Tricia

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Black Pearl 98 vs Mindbender 98Ti.png
This Cage Match is one of the most requested this season; apparently everyone wants to see a long-time fan favorite spar with the new member in the clubhouse.

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.
 

laine

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Thanks, @Tricia! Was looking forward to this!

Do you think the Mindbender would cut through Sierra cement better than the BP given the titanal y-beam?

Where does the SA 100 fit in here? The Sheeva has more metal than the BP, right? I know that’s a bit more of a free ride ski, but does that fit into the mix?

thanks!!
 
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Tricia

Tricia

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Thanks, @Tricia! Was looking forward to this!

Do you think the Mindbender would cut through Sierra cement better than the BP given the titanal y-beam?

Where does the SA 100 fit in here? The Sheeva has more metal than the BP, right? I know that’s a bit more of a free ride ski, but does that fit into the mix?

thanks!!
I do feel like the weight of the Mindbender makes it a tad better in Sierra cement, however the Black Pearl is slightly more nimble when you want to make a quick move.
As for the Santa Ana 100, its more of a stable playful cousin to both of these skis.
 

laine

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Awesome. I'm looking forward to demo-ing the MB 98 but am not sure if I should go for the 154 or 161. I'm 155cm (5'1") and will likely try to test both. My list so far:
  • Mindbender 98ti 154
  • Mindbender 98ti 161
  • Santa Ana 100 153
  • Santa Ana 100 161 - I have the 161 right now, but it's the pre-metal version, and I worry about the weight with the two sheets of metal, since I know it's on the heavier side compared with the others, which is why I want to try the shorter one
  • Santa Ana 93 - maybe - unsure on this one
  • Sheeva 9 - 157
  • Sheeva 10 - 156 - maybe. 102 just seems a tad wider than what I think want
 
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Tricia

Tricia

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Awesome. I'm looking forward to demo-ing the MB 98 but am not sure if I should go for the 154 or 161. I'm 155cm (5'1") and will likely try to test both. My list so far:
  • Mindbender 98ti 154
  • Mindbender 98ti 161
  • Santa Ana 100 153
  • Santa Ana 100 161 - I have the 161 right now, but it's the pre-metal version, and I worry about the weight with the two sheets of metal, since I know it's on the heavier side compared with the others, which is why I want to try the shorter one
  • Santa Ana 93 - maybe - unsure on this one
  • Sheeva 9 - 157
  • Sheeva 10 - 156 - maybe. 102 just seems a tad wider than what I think want
It depends on what you want to do
Powder bias - Sheeva 10
Charging the steeps and chutes at Squaw/Alpine Mindbender 98Ti Maybe in 161.
Let me know when you're around Truckee and we'll talk.
 

AmyPJ

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Awesome. I'm looking forward to demo-ing the MB 98 but am not sure if I should go for the 154 or 161. I'm 155cm (5'1") and will likely try to test both. My list so far:
  • Mindbender 98ti 154
  • Mindbender 98ti 161
  • Santa Ana 100 153
  • Santa Ana 100 161 - I have the 161 right now, but it's the pre-metal version, and I worry about the weight with the two sheets of metal, since I know it's on the heavier side compared with the others, which is why I want to try the shorter one
  • Santa Ana 93 - maybe - unsure on this one
  • Sheeva 9 - 157
  • Sheeva 10 - 156 - maybe. 102 just seems a tad wider than what I think want
I don’t know your “send it” level, so to speak, but I was overwhelmed by the MB 98 in a 168 when testing last winter. As in, I survival skied to the bottom. I really wish I had gotten on the shorter version for comparison. I think a more timid skier like myself might look at these in a shorter than normal length or go with something a tad more forgiving, so to speak. I loved the BP 98 in a 166 when I skied it. I think it’s just a little more forgiving of someone who is a little slower/more cautious but who absolutely will let a ski run fast when feeling confident. So, I’m anxious to hear what your thoughts are when you get a chance to demo!

As to the Santa Ana 100, I also own the lighter version. So playful! But gets tossed around in dense chop. I’m actually looking to replace mine because of this. The new version is much smoother but I found it to be a lot more work and less playful. I’d probably love it in a 165! 161 is too short and 169 with that construction is a bit too much. The Sheeva 10 is more playful and just a REALLY fun ski. I just sold my 164s because they were too short for powder.
Let us know how it goes!
 

laine

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I don’t know your “send it” level, so to speak, but I was overwhelmed by the MB 98 in a 168 when testing last winter. As in, I survival skied to the bottom. I really wish I had gotten on the shorter version for comparison. I think a more timid skier like myself might look at these in a shorter than normal length or go with something a tad more forgiving, so to speak. I loved the BP 98 in a 166 when I skied it. I think it’s just a little more forgiving of someone who is a little slower/more cautious but who absolutely will let a ski run fast when feeling confident. So, I’m anxious to hear what your thoughts are when you get a chance to demo!

