Junior Bounous: Living the History of Skiing

Junior Bounous: Living the History of Skiing

Tom Kelly

By Tom Kelly \ March 19 2024

 

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The red tram pulled out of the station, heading up to Hidden Peak on its seven-minute run. Perched along the front left window was the legendary Junior Bounous, looking down and surveying the ski runs he plotted out 53 seasons ago. From his base at the Lodge at Snowbird, the 98-1/2-year-old Bounous still gets out to Snowbird and Alta Ski Area two or three days a week. In this historic interview, Ski Utah’s Last Chair spent a day at Snowbird with Bounous, who regaled us with stories of his nearly a century in the sport.


Born into a fruit-farming family in Provo, he was 11 when he received skis as a present. He soon found his passion. His life chronicles the history of skiing in Utah, from working with Ray Stewart at Timp Haven to his mentorship under the legendary Alf Engen and spending the summer of 1971 designing the runs at Snowbird for visionary Ted Johnson.

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Junior enjoying some turns at Snowbird

Under the guidance of Alf Engen in the 1940s and ‘50s, Bounous learned how to convey the love of skiing to others. He became transformative as a snowsports educator, helping to standardize teaching in an era where European instructors brought differing ideologies to education. Few have introduced more individuals to the joys of skiing than Junior Bounous. And it was Junior who helped introduce the world to powder skiing.


There’s a buzz in the tram line when Junior makes his appearance. Knowledgable Snowbird skiers recognize him instantly. And he’s quick to strike up a conversation.


Atop Hidden Peak, he pauses by the memorial bench dedicated to his ski mate and wife of over 70 years, Maxine. He still soaks in the panoramic view from Mt. Superior across the valley the the terrifying crease of the Pipeline Couloir on Twin Peaks, which he skied with his friend Jim McConkey.

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Junior enjoying the views at the top of Hidden Peak at Snowbird

While recording Last Chair in Bounous room at the Lodge at Snowbird, it was mesmerizing to soak in the memorabilia on the walls. One framed article from SKI magazine stood out from an early-’60s photo shoot by the legendary Fred Lindholm of Junior, Maxine (she’s the one way out front in the key photo), and friends skiing a massive powder bowl on the flanks of Utah’s Mount Timpanogos. Junior vividly recalls the helicopter dropping them off and then going back to Salt Lake City, leaving them a five-mile hike out after what was a glorious descent.


Skiing has brought immense happiness to the son of a fruit farmer from Provo. That joy has manifested itself in sharing the sport with others. As we skied down Chip’s Run, Junior had no issue taking the steeper drops versus cat tracks, simply checking surface conditions first. He happily posed for pictures. At one point, a ski patroller jokingly told him to slow down. It’s been 53 years since he built these trails, but you could still see the pride in his eyes. And he never stopped smiling all the way down.

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Last Chair Podcast Host, Tom Kelly, interviewing Junior Bounous 

Linking turns for Ski Utah photographer Chris Pearson, you could hear him singing with the rhythmic, melodic tones of his signature ba-dump … ba-dump … ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump with each pole plant.


If you want to bring some simple joy to your own skiing, listen to this episode of Last Chair. This is why we started skiing in the first place.


Here’s a sampling of skiing according to Junior:


The Origins of Powder Skiing

“Powder skiing really did start at Alta. However, we saw in European films as skiers going through powder in the early days, and most of it was a straight line and very little turning. Alta became known for skiing waist-deep powder and making turns. Now, the evolution took time because we were on stiff, narrow skis. Today, there are thousands of skiers with powder snow skis that were not in existence then.”


How Junior Was Tabbed to Design Snowbird

“Ted Johnson and I were friends from Alta's early beginning. He had asked me if I wanted to invest with him, and I said, ‘No, I don't have $20,000.’ I was in the national gelande contest at Alta, and Ted was there. And he said, ‘By the way, Junior, could we get you to come up and get the mountain ready to open for Snowbird?’ I knew it was going in, and I thought about it a little bit and I said, ‘Yes, I've got time. What do you want me to do?’ And he said, ‘I want you to handle the crews and get all of the runs designed and marked off and ready to open’. And so I went home and talked to Maxine. I called him, and I said, ‘Yes, when? When do I start?’ ‘Tomorrow,’ he said. I was taking this job for the summer only. But I started with topo maps in the architect's office and looked at the terrain. I had skied this terrain in the past from Alta. Coming across a Peruvian side was easy skiing. We had open runs; the Gad Valley side had thick pines and aspens and big willow trees that were 15 feet high. But anyway, first topo map, then heli-skiing and figuring out the runs. And then, after I was able to put all this on paper, we still had ten feet of snow.”

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It's all smiles for Junior Bounous when he is out on the slopes

History of Ba Dump

“Ba dump entered into my teaching system. Number one is relaxing a student. Number two is rhythm. Rhythm is so important because skiing becomes a movement, not a left turn and a right turn. But it's linked together in a flow, we'll say. The rhythm building is taking the mind off of the student and giving them something to target or think about instead of what they're worrying about. And it's relaxing, as I say, and movement. But ba dump was more of a joke. However, it worked the same because the cadence of left right, left right did not work as well as ba dump, ba dump, because they were really mystified by why would you use words like that?”



