Ski Reviews

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

Blizzard's Black Pearl collection of women's all-mountain skis has left a significant impression on the women's ski market over the past few years. Perhaps most notably, the Black Pearl 88 has been the best selling women's ski in the country pretty consistently since its introduction. It even makes it into the top 10 best selling skis in total, including all men's skis as well. A big reason for that is the fact that these skis were developed by women, not by a male engineer who thinks he understands female skiers. Blizzard's Women To Women project is revolutionary in its representation of women in the ski world and the resulting products. Blizzard understands that the number of female skiers is growing and wants to provide a community that speaks their language. It's a refreshing approach to women's skis and we've been thoroughly impressed with the skis they've developed. For 2020, we have a new addition to the Black Pearl collection and Blizzard's women's ski line, the Black Pearl 82.

Following in the footsteps of the rest of the collection in terms of overall design and construction, the Black Pearl 82 offers a new width option that fills a slight void that existed beforehand. Blizzard uses their Women's Specific Carbon Flipcore construction in the Black Pearl 82. Uni-directional carbon fiber is integrated into a sandwich construction that utilizes a lightweight wood core designed specifically for women. Uni-directional carbon fiber has great properties for a ski. When thinking of carbon fiber, most people imagine a Bi-directional carbon weave. By positioning the carbon along a single axis, you're getting the benefits of energy, responsiveness, and stability, but with a little more forgiveness than a ski with bi-directional carbon. The men's Brahma 82, for example, uses bi-directional carbon along with metal. Not only does that make it heavier, but also more torsionally rigid. While that helps for a heavy and/or aggressive male skier, it's not doing much for a lighter female skier, but we'll talk more about that when we get to performance.

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

The shape of the Black Pearl 82 is also proportionally consistent with its wider and narrower sister skis. It uses a rocker/camber/rocker profile with more tip rocker than tail rocker. The camber takes up the majority of the ski, however, and it's also relatively high rise camber. We wouldn't necessarily call the sidecut shaping of the Black Pearl 82 tapered, but the tips and tails do straighten out a little bit compared to the true radius of the ski. This helps give it a smoother overall feel. The 166 cm length has a 15.5 m turn radius, which in our opinion is just right for a ski like this. It's not so small that it constantly wants to turn, and not so long that it feels like a runaway freight train.

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: Full Camber Image

So what about performance? Luckily, we've had a lot of different testers on the Black Pearl 82 over the past season. Starting way back in early December 2018 and going through our 2020 Ski Test, it's safe to say we've put the Black Pearl 82 through its paces. The resounding feedback on the Black Pearl 82 is that it's a very balanced ski. It has a smooth flex pattern from tip to tail thanks to that Women's Carbon Flipcore construction. It's not exceptionally stiff, but it's also not a noodle. For most women, this flex pattern works really well. It's stiff enough that you can push it thanks to the carbon, but it's not too demanding or unforgiving. Some of Blizzard's men's skis can be pretty demanding, including the Brahma 82. We often recommend those skis for advanced to expert skiers only, but intermediates can certainly enjoy the Black Pearl 82. Experts needn't worry, however, as it has a high performance ceiling as well, it just feels more balanced than the stiffer, heavier men's skis for a bigger range of ability levels.

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: Wide Action Image2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: Wide Action Image 2

On groomers, the Black Pearl 82 really comes to life. It's quick edge to edge thanks to the 82 mm waist width. It feels more maneuverable than most frontside-specific skis because it's lighter and your center of gravity is lower due to not needing a system binding. It's energetic out of a turn thanks to that uni-directional carbon fiber and the high rise camber. It holds an edge well, but it enters and exists a turn easily. That's where the uni-directional carbon really starts to shine. By having slightly less torsional stiffness, it requires less skier input to get into a turn. Once you're there, however, the supportive flex pattern allows you to hold a carving turn and finish it without washing out. On the other hand, if you want to wash out and finish your turn with more of a skid to control speed, it lets you do that. It's a good balance of edge grip and releasability. Bi-directional carbon would make this ski significantly less smooth in terms of controlling your edge release. Will some women push it past its limits? Sure, but if you don't have a formal race background and you're not practically brushing your hip against the snow when you're making a carving turn, it's likely plenty of edge grip for you. The same can be said about the lack of metal. Will some women want more vibration damping? Again, sure, but most will much, MUCH prefer the lighter-weight feel of this construction.

Simply put, the Black Pearl 82 is a fantastic bump ski. We like it more than the Black Pearl 78 or 88 for mogul performance. The 78 gets bogged down and can feel catchy at times in un-groomed snow. The 88, while also a good ski for moguls, isn't as quick edge to edge and doesn't feel as nimble as the Black Pearl 82. Whether you're ripping a zipper line through steep bumps or making slower, rounder turns through more moderate pitches, the Black Pearl 82 feels great. The same can be said about tree skiing, especially here on the east. Sure, when we think about tree skiing, we like to think about powder, but that often isn't the case around here. Those that still like to play around in the woods will benefit hugely from the quick edge to edge feel and overall nimble nature of the Black Pearl 82. Blizzard calls their Black Pearl series an All-Mountain Freeride collection. We know, 82 mm seems a little narrow for a freeride ski to us too, but when you think about its performance, that categorization makes sense.

