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.

Testers

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

29 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!
      SE

  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!
      SE

  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!
      SE

  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!
      SE

  5. I’m a 5’7, 150lb and am a solid intermediate skier who skis mostly blues, occasionally blacks (and greens with the kids). I consider myself a speed-demon hack: I don’t have the formal technique from proper teaching, but still enjoy the thrill of high-speeds. I tried out the Black Pearl 78s in 156, and loved its maneuverability. (I read it’s not stable at high-speeds though.)

    Now I’m looking to buy a pair, but can’t decide. Can you tell me how to decide between the 78s and 88s? And are 156s a good size?

    Thanks so much for your help and expertise.

    1. Hi Failop!
      Keep in mind, that the two widths have the same build (except for the 2021 88, which is a bit more refined), so expect the same type of stability at speeds, just with a bit more width for flotation, at the cost of maneuverability and quickness. In that 80-range, for a bit more stability, check out the Nordica Astral 84 and the Volkl Yumi 84–a bit more strength than the Pearls. Also, they make a Black Pearl 82 if that’s sounding interesting!
      SE

  6. After reading and watching all of the reviews on this site for all mountain 90ish skis, I’m still torn between the Black Pearl 88s and the Ripstick 88s(166cm). I’m 24, 5’7 and 145 lbs and semi-athletic. I haven’t been able to get out much these last few years but I’ve had plenty of formal lessons growing up and always did well charging downhill in years past. I’m an intermediate skier that needs to shake off some rust.
    It seems the Santa Anas will be a bit too much for me and I’m afraid the Ripsticks won’t be the dependable, progressive ski in the years to come as I get out more often. I’ll be on groomers and getting into the occasional powder and maybe some trees. Hoping for these to have upward potential and to also not be hindered on my first real adult pair of skis.
    Thank you so much for all the info and deduction on this site that makes this process so much better.

    1. Hi Vanessa!
      It’s really hard to go wrong with either of these skis. I found that the Black Pearl has a more consistent flex while the Ripstick is stronger underfoot and through the tail. The shovel of the Ripstick is a bit more flexible, so it’s a better floater, but doesn’t quite have the the high end of the Santa Ana, and might be somewhat of a tie between that and the BP 88. The Ripstick is a bit of a gamble, I’d recommend demoing it if possible, while you could buy the Black Pearl sight unseen and love it for years. Have fun!
      SE

  7. Hello!

    Im choosing between the Black pearl 88 20/21 and the Völkl deacon 80 20/21. Im a good skier, 170cm, 68 kg and want skis that can handle different types of snow (icy, wet and powder), both prepared hills at the beginning of the day but also be able to handle whats left at the end of the day and offpist if I feel like it. Which one would you recommend for me and what length? I’ve heard its best to have skis that are a bit taller than your hight if you’re a good skier. Whats your opinion?

    Thank you for your help!
    Stephanie

    1. HI Stephanie!
      Lemme throw a wrench in real quick and bring up the Black Pearl 82. Narrower than the 88 but with the same build, and more versatile/all-mountain oriented versus the Deacon (which is a fantastic, light, and fun ski, just with a bit more front-side attitude). Just a thought–depends on if you’re looking for more freeride/all-mountain or more front-side/carving. Or something in the middle. Either way, I’d be looking at the 163 ish length. Shorter skis are en mode these days. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Thanks you for your reply 🙂
        Not a pro at skilingo. What does front-side attitude mean?
        I usually stick to the slopes and don’t go offpist but where I usually ski in sweden the snow is never “perfect” its either icy and hard, wet and slushy or hard with chunks of snow. Hard to describe in english, sorry! But they’ve recommended me to choose an all mountain ski because of the snow here not because I go offpist a lot.
        I carv (still improving) and enjoy both big and smaller turns. What do you think?