Junior Bounous and the Joy of Skiing

The story of Junior Bounous is the history of modern skiing. And who better to tell it than his granddaughter, Ayja Bounous? Before the days of fat skis, Gore-Tex clothing, ski bindings with brakes, avalanche control, or groomed ski runs, when fresh powder lasted for days, and lift lines were nonexistent, a rag-tag generation of skiers braved the winter canyons to teach themselves how to ski the deep powder snow of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Junior Bounous was one of the leaders of this generation, dedicating his life to sharing the joys of skiing with others. This is his story, and the story of how a ski industry, unique in its relationship to powder snow, developed in the heart of the American West.

“You know, it's amazing. You go up the tram, and, as I recall in my youth, the feeling that I had at that time – to see the view from Snowbird or Alta – is the same today. The pipeline has big memories and Mineral Basin. And I see Superior the mountain, exactly the same way now as it did 80 or 70 years ago. It's such a pleasure to go into this environment and look at it and feel it. And that feeling never stops.” - Junior Bounous

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Transcript:

 

Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| Tom Kelly with Last Chair. We are here at one of Utah's most notable ski resorts, Snowbird, and we have a really special treat today. We've just come in from taking a few runs with the legendary Junior Bonus and Junior. Thank you for joining us on The Last Chair podcast.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:00:16| My pleasure.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:00:18| You know, that was fun out there this morning. And I'm curious, we're recording this the last week of February. How many days do you have in already this season?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:00:28| 53 days. And that's not 53 runs. That's 53 days of skiing this season.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:00:36| How many runs in a good ski day?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:00:38| Eight to 10 to 12 would be high.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:00:44| We just took one really good run down Chips today. Going up in the tram. I didn't think it was going to be as good as it was today. I looked at the clouds coming in and. But it was a great day out there, wasn't it?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:00:56| When I count runs, though, the tram is 3,000 vertical, the chairlift that I use, usually ski would be 1,200, and so I get higher number of runs. If I skied three trams, that's, 3,000ft each run. I couldn't do it.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:01:23| You couldn't do it?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:01:25| I could do three, but I'd quit.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:01:28| Well, back in the day, you were doing it for sure.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:01:31| Oh, yes. Uh, the highest number with clients teaching every run was 18 trams.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:01:40| 18 trams? Yeah. Do the math on that, folks.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:01:44| That's what students.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:01:46| That's over 50,000 vertical.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:01:48| Yeah.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:01:49| That's crazy. You have a nice setup here. We're at the lodge at Snowbird. So you have the ability to just walk out there.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:01:54| I'm fortunate. My wife and I bought this in 1971. As soon as I accepted a job here. We bought the unit, and fortunately, we never needed to sell it for money. We kept it.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:02:13| Well, it's it's it's a great base for for skiing Snowbird. I want to go back to the start, though. How did junior business first get involved in skiing as a young boy?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:02:24| Skiing? You'll be surprised. Alf Engen came here from Sun Valley, to be the ski school director. My first private lesson from Alf Engen was on cross country skiing. I was a competitor, and I wanted to be better. My second lesson from Alf Engen was jumping, so I wanted to be a jumping combined competitor. My third lesson, this is over three years, was on how to teach. How do you handle beginning students? Uh, and we went through the sequence. Then, after the sequence, I would practice on my girlfriend Maxine. The second or the next private lesson was the next phase, and then the next private lesson was up. So I started with Alf with private lessons, and after being with him with the lessons, he hired me full-time to teach in 1948. So I became well acquainted with Alf, and he was a master teacher.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:03:55| So, how old were you when you first started skiing? You were a teenager. Is that right?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:04:01| I got my first skis from a store. I was 11 years old. From my mother as a Christmas present. They lasted several years. They had a toe strap. And gradually I was able to add bindings to those skis.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:04:26| Where did you go ski? Back then? You were living in Provo, right?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:04:31| Yes. It started out in the orchard on their farm. And as you read in the book, we happened to have a run down by the barn.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:04:43| By the way, the book. And we'll talk about this more later, came out in 22. We've got a couple of copies on the table here. Junior Bonus and the Joys of Skiing, written by granddaughter. Ayja Bounous. I imagine that was a lot of fun for you to put this book together with Ayja.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:04:59| It was surprising. It took about two and a half years, you know, so it is not easy or it's time-consuming to do a book like that. And fortunately, I had a granddaughter with the patience and desire to do it. It took a special person with a desire to do something like that.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:05:32| Well, she did an amazing job with the book. And if you're listening to the Last Chair podcast and you want to know how to get one, you can just go to Amazon. Or we will also have a link in the show notes. Notes at ski Utah.com. Uh, going back to your growing up. So you got a you were living in Provo, your family were fruit farmers, and you were using the skis and your orchards. What was it? Uh, what connecting point got you to really become passionate about the sport and really engage as your life's work?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:06:05| Yeah. The passion didn't start soon. It was. Passion was over a period of years, of course. And, it was interesting. Competition started out as a goal. I wanted to be on, you know, competing nationally. And then, I started teaching in Provo, for Brigham Young University and Recreation. I was barely out of high school, but then working with people took my passion into force and away from competition. And, suddenly it was more desirable to work with people than just to think about competing.