96-Year-Old Junior Bounous

Truly a One of a Kind Kind of Guy!

An epic day…

I got to ski with my good friend, Scott Nyman, who is a world-class skier. Scott and his wife, Becky, have raised four boys, all of whom are world-class skiers as well. Scott’s son, Steven, is currently a member of the U.S. Ski Team. He is a three-time olympian and has three World Cup championships to his name.

As if that wasn’t enough, yesterday Scott and I got to ski with another legend in American skiing.

Meet Junior Bounous

Humble.   Sharp As a Tac.   Delightfully Present.   Good Natured.

Junior Bounous…

…is 96 years old and shows no signs of slowing down….literally.

On Monday, April 5, 2021, at age 95, Junior skied into the Guinness Book of World Records by being the oldest person to helicopter ski. He did it with  Powederbird Helicopter Skiing  at 11,500 feet in the back country of Snowbird, Utah.

A legend in Utah skiing, Junior helped establish Alta Ski Resort. In 1970, Junior was asked to help map out the area for a new ski resort next to Alta. It was to be called Snowbirowbird ski resort  He was responsible for the entire layout of ski runs for Snowbird and directed the cutting crews and bulldozer work. Then, in 1971, Junior became Snowbird’s first ski school director and to this day, it is ranked as one of the top in the nation.

Junior pioneered the art of powder skiing, but his wife of 67 years (nicknamed “Fast Max” because she skied with elegance and speed) was right there with him. In 1996, Junior was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, and the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in 2002. He has been featured in numerous Warren Miller films and has ski runs named after him at Sundance, Alta and Snowbird.

Junior’s world record-setting flight is reminiscent of 1961 when he and Maxine, along with Jim McConkey and Elfriede Shane, skied down the face of 12,000 ft. Mount Timpanogos for a Ski Magazine cover shoot (January 1962 edition). They were shuttled to the summit via helicopter which was a novelty in itself. In 1961, commercial helicopters had barely come into existence. Many believe it was the first heli-skiing flight in history.

It was beyond belief to have a day like this. I stand here and feel so sentimental that it’s almost hard to talk about. It was such a special day that was never anticipated or expected.

Wisdom for a 96-year-old

I asked Junior how long he had been skiing. He asked in return, “On staves or skis?” Junior lived near a canal in the early 1940s and ice skating was the first things he learned in the winter. Then, at the age of 8, he made his own pair of skis out of barrel staves that his dad cut out for him. He hiked up a hill in his backyard. The hill was so small he could only make one turn, a left turn to avoid a manure pile. Junior told us that his left turn, 90 years later, is still his best turn.

Junior and Maxine were married for 65 years and dated two years before that. I said, “Junior, what advice would you give couples who were 10 years into marriage ?” He said, “You have to be up for a lot of give and take and you don’t always have to be right.”

When I told him that even if they were able, many people, by the time they are his age lose interest in skiing. He said, “I love it and I’m still working on getting better.” I was reminded of the Proverb, “Without a vision the people perish.”

All in all, it was an amazing day with an amazing man. I feel honored to have spent a morning with a humble character, an icon really, in a sport I’ve loved all my life.

Junior skis pipeline at 80

Pipeline is a 700-vertical foot couloir that spills down from the Twin Peaks summit  at Snowbird. If you arrive at Snowbird and discover that Pipeline is open, you better have your avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Ski patrol won’t let you through the gate without them.

Junior was the first to ski it in the 1970s and then again, when he was 80.