        1. HI Stephanie!
          A front-side attitude means that the ski prefers to be carving on groomed slopes. Your description of the Sweden snow is fantastic! In regards to the Black Pearl 88, we’ve sold thousands of them over the years, and I don’t recall hearing any bad things about them. They also make it in narrower versions, both 82 and 78 mm underfoot. If you’re not off-piste a lot, I’d look to something in the middle ground like the 82. Also check out the Salomon QST 85 or Rossignol Experience 84W. Have fun!
          SE

  8. Hi there. Like a few others, I’m deciding between the Black Pearl 88 and Nordica Santa Ana (93 or 88), and as an after thought- elan ripstick 88. Advanced intermediate who skis groomers 70% of time but enjoy going off in trees & moguls here and there, and cruising through powder when given the opportunity. 27 years old, 5’2, 125 lbs athletic. I ski ~2 week trips a year but have been going since I was a kid, blacks and blues in CO. Like to pick up speed while still feeling controlled. (Coming off of using old K2 Tru Luvs that struggled to pick up speed & get through powder So I know either of these will feel like an upgrade.) Thanks so much!

    1. HI Kyla!
      Pretty much anyone who skis the Black Pearl 88 loves it. It makes sense that it’s been one of the best-selling skis of all time. The Santa Ana is a step up in the performance department, with metal laminates to stiffen and dampen the ski. They’re heavier, though, so you do have to work harder to access the performance. The Ripstick is an interesting combination, with most of the benefits of the Black Pearl, but adding more carbon to give the ski energy. Additionally, the right/left-specific nature of the Ripstick is a unique thing in the ski world, and it makes sense as we put more emphasis on our inside edges. If you want to take the next step in your ski performance, the Santa Ana’s will take you there, but you do have to work for it. Hope that helps!
      SE

  9. Hi there,

    Can you help me choose between the BP88 and BP82 please? I ski in New Zealand only, where the snow is hard packed, frequently icy and then turns to slush later in the season (there is never powder!) I mostly ski groomed trails but like the challenge of off piste where manoeuvrability is required around moguls, rocks and chutes. I’m advance intermediate and enjoy giving black diamonds a go but I’m a cautious skier. I tired a friend’s Head Supershape Titan’s and they instantly improved my skiing but they are too heavy and aggressive for me. I’m 170cm and 69kg.
    Do you think the 88 or 82 would be better? Also for my friend who has the Titan’s she would like to know if the BP 88 would be a good ski for a ski patroller in the above conditions.
    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Suzie!
      Never powder? I’d go 82. For increased maneuverability and edge grip, the slightly narrower Pearl is the way to go. Even in softer snow, the 82 will be just fine. For a patroller who may need a bit of extra width and stability, sure, the 88 will be a good choice, as they’re both pretty darn suitable for your conditions and terrain. Have fun!
      SE

  10. I am 63 years old. An advanced skier (was expert skier in 20’s and 30’s). 5’ 7” and 135 lbs. I demo’d the 88’s in 165 length and really enjoyed them. Given I will be skiing more and hope to get back in expert shape, should I get 171 length rather than 16? I ski all types of and levels trails – primarily in the northeast, but essentially no back country and not much tight moguls given aging knees…. I’m not sure I can demo a longer length. Advice requested!

  11. I am 71 yrs old. 5ft7in 125lbs. I ski intermediate groomers and powder as well. I have an older carver ski nordica unknown legend. 80 mm underfoot. And also Santa Anna 100 mm I find the carver skis hard on my knees in crud because they’re stiff, but I find I like the flex ion of Santa Anna but they are hard on knees to angle on groomers. So I’m looking for an all mountain ski, easy on knees but will take me through groomed, crud and powder. Please help!

    1. HI Judy!
      Lots to like about those Black Pearl 88’s! Right in the middle of everything and does it all well. For a bit more carving performance, check the Rossignol Experience 88’s, but really you’ll love the Black Pearl. Probably 159 cm length. Have fun!
      SE

  12. I am 23 years old. 5’6″, 140lbs. I just moved to CO from the east coast and am ready to buy a new pair of skis. I have been skiing the Fischer Pro Mt fire but don’t love them. I demo’d the Volkl Yumi’s last weekend and want to demo a few more pairs that are similar before I commit. I am an advanced skier, very confident on all terrain but wanting to get better on bumps and in the trees this season. Do you have any recommendations on what other skis to try? I was thinking the Black Pearl 88’s and Santa Ana 88’s? Thanks!

    1. HI Madison!
      Definitely check out those 88’s, and I’d add the Rossignol Experience 88 as well. The Experience 84 is more similar to the Yumi. Have fun!
      SE

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