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:07:02| So you really picked up a love not just of skiing, but of becoming an educator.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:07:09| Educator is correct, in that sense. But, you know, the biggest part about it was the social part and the interesting of talking to new people, uh, different people and then helping. And this is where communication with Alf Engen and myself became a big part, uh, was learning how to handle people. And Alf's brought in my attention that not all people are taught to learn this thing. There they learn differently. And we learned to teach them as individuals. And the style of teaching was not a militant, not that type of a teaching system. But we gave real thought to students that they were Alf said, they're always better than you are at something, so don't go trying to show off. So, uh, his philosophy was good. And this affected many, many years of my teaching and many years of my influence with other instructors on a national basis.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:08:51| I want to talk a little bit more about teaching technique back in that period, because in the 40s and in the early 50s, as I understand it, you were there. I wasn't. But the ski schools across America were often run by Europeans. There might be a French ski school, a German or an Austrian. And the technique. Nick, as I understand it, was somewhat siloed. I just kind of fast-forwarding a bit when you were running the ski school at Sugar Bowl in the 50s, you worked to really bridge that gap and create more of a common teaching technique that was American in style.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:09:29| And no, I will have to say that the Austrian technique of teaching was strict. You had your A, B, C's and you can’t go to B unless you complete a day and on up the ladder, you had to perfect all of these steps like A, B, C, D, without. We recognized the fact that the student in A had capabilities, were maybe physically balanced, etc. and they don't need to go A, B, C maybe they jumped to C and well, maybe not to F, but we learned to teach people at their capabilities and not at our expectations. So we were not required to follow a set rule, but go with the flow of the capability and not set our goal as the teacher set the goal of the student able to accomplish their goal and not give them things that were too difficult to begin with that are stumbling and fearful. So having a good time became one of the things that we loved to do.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:11:10| I want to have you explore that a little bit more because I think one thing that is oftentimes forgotten by folks is the fact that we're doing this to have fun, right? And that's.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:11:19| Really, the core principal. And if you think about it, a person with the correct, uh, instruction can have fun their first day on skis or their second day if they have a friend. Oh, you can go up to the top of the chair. Yeah. All you have to do is sit down. And that's a very wrong way to do it. And you have to live with the expectations of the client, not yours. You don't have to try to make them parallel skiers or whatever. It's showing them. Number one, the environment becomes a key role in their enjoyment of what's going on. And it doesn't matter what ski resort it is, it's an environment and the social activity, talking to people, finding out their background. And we have people from all over the US and the world. And so every client is an individual and an interesting person that you'd like to know more about.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:12:45| People come from all over the world to Snowbird and to Alta for the powder skiing. And if you go back into the 40s when you're working at Alta with Alf Engen, was the concept of powder skiing technique new at that point? Were you involved in evolving that technique.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:13:03| Powder skiing really did start at Alta. However, we saw in European films as skiers going through powder in the early days, and most of it was straight line and very little turning. Alta became known for skiing waist-deep powder and making turns. Now, the evolution took time, because we were on stiff, narrow skis. And today there's thousands of skiers with powder snow skis that were not in existence. You know, and the interesting thing, there had to be an evolution of the equipment in the 40s and early 50s. And by testing one of the first tests to work on our equipment, was to sand their wooden skis and sand the tip and the and then they found out that sanding the tail was better than sanding the fronts. Because. He ascended the tail, the tips came up. And then, the second thing we found, which was moving the bindings back. So the philosophy is flexibility in the tail and shortening it. So you had more flotation in the tips. And this is how we managed the old wooden skis. And they're skiing like one head ski came out with a standard head. He had flexible skis. They were they were great. But our first models, within a days trial, we moved our bindings back an inch and a half from where they were supposed to be for, uh, pack snow. And it worked. It worked. Made those head skis work. And if you'd happened to notice my powder skis, by the way, which was on skiing today, they're mounted an inch and a half back from normal mount. I cheat where I can.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:15:48| It's all fair. It's all fair. I'm just curious. Back in the 40s and the 50s, when you're shaving down the wood skis and all of that makes perfect sense. But did anybody think about going wider like they tend to today?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:16:02| The wideness, I can't remember the year, but Atomic, came out with the test ski. Mike Wiegele's heli skiing company in Canada worked with Atomic. They were friends, and Mike Wiegele had all kinds of trouble with his clients in powder skiing. And Atomic came out with a ski that was about three inches wide, under foot or more. And they sent these to Mike Wiegele to test. And so those early powder skis were built by Atomic and sent to Mike Wiegele for testing, who thankfully sent me a pair and they were the easiest powder skis I'd ever been on. And still today they would have been the easiest powder. Not as good on packed or all around. And it was interesting. They were so wide you offset the binding laterally so you've had them your right ski, your boot would be inside so you could edge them a little more on packed. And it picked up the outside edge so you didn't catch outside edges as much. That made millions of dollars for Mike Wiegele. Yeah. And the advent of powder skiing. It probably went all over the world after that.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:17:55| About what year would that have been? Do you recall?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:17:59| I'd say Snowbird opened in 71. I was skiing with him in the early about 1975. Middle 70s.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:18:16| Cool. Going back to that period when you were working at Alta and you were a part of the movement that was evolving powder skiing and making it more interesting. Did you find that more and more skiers were gravitating here to Little Cottonwood Canyon to experience that?