Junior Bounous was born on August 24, 1925, in Provo, Utah. He was never given an official name—his birth certificate reads “Baby Bounous.” Unofficially, everyone calls him Junior, and there was never a reason to change it. But even though he came into this world without much fanfare, he’s definitely made a name for himself—particularly in the skiing world.
In skiing terms, “first tracks” is when a skier is the first to ski an area of fresh snow before anyone else. Bounous has not only had the opportunity to lay down the first tracks on many different slopes, but he has also carved some of the first tracks for the sport overall.
His love of skiing started at the young age of 7, when his father made him a pair of skis out of barrel staves for him to first learn on. Bounous took to skiing immediately. While all the other kids were sledding on the hills in the neighborhood, he would ski right past them. Then when he turned 10, his mother bought him his first real set of skis.
In his later teens, he helped the ski instructors at BYU. He would ski with the better students and demonstrate different techniques to them. During this time of his life, he met a young woman named Maxine. On their first date, he took her ice skating, and on the second date he took her skiing. They were married for 70 years, until she passed away in 2020 at the age of 94.
“We survived all those years with an extremely enjoyable relationship and with successful careers. She became one of the top women skiers in the country,” says Bounous.
Flying to Floating
In 1948, at the age of 23, Bounous started his professional skiing career. And what a career it has been. He’s blazed trails and skied miles upon miles in the Wasatch Mountains and beyond.
In 1961, Bounous worked with a very popular ski photographer, Fred Lindholm. It was also the year that the first helicopter came to Salt Lake City to be used commercially. Lindholm came up with the idea to use that helicopter to take Bounous, along with other skiers, up the mountain for them to ski down. After receiving financial support for the project from Ski Magazine, then it was all a matter of finding a place that would work for one of the first heli-ski expeditions in the United States.
Bounous was very familiar with Timpanogos and where there was grass, rocks, trees, and open areas that would be great for skiing. So, he and Maxine, along with two other skiers, were all dropped off at the south face of the mountain by helicopter, which is now called the Provo Cirque. It was off to the races from there.
“The helicopter dropped us off and then just left us,” says Bounous. “We worked up there for several hours skiing and hiking in order to get good shots for Lindholm. After we finished, we skied part way down the mountain, but we then had to hike four or five miles in our ski boots to where the car was picking us up.” He chuckles, reminiscing about the struggle.
When he got home that night, Lindholm called Bounous and said that they needed to do it again the next day because he needed to get more photographs.
“I said, ‘Absolutely not!’ I would only do it if the helicopter stayed up there and waited for us to be done and then took us back down. I did not want to hike all those miles in my ski boots again,” says Bounous.
The helicopter was willing to wait around for them to finish, so they did it a second time the next day.
And the skiing firsts kept coming. It was around this time that Bounous was one of the first skiers ever to powder ski. Many of the shots from the first time he went heli-skiing are him in the powder.
Today, powder skiing is very popular as modern skis have made it easier to maneuver in that kind of snow. However, back then, powder skiing was very new with very little technique being taught. Bounous was one of the first ski instructors to teach powder skiing.
“Powder skiing is floating. You’re not airborne, and you’re not on the ground. You are somewhere in between. There are just so few opportunities in life to enjoy and feel that sensation,” he explains.
Still Going Strong
During the middle of the ski season last year, Bounous’s granddaughter, Ayja, saw in the Guinness Book of World Records that they had just recorded the oldest person to heli-ski. She realized that her grandpa was older than the person they recorded, so she asked him if he would want to heli-ski again to beat the record. Thrilled, Bounous agreed. However, because it was already the middle of the season, the helicopter at Snowbird Ski Resort was booked until April.
“We were lucky to get a ride in the helicopter because the season usually ends around the 15th of April,” Bounous says. “But they took us to the top of Twin Peaks, and even though the snow was a little soft being that it was spring conditions, I still took my time skiing so that I could enjoy it.”
The record information was submitted for review earlier in the spring, and recently, Bounous received official certification by Guinness World Records.
Not only was his world record impressive but so was the fact that this was also his 60th day skiing during the season. His family continues to encourage him and hopes that one day he will ski a day for every year of his life during a season.
“They want me to ski 96 days in the season. That’s impossible!” Bounous laughs.
But to Junior Bounous, when it comes to skiing, nothing is impossible.
“The thing about skiing is that there is no age limit and anyone can enjoy it at any ability,” he explains.
When it comes to the sport, there are many challenges—different snow types, weather conditions, hills, and much more. But unlike other sports, skiing is very broad. People who are at different experience levels can enjoy the thrill of playing with gravity and mother nature. Bounous has learned all this throughout his many years of teaching the sport along with being a director of skiing at Snowbird Ski Resort.
“Can you believe that I had so many years in my occupation with so much satisfaction?” he asks.
Bounous worked at Snowbird until he was 89 years old, mainly because his occupation never really seemed like work to him. To this day, he continues to do what he did professionally all those years.
Even with all his success, Bounous remains humble and has become well known as a very compassionate and kind man. His son, Barry Bounous, says that even though at times it was hard to be related to a well-known skier, he is grateful at the end of the day to have a very generous and selfless person as his father. One of the many different life lessons he has learned from him is, “It never costs you anything to be nice. Compassion and a sense of humor will be remembered longer than anything else.”
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