Junior Bounous

When Snowbird opened in 1971, Junior Bounous was named as head of the ski school. It was a natural choice. Bounous was a native Utahn and he had learned to be a ski instructor under Alf Engen at Alta, eventually becoming Alf’s assistant. Bounous would serve as the head of the Snowbird ski school and then Director of Skiing until 2015 when he retired at age 89. He still skis today at age 91 and in fact, was seen skiing some spring crud at Snowbird this past week!

So what is Junior Bounous’ real first name? Bob DiMario was quick with the correct answer. Junior has no real first name! He was born the youngest of six children in a farm family in Provo, Utah. They were too busy to come up with a first name when he was born so the birth certificate simply said “Boy Bounous.” Being the youngest in the family, he quickly picked up the unofficial name “Junior” and it stuck.

Bob DiMario also shared a Junior story. The late Stu Campbell credited Junior with teaching Stu to ski powder. Junior told Stu “point them straight down the hill until you reach terminal velocity and then start to turn!”

I also heard from Lyndall Heyer who used to race with Junior’s son Steve. Steve is the Executive Director of the Snowbird Ski Education Foundation which coordinates the Snowbird racing program.

One final thing regarding Junior Bounous. He and Jim McConkey were the first to ski Snowbird’s Pipeline. Pipeline is a hike-to, “no fall”, extreme shot that is on Snowbird’s trail map. It’s only open a few days in a season. Back in 2005 when he was almost 80, Junior skied the Pipeline!

This wraps up another RetroSki season. Thanks to all who read and support the column! So see you next ski season!

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Trivia 2017 Week 20

Junior BounousJunior Bounous was inducted into the United States Ski Hall of Fame in 1996. What is his real first name?

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Sugar Slalom

Sugar on SnowAccording to Charlie Lord, the first Sugar Slalom was held on April 30, 1939. It had been a good season and the general feeling was that there should be a special event to mark the season’s end. If it was going to be a race, then somehow it had to be different than the other races held during the season. The Sugar Slalom was born!

The race would be held on the Nose Dive and the Stowe-Mansfield Association (early version of the Stowe Area Association) would provide the sugar-on-snow. Since this was before the single chair, everything for the race would have to be hauled up the Nose Dive including the sap and sugaring-off pan.

The race was a big success and drew nearly 100 entrants.

So who came up with the Sugar Slalom name? Charlie Lord wrote that it was Roland Palmedo.

Mike Leach historian for the Mount Mansfield Ski Club took time out from his Sugar Slalom duties this year to identify Roland Palmedo.

Roland PalmedoI’ve written about Roland Palmedo before, but let’s just review a partial list of Palmedo’s contributions to Stowe, the state of Vermont, and skiing.

Palmedo founded the Amateur Ski Club of New York and came to Stowe in 1932 to check out the skiing potential of the area. This would begin a relationship with Stowe that would culminate in his building the original single chair on Mansfield.

Palmedo’s concern for skiing safety helped start the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol and also the National Ski Patrol. In fact, Palmedo was awarded National Appointment #2 in recognition of his influence on starting the National Ski Patrol system.

For the 1934-35 season, Palmedo was instrumental in seeing that the United States fielded both a men’s and women’s ski team to compete on the international circuit.

Palmedo published three books on skiing. His 1937 “The International Sport of Skiing” helped inform the American public about a sport that had primarily been European. Later in the 1950s his English translation of “The New Official Austrian Ski System” helped bring American ski schools up to date on the wedeln.

And of course, Palmedo would build Mad River Glen when Stowe became too glitzy for his tastes. Mad River Glen remains a tribute to Palmedo’s vision of skiing. It wasn’t supposed to be easy and comfy, there should be some effort involved.

The Sugar Slalom is one of many traditions that take us back to the early days of skiing here in Stowe. It should also be a reminder of the contributions of Roland Palmedo.