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:18:32| You know, it's amazing. If we go back to the 50s, there were very few of us or no, maybe there were a few of us, certainly, that were higher at an ability level. And you could see those tracks on the mountain. You know, maybe for days after a snowstorm and know who's who. And it were still on narrow skis at that time. But the advent of powder skis changed the whole world. It Little Cottonwood Canyon, you know, every time I go through a lift line, I'm looking at skis and just to see what they were, what they are. And if I look at 20 skis, sets of skis on skiers, maybe two of them will be narrow. The rest are all wide, all terrain powder type skis, and they function really well as all-around skis. And the length of the ski, say, in the 50s, the length of ski I was at that time was seven-foot threes. And that was the normal length that we skied. Today, if I took an average on the mountain of what I look at instead of seven feet, it would be. But maybe 170cm, which is. What is that, five and a half, 70cm.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:20:31| Yeah, it's about that.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:20:32| And at which in turn makes the ski easier to turn also. And so the learning process today with a shaped we'll call it a shaped carving ski is so much quicker at little kids learn. They just learned to step on the scale. And it's shaped and it turns a corner. That's all right. And the way they go. So teaching say today with children is mostly imitation and encouragement. And if more schools taught the same way, it would be better. I think teachers get bogged down when they get too technical and too much worrying to details instead of let's just go. Mileage, mileage, mileage is what we want in the right terrain, not mileage down the top of the tram, but maybe on the chairlifts where it's easier.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:21:42| I want to digress just a little bit, and I watched you in line at the tram this morning at Snowbird. You like to talk to people in the lift line and they like to talk to you. What are some of the questions that they ask.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:21:54| That's never gone away. A passion of enjoyment, of being around people, talking to people and asking questions. My fault is I talk too much and don't ask enough questions. But, sometimes I remember that problem. But, yes, ‘how old are you? How many days have you skied? And which runs do you like? Which resort do you like the best?’ And, to simplify some of those answers to me, I say Little Cottonwood Canyon has always been my favorite. And, when I was at Sundance, we'll say smaller resorts, pleasure and vacation would be Sun Valley, Idaho or Aspen. Looking for a mountain with more of a challenge. The day we opened that tram, the challenge happened right here in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:23:11| It's still going.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:23:12| So it's going on, you know, when you can ride 3000 vertical feet in 6 or 7 minutes and look and then almost 360 degrees and choose a route and you follow the sun, you follow the grooming, you follow the powder, whatever. There's a great deal of challenge, we'll say, in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:23:45| I want to, take us to Sugar Bowl. And you made a decision in the 50s to leave the to leave Utah and go out to Sugar Bowl and run the ski school. What did you take away from that experience there? You spent a fair amount of time there.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:23:58| Well, number one to start with was, I was self-inconsistent and expecting to make my life here as at that capacity. And when the door was opening in California Sugar Bowl for a director, Alf Engen said, go. You do not get opportunities very often to be a ski school director. And so it's. Chance. Opportunity. And so, uh, my family, we moved a child moved to California. And it was there where I was totally on my own to design the teaching system. But I didn't have to do anything. I just brought it with me from Utah. And it was that same philosophy that turned the ski school there into a profit making school. When I went there, uh, they said, oh, you I wanted to commission on the profit. And they said, oh, there's no profit. You can't make anything doing it that way. I said, I'll take a commission. That was the best move ever made. And within two years, every person in the hotel was in ski school. We'd have 98% of the clients, hotel guests in school. And why did that happen? It was not because we were Austrian ski instructors. We were some American. We had Austrians. I'm not, uh, deleting that fact, but philosophy. What were we teaching? We were teaching fun and enjoyment and challenge of the mountain and just skiing it and having a good time and improving.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:26:24| Having grown up in Provo. What we know today is Sundance. Yes. Formerly Timp Haven was a big part of your life. Talk about that place. It's really. And for folks who haven't been there, it really is a magical place.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:26:36| It is. It's a beautiful, beautiful background with good skiing. Uh, I skied Timp Haven while I was in high school. There was a rope tow and immediately became friends of, uh, the owner who who was operating, built the rope tow and started helping him, uh, for the fun of it and for his need to have helping running it, not paid. It was volunteer for a season pass, of course. And, uh, that's where it developed with me. And his name was Ray Stewart, from Provo. And then, uh, watched and helped that grow into, you know, rope tows, cable tows, uh, and chairlifts. I was also a partner of financial partner and its growth and, uh, enjoyed it. Uh, when, uh, the Stewarts were ready to sell out, I was in no position. I didn't know enough friends, possibly with that kind of money to buy it. And then this is where Redford entered the scene. Redford entered it with building. He met. He went to Stanford, he was on the Stanford tennis team, and he met a girl from Provo, uh, Lola. And, uh, they married and then, uh, they bought a piece of property and built a summer cabin at, uh, at Timp Haven and Shorts Flats. And that's kind of how he ended up in Provo. Was through. His wife was from Provo.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:28:47| Did you spend much time with Robert Redford?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:28:49| A lot, three years working with him, at the resort. They immediately changed the name to Sundance, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And so it was a quick change to his influence with the movie industry and actors and producers and, uh, and so it did not take many years for that property to go way, way up for building lots and good homes. But, you know, fortunately, it has retained. End. Quite a bit of that type of environment today. Still, it's a low keyed and however they've made beautiful groomed runs and they do an excellent grooming system with their, with their and uh, they're in the process. Redford sold about three years ago. Um, uh, some of the reasons was family. I'm sorry to say he lost his son. Only son and two daughters. And, uh, neither daughter. One daughter wanted to operate and be the CEO. And, uh, but that didn't last long. She thought this was not the life for her. I'm sorry. I'm getting privateer. Uh, I better back off on. Okay. How did I get on Robert Redford?

