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Hated Black Pearls! Help please with alternatives

CarolPollock

Diva in Training
#1
Hi Divas,

Newbie to the forum but have been a frequent lurker. Now I need help. I demoed Black Pearl 88s, because, well, everyone loves them. The ski shop made me take out some Head Total Joys, too. Just because. Shocker. Hated the BPs. Squirrelly, unstable, ugh for me. One run. Surprisingly the Total Joys, despite the ugliest appearance known to skidom, were lots of fun. But sooo bad looking. Oh well.
A little about me. 5'8, 160 pounds, decent shape, except my ruined knees, which include an unsuccessful knee replacement! I have skied since forever and I am now 70! Really, how did that happen? Despite knees, I love to ski, wear KT tape, brace and...cwx tights. My boots are great! I ski about 25-30 days per year, when Tahoe snow permits.
Sports med doc said what my worst knee needed was: new skis and maybe a lesson. I have been happily skiing Lotta Luvs 166 for about 8 years. 166, 74 under foot. Time to replace. Any suggestions? I have absolutely no idea why I liked one and hated the other. The Heads were 166 and ditto BPs. Total Joy 84 underfoot. BPs 88. Heads are stiffer and light with sidecut. I was surprised by how nice they were in crud, deeper stuff, side of run and on piste. Quick or long turns fine. What else would be good to demo? Any thoughts appreciated. Oh yes, although I still ski pretty well, sometimes quite well, I'm not as aggressive or fast as I used to be. Best, Carol
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Suspect it's the difference in waist width and construction. Also with bad knees the wider waist ski take more effort to get on edge, so that may cause pain or problems getting them on edge in hard snow.

Since you really liked the TJ...why not look for something similar....or forget the graphics...they really should be covered with snow!
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
I was going to say the same: don't let graphics choose the ski for you. You won't care when you're out there smiling because your skis help you have a great time!

But, since you are looking for other rec's, I can throw out the Nordica Astral 84 and Rossignol Experience 84W.
 

Susan L

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
I have bad knees too from multiple snowboard injuries. My knee surgeon said if I don’t stop snowboarding/skiing, I will need replacement sooner than expected. Heck, since I will need it anyway, I might as well use them now! I enjoy hardpacked, groomed runs. And I enjoy speed and love to carve. Not fond of bumps because they are hard on my knees. I have been riding Volkl Kenja and Aura for 4 years and they gave me no issues. I wanted new skis so I went to my mountain’s demo day in December and tried most of the popular skis that everyone liked but they turned out just blah for me. Then my husband suggested trying Kastle just because our ski buddy raved about his. I took the FX 95 first and found it too chattery on cruds and hardpacked, but nimble on bumps. Really not feeling excited about any of the skis I have tried and was ready to call it a day. Then my husband said to try the ones he was on, MX89, and I was reluctant. Thank goodness I did because I felt the difference as soon as I took one turn. ONE turn! It was my last run of the day and I am usually tired and sluggish but the MX brought out the life in me! I was carving like I have never had before! A week later, I bought the MX89 166. I find that the faster I go or the more aggressive I am, the better the Kastle performs. It is stable, quick, fun and a crud buster! I love it so much that my husband bought me the MX limited with a 84 underfoot that is even more quick and nimble. Now, I am not a technical person so I cannot use specs to explain why these skis are great for me but it is a match made in heaven. I knew as soon as I put them on and it took no time to felt right.
I am doing a race clinic this week and everyone said my MX 84 are too wide for GS and I needed some GS skis. I outskied everyone in my class with my 84’s and they were all on Stolkli’s. It felt great!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
A little about me. 5'8, 160 pounds, decent shape, except my ruined knees, which include an unsuccessful knee replacement! I have skied since forever and I am now 70! Really, how did that happen? Despite knees, I love to ski, wear KT tape, brace and...cwx tights. My boots are great! I ski about 25-30 days per year, when Tahoe snow permits.
Sports med doc said what my worst knee needed was: new skis and maybe a lesson. I have been happily skiing Lotta Luvs 166 for about 8 years. 166, 74 under foot. Time to replace. Any suggestions? I have absolutely no idea why I liked one and hated the other. The Heads were 166 and ditto BPs. Total Joy 84 underfoot. BPs 88. Heads are stiffer and light with sidecut. I was surprised by how nice they were in crud, deeper stuff, side of run and on piste. Quick or long turns fine. What else would be good to demo? Any thoughts appreciated. Oh yes, although I still ski pretty well, sometimes quite well, I'm not as aggressive or fast as I used to be.
Welcome! Good for you to be out there having fun on skis after age 70.