I know that the current embodiment of the Sugar Slalom is much more “fan-friendly”, but I do miss it being on the Nose Dive. There was something about how difficult it was just to watch the race or get to the sugar-on-snow that made it seem “old school.” And there were many years where I didn’t get any sugar-on-snow before the kids finished it all!

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Trivia 2017 Week 19

This weekend will be the Sugar Slalom, Stowe’s annual end-of the-season race. Who gets the credit for naming it the “Sugar Slalom?”

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Knee-High Ski Boots

Can a ski boot with a novel new design influence other ski boot manufacturers even if that novel boot never made it to market?

Based on the story of the Kastinger Porsche, apparently the answer is “yes!”

Daniel Post was a mechanical engineer and a skier. In the late 1960s while he was teaching at RPI in Troy, New York, he’d take his entire family skiing at Jiminy Peak. All of the Post kids became accomplished skiers. In fact his twin daughters, Ellen and Marion, will be inducted into the United States Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame this Saturday right here in Stowe!

In those late 1960s, plastic boots were taking over the market. But Daniel Post still wasn’t that happy with his ski boots, particularly the beating his shins took from the stiffer plastic boots. Being a mechanical engineer he believed extending the front of the boot higher could provide better leverage and spread the pressure over a greater area. He experimented with his own boots by extending a cuff almost up to the knee. Post was very pleased with the results on his skiing.

Post patented his idea for a “lever-type ski boot” in 1973 and started marketing the idea to ski boot companies. Lange took a one year option on the patent, but never came up with a viable design. Daniel Post further refined his idea and this time drew the interest of Herman Kastinger, head of Kastinger ski boots.

Kastinger Porsche Ski BootKastinger enlisted Ferry Porsche’s design group to design the boot. Yes, that’s the same Porsche as the car! They came up with a rear entry boot that had a separate cuff which wrapped around the calf. Forward flex was controlled by a hydraulic cylinder – that’s what you get when you let a car company design a ski boot!

Dolomite Secret WeaponFinancial problems at Kastinger slowed the production of the Kastinger Porsche ski boots. During that time several competing boot companies started developing their own “knee-high” boots. The build-up for the 1980-81 ski season saw four entries in the “knee-high” category: the Kastinger Porsche, the Nordica Polaris, the Tecnica Squadra, and the Dolomite Secret Weapon. The Nordica, Tecnica, and Dolomite were really just traditional front buckling boots with an extended high cuff. The ski magazines hyped the new boot designs and even Sports Illustrated featured an article on Daniel Post and the knee-high boot revolution he inspired.

The only problem was the Kastinger Porsche never made it to the ski shops! The Kastinger financial problems were too large, the factory closed, and the Porsches never shipped.

Nordica PolarisThe Dolomites and Nordicas sold very well that season and inspired other brands to produce models with higher cuffs in 1981 and 1982.

So the Kastinger Porsche boot based on Daniel Post’s concept inspired a trend toward knee-high ski boots in the early 1980s. No one had the correct answer to last week’s trivia question. It was kind of an unfair question since the Kastinger Porsche never made it onto the slopes, but I know there are many RetroSkiers who remember the knee-high boots that resulted from the Porsche’s design.

The knee-high trend was short-lived. They disappeared by the 1983-84 season although all ski boots incorporated a higher profile than they had previously. There were still skiers including Daniel Post who swore by the comfort and control offered by the knee-highs.

So why did ski boot manufacturers abandon knee-highs? There are a lot of theories. One contributing factor definitely was that in 1980, the same year the knee-highs were introduced, Salomon introduced the rear entry SX90. Its popularity meant that other boot makers would have to consider rear entry models. Both the knee-highs and the rear entry boots targeted the same market – skiers who put a priority on comfort. Rear entry or knee-highs never caught on with racers or would-be racers. So rear entry boots won that battle.