 

Tom Kelly: |00:30:41| I asked you about him, but we'll we'll ask you. We'll go a different direction. Okay. You got a call from Ted Johnson? Yes. Around 1970 or 71 to come over to this new ski area where we are today, now called Snowbird, to design the runs. Uh, tell us about that experience. And I'm sure as you look back, you're happy that you made that call that you came over here to do that?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:31:05| I'm happy they at the time I worked with, say, Redford at Sundance, but it was more or less three months in the winter, and I had time anyway during the summer for, uh, traveling adventures and going all over the world with my wife and Ted Johnson and I were friends from Alta's early beginning. And so it wasn't new to be a friend of Ted Johnson. And. We communicated, and he had asked me if I wanted to invest with him, and I said, no, I don't have $20,000 to be. And, anyway, I was in the national gelande contest at Alta, and Ted was there. And he said, by the way, Junior, could we get you to come up and get the mountain ready to open for Snowbird? I knew it was going in, and I thought about it a little bit and I said, yes, I've got time. What do you want me to do? And he said, I want you to handle the crews and get all of the runs designed and, marked off and ready to open. And so I went home and talked to Maxine. And so I called him and I said, yes, when? When do I start? Tomorrow. He said, tomorrow will be soon enough. And what happened? I was taking this job for the summer only, and. But I started with topog maps in the architect's office and look at the terrain. I had skied this terrain in the past from Alta. Coming across a Peruvian side was easy skiing. We had open runs, the Gad Valley side was thick pines and aspens and, uh, big willow trees that were 15ft high. And, but anyway, first topo map, then heli skiing and figuring out the runs. Uh, and then after I was able to put all this on paper, we still had ten feet of snow.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:34:04| But we had to then work with Forest Service to outline what we wanted to do on the mountain, uh, and, uh, get their support. And they were very cooperative and would, would go together, just the two of us and mark trees and, and get it ready for, uh, grooming. And so, uh, at the end of toward June, talking to Ted again and I said, well, Ted, what's what do I need to you want me to do? He said, there's only one thing I want you to do that's have this mountain ready to ski by the middle of December. That's your orders. And he never said another word to me for the summer on what I was doing. Talk about an easy boss. But there was a difficult mountain. Immediately I knew how hard this mountain would be to open, because I'd been affiliated with other resorts and knew what Colorado was, and California and Idaho and the difficulty here was true alpine terrain, meaning lots of high cliffs, streams and beds and trees and, uh, well, anyway, I don't mean to take so much time, but that was the start of it. And my time in the summer lasted two years, before I was over to ski school. Only as the ski school director. Although I was hired the first summer as ski school without applying for it, I. He asked me if I wanted to do it, and I had to think about driving from Provo, 40 miles up here, to work every day. I did it all summer. So, uh. But anyway, I accepted. And immediately, we bought this condominium. Now, you see, I get off subjects here, but I'm. I'm not sure what direction to go.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:36:46| Well, you're you're you're right on track, but I want to ask you when you. This is a unique mountain. When you look up there, this is real, true alpine terrain. You had the task of developing a resort that was had great expert terrain, but also had good beginner terrain and good intermediate terrain. How did you strike that balance?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:37:06| That was, we'll say, the most difficult. Uh, well, number one, we were able to put Chickadee Chair in for the beginners. And number two, a life saver was the first chair going in over on Gad Valley, Mid Gad and number one. And I had a midway unloading station. And we were able to develop a run called West Second South and lower terrain. And uh, it was we did not have Chickadee for a couple of years. And so our beginners were hiking or rope tow and, and then jumping to mid gad. But if you look at Mid Gad, it's, it's still technically, uh, you know, a lot of terrain for a beginner to handle and expectations, uh, the expectations that the instructor wanted to work with was to teach a student side slipping and side slipping, of course, meant to the christy side slipping is control. Uh, that was needed. And sometimes, uh, a beginner that has to learn side slipping early will proceed faster into the christy stage than otherwise not doing just snow plows. So side-slipping. Sometimes the need can be an advantage in the future of that skier.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:39:08| I want to talk about one run in particular and being up on the mountain today. When you come to Snowbird, you want to take the tram, you want to get to the top of Hidden Peak. You want to have that 3000 feet of vertical, but it is daunting. Chips run. How did chips run evolve in those early days of planning? This is just a remarkable run for any intermediate-level skier to take down the mountain.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:39:31| Chips run number one to start with, it has a lot of catwalks at the top to lead lower levels down those. That catwalk is a summer road for construction, so immediately, we had to road for trucks to go to the top of the tram to, to build and work on it. And, uh, they were changed slightly and certainly wider today than they were when it was just a small truck. But Chips run is almost natural, with the exception of cutting some trees to, to give it diversity in different directions. And culverts and culverts were needed and blasting of some rocks. And so, yes, it did take run work. Uh, but the Lord chips face was we were skiing it in those days from Alta. We'd come over from the keyhole from Alta, uh, for a run and powder over here. Uh, and, uh, this, this canyon. And a lot of times it was a fun experience to come over here and ski down and go through a mine tunnel and walk on the tracks and get back to the road and get a ride. But at that time, there was still mining activity in the tunnels. There was a horse in the tunnel that was there all year round where they could pull ore cars and still trying to find, you know, the mother lode of silver that was lost in, in the mining days. But anyway, uh, chips is quite natural chips today. I'm going on the negative side a little bit because it, it still has catwalks that are difficult. And you notice today we had to ski them um, the, the one, the first one down. To me a big improvement can be made by changing that design. And, uh, I hope I live long enough to see it happen. They've got to change it. They've got to change it. But anyway, we're living with, uh, the way it was developed from the road, you know, to take trucks up there. What did you ask me to talk about?