As to the Santa Ana 100, I also own the lighter version. So playful! But gets tossed around in dense chop. I’m actually looking to replace mine because of this. The new version is much smoother but I found it to be a lot more work and less playful. I’d probably love it in a 165! 161 is too short and 169 with that construction is a bit too much. The Sheeva 10 is more playful and just a REALLY fun ski. I just sold my 164s because they were too short for powder.
Let us know how it goes!
@AmyPJ - how tall are you? I’m not a particularly timid skier, but not a double black expert either. (I can get down them, but not always so gracefully.) I did take two runs on the MB 161 during a big demo day at the end of the season last year and I really liked them. But I do like to periodically do bumps and trees, so the shorter length might help there. Also, want to see if I notice a weight difference. I have had two surgeries on my right knee, so want to see how they both feel.

FYI, looking to replace my SA 100s for the same reason. Just want something to cut through the Tahoe crud a bit better.

I do have a powder ski - a 2014 Rossi star 7 - which is 110 underfoot - so I don’t really need something like that, which is why I wanted to check out the Sheeva 9. I’m guessing it would be fine in up to 6” or so.
 
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Daves not here

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My wife was in the market for this segment of ski. She got the chance to demo these 2 and others last season. She really liked the MB but loved the BP. A touch more forgiving and nimble.
 

AmyPJ

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@AmyPJ - how tall are you? I’m not a particularly timid skier, but not a double black expert either. (I can get down them, but not always so gracefully.) I did take two runs on the MB 161 during a big demo day at the end of the season last year and I really liked them. But I do like to periodically do bumps and trees, so the shorter length might help there. Also, want to see if I notice a weight difference. I have had two surgeries on my right knee, so want to see how they both feel.

FYI, looking to replace my SA 100s for the same reason. Just want something to cut through the Tahoe crud a bit better.

I do have a powder ski - a 2014 Rossi star 7 - which is 110 underfoot - so I don’t really need something like that, which is why I wanted to check out the Sheeva 9. I’m guessing it would be fine in up to 6” or so.
I'm 5'5". Normally a 168 in a ski of that width would be about perfect but I was really wishing to be on something shorter. It's hard to know if I was also getting tired as I believe I skied them later in the day (and it was powder, then cut up powder, so we skied a lot and worked pretty hard.) I just know that they were pretty much skiing me, which truthfully doesn't happen much anymore with me. I didn't ski the BP 98s on the same day, in fact, I skied them while it was snowing hard at Beaver Mountain on a demo day, and I kind of didn't want to give them back. They were just FUN. :)
 
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Tricia

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My wife was in the market for this segment of ski. She got the chance to demo these 2 and others last season. She really liked the MB but loved the BP. A touch more forgiving and nimble.
This is why we do Cage Matches the way we do.
Both of these skis are amazing, it just depends on what you're looking for in a ski.
 

ARL67

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A question for our esteemed female regulars:

I want to get my wife ( 5'2" 130lbs ? ) a slightly wider ski as we now both have Ikon passes and are booked in for 5 days at both Killington and Tremblant.
Her current/only ski is a Kastle LX82 156 which I picked up for her 3 years ago, which she seems to like.
We already got her fitted nicely into boots a couple seasons ago.
She is not a gear-nut like I am, and probably not inclined to demo, so will ski what I might find for her.
She is a more passive skier, not aggressive/charging in any way.
But she can get down a black run in her own methodical way, and does not have fear of heights or steeps.

As a complementary ski to the groomer-centric LX82 , do you think a 98 is too wide ?
Or am I better to find a more All-Mountain 88/92 for some added versatility for her ?

thanks ~ Andy
 
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A question for our esteemed female regulars:

I want to get my wife ( 5'2" 130lbs ? ) a slightly wider ski as we now both have Ikon passes and are booked in for 5 days at both Killington and Tremblant.
Her current/only ski is a Kastle LX82 156 which I picked up for her 3 years ago, which she seems to like.
We already got her fitted nicely into boots a couple seasons ago.
She is not a gear-nut like I am, and probably not inclined to demo, so will ski what I might find for her.
She is a more passive skier, not aggressive/charging in any way.
But she can get down a black run in her own methodical way, and does not have fear of heights or steeps.

As a complementary ski to the groomer-centric LX82 , do you think a 98 is too wide ?
Or am I better to find a more All-Mountain 88/92 for some added versatility for her ?

thanks ~ Andy
For her size and where she's going to be skiing most (Killington and Tremblant) I'd say something in the 88-93 will be wide enough, but 98 isn't horribly out of line considering how versatile skis are becoming at wider widths. Still, I do like a ski a little on the narrower side compared to some folks.

Think Santa Ana 88 or 93, Elan Ripstick 88, BP 88 Mindbender 88, or.....So many good skis in this category.
 

ARL67

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Thanks Tricia !
I was thinking 88/92 myself, just wanted a confirmation from an experienced tester :thumb:
 

laine

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AmyPJ

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For her size and where she's going to be skiing most (Killington and Tremblant) I'd say something in the 88-93 will be wide enough, but 98 isn't horribly out of line considering how versatile skis are becoming at wider widths. Still, I do like a ski a little on the narrower side compared to some folks.