As we know, rear entry boots eventually lost the war to more conventional front entry boots, but there is still an army of rear entry boot fans out there who won’t give up the fight! Since writing my column on rear entry boots back in December 2015, I have received more comments on that article than any other I have written. For example, on March 18th I received a comment from William who has been skiing for 54 years, the last 25 on a pair of used Salomon rear entrys. He says:

“This past year the rear plastic sole on my boot disintegrated. Rather than replace with new boots, to my wife’s horror, I made a new sole out of Maple in my wood shop. Works great. Making one for the other side now!”

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Trivia 2017 Week 18

What was unique about the Kastinger Porsche ski boot?

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Snowsports History Week in Stowe

Snowsports History Week comes to Stowe next week with events starting Wednesday, April 5th! So what is Snowsports History Week? I heard you ask.

ISHA LogoMason Beekley founded the International Skiing History Association (ISHA) in 1991 with a goal of furthering research into the history of skiing. He and Doug Pfeiffer organized the first “ISHA Gathering” in April 1992. Attendees included Andrea Mead Lawrence and Penny Pitou.

US Ski and Snowboard Hall of FameThe Gatherings became an annual affair and were held at different ski resorts each year including Stowe. Attendance at the Gatherings grew to about 100 people. Eventually the name became Skiing Heritage Week and then Skiing History Week. In 2010-11, ISHA joined forces with the United States Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame to include the Hall of Fame induction as part of Skiing History Week. Since then attendance has increased significantly reaching over 500 attendees.

This year marks the 26th annual gathering and the first with a new name, Snowsports History Week! “The goal of Snowsport History Week is to be an organized gathering of industry supporters to celebrate the historic work and accomplishments of athletes, authors, coaches, filmmakers, historians, resort leaders, equipment and technique innovators, and other pioneers who have made our sports what they are today.”

The week is a series of events, some free and open to the public and others ticketed or by invitation only. This year you can ski Stowe with Billy Kidd. That’s right Billy Kidd will be here along with several other skiing legends to welcome the new Hall of Fame inductees. For a complete schedule of events visit https://snowsporthistory.com/event/schedule/.

On the opening day Wednesday April 5th, the “Jerry” awards will be presented. The Jerry awards go to ski films that have stood the test of time and become part of the “Snow 100”, the top 100 ski films of all time. The name “Jerry” is in honor of the late Jerry Simon who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Simon founded the International Ski Film Festival in the early 1970s.

Vic CotyThis year’s Jerry award winners include the 1978 “Ski Stars” movie by Stowe’s own ski filmmaker! That would be Victor Coty! Susan Miller correctly answered last week’s trivia question identifying Vic Coty. Charlie Lusk also had the correct answer, sort of. He originally said Lew Coty, Victor’s son, but Charley says he must have had a senior moment since he knew it was Victor.

Allan SeymourThere’s another film with Stowe connections receiving a Jerry. The 1977 film “Color It White and Call It Stowe” by Allan Seymour was the brain child of Stowe marketing director Bill Riley. It was distributed to hundreds of theaters from coast to coast.

These movies and the other award winners will be shown during the week. The award presentations will be made Wednesday night at the Trapp Family Lodge and the event is free and open to the public.

Of course the premier event is the induction ceremony for the 2016 class in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Several of the inductees have local ties. There are the Egan Brothers, Dan and John, who were extreme skiing pioneers and featured in many ski films. Gretchen Besser is also being inducted. In addition to being a member of the “Dawn Patrol”, Gretchen was the National Ski Patrol historian and authored “Samaritans of the Snow”, the definitive history of the National Ski Patrol.

Other inductees include Michael Berry who was head of the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) which guarantees there will be a lot of ski resort executives in attendance. Who knows, maybe Vail CEO Robert Katz will want to check out his newest acquisition.

Then there are the Post sisters, Ellen and Marion. They are actually twins and both made their mark in freestyle skiing. It was interesting to me that in the induction bios they are listed separately under their married names, Ellen Post Foster and Marion Post Caldwell, while the Egan brothers are listed together.