 

Tom Kelly: |00:42:35| No. You did. It's Chips Run. And it was great. We're going to take a quick show break here, but let the record note that on our rundown chips today, junior business generally took the steeper option. So good for you. We'll be right back with Junior Bounous we're going to talk about some of his adventures here on Last Chair.

 

Tom Kelly: And, we're back on Last Chair, the Ski Utah podcast. Our guest today, Junior Bounous. At 98.5 years young, we had a great ski outing today. We've learned a lot about his background growing up here in Utah, the time he spent with Al Fangen, the time he spent designing this amazing resort, and all the trails here at Snowbird. Now we're going to go into a section that I'm calling adventures with Junior, and I've. I started making a list, and the list was getting too long about some of the crazy things that you've done over time. So I'm going to just throw a few of them out. You mentioned this one earlier, but at the age of 45, and I think 1971, you won the gelande contest at Alta. Tell us about that.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:44:07| Remember I said I took jumping lessons from Alf Engen and this was more of the Nordic. However, at Alta, in the early days, we had cornice after cornice after cornice, uh, when, when built cornices. And that was always Alf Engen was our leader. He was a world champion jumper. He loved to catch air, land in that powder and distance was no problem. He could go the farthest out of any of us, but I and so cornice jumping was built in as well as Nordic jumping was built into my career. And, uh, it was while I was at Sugar Bowl, that a friend, Jim McConkey, was there, and we were two cliff jumpers, uh, before cliff jumping had a name, but we, we liked to jump, uh, the highest. And it was common to go 40 to 50 feet vertical and to jump off of cliffs down there. And, uh, because Sugar Bowl had good alpine terrain like Little Cottonwood Canyon. But anyway, while I was at, uh, California, Alta started gelande contests, which turned into be a national event. And, we came from California back home in the summers all the time. And so they said, oh, this national event is going on at Alta. Do you want to go up and enter glands? I love him, of course. And, uh, this was, uh, in our early meeting of man called Pepi Stiegler, who was an Olympic champion Austrian, and he was the ski school director at Jackson. And he was there and, and so, uh, he, he went he jumped before I did. And so my jump I outjumped Pepi. And did you ever see an Austrian face change? He was.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:46:49| Not happy.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:46:49| He was not happy. Needless to say, he outjumped me the next jump and won the tournament. I was second, but, uh. But anyway, uh, later on I jumped it for fun for many years because I had, uh, two boys growing up that learned to jump Steven Berry. So Glen was in her blood anyway. And so this was a big event for the family, a big event for Little Cottonwood Canyon. It attracted thousands of people. And, um. Well, anyway, uh, I'd place in all places in the top ten, but first and I was hiking up the hill and some Colorado guy said, when are you going to quit jumping, aren't you? How old are you now? I'm 45. And he said, and you still think you want to go off that takeoff? And he really irritated me. He got the adrenaline going from then on, there was no stopping me.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:48:08| That is a great story.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:48:09| I had the longest distance and the most graceful, and I took all the trophies for you.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:48:17| You had talked about cliff jumping a minute ago. Is it true that you used to initiate instructors by taking them off the cliffs on Silver Fox. It's okay. The statute of limitation is long over.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:48:30| Well, I tried to limit that to the ones that were the better skiers. Prudent, not. And the the biggest one was Psych Out Rock. We had others leading up to. It was only 4 or 5 feet. But then this one was much bigger. However, they once you got out and looked at it, you could sideslip off either side so you could avoid. You did not. You were not committed. And so it would only be the ones that wanted to commit, uh, to this. And this was not a normal test for, uh, an instructor applying for a job, but it was a playful test. We'll say. Yeah, it.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:49:34| I'm not sure the side slip off the side is that reassuring to me? I want to go to another adventure now. In the early 60s, you were. You were good friends with the photographer Fred Lindholm, who was just an amazing ski photographer. So you and Fred organized this group that went and skied Mount Timpanogos. And I was looking at some of the photographs from Ski magazine, some of the most majestic images of the sport I've ever seen. Tell us about that day.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:50:02| Heli skiing was not really heard of. And this is early 60s. They were starting to do a little work, but it was a little small bubble three passenger…was the only heli. There might have been bigger ones in the Army. Uh, I should rephrase that, but, uh, it was not common to see a helicopter. And Fred Lindholm, was becoming a national international photographer on powder, on skiing in general. And it was while we were going to Sugar Bowl, but we had not left until we leave in December. And this was November, and it was her first early snowstorm. And, for some reason, he had talked to a ski magazine about the potential of, well, no, he talked to the helicopter company first to see if they would do it, and they said, yes, they could go fly us in the mountains and drop us and drop us off. Anyway, he got Ski magazine to pay for the helicopter if we went up. And so he organized a party. But where do you go find, uh, you know, high up on skiing when you got 15 inches of snow? I knew the mountain well of summer and skiing, and it was all grass and wildflowers on this steep hillside. And I said, yes, I know where we can go ski. And that was it. We were organized. And in a few days and up the mountain we went on Timpanogos, and the helicopter would take, uh, two people at a time. There was six of us and tied our skis. And, you know, it was interesting. The helicopter dropped us off and then they went back to Salt Lake. The helicopter was gone for the rest of the folks.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:52:35| There are no cell phones, right?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:52:37| No. And … but anyway, we pursued by hiking up and skiing the upper parts of Timpanogos. And along about 2 or 3:00, we got to get out of this mountain today, and we skied down as far as we could go. And then we had to walk in her ski boots and rocks and crap, you know, just junk for, oh, I'd say five miles or more to get back out of there. And it was dark by the time we were able to get back out and we were sore people. Real. That was no fun. He had the nerve to call me that night and say, well, you do it again tomorrow. The helicopter can take us up again. We? And I said, absolutely not. Then I thought for a minute, and if the helicopter will fly us out, we'll go up and ski. But we're not hiking out of that mountain again. And. And which happened? And he did the helicopter sit there? Uh, for 2 or 3 hours while we were hiking and skiing.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:54:04| So you did go out the second day?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:54:06| Yes, we went out. Oh, the helicopter took us down to the parking lot.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:54:11| The junior. One more story. We were at the top of the tram today, and we were looking out, over Pipeline. And for folks who have skied here, uh, this is not a lift-served. This is a really inaccessible run. But the story of you and Jim McConkey, skiing Pipeline is legendary.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:54:28| You know, it's so unique because, well, to start with, we had Stein Eriksen and Jim McConkey and I standing together. It was our opening ceremony day, so we had a lot of celebrities coming to the bird. And uh, so I asked each of them about taking a run. Alf said no. Stein said no. McConkey said, yes, I'll go. So the two of us headed up the tram and on the way up he said, is there any run that hasn't been skied? Yes, I said, there's only some left. But the main one left is called the Pipeline. Ted Johnson named it after surfing in Hawaii. But, and he said, well, can we ski it? And I said, I'll show it to you. He looked at it from the top of the tram. Holy cow. And I said, if you want to ski it, I had to radio with communication with the helicopter. I was still working, not as the official mountain manager, but I had that authority. I said, sure, I called the helicopter and he said, I'll be there in ten minutes on top of the tram. He just landed there and picked us up.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:56:04| Was he able to? Drop you at the top of Pipeline, or did you have to hop out?

