Skiing the 'Bird:  An Ageless Passion

 Margaret Anderson Wirth pauses at the top of Regulator, one of Snowbird’s expert only ski runs, to capture the view one more time.  Below her awaits an open bowl, laden with eight feet of Utah’s legendary powder snow.
The pitch of the slope is so steep that to look down requires putting chin to chest. But she’s thinking less of the view, and more of the expectant, watchful eye of her instructor hundreds of feet below.  Class is in session and its Margaret’s turn to demonstrate how much she has learned.  One deep breath and the 68 year-old Snowbird regular drops ten feet vertically in just her first turn.
This is not just any classroom, and it’s not just any instructor.  It’s the once-a-week gathering of the 55-and-older women's-only class hosted by 82 year-old powder guru and Snowbird Director of Skiing Junior Bounous, who still glides down near vertical descents like a drop of water running down a pane of glass.  It’s a close-knit group Margaret has been part of for five years.  Just being here is a badge of accomplishment.
About a dozen turns and several hundred feet below, Margaret reminds everyone that she does indeed belong here. She’s a strong, confident skier.

 “Looks like you got your race legs back, Margaret,” says Junior. They are magical words from the master that will resonate forever.

To fully appreciate Margaret’s accomplishment would require a trip to the top of Snowbird’s 11,000 foot Hidden Peak.  Known worldwide for its deep snow and steep terrain, Snowbird is a challenging mountain and a fitting contemporary to next door neighbor Alta
Margaret is one of the lucky few to call this home.  She lives within 15 miles of Snowbird, and spends upwards of 30 days a year on these slopes.

 The privilege of skiing with Bounous amid such splendor is what drives Margaret to maintain her amazingly fit body, and to battle through several injuries, including a blown knee and ruptured Achilles tendon that kept her off the slopes for several years.

 “To live so close to this amazing natural wonder and not take   
advantage of it would be a horrible shame,” says Margaret.  “Through Junior’s classes, I’ve made some wonderful friends from all over the country, and we’ve stayed together, even off the mountain,” she said.


A retired educator, Margaret embodies the active “senior” we should all emulate.  To be truthful, the word senior is about the last thing that comes to mind when you meet Margaret.  She’s youthful and energetic, with an enthusiastic outlook on life. She exemplifies the warmth that greeted the world at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, an event that Margaret embraced as an on-mountain volunteer.
                                               Margaret has no plans to give up her                                                             passion any time soon.  “I’ll quit going                                                           when my body won’t allow me to get on                                                       the ski bus,” she declared.  With that kind                                                   of determination, don’t hold your breath.

I                                               If you decide to try Snowbird for yourself,                                                   look for a smooth skiing blue-clad                                                                 instructor with a bright yellow helmet.                                                         That’s Junior Bounous, and there’s a good                                                    chance Margaret will be on his tail.