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Atomic Affinity Storm vs Blizzard Black Pearl (or other...)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi - I've posted before on a slightly different angle so will try and keep it brief...

MY STATS
Weight: 145 lbs
Height: 5ft 8
Age: 44
Style of skiing: finesse skier. Advanced, but not aggressive. Not particularly fast.

Preferred terrain: Willing to give most a crack - groomers and small bumps when skiing with my husband and children.
When my husband and I are on our own, we like to challenge ourselves in tight glades/powder (if we're lucky enough).
Bumps used to be a challenge, but are getting easier every year.

Current Ski: Atomic Affinity Storm : 159cm

Home mountain: Mt Buller & Mt Hotham, Australia

For our trip to Keystone at the end of the year for 8 weeks, I am keen to change skis. Happy to demo some when there, but to avoid dragging my atomics over the other side of the world, then buying a new pair of skis, then having to lug the Atomics home again, I'd rather take a punt and buy before departure. Unfortunately Blizzard aren't offering a demo setup in Australia.

I have read 100's of reviews on the Blizzard Black Pearl's - maybe 3 out of 200 are not totally in love with this ski, however the other 197 are head over heels obsessed! So my question is, am I stupid to buy before I demo? Are the Black Pearl's going to do something for me and meet up to the hype? What can they provide my skiing that the Atomics can't?

If I were to purchase the Black Pearl's, is the 166cm length the right one? (think I've asked this question before - sorry to repeat myself...).

Alternatively, have I overlooked other skis? From what I've read I think the Hell's Belles might be to burly for me? As would the Kenjas...

Thanks.

smile.gif
post #2 of 13

Hi Jonah,

The Black Pearl and the Affinity Storm are two completely different feeling in skis. 

The Storm is more of a front side ski with an ability to take you off piste, where the Black Pearl is an all mountain ski that has an off piste bias but can still carve up the groomers. 

 

 If you're looking for a great one ski quiver that has an off piste bias, then the Black Pearl is a very strong contender.  

post #3 of 13

Hard to go wrong with the Black Pearl.  My GF managed to demo a few skis in Whistler earlier this year.  She (and everyone else) really liked the Salomon Rockette 90, which is a similar ski to the Black Pearl.  Then she rented the Blizzard Bushwacker and that was the end of the demos.  Game over.  She fell in love with the Bushwackers and flatly refused to ski anything else for the rest of the trip.  Blizzard seem to have nailed it with that ski.  I'm told the Bushwacker and the Black Pearl are the same ski (same construction) with differing topsheet designs, so choose your preferred design - the Bushwacker may even be more available at this point in the year.

 

Regarding length, my GF skis Kastle MX70s in 160cm and was more than happy on the Bushwacker in 166cm.

 

Best of luck.

post #4 of 13

Hi Jonah. Welcome! I am quite new here myself. I came here looking for advice on the Black Pearl too - and was wanting to compare them to the Volkl RTM 85. I ended up getting the Black Pearl because they seemed like the better fit for me and were on sale at a deal I couldn't refuse, after hearing so much positive about them. I am 5'9" and around 165 to 175. I bought the Black Pearl in 173 length. I too was hesitant to go longer as my previous skis are 166's with a traditional carving ski profile and short turn radius (Salamon X-Wing 10 from 2009). I got to ski my new BP's for 2 days at Whistler on Blackcomb mountain the first weekend of May 2013. I am totally thrilled with them and didn't want to stop skiing either day, despite the mushy snow and unfavourable conditions - by the end of the day, it was close to 30 degrees c a the top of Blackcomb - it was a weird weather inversion. (People were skiing in shorts and tank tops). You definitely want to go a little longer in them - I am so glad I took the advice of the experts here on that one. They skied as easily as my 166's - actually easier. It didn't seem like they were long at all. And with the rocker and wanting to use them in the softer snow conditions, I think the extra length will be good. So you will want to go about 10 cm longer, give or take a few, than your current carving skis.

 

Here are some things that impressed me about the Black Pearls:

  • they are easy to ski in spring soft snow conditions - I wanted to ski until the lifts stopped and my husband and I started first thing in the morning! Normally, I want to quit early when the snow is that bad.
  • they are mellow and easy to turn when you just want to relax and cruise down a groomed run - I think that will come in handy when I'm with my kids on the green and easy blues all day long... 
  • they are very stable when you ski through crud - just look ahead to where you want to go and these skis blast right through it all
  • they are very responsive - I bounced into air quite a few times during the day when I went over raised areas on the mountain - it was so fun, since my Salomon X-Wings were quite a bit heavier and never seemed to do that 
  • the skis are super light and nimble but still solid and stable - I think that's why I felt good skiing even at the end of the day in slush
  • these skis can go fast when you push them and feel stable at higher speeds (I can see that they may not be fast enough for real speed freaks - I wasn't passing tons of people like I sometimes could on my Salomons - but it may be that I wasn't used to them and the soft conditions held them back...)
  • when carving your turns, they really dig in and hold the edge well - earlier in the mornings when the snow was firm and a bit icy, they locked in really well on the turns and really picked up speed too!
  • even though the turn radius seems a bit long (I think its 17m or something like that) these skis will perform any type of turn with ease - I was actually shocked at the different types of turns I could make 
  • they "smear" and skid easily - so you can control speed easily and don't always have to be driving them hard and locking into carved turns 
  • these skis are the best skis I've ever skied on,  I can't think of enough good things to say about them and I recommend them 100%

 

Something I will have to get used to...