 

Junior Bounous: |00:56:08| He set down to get out. But the top of the Pipeline. It took a man like McConkey and I to get to it because you had to. You couldn't ski into it. You had to rock, climb down the face without skis on and handing skis down. And so it was. Oh, 15, 20ft. Not a long ways over the cliff. And then we got down in there and it was deep powder, you know, it was beautiful. And I said, okay. McConkey you want to go first? No. You and your mountain, you go first. I said, okay, I'll stay left and leave you some powder on the right. We didn't have a lot of idea of what the powder, what it was going to be like snow-wise. And we didn't care. We just skied anything anyway. So I started out and after about 4 or 5 turns, I heard a noise behind me, and I glanced to my right. And here's McConkey, almost shoulder to shoulder across from me. And so he kept going side by side. And I was about halfway down. I said, do you want to stop and rest? And he said, no, keep going, keep going. And we were communicating and skiing waist-deep powder nonstop. Should we stop? No, we didn't stop till we're the bottom of the mountain. But anyway, that was the first run.

 

Tom Kelly: |00:57:54| Listeners, next time you're on top of the tram, take a look out to the southwest. You'll see it. You don't need any directional signs. It's there. Um, this has been so fascinating. And I have just a few more questions, but one. One very serious one. Uh, you had you have a love relationship with the sport, but you had an amazing partner with Maxine, and she was with you. You taught her to ski? Really? Didn't you? Taught her to instruct. But what a wonderful life you had with her.

 

Junior Bounous: |00:58:24| We had 70 years together, and, uh. The thing that she developed now. She studied right with Alf. She learned skiing second hand from me with private lessons from Alf on teaching. And Alf also helped her during that era because she started teaching at Alta. We were married in 52 and she started teaching right away and learning to ski powder, and we knew how to make powder snow skis for moved the bindings back an inch and a half. And anyway, that, uh, she became an outstanding powder skier, an outstanding skier, period. Uh, she had excellent balance and form all the time. But even a greater attribute is the fact that she liked people and she loved to communicate. She was a, uh, she was a college class student. You know, I was straight through and communications and psychology and and she was able to use her background in psychology to a great deal, uh, because she loved, uh, the people and enjoyed any level of a student. And if we in ski school had a problem with the student, with another instructor, she was the go to instructor to handle any problem that came up with the staff. Um, but anyway, yeah, magazine turned out great.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:00:27| I want to also let her listeners know again, if you're at the top of Hidden Peak in the tram, there's a wonderful blue bench that the Friends of Snowbird and the Lodge at Snowbird has put together in a memorial to her. It was a wonderful stop on our adventure today. Uh, we're going to close it out with our Fresh Tracks section. I have just a few short, simple questions for you here today. And you know, one. And I know you could go a lot of directions with this, but who's an interesting person that you've taught to ski that's really stuck with you? I know you have to dig back and there's probably hundreds of them, but is there anyone that comes to mind that was really fascinating for you? Or famous.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:01:10| Oh, who wrote the book? There's no such thing as a free lunch. Uh, do you remember his name?