Ski jumper Jeff Hastings, ski area entrepreneur Chuck Lewis, and SKIUSA promoter Bernie Weichsel round out the class of 2016.

Stowe has played a significant role in the history of skiing in the United States so it’s very appropriate that Snowsports History Week is coming to Stowe. Keep your eyes open on the slopes during the week, you just might see some legendary skiers.

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Trivia 2017 Week 17

Who is known as “Stowe’s own ski filmmaker”?

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Tamara McKinney

Tamara McKinney and Mikaela ShiffrinThis past weekend Mikaela Shiffrin became the third American woman to win the overall FIS World Cup. Much has been made of Mikaela’s youth since she just turned 22 last week. However the first American woman to win the overall was even younger! Tamara McKinney was 20 years old in 1983 when she won the overall World Cup.

Tom Hubbs was the first to identify Tamara McKinney as the first American woman World Cup winner. Well, actually Tom says the real credit should go to his friend Scott Cragle who had recently sent Tom an article from Powder magazine on Tamara!

Lyndall Heyer also identified Tamara and pointed out that Tamara’s 20-year-old daughter, Francesca English, is now an aspiring ski racer.

Tamara McKinney was born in Lexington, Kentucky – not too many world-class alpine skiers come out of Kentucky! Her father owned and operated a horse farm there and was one of the best steeplechase jockeys in the United States. Her mother was an accomplished horse-woman, however she was also a ski instructor!

Tamara was the youngest of eight siblings, most of whom were accomplished skiers. By the time Tamara came along her mother was spending winters instructing at Squaw Valley. Tamara says she was almost on skis before she could walk. She would learn to ski at a young age primarily by following her older brothers and sisters around Squaw.

Before Tamara made her mark in alpine ski racing, her older siblings seemed destined for skiing fame. Steve McKinney made the U.S. Ski Team as a downhill racer before becoming better known as a speed skier. Steve would set seven world speed records and in 1978 was the first speed skier to break the 200km per hour barrier!

Tamara’s older sister Sheila also made the U.S. Ski Team, but suffered a career-ending injury in a World Cup downhill – a downhill that Tamara had forerun!

Tamara was nine years old when she watched Barbara Ann Cochran win the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics. Since Barbara Ann was relatively small for a ski racer, Tamara really identified with her and it inspired her to become an alpine ski racer.

Tamara McKinney RacingTamara would make the U.S. Ski Team at the age of 15 and earn her first World Cup podium in Italy at 16. She competed in all events although her strengths were in slalom and giant slalom. In 1981 at the age of 18 she won the World Cup in the GS discipline and finished 6th in the overall. Then in 1983 she would score a trifecta winning the overall World Cup, the slalom World Cup, and the GS World Cup! 1983 was a good year for the United States since Phil Mahre won the overall World cup for the men.

Tamara was a three time Olympian, but did not win any medals. She had better luck at World Championships winning several medals. In the final season of her racing career she would win a gold in the combined event at the 1989 World Championships in Vail.

During Tamara’s racing career, she suffered some losses that had little to do with skiing. Her father died in 1985 and her mother passed away in 1988. In 1990 right after Tamara had announced she was retiring from ski racing, her brother Steve was killed in an automobile accident.

Tamara McKinney in 2012Tamara was a multi-talented athlete. She followed in her father and mother’s footsteps to be an accomplished horse-woman. Somewhere along the way she became a pretty good figure skater as well. Today Tamara McKinney is a realtor in Squaw Valley. She still skis and does some coaching. And as pointed out earlier, she now roots for her daughter, Francesca, who is an aspiring ski racer.

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Trivia 2017 Week 16

Mikaela Shiffrin has an excellent chance to become the third American woman to win the overall World Cup. Of course Lindsey Vonn is one of the other two. What other American woman won the overall World Cup?

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