Think Santa Ana 88 or 93, Elan Ripstick 88, BP 88 Mindbender 88, or.....So many good skis in this category.
I was about to say the exact same thing. :)
The skis in the 88-93 width segment are so versatile these days, I think she'll love them and they'll feel like plenty of ski to compliment her 82s.
 

KingGrump

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A question for our esteemed female regulars:

I want to get my wife ( 5'2" 130lbs ? ) a slightly wider ski as we now both have Ikon passes and are booked in for 5 days at both Killington and Tremblant.
Her current/only ski is a Kastle LX82 156 which I picked up for her 3 years ago, which she seems to like.
We already got her fitted nicely into boots a couple seasons ago.
She is not a gear-nut like I am, and probably not inclined to demo, so will ski what I might find for her.
She is a more passive skier, not aggressive/charging in any way.
But she can get down a black run in her own methodical way, and does not have fear of heights or steeps.

As a complementary ski to the groomer-centric LX82 , do you think a 98 is too wide ?
Or am I better to find a more All-Mountain 88/92 for some added versatility for her ?

thanks ~ Andy
We had Killington season passes for 7 season straight few years back. We are very familiar with the terrain and snow conditions.
Mamie is about the same size as your wife. She also has same LX82 in 156. Just asked her would she ski Killington with it. Her answer is a definite "HELL NO." The LX82 is a pretty soft forgiving ski. Bot great with edge grip on firm snow.
Asked her what would she ski there this season. She said, she would ski something that will carve better like her Stockli Motion 85W or even her new FIS SL.

The snow on that hill can be firm.
 

ARL67

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^^^ Excellent, thanks for the advice :thumb:
 

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I am in the east but ski 90% of the time out west or in the rockies. I've had the BP 98 159cm since it was called the Samba in 2013 and it's been my favourite all-around ski. When I travel with only one, this is it. It's a bit heavy but can cut through a lot of crud and I feel very confident and fast. It has its limitations on ice though so I bought the BP 88 166cm last year for eastern skiing and maybe they were too long, but felt too light and front heavy for me to feel confident, especially in trees. I then bought the Santa Ana 100 at Big Sky which I love for bumps, powder and trees, but they are short! I tried all lengths but preferred the 153cm most and I'm 5'5, 145lbs.

After putting in so much money for new skis the past 2yrs, I'm still itching to get a new version of the BP 98 as it has a shorter turn radius, lighter weight, and new tech since mine was sold. But I'm wondering if it's worth it. I don't think I've outgrown my 2013 version, but I have FOMO about getting the newest version of this ski.
 

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I am in the east but ski 90% of the time out west or in the rockies. I've had the BP 98 159cm since it was called the Samba in 2013 and it's been my favourite all-around ski. When I travel with only one, this is it. It's a bit heavy but can cut through a lot of crud and I feel very confident and fast. It has its limitations on ice though so I bought the BP 88 166cm last year for eastern skiing and maybe they were too long, but felt too light and front heavy for me to feel confident, especially in trees. I then bought the Santa Ana 100 at Big Sky which I love for bumps, powder and trees, but they are short! I tried all lengths but preferred the 153cm most and I'm 5'5, 145lbs.

After putting in so much money for new skis the past 2yrs, I'm still itching to get a new version of the BP 98 as it has a shorter turn radius, lighter weight, and new tech since mine was sold. But I'm wondering if it's worth it. I don't think I've outgrown my 2013 version, but I have FOMO about getting the newest version of this ski.
What do you mean when you say "front heavy"?
And yes, a 153 Santa Ana 100 is very short for someone of your height and weight. I can't imagine how it must feel in crud ??

The newest version of the BP 98 is lightyears different than the Samba from 2013 (I owned those or a very similar version, might have been 2012s.) I haven't skied the newest version enough to give a ton of feedback on it, other than to say I absolutely loved it when I skied it on a demo day in powder, and am still considering picking up a pair. @Tricia can probably give more feedback on the two.
 

Gryphoak

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What do you mean when you say "front heavy"?
And yes, a 153 Santa Ana 100 is very short for someone of your height and weight. I can't imagine how it must feel in crud ??

The newest version of the BP 98 is lightyears different than the Samba from 2013 (I owned those or a very similar version, might have been 2012s.) I haven't skied the newest version enough to give a ton of feedback on it, other than to say I absolutely loved it when I skied it on a demo day in powder, and am still considering picking up a pair. @Tricia can probably give more feedback on the two.
I feel they are too long for me, maybe I need to mount the bindings a bit further back. I'm so used to 159cm skis that 166cm feel hard to turn, esp on bumps and in trees. I also felt a lot of front chatter crossing along narrow flat ridges around bowls. I just lack confidence in the BP 88. They are so light though, I don't feel like I'm wearing skis on my feet at times.

I know the 153cm are short, but I tried the 161cm and they felt totally wrong for what I wanted. I actually demo'd in spring conditions at Big Sky so they did fine in crud/ice (not as good as my Sambas), but so much more nimble and easy to turn on bumps and in trees.
 

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