 

  • the rocker in the tail - a couple of times when I stopped really fast, I lost my balance and fell backward and it was kind of embarrassing (LOL). I guess I sometimes lean back too much when I skid to a stop - and carving skis have those stiff tails that stop you from falling... But it only happened twice in 2 days - so I think I can adjust
  • I had to remind myself to keep my stance a little wider - but I learned on straight skis and have always had that problem since switching to the newer ski technology - but with the mid fat skis, it is even more necessary than with carving skis (at least from my point of view)

 

I think that coming off the Atomic Affinity Storm, the BP will be a  nice step up for you. They will be a little more advanced in performance and give you more options for different snow conditions. That's why I bought them - the Whistler conditions are always so varied and my carving skis only excelled on hard pack groomed conditions. I can't wait for next winter to really try them. I think the only person who might not like them is someone who wants to do extreme skiing of any sort - like race really fast on icy runs, or go way off piste in deep powder, or cliff jumping, glade skiing etc... I think the Black Pearl is probably too mellow for that and more of a daily driver, jack of all trades kind of ski. 

 

One more thing - I am quite sure that 2 different sales people told me the Bushwacker is stiffer than the Black Pearl. It has more of something in it - not metal - maybe fiberglass??? not sure, but something that will make it not as forgiving. So be careful - they are not "exactly" the same other than graphics, from my understanding.

 

Oh, and also, be careful of the bindings. I got the Marker Squire - the Griffon bindings were also recommended, but I thought they felt quite a bit heavier. But some people might want that, depending on ski use. The Squire is the recommended binding for that ski by Blizzard - or so the salesperson told me. They seem to go really well with the light, nimble feel of the ski. I love the set up. The bindings seemed to perform perfectly for me.

 

Good luck. Let us know how you decide!

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone - great advice. I'm still hoping to demo some this july/aug in australia if I can....you've been a great help. Will post a thread once i've demoed!
post #6 of 13

The SKImag is hosting a demo weekend at Hotham on 20 - 21 July.  For $30 you can demo as many skis as you care to try over the course of the weekend, or you could just opt for a single day for $20.  It's a great option for someone wanting to "try before you buy".  Easily a dozen or more brands to choose from on the day, although Blizzard has not been one of them the last 3 years.

 

Also 22/23 June at Perisher, and 29/30 June at Thredbo.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinbad7 View Post

The SKImag is hosting a demo weekend at Hotham on 20 - 21 July.  For $30 you can demo as many skis as you care to try over the course of the weekend, or you could just opt for a single day for $20.  It's a great option for someone wanting to "try before you buy".  Easily a dozen or more brands to choose from on the day, although Blizzard has not been one of them the last 3 years.

 

Also 22/23 June at Perisher, and 29/30 June at Thredbo.

That's a pretty good deal for a weekend of testing skis. 

post #8 of 13

Yes indeedy  biggrin.gif

 

I love trying different skis and it's just about my fave day of the ski year (right alongside the first day at a new ski resort in the northern winter).  Last year the Saturday demo day was cancelled due to wind hold, which is common hereabouts.  That messed my plans up no end.  Still, I managed to ski eleven different skis on the Sunday (one pair were my own skis, but they still count  rolleyes.gif).

 

Oooh!  While you're here Trekchick, could you please sort out for us whether the Bushwacker and the Black Pearl are the exact same construction.  I recall reading that's the case, but someone above has heard differently, and I'd prefer we cleared that up for the OP.

 

Ta.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinbad7 View Post

Yes indeedy  biggrin.gif

 

I love trying different skis and it's just about my fave day of the ski year (right alongside the first day at a new ski resort in the northern winter).  Last year the Saturday demo day was cancelled due to wind hold, which is common hereabouts.  That messed my plans up no end.  Still, I managed to ski eleven different skis on the Sunday (one pair were my own skis, but they still count  rolleyes.gif).

 

Oooh!  While you're here Trekchick, could you please sort out for us whether the Bushwacker and the Black Pearl are the exact same construction.  I recall reading that's the case, but someone above has heard differently, and I'd prefer we cleared that up for the OP.

 

Ta.

Yes the Black Pearl and Bushwacker are the exact same construction.  The key difference(s) = graphics & lengths available. 

post #10 of 13
From what I've seen of people skiing the Black Pearl - they ski better with them. Just buy the thing. It's better looking than the Bushwacker so if it's made the same get it.
If you're a guy it's likely you might have bright purple or pink pants so why not go all the way and be transgendered with a girls ski. :-)

Ps: it's a much better ski than the Kastle Bmx88. Unless you just like to go straight- in which case there are better skis for that.
post #11 of 13

I'm in the minority when it comes to the Black Pearls: I demo'ed them earlier this year at Alta and didn't enjoy them all that much. I'm an experienced skier but never felt quite in control -- as if they were always trying to get ahead of me. On the other hand a friend, skiing at about the same technical level as me but a tad less aggressively, loved the BPs and kept them our entire stay.

 

As for me, I demo'ed the Kenjas and fell in love. They made me feel super-confident everywhere: moguls, groomers, 8 inches of powder, trees. I was surprised to see some people find them too demanding -- I thought they were totally forgiving! 

 

For what it's worth, I also really enjoyed the Salomon Rockette 90, but Salomon isn't making it next season.

post #12 of 13

Interesting.

I wouldn't be surprised if the binding was too far back for you.
 

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Why doesn't SkiMag hold a demo w/e at Buller?
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