Changing from the Lotta Luvs at 74 underfoot to any skis around 88mm is quite a jump. When was the last time you had a lesson as an advanced skier? I shifted from the Lotta Luvs to a Rossi all-mountain ski that was 127-75-108 as an advanced intermediate about ten years ago (over 50) and then went to 88 underfoot a few years later after improving and starting to ski more than 14 days a season (mostly mid-Atlantic hills).

I happen to like both the current BP line and the Head Joy line in general. But I'm petite and at this point a solid advanced skier who is taking lessons on a regular basis. In fact, I'm in the middle of my second Taos Ski Week right now. The other mid-80s all-mountain skis that I've like during demo days include the Atomic Vantage and the current K2 line. What I bought a couple years ago after demoing a couple days is the Stöckli Stormrider 85. @Gidget415 has been demo'ing them this week at Taos and she is more in your size category. She likes them a lot.
 

diymom

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
Welcome. I have the Absolute Joy, and found the basically all white top sheet a bit dull. Sooo.... I went and bought some stickers. Now they have flowers on them, and since they are unique I can easily spot them in the racks.
 

Serafina

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
If you really liked the Total Joy, do it. I understand about not liking the style - I remember lifting up and inspecting a pair of skis I was demoing and kind of hoping that they weren't going to be my thing, because they were drab, drab, drab. My heart briefly sank when I skied off the lift and the skis started telling me everything I wanted to hear. I found my First Ski Love in an unexpected place that day. And if that line of skis had been made in lengths long enough to accommodate my increasing demands over time, I'd still be on them, and I wouldn't give a flip if they didn't have nice topsheets. Same thing with boots - every time I need to replace my boots, I am there hoping and praying that the bootfitter doesn't reach for the Technicas, because I do not like the orange at all...but if that was the boot that works with my feet, I'd do it.

It's all about performance, and fit, not looks.
 
#9
I too hated the Black Pearls when I first put them on. They were squirrely, chattered, and I seemed to have very little control. But they were what I rented for the day so I was stuck with them. Then by about half way through the day, I figured out that if you get out over the tips, they are fabulous and I loved them. They really keep me from skiing in the back seat. That said, I ended up renting them for two more days and then bought them. I love them now and my skiing has gotten so much more technical in the three years I've owned them. So I'd say, by all means, demo demo demo a lot of skis if you can, but for all of them, and the BP especially, do more than one run on them before ruling them out.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
^^ truth there, too. They have helped me progress so much and without ever kicking my butt.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
Hiya. I'm nearly 60, 148 lbs, 5'6"ish. I ski the BP88 and the Head Total Joy and I love them both. I'm also a fan of the Super Joy for those hard pack carving days here in the mid-Atlantic. Yeah, I agree that the graphics in the Joy line are not the greatest. :doh: I've heard great things about the Kastle FX85 HP, though I haven't had the chance to demo them yet (they're always out with someone else!). They have an extra titanal sheet for greater stability if that is what you might be looking for.

Re the BP88, when I demoed them at our mountain demo day I liked them but didn't see what all the fuss was about. I liked the Total Joys I was already on just as much. Then I had the tech set the bindings a bit forward of the recommended setting and I loved them from the first turn. It made a huge difference in responsiveness. My TJ's are now my "rock skis" for thin cover days.

I also tried the Stöckli Stormrider 85 the same day as the BP88's and HATED them. I know @marzNC loves hers, and I was there with check book in hand ready to love them too. But no. This is why it really pays to demo as much as you can.
 
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Obrules15

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
You should demo the Super Joys just to see how your knees feel about the narrower joys. Despite being 5'4" 160 lbs I ski a 68mm 156cm ski because it makes my knees happy (and therefore helps me enjoy skiing more!). Definitely get creative with your demos.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
@CarolPollock there are a handful of us that don’t like the Black Pearl 88. I didn’t hate them just found them a bit blah plus they wanted a lot of forward pressure to get up and go. Perhaps forward mount would help? Not sure. I demoed and then bought the Blizzard Sheeva 9 and also own an older version of the Blizzard Vivas so I usually like Blizzard.

