Fresh Powder visited the men behind Snowcountry.eu. The freeride skier and snowboard webshop that you can find "here" on the Internet. Snowcountry.eu offers access to all the cool backcountry clothing, ski’s, boards and safety equipment you normally only found in the ski resorts in the Alps or in the US. And you can find this equipment at Snowcountry.eu for the best price as well.
The site has been updated and for Fresh Powder that was a good reason to talk to one of these men that started this great webshop. Fresh Powder therefore spoke with Thijs (29), who together with Dennis (33) is one of the founding fathers behind Snowcountry.eu to ask him about why they renewed the shop and also about their passion for freeriding. FP: How did you become so passionate about wintersports and freeriding?
Thijs: That really started when I went on holiday with my parents when I was about 14 years old. We went to the village of Morgins in the Portes du Soleil ski resort in the French Alps. I was directly stoked on skiing. After the holiday with my parents, I started to join friends who went to the Alps with their parents. Very quickly I found out I was bit more fanatical then most of my friends... I was more interested in sidecountry skiing and wanted to experience more... FP: How did you deal with that, that you were keeping your friends behind in your enthusiasm?
Thijs: I wanted to ski as much a possible. Therefore, when I was 17 years old, I found Skizone, the predecessor of Wepowder. And through Skizone I got the opportunity to join a freeride camp. The first day of that camp we went out into the backcountry and I injured my knee. But despite that, I really liked the vibe and because of that I became totally stoked. At this camp I also met Dennis, who started Snowcountry with me. Who had the same passion for riding in the backcountry as I had. FP: How did you experience this period?
Thijs: It was very cool. I got to know many people who could ski much better than I could. I was like a big sponge sucking all information about skiing in. Motivated to become a better skier. Also I was pretty much 24/7 on Ski zone and Teton Gravity Research Forum to learn more about the best gear out there. I’d do everything if it would just keep me busy with something related to skiing. FP: Was freeriding the only thing on your mind back then?
Thijs: No, I also studied. But when I had my degree I decided to head to the snow. I knew Sander Kan, a Dutch ski guide who lived and still lives and works as a ski guide in Switserland in Haute Nendaz, and joined him for two seasons. Sander is a mountain guide and a great skier. So in this season I learned so much and even became more stoked than I already was.
FP: What did you do in Haute Nendaz?
Thijs: I was a skibum. I had saved some money, so I could fully focus on freeriding when I arrived in Switserland. I could enjoy skiing in the backcountry full time. Every day.
If there was no powder I would make a tour. There was always someone available to go skiing with. The seasons were fun and informative with so many great experiences. I joined in on ski equipment tess and met really good skiers. I did that for two whole seasons. After the second season I returned to the Netherlands. Where I am originally from. And decided to find an IT job, because that was what I had studied for. FP: There are no mountains in the Netherlands. Probably one of the flattest countries in Europe. How was that like?
Thijs: Freeriding was still on my mind 24/7. So of course I was still looking for new gear. One thing I noticed was that in the Netherlands a lot of the really cool gear you can find in the Alps wasn’t available there. Like the fat freeride ski’s or proper avalange safety equipment. And if you could find it, it was usually a few hours away by car. Then Dennis and I came up with the idea to start Snowcountry.nl and Snowcountry.eu. We could both channel our passion into this the webshop and also give people a place where they could order all the cool stuff for their snowboarding or skiing freeride adventures for the best price possible. FP: How was the experience of opening the site in 2008?
Really nice. We started out with the equipment and brands that we liked and would trust ourselvers in a backcountry situation. Brands such as Amada, Salomon and Kask. We also visited the trade fairs and met the people behind the brands. That also gave us more understanding about materials and the technical aspects of the equipment that we were selling. So it was a very interesting period. FP: There are a lot of brands out there. How do you decide to add a brand to your portfolio?
Thijs: It is important for us that a brand or product we sell is good stuff. That it adds something. We do not just sell something because it looks good. For us, therefore, the background of a brand is very important: is it run by people with a passion for backcountry skiing or boarding as well? Or are they just selling a 'product'. The DNA of a brand is important to us. A good example is the brand Sweet, that has an Norwegian owner who is passionate about his products and with a keen eye for detail. Which for us was an important reason why we wanted to sell this brand. Because this adds someting for our customers in terms of quality. FP: How would you describe the visitors of Snowcountry.eu?
Thijs: All people who are really in to wintersports. People who travel up to the mountains more then 2 weeks a year and need reliable and durable equipment. But also the hardcore freeriders who never miss the opportunity to ski or board on a fresh powder day. No matter where people are from. We have customers from the Netherlands, Norway, the UK but even as far as Australia. FP: Do you also get a lot of feedback of your customers about the products they’ve purchased?
Thijs: Yes. All visitors have the opportunity to review a product they’ve bought with us on the site. And when someone purchases equipment on a more regular basis, we usually call to ask if the equipment meets expectations. We think this is very important. We are always looking for ways to improve the site and our service. So receiving and asking for feedback is very important to us.FP: The site is online since 2008 and has been receiving more visitors ever since. So things were going great for you guys. Why did you still decide to renew the site?
Thijs: A significant improvement we have made is that we can give more information to our visitors about the products they can purchase. We want to develop a Snowcountry 'Snowhow'. This is a part of Snowcountry on which we would like to share our knowledge about freeriding and equipment with our visitors. From snowboards and ski’s to clothing and to snow safety items. We really want to be more than just a catalog of products. And we believe that is also something our customers expect from us. FP: How do you see boarding and skiing developing in the next couple of years?
Thijs: Traditionally recreational skiing is influenced a lot by slalom and gs racing. So a lot of people are traditionally renting or buying race influenced ski’s. But we do so more of an interest in all mounting skiing and because of that more demand for fatter ski’s which are more flexible and incorporate technologies like rocker. And I think this is a good devellopment. Going out in the mountains doesn’t mean you will only come across perfectly maintained groomers. Sometimes you will come across sludge, tracked snow or deeper snow on powder days. Those are situations where an all mountain ski will make skiing more accessible.
Of course the snowboarding world is less conservative. But also in Snowboarding we see an increased interest in backcountry boarding.
Fortunately, next to an interest in freeriding and freeride equipment, we also see that people are also more aware about safety and safety knowledge. And that is also a good thing!
Are you interested in freeriding or looking for the equipment you can’t buy with your local skishop on the corner of the street. Or do you need some advice on what equipment to bring on your first backcountry adventure? Check snowcountry.eu.