So, who's it best for? Well, to be honest, there's a big range of skiers that will enjoy the Black Pearl 82. Maybe you're mostly a groomer cruiser, but prefer being on an all-mountain ski over a narrower and/or system binding frontside ski. Those skis are typically heavier than the Black Pearl 82 and really aren't providing a huge benefit unless you're specifically focused on precision. Maybe you're an adventurous all-mountain skier who likes to seek out challenging terrain, but you've recently noticed that your entire ski quiver looks like water skis and you don't really have anything narrow for those non-powder days. There are a lot of skiers guilty of this scenario these days, and the Black Pearl 82 will provide a refreshing alternative to those wider skis. Overall, it's a fantastic ski that feels friendly, peppy, and strong all at the same time.

2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review: Buy Now Image


 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 09/05/19

3 thoughts on “2020 Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Ski Review

  1. Hi,

    My wife loves her Santa Ana 93, but she´s also spoiled with new skis every year! So my question is what´s the difference between the Santa Ana 88, the Black Pearl 88 and 82?

    If I replace the Santa Ana 93 it would better be too something better!

    Kind Regards
    Bertil

    1. Hi Bertil!
      You're getting pretty close to the top in terms of performance with the Santa Ana 93. Niether of the Black Pearls will out-perform any Santa Ana ski, due to the metal in the construction. The Santa Ana 88 is built similarly to the 93, just narrower and a bit stiffer as well as lighter in the tip. It's better for groomers but the 93 is more versatile. Check the Volkl Secret for a good comparison to the Santa Ana 93. Have fun!
      SE

  2. Hi Ally, Jeff,

    upon the great advice you've been giving me for my own skis (thanks to Bob as well), I thought I'd inquire about my 14 year old daughter who is now almost fully grown in terms of weight and foot size. She's 5'6" and about 130 lbs and I expect her to maybe grow another inch or so which shouldn't really affect her ski length. In terms of weight, she's probably going to stay at that weight for some time. She's a competitive dancer and is what I'd consider very strong (she lifts me up at 210 though I try and avoid her doing so!) particularly in the legs.

    Up to now she has been skiing on different skis every year as we have rented them on a yearly basis due to her growing and changing ski length and boot size annually. In fact, we sometimes change them mid season as she out-skis the pair they give her. However, I feel she is now at the age where she could have her first "real" pair of skis (i.e., non system cap skis mostly). She is a strong intermediate piste/tree skier with no fear and skis fast probably mainly a result of keeping up with her older brother (17) and myself who skis "between the kids". She'll ski 95% of the runs most anywhere in the East with a touch of reluctance on double diamonds and big moguls (and doesn't love ice understandably). Last season she made what I'd consider a dramatic shift in technique by herself and was skiing about 5 times better than she had up to that point. As if she'd finally "got it!". Much better carving technique and with a level of grace and style that left my buds saying how beautiful she skied. Proud dad what can I say.

    Last year she skied Experience 77's in 160 cm length and I'd say this is about the perfect length for her, give or take a couple of cm depending on terrain and ski type. I'm looking for a slightly wider ski in the ~85 underfoot category to allow her to adjust to that width in turns and be able to better enjoy untracked snow, trees and variable terrain. You could say I'm grooming her to be the best skier she can be in all kinds of terrain not just piste skiing. Given her strength and speed, I was debating between skis with some metal in them which are perhaps more piste oriented and those that don't have metal and are more off-piste oriented. Here is my short list of ideas for her and I'm commenting in the Blizzard Black Pearl review as it might also be an option though I'm not certain it fits well what I'm trying to achieve with her skiing. It also leaves us with the decision between an 82 and an 88 underfoot. Ally of course would know better. The first three have no metal if my research is correct while the last two have partial metal:

    • Blizzard Black Pearl 82/88 159
    • Atomic Vantage 86C 165 (too long?)
    • Salomon QST Myriad 85 160
    • Nordica Astral 84 158/165 (length?)
    • Volkl Yumi 84 161

    I should mention that cosmetics plays more of a role for her than it might for me and turquoise/blue and purple (in that order) are the "required" colors which make the Black Pearl 88 and Astral 84 the preferred cosmetics with the Myriad and Yumi 2019 as seconds. She would probably be quite pleased with the Astral's look. Of course, this should be a secondary matter but I wanted to get your take Ally on the issue of metal. Do you prefer skis like the Astral and Yumi (you and her look similarly strong) or do you feel it's not necessary for what I'm trying to teach my daughter and her skill level? For what it's worth, my son and I often ski together on QST's and having her on a pair as well would just be cute wouldn't it! My gut is leaning toward the Astral's (length?) with the QST's as a close second also because they're a touch cheaper. When I take her to ski deeper snow one day, she'll also move to wider skis (Volkl 90Eight's, Santa Ana 100's?) so that might be something to keep in mind as well.

    Thanks in advance, David

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