Rating: 3.35 / 5
Waist Width: 88
Stability at speed: 3.54 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.58 / 5
Crud performance: 3.28 / 5
Flotation: 2.20 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.33 / 5
Overall: 3.35 / 5
Last year's champ remains on the podium this year, emblematic of the team's ongoing romance with Blizzard. Wider rides dominated the category this year-testers pushing women to embrace the fatness, even for Eastern applications-and the Pearl has plenty of rocker-enabled soft-snow skill. But hard snow and high speeds remain its specialty. Snow from hoses will not ruin its day. Testers also deemed it the best-looking ski in the bunch. Gibbons: "Great balance between light maneuverability and solidity at speed."
NOTES: The Black Pearl is a middle-ground ski in the Women Freeride Series, designed to serve well on any day of the season. It has a 123 mm tip and 88 mm waist, designed for both powder and groomers, and its 17 meter sidecut radius is just long enough to rip wide-open groomer turns while being just short enough to weave through the trees.
The Women Freeride Series focuses on wider, big mountain skis that are designed to hold up far beyond the groomers. Flip Core technology, in which the core itself is built with rocker, rather than forced into a rockered shape during pressing, is designed to result in a chatter-free ride. Sandwich Compound Sidewalls feature durable plastics, ABS and phenol, that are built to keep edges safe and locked on the snow. Light Core Technology combines Isocore, poplar wood, and bamboo to prevent cores from being too clunky. Finally, a Rocker Camber Rocker profile features a cambered center intended for race-style turns and a rockered tip and tail for floating over varied conditions. If you're looking to huck cliffs, send chutes, and bomb down variable snow conditions on a regular basis, or just want something burlier than a strictly-groomer ski, this is the best women's series Blizzard has to offer you.
Blizzard, based in Mittersill, Austria, was founded in 1953. Its U.S. headquarters are in West Lebanon, N.H.