Ask Josh - October 2001

Ask Dr. Flake
ask josh.oct 01

Dear Josh,

A friend insists that Colorado's powder has less moisture in it than Utah's, and I think the opposite is true. Who's right?
Elaine Mazer
Richmond, California

Well, I'm screwed. One of you is going to come out on top, but no matter what answer I give, I'll have readers jumping so far down my throat they'll get their hips stuck in my ankles. Skiers have beliefs about this stuff, and they're not going to let pesky lint flecks of data get in the way. The ski industry in Utah believes the Behave -- oops, that's Beehive-- State has the greatest snow on earth. They've even trademarked a catchy slogan. Of course it's a contention based entirely on a subjective judgment, so I can't argue with it. I can only posit the sorry, unromantic truth: While the Colorado Rockies may not have The Greatest Snow on Earthàƒ,à‚„¢, they do have snow that's lighter than Utah's. There, I've said it. Steamboat's champagne beats Alta's ultralight. Snow density refers to the percentage of water by volume in newly fallen snow. But you know what? We're splitting the hairs on hair here. We're splitting cilia. The fact that Steamboat's average snow density is .072 (around seven percent water by volume) and Alta's is .1 is not really meaningful. What's meaningful is that someone had the best powder day of his life at Snowbird and someone else had her best at Aspen Highlands. And while it's not like a New Englander to boast, someone else had the best powder day of his life at Stowe, Vermont. The greatest snow on earth? It's whatever's under your skis, baby.

No helmet manufacturer seems to make a bucket that fits my 65- to 66-centimeter dome. I've learned that lots of men with head sizes greater than 62 centimeters can't find helmets either. Suggestions?
Rich Dufresne
via the Internet

Well, I don't know where you got such a massive neck topper, but I'm not surprised you have trouble finding a skull shell that fits. Just so you know, though, you're only partly right. While no helmet manufacturer that we know of (out of 15 contacted) makes a belfry huge enough for bats as big as yours, there are a few that make them to fit some whopping big casabas. Carrera, Leedom, and Vigor all make nut cases for think pots up to 64 centimeters around. That's pretty darn close. You do have to remember (and I mean this in only the nicest way) that having the Abiyoyo of cranial protuberances is just not typical of our species. One company, however, volunteered to make an effort at a custom fit. Try contacting Ovo Helmets at 877-OVO-USA5. Good luck.

I am looking for technical information on the effects of remounting bindings, or more specifically, how additional holes may affect ski integrity or performance.
Susan Faass
via the Internet

The short answer is that with judicious execution, a few new binding holes won't have any effect on your skis' durability or performance, and that the mounting zone is the strongest part of the ski, reinforced as it is to be mounted and remounted. The long answer involves numerous double entendres utilizing the words "mount," "drill," "hole," "plug," and "screw," in a way that alludes to your concupiscence or lack thereof, resulting in snickers from me and my co-dweebs. But let's stick to the facts: It's critical that holes not be drilled too close to one another because that will run the risk of weakening the screw-hole wall and increasing the chance that a screw will strip out; go for at least a centimeter between new and old holes if you can. Other than that, there's only one concern: that water will get into the old screw holes and freeze while you're out on the slopes, which can start to delaminate your skis. So keep your various holes plugged (No pun intended, I swear!); ski shops routinely toss some glue and a little plastic plug into old binding screw holes when they mount new binders on old boards. Even so, after threee, maybe four, mountings, you begin to run the risk of weakening your planks. After all, each binding requires seven or eight screws, so by the time you're on your third pair, you're talking as many as 24 little holes in your skis. As for performance, don't worry about it. Racers who fall in love with a superfast pair of skis might keep them for years, remounting bindings several times. If they can do it, so can you.

Do you have a question for know-it-all Josh Lerman? Send it to Ask Josh, SKIING Magazine, 929 Pearl St., Ste. 200, Boulder, CO 80302or We won't be able to answer all questions.

Former SKIING executive editor Josh Lerman is now senior editor at Parenting.