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A Comprehensive Review of these two 2020 Ladies All-Mountain Skis
K2 Mindbender 88 Alliance Vs. Blizzard Black Pearl 88- A Look At The Pro’s and Con’s Of Both
As the holidays of 2018 approached rumors started to swirl that K2 Skis had something psychedelic brewing. When our industry Demo Day rolled around and we had a chance to take out the Mindbenders we were blown away by their performance in a multitude of conditions. But the question we’ve been getting a lot is how it compares to the Black Pearl or Santa Ana (which we’ll do another review on). How does this rookie in the ski world compare to the best selling women’s ski ever? Well lets jump into is shall we. First we’ll go over each skis key features, then we’ll throw them head to head and let you decide who’s the winner.
K2 Mindbender Alliance 88 Ti
K2 has been struggling to create a ski that worked well for most skier types. Not to say the pinnacle wasn’t a good ski, it just didn’t necessarily perform well in the many “all-Mountain” conditions. The K2 Mindbender is here as a replacement to the Pinnacle and Luv Series. Speaking of Luv series skis- The Alliance series was created as a replacement for that. Why the name change? The women at K2 wanted to create a ski series that better connected with their audience base and resonated with female skiers, so Alliance was born. Though there is a full line-up of waist width options for men and women, the 88 Ti is the best east coast all-mountain option (in our opinion. This would translate to 90 in the men’s version too). The Mindbender 88 Alliance Ti comes with an Aspen Veneer core for it’s wood construction. This is going to be like the 90, but the veneer and sandwiching of the core makes the 88 lighter and easier to turn. Then there’s the Titanal Y-Beam. Think of a tuning fork used to tune pianos. The Y-Beam looks like that, laid into the ski. It makes the Alliance stiff and reliable underfoot while allowing the tip to flex more easily. There’s a carbon spectral braid on top of all this construction which also helps to reduce chatter as well as help power imitation through turns. The sidewall is ABS which is a standard for most ski companies. In the alliance it is oversized. This translates to you can lay the ski all the way over. Want to go from making Slalom turns to jumping into a mogul field and bashing bumps? Yep, this ski is going to do that. Another honorable mention is that K2 has a 2 year warranty on their skis which is awesome!
Blizzard Black Pearl 88
The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 is undeniably the best selling women’s ski- ever. There’s a reason for that too. Virtually any female skier can take this ski out and have a good day on it. It’s going to do well at most All-Mountain conditions and since it’s not over powering and easy to turn ladies love it. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts right? The Black Pearl is a light ski, made with what Blizzard calls their Lite Wood Core. In the case of the Black Pearl 88, it’s a poplar beech core that’s sandwiched into the Carbon Flipcore WSD. W stands for women’s. No metal here, just good old wood and carbon. This makes the Black Pearl poppy and maneuverable across many conditions. We personally found them to carve exceptionally well too. The topsheet is a duratec composite which helps with scratch resistance. Sidewall will be the same as the Mindebender Alliance 88Ti, made with ABS Sidewall. Since there’s no metal in the Black Pearl so it retails at $600 vs $650 for the Mindbender.
Head To Head
Head to head you’re getting so skis that are similar, yet different. The Mindbender 88 in our opinion is for more aggressive skiers whereas the Black Pearl is focused on intermediate level skiers. Both the Black Pearl and Mindbender were great carvers and the Black Pearl made longer methodical turns whereas the Mindbender could get laid all the way over and make tight slalom like turns then transition into smooth GS style carves. The Mindbender wasn’t limited to a select level of turning. Whatever your style was it responded. In deeper snow, both felt similar and responded the same, nothing really changed here. Then moguls- This was a game changer between the two. To be honest the Black Pearl just felt sloppy in bumps. It could be my style of bump skiing, or the lack of metal in the ski, whatever the culprit the Black Pearls felt dead and confused on how to respond in bumps. The Mindbender was different. The Mindbender snaped through turns easily and launched you into the next bump almost like you intended to do. The Mindbenders are just fun- and as I’ve been saying around the shop are totally psychedelic.
So my final thoughts? Both skis are great skis. The Black Pearl seems to favor softer conditions and intermediate level skiers more. When the terrain got more aggressive the Black Pearl struggled to keep up. The Mindbender is definitely stiffer and more aggressive than the Black Pearl but that’s not to say a beginner could take it out and not have a good time. The Mindbender is flexible and would be a great ski for someone looking to progress their skills over a long period of time. The Black Pearl is predictable though and is a great value for an All- Mountain Ski that does everything okay.
|K2 Mindbender 88 Ti Alliance||Blizzard Black Pearl 88|
|Core||Wood: Aspen Venner||Lite Wood Core|
|Carbon||Carbon Spectral Braid||Carbon Flipcor WSD|
|Topsheet||Unsure (looks like Duratec)||Duratec|
|Sidewall||Oversized ABS||Full ABS Sidewall|
|Warranty||2 Year||1 Year|
* Obviously this Review is extremely biased and based upon my skiing style and the brutally odd East Coast Conditions. Hopefully, we’ll put together a video soon. If you like this head to head style review and want to see more let us know! If this was crap let us know! We are only human after all.