If you have read my reviews for any amount of time, you know that I have long loved the Blizzard Black Pearl 98 (originally the Samba). Even though the ski has gone through changes in name, construction, and even shape, she remains a top pick in the 98-100 category. The current rendition of the Black Pearl 98 comes out of the Tecnica/Blizzard Women to Women program with a tad more shape and a little more carbon, giving it a bigger sweet spot and making it more lively without compromising the power necessary for a ski meant to charge the whole mountain.
Enter the K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance. When K2 said it was setting out to make a fresh mark on the ski world, it wasn't kidding. One of the biggest design changes K2 has made in several years, the Mindbender collection is being noticed for a very good reason. While other brands are concentrating on lighter-weight designs, K2 has focused on building a solid ski that will hold up to whatever you can throw at it. By integrating its Titanal Y-Beam, K2 has found a way to give this ski the torsional edge grip you need to blast through crud while allowing for the nimble response you want to enjoy your favorite mountain playground. I was extremely impressed with the power of this ski on some hard wind buff, and equally impressed when coming off the hard pack into pockets of powder -- which is probably what led to the hashtag #builttoblast.
- Why choose the Black Pearl 98? Because you want a light ski that is ready to charge the chutes.
- Why choose the Mindbender 98Ti Alliance? Because you want a stable charger that won't back down.
- Insider tip: Either of these skis has the potential to be a one-ski quiver.