If you come across it, try the Volkl Yumi 168. 84mm waist would be kind to your knees, great Volkl edge bite and with the addition of a bit of metal should give you the stability you like but not be too stiff.
 

mahgnillig

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
I have demoed Black Pearls twice in the last few years and hated them both times (I tried a second time because everyone else loves them and I thought I must be missing something). I ended up with Volkl Kenjas. Try some Volkls... Kenjas or Yumis might be just the ticket!
 

CarolPollock

Diva in Training
#16
You are all the best!! Great replies, suggestions and solutions. I’m headed out tomorrow to try a bunch of skis. I’m putting every suggestion on my list. The demo shop at Squaw has all skis except Nordicas. We have very few demo days here. No idea why that’s so. So we pay for demoing. I think I like some side cut and somewhat stiffer skis. I’ll report back. Thank you so much for your time and ideas. Carol
 

CarolPollock

Diva in Training
#17
I have demoed Black Pearls twice in the last few years and hated them both times (I tried a second time because everyone else loves them and I thought I must be missing something). I ended up with Volkl Kenjas. Try some Volkls... Kenjas or Yumis might be just the ticket!
Funny. I was skiing with a pal today who was on Volkl Kenjas. She adores them. My ski shop also loves Volkl Secret but I’m not sure that’s the ski for me.
 

CarolPollock

Diva in Training
#19
Welcome. I have the Absolute Joy, and found the basically all white top sheet a bit dull. Sooo.... I went and bought some stickers. Now they have flowers on them, and since they are unique I can easily spot them in the racks.
This is funny! One of the women in the shop bought the Joys. Said after she customized them with stickers she really loved them. But seriously why do snowboards get all the fabulous graphics??
 

Gidget415

Certified Ski Diva
#20
I'm a bit over 5'9", ~165, so I'm a taller build as well. I got some used BP 166/88s this year and on the first few runs, they chattered. I did not have great control, did not like carving in them but they were great smearing. I realized quickly that those skis, while forgiving in some ways, do not tolerate the back seat at all, which I was doing a bit because I wasn't sure of the new ski at first. They want you to be forward and in a more aggressive stance, and once you get there, they calm down- A LOT. They also are happiest when you have a boot delivering consistent power. They are a very solid ski and I think the newer ones are even better. They catapulted my skiing a bit and exposed the horror of my old beginner boots, which were too big and all wrong for my feet and made me exhausted to try to get the power from those duds to my skis (which required it).

I got new boots last week and after a few days of skiing, realized that some of the early issues I noted with the BPs were still there in subtle ways when I really pushed more. It started concerning me when I thought about taking them on certain more expert runs. They were great in powder and mush. They were fine on variable terrain, glade and moguls. However, my monster-under-the-bed is in steep/icy and they would carve turns but did not feel consistently reliable on the steeps to me. I did not have the bindings adjusted forward, and may try that now. I took them to a master tuner. It turns out that the camber on these can get less springy after a few years and one of my skis is more shot than the other (they were used demos, who knows). It could explain my feeling with reliability when carving some turns, but not all.

I started demoing this week during Taos Ski Week. At my instructor's suggestion, I tried the Stockli Stormrider 161/85s (no longer length on demo). On the first turn off the lift, I was in love. The White Feather run off Lift 1 at Taos has some moderate pitch in places, and in the early morning is groomed, packed and crunchy before the sun hits that side. In other words, it can faintly echo my feared steep/icy. In that first turn, the Stockli skis gripped the mountain and felt absolutely solid. A slight tilt of the ankle gives you edge that won't quit. They kept doing that. It was a powder day and down below, I got first tracks in them and they were still great. I took them up the side of the run a bit to the uneven snow, no problem. We worked on moguls for a few hours that day, no problem. We tried a tree/mogul glade, and it was solid. I did some slicker steep blue groomers, and they made me feel like I was doing a GS run. These skis are solid, not in a boring way, but in a way that tempts me to do more with confidence that they will be there. Like the BPs, and maybe more so, they also require a forward stance and an athletic approach but they did not hurt my knees at all. They are not as forgiving as the BPs, but they are great for confidence where I needed it.

I tried two other skis, the Rossignol Experience 88 (all mountain) and the Fischer Pro Mont 80 (carver). Then, I went back to my newly tuned BPs today. The BPs, with my recent training, were fine and a good all over ski. I liked them better than the Rossis and Fischers for my ski style. However, they still don't bite the mountain enough for me in carving, so they are my second favorite. The Stockli had me at hello.

So in a nutshell, I understand the BP feelings. I see how people love them as well but the key is to find the ski that works best for you. Enjoy the search!
 
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