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Very different experiences on Blizzard Black Pearl 88s (166) and Volkl Secret 92s (163)

steezeling

Diva in Training
#1
I am a type 1 beginner/intermediate skier (5'8 ~125 lbs). I've started demoing skis because I'm interested in purchasing some skis/boots for next season. The Blizzard Black Pearls were the first ski recommended for me so I took them out in some decent conditions (powder w/some icy spots) and WOW did I have a bad time! I kept crossing my skis and turning was basically impossible. I read that these skis required aggressive skiing so later I tried essentially yeeting myself over the tips but I still I crashed multiple times on green runs and ended the day early. I felt completely out of control and unable to handle groomed runs.

A couple weeks later I demo'ed the Volkl Secret 92s (163) and had a fantastic time. I was a little concerned about the length because of my time on the Black Pearls but that ended up not being an issue. The Volkls felt super stable and were very forgiving. I noticed that when I made mistakes I was able to correct myself easily, unlike the Black Pearls. I went down runs that I crashed on previously and had zero problems. The only downside to these skis was that they weren't very nimble and my quads hurt for about a week after. I liked them but I don't think they'd be a good choice for me long term because of how wide they are.

I'm interested in demo'ing other skis and so I'm wondering if people suggestions for other skis to demo based on my experience. I also wonder if people feel the Black Pearl's "ski long" and if I should try a shorter length.

Thanks for reading, as a new-ish skier I'm so happy this community exists!
 
#2
Try the Nordica Astral 84 if you can. It’s a super forgiving and easy going ski, great to progress on!

I see that you mentioned wanting to buy some ski boots as well. What’s the current boot situation you have going on? You would ideally get boots sorted first and then do skis so that everything fits well and allows you to get a real feeling of skis without extra variables if boots are ill fitting.
 
#3
I don't have suggestions about length (there are people with better skill in this area) but I will say that some people love the Black Pearls, and some hate them.

Where do you ski? It helps when making ski recommendations.
 
#5
I ski in the PNW, mostly Wy'east (Mt. Hood) in Oregon. I didn't know Black Pearls were controversial, that's interesting!
Skis taste is all really subjective, so never feel bad because you don’t like a popular ski. I personally don’t like the Black Pearls or almost any Volkl ski. I find plenty to love as well though. :smile:
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
#6
Try the Nordica Astral 84 if you can. It’s a super forgiving and easy going ski, great to progress on!

I see that you mentioned wanting to buy some ski boots as well. What’s the current boot situation you have going on? You would ideally get boots sorted first and then do skis so that everything fits well and allows you to get a real feeling of skis without extra variables if boots are ill fitting.
My boot situation is that I don't have any. This is a great point, I am afflicted with "low calf volume"so I should get my boot situation sorted out.
 
#7
Boots are probably significantly more important than skis. Definitely work on boots first!

There are whole threads around here about boots and calf issues. You’re not alone!
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
It’s very possible the Black Pearls had a bad tune/tune issue.

Were you in the same boots on both skis?
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
#9
It’s very possible the Black Pearls had a bad tune/tune issue.

Were you in the same boots on both skis?
Nope, but they were both "intermediate" boots and felt like similar flex and snugness. Would the tuning affect snowplow turns? I felt like I couldn't even do those although you raise a good point.
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
Boots first, then skis. Well fitted boots will change your experience on skis much more than skis themselves will!

Which version of the Black Pearls did you ski? I've not been a fan of either the BP88 or 78 in the past but am told the newest model is much stiffer than previously. That being said, tips crossing and crashing on green runs sounds to me far outside the usual variability I get on demo days - perhaps a bad tune, or bad boots, or both combined?

I would suggest perhaps the Nordica Astral 84 (if you're mostly skiing groomers), Santa Ana 88 or 93 (newer models are less stiff because of removing some metal), Rossi Experience 84, Volkl Yumi, or maybe even the Blizzard Sheeva 9.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
Nope, but they were both "intermediate" boots and felt like similar flex and snugness. Would the tuning affect snowplow turns? I felt like I couldn't even do those although you raise a good point.
Yes, the tune would affect the ability to snowplow. One of the best tests of a tune is to do some pivot slips or at least sideslip then set the edges. But, you have to be able to do this comfortably on the skis you are used to skiing before you can use it as a test of the tune. Sometimes, it's not a bad tune, it's just a different tune or a fresh, sharp tune that can throw a person off who is not used to skiing on nicely tuned skis. I got on a pair of Head Kore 87s last year at industry demo days, and 1) they were too long at 170cm, but 2) I kept thinking, "I think I really like these skis, but they just seem...grabby. Turns out, the base edges had a .75 degree tune, whereas I am used to skiing a 1 degree edge tune. Explained a lot. The extra length and sharper edge threw me off enough. I wish I had skied them in a more appropriate 163, but that pair was out on the hill at the time. I'm not saying that the BPs had a nice tune on them--my experience with demo fleet skis is that they are often not very well cared for and can often ski like garbage as a result. But even a brand new ski fresh from the factory can ski poorly.

Poor fitting or improperly aligned boots for your feet/anatomy will also affect the ability to snowplow. I think there are way too many other variables here to rain on the BPs as being horrible. Those who skied the prior versions of the BP who didn't like them but haven't skied the 2021 version need to get on the 2021 version before weighing in on how much they dislike them, because they are an entirely different ski. My personal favorite version of the BPs go back to the 2011-2014 construction. I still kick myself for selling those skis (for dirt cheap, no less!) I remember loving the 2021 version last year on soft groomers but I wasn't sold on them in crud.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#13
I'm interested in demo'ing other skis and so I'm wondering if people suggestions for other skis to demo based on my experience. I also wonder if people feel the Black Pearl's "ski long" and if I should try a shorter length.

Thanks for reading, as a new-ish skier I'm so happy this community exists!
Welcome! Good for you for demo'ing so early in your skiing experience. It will be a bit easier to tell if skis are fun or work after you can ski easy blue runs with mostly parallel turns. Reading reviews is probably less relevant since formal reviews are done by very experienced skiers.

Do you remember all the lengths of the skis you tried? What length skis have you been using? When you have time and a different length is available, taking out the same model at two different lengths can be very useful in the long run. Even if you decide that you don't like that particular model.
 

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