski season. We can pretty much guarantee you’ll like them.