2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 88

The Black Pearl 88 has been the most popular women’s ski out of the entire ski market over the past few seasons. We barely have to test it, as a lot of women already flock to it for its versatile, approachable, yet high-end performance, but of course we did anyways. Blizzard’s Women Specific Carbon Flipcore construction has proven to provide a lightweight feel, good edge grip, reasonable amounts of stability, and a very intuitive, natural flex pattern. The Black Pearl 88 is mostly camber, although it also has smooth rocker and even a small amount of early taper in both the tip and tail. Combine that shape and construction and you’ve got a ski that’s known for its smooth feel and performance-oriented, yet easy-going attitude.

Ariel Aidala tested the 166 cm length in the Black Pearl 88 and thought it was “your bread and butter single quiver ski.” We know from past season’s that a lot of different women have chosen the Black Pearl 88 as their do-everything all-mountain ski, so Ariel pretty much hit the nail on the head with that comment. “Narrower than its big sister, the Black Pearl 98, it performs better on edge, but doesn’t charge as well through crud snow.” A wider ski typically will have better punch-through performance for softer, variable snow conditions, but the Black Pearl 88 is noticeably quicker edge to edge and a more appropriate ski for firm snow conditions. Ariel agrees, finishing her feedback by recommending it for “someone who mostly stays on-trail, but may venture occasionally to glades and trees.” We think that’s a great recommendation. Now with the addition of the Black Pearl 82, you can really dial in which width works best for the terrain and snow conditions you ski.

Shannon Walton thought it was a “great all-around ski” after her test runs on the 166 cm length. Shannon gave the Black Pearl 88 some high scores. 5 out of 5 for quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, and forgiveness, with stability, torsional stiffness/edge grip, versatility, and overall impression all coming in with 4’s out of 5. Only flotation was lower at 3 out of 5. “Best for strong intermediate or advanced skier. Easy turn initiation, fun and playful feel. Confidence-inspiring. Was a lot of fun to ski and I felt the ski could do whatever I asked it to.”

Elise Magnant also tested the 166 cm Black Pearl 88 and found it to be a little bit too much for her self-described beginner level. While it is an approachable ski for less-aggressive skiers, Elise is right that it’s not the best choice for a true beginner. “Tested on soft spring corn with some firm patches. As a beginner skier, I felt this ski required a more advanced skier.” Intermediates and advanced skiers with more accomplished technique will find a nice amount of forgiveness in the Black Pearl 88, but it’s a little bit lost on beginners.

Elissa DeGolyer, like the rest of our testers, hopped on the 166 cm length for her test runs. Elissa would “highly recommend this ski to anyone.” From someone who fits boots onto the feet of hundreds of skiers each season, that’s quite a compliment to the Black Pearl 88. “I felt that this ski has the ability to please many skier types. You can carve it if you want to, and you can smear it as well.”

For skiers looking for a versatile all mountain ski, the Black Pearl 88 is a great choice. There’s a reason it’s the most popular women’s ski on the market; it’s a whole lot of fun to ski. You don’t have to be the hardest-charging skier on the mountain to enjoy it, either. Weekend warriors, intermediates, even beginners that consider themselves more on the aggressive end of the spectrum can all get a lot out of the Black Pearl 88.


Shannon Walton

Age: 37Height: 5'3"Weight: 145 lbs.

Ski Style: Carving-oriented with some tricks up her sleeve

Elise Magnant

Age: 26Height: 5'6"Weight: 135 lbs.

Ski Style: Sleek and smooth, with a penchant for clean carves

Ariel Aidala

Age: 27Height: 5'3"Weight: 124 lbs.

Ski Style: Adventurous and fun with a fall-line mentality

Elissa DeGolyer

Age: 30Height: 5'4"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Precise, aggressive, extensive ski racing background

9 Comments on the “2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 88”

  1. Skied the 2019 (Black Pearl) last season and really enjoyed the ski. I also tried out a Nordica Santa Ana that was a clear no-go for me. So at this point I am trying to decide between the Black Pearl and the Armada Victa 93 (haven’t tried but am intrigued by the description and reviews). Would love to hear some opinions/thoughts.

    I am a female, 155 lbs, expert skier (that also has to ski the greens with two kids under age 7). I love the trees, but spend more time on the groomers at this point.

    Thanks for the great review.

    1. Hi Lindsay!
      I think you’ll have a similar reaction as the Santa Ana, as the metal in the ski can make it a bit demanding, even for expert skiers. If you’re looking for a bit more ski than the Black Pearl, check out the Blizzard Sheeva 9–super-fun in the woods and not a bad groomer ski. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with that Black Pearl! Volkl Yumi is another ski worth a look. Have fun!

  2. I am a 69 year old woman who has skied for about 40 years. I only ski a couple of times a year now, but, I would consider myself a solid intermediate skier – though I am cautious at my age. I am considering the 2020 Black Pearl Blizzard 88. I ski mostly blues but will “try” a single black diamond occasionally. I am used to groomed trails but enjoy a little powder…not too deep. I am hoping someone can tell me if I’m on the right track here. And…at 5’ 5 should I be getting the 159 or 166’s? I’m in a quandary about that one final detail. Thanks, Vivian

    1. Hi Vivian!
      Great choice on a great ski. We often joke that if all the ski companies got together and just decided to make one ski, the Black Pearl 88 would be at the top of the list. I think you sound like a 159 skier to me–the 166 sounds pretty long. Have fun!

  3. I could use some advice. I’ve been on Blizzard Sambas (99 under foot, 159 length) in Colorado since 2013 and love them. I can take them anywhere – groomers, trees, crud, powder, bumps – anything. I’ve really loved the stability of the Sambas. I can lay them on edge and count on them. But they’re getting old and I’m thinking of replacing them. I’m 61, 5’4″ about 120 lbs and I’m not as hard-charging as I used to be so thinking I might want something a little more forgiving. There are great deals on the 2019/2020 Black Pearl 88. I’ve never tried them. I wonder if this would be a good alternative and which length would I want. With a narrower ski I wonder if the longer length would be more stable, but I would want them quick turning for tight tress. As additional note, I tried the Nordica Santa Ana 93 last year and wasn’t wow’d. They seemed to lack the stability I’m used to but I may have been having a bad day. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Leslie!
      On paper, the Santa Ana should have more stability than the Samba/Pearl, but a lot of it does come down to the skier. If you like the overall character of the Samba, you’ll love the Pearl, as it’s basically the same ski, just narrower, and that seems to fit with what you’re looking for. Do you like the 159 or are you looking for the quicker 152? If you’re making more turns at slower speeds, the 152 is a good choice, but if you were always satisfied with the 159, there’s no reason to change. Rossignol Experience 88 W is worth a look, as is the K2 Mindbender 88 Ti. Have fun!

  4. I am deciding between the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 and the Rossignol Experience 88. I currently use the Head Supershape I Rally in 163 and love to carve but they are a bit too heavy and long and I’m looking for more of an all mountain ski for the east coast that carves well. Which would you recommend?

    1. Hi Justine!
      The Experience is a closer carving comparison to the iRally, with the Black Pearl on the lighter and more playful side. If you’re looking for more versatility while still keeping the carving prowess, I think the Rossignol is a better choice. Have fun!

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