 

Tom Kelly: |01:01:21| The William Buckley.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:01:23| Well, Buckley was his friend.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:01:28| How about now? I know this isn't the answer to that question, but how about Lowell Thomas? We talked about him. Well, Lowell.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:01:33| Thomas, we ski, ice skate more with Buckley than Lowell did. You and Buckley had a. A like powder. He liked, uh, Little Cottonwood Canyon and came off one and his his best friend, they had, uh, you know, times they would get together to discuss. Environment, politics. You know, it was, uh. I've forgotten what they called these. And this guy, he wrote the book No Free Lunch because he was such an excellent. Well, anyway, between the two of them, Buckley was six feet tall, plus six. And this guy was maybe. Five five at the most. It was a real mutt and Jeff and honest to Pete, I had always such a good time with those two guys.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:02:40| It's amazing. Skiing really brings different people together with the commonality of the sport, doesn't it?

 

Junior Bounous: |01:02:47| Uh, it does. Uh, it it is. You can be any type of person in ski. And anyway, that, uh. It. It brings all nationalities of people. Uh, the young and old. And look what happens. You know, we're out there watching two, two, three, four year olds, good skiers, and they're there for life, you know, and then they train their kids, and it's getting more and more, uh, younger kids are learning to ski, so. Well, we were skiing yesterday, and this man comes up and said, I want you to meet my eight year old. We skated the gunsight a couple of days ago and different things like that. And so uh uh uh, anyway, it's a variety.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:03:54| Milton Friedman.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:03:55| Milton Friedman, Friedman.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:03:57| Milton Friedman, there's no such thing as a free.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:04:00| Lunch. That's him.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:04:02| My research team has come through.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:04:04| He was such a well, they were both really present, but a mutt and Jeff. But Milt appreciated every move that we would make on skis. You know, he thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, he's, uh, to get him to ski powder. I talked about the early fat boys, the white ones, and he liked to go on trees, but he didn't have enough control. He didn't mind falling down to stop from hitting a tree. But. But anyway, I put him on Maxine's fat skis and at Alta, and we went tree skiing. Love it. And it's a day I'll remember all my life with Milt and the enjoyment he had. He passed away. Of course. Buckley. I don't know whether he's passed away. I presume he has, but I'm not sure. But anyway, uh, yes, they were a pleasure.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:05:11| Do you have a favorite run at Alta?

 

Junior Bounous: |01:05:15| At Alta?

 

Tom Kelly: |01:05:17| Ad Alta.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:05:18| I have a favorite jump.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:05:20| That's okay. Where is that one?

 

Junior Bounous: |01:05:23| The one I jumped first. That they call it bonus Rock. I have my name on it.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:05:31| How about a favorite run at Snowbird?

 

Junior Bounous: |01:05:33| Uh uh uh um, the run at Snowbird. You know, to give me the most thrill. And the excitement is probably Regulator Johnson because it's a run that you can ski. Fall line, short radius turns or big carving turns. Um, my gut feeling is often I'll go from 30 to 40 miles an hour down in big turns and short turns. My record for short turns on this whole mountain is regulator and down big. Um, big. Emma. Wilbur. I got 600 turns non-stop with a client right behind me.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:06:29| Love it. And then last question for you. And it was a great experience for me to be out on the mountain with you at Snowbird today. You get out a lot. What gives you the greatest joy when you're out on your skis, on the snow?

 

Junior Bounous: |01:06:46| You know, it's amazing. You go up the tram, any chairlift, that takes you semi toward the top or of the view. And as I recall, in my youth, the feeling that I had at that time, to see the view from Snowbird or Alta is the same today. It doesn't matter if I go up and look at the view, you know, of the pipeline has big memories and Mineral Basin and look this way. And I see, Superior the mountain. It is exactly the same way now as it did 90 years ago. Well, not quite 90, but 80, 70 years ago anyway, um, and so it's it's such a pleasure to go into this environment and look at it and feel it, and it never stops. It never stops that feeling.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:08:09| Junior Bounous. You are an inspiration to us. It has been such a joy to have you on The Last Chair podcast, and I can't let you go without having you regale us a little bit with a little ba dump, ba dump, ba dump and give us a little bit of song to lead us out of the podcast.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:08:26| Ba dump entered into my teaching system. Number one is relaxing a student. Number two is rhythm. And, often, if you count one, two, three counter turns, it is almost 100% effective in those two things, rhythm is so important because it comes skiing becomes a movement, not a left turn and a right turn and a left turn independent. But it's linked together in a flow, we'll say. And the rhythm building, is taking the mind off of the student and giving them something to target or think about instead of what they're worrying about. And it's relaxing, as I say, and movement. But ba dump is was more of a joke. However, it worked the same because the cadence of left right, left, right did not work as well as ba dump, ba dump, because they were really mystified by why would you use words like that? And I'd just say rhythm and breathing. You try to count without breathing. You try to ski without holding your breath. And you don't last that long. And so you have to breathe. And even counting one, two, three makes you breathe in and out without thinking about it and relax as ba dump, ba dump.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:10:34| Give us a little more. Give us a little more.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:10:36| But it has a rhythm on how fast you go. Ba dump, ba dump, ba dump, ba is a little more radius in there. Turn slower motion.

 

Tom Kelly: |01:10:49| We'll say I saw it in practice. It works, folks. Junior Bounous! You're a legend. Thank you so much for joining us. You are an inspiration to all of us.

 

Junior Bounous: |01:10:58| Thank you. Tom. Okay.

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