John grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and, when 10 years old, he saw some skiers on the local sledding hill, and he thought he’d like to try that. Funded by snow shoveling, John bought his first pair of skis and poles for $3, “on sale." As he was growing fast, he got 7-foot-long skis “to grow into.” The binding was a leather strap through a slot in the skis, and the strap was passed over his four buckle rubber overshoes. He tried to get bear trap bindings, but was told that they were “only for experts,” and his mom knew he was no expert.

In 1939, John moved with his parents to Seattle. He saw more skiers, bought Otto Lang’s “Downhill Skiing” and became a member of Sahalie Ski Club that had rope tows at Snoqualmie Pass. By 1945, he had improved enough to begin teaching skiing at the University of Washington’s Husky Winter Sports ski lodge at Stampede Pass.

In 1946, he shifted to Stevens Pass to work on the rope tows there. Meeting the requirements of the Pacific Northwest Ski Instructors Association, John passed the Associated Certified (Level 2) exam in December 1953, and the Certified exam (now Level III) in spring of 1954.

He joined with Jim Whittaker in 1955 to develop a ski school for the Lynwood Junior High School in the Seattle area (later becoming the Edmonds/District 15 Ski School). After two years, he left and formed the Ski Laufer Ski School, based at Stevens Pass Ski Area in Washington. He operated it for 29 years.

John retired as a professional civil construction engineer in 1986, so he and his wife, Helen, decided to spend that first winter at Sun Valley. When they arrived in fall, he bumped into his college friend, Jeanette Burr Johnson. She coaxed him into signing up for the ski school hiring clinic in December, telling him “he couldn’t have fun skiing every day,” and he had to join the Sun Valley Ski School as an instructor. He was hired at age 60 for the 1986-1987 season.

John loved teaching kids on Dollar, teenagers on Baldy, or adults on either mountain. One of his guests was Eugene Cernan, the astronaut, who exclaimed after skiing behind John on a nonstop run down Mid River Run, “Following Hansen is like flying a F-16 jet on after-burners!” He had a great time teaching for 17 years before retiring to ski with his grandkids. He often reached 100 days of skiing per year, and, as an engineer, tracked approximately 1.5 million vertical feet skied each season.

He was involved with The Ancient Skiers, an organization of Pacific Northwest skiers 55 and older and served as the President of the Board for 10 years and as a board member for 14 years. He spent many years organizing their annual Sun Valley reunions.

He continued skiing until age 91 in 2017, and after that, loved lodge skiing, swapping stories with old friends.

He was fortunate to marry Helen Thomas in 1948. She learned to ski, camp and backpack with John. They made tracks together until Helen died in 2000. After John reached 80, he loved to say “that he wasn’t skiing bumps because he was saving his knees for his old age!”

A celebration of life service is scheduled for April 9 in Seattle. Donations may be made to the Ketchum Historical Museum.