Words: Cem Tanyeri
Art Direction: Stefan Kuil
Openingsphoto by Paul de Groot
Every once in a while, we all bump into a special person. Someone that’s inspiring and has a great story to tell. Young, energetic and armed with a care-free, ‘no guts no glory’ approach to life.
Tijn Vuijk, for us, ticks all the required boxes to star in UpprValley’s very first personal interview.
In Part 1 she will takes us behind the screens of the life of a professional Freeride Skier and in Part 2 we will venture down a more spiritual slope.
We hope you will enjoy her story and let us know how you feel about it.
Sport: Freeride skiing
Daily Occupation: Running my own catering business “Catering Het Kookstel”
Current ranking at the freeride world qualifier: freerideworldqualifier.com/rankings
As if you are not busy enough, you also run a successful catering gig called ‘Het Kookstel’, Tell us more!?
Yes, besides skiing I run my own catering business. Is started this business 2 years ago while I was studying. I do all kinds of catering work but mainly weddings. Weddings are mostly in summer so that goes well with my skiing. Big family style dinners are my specialty. I love to see people sharing food. I think presentation is my biggest strength.
How do you combine these two different worlds?
It’s pretty easy to combine as I can manage my own schedule. During the summer I am really busy with catering and have enough work for two people. On the other hand in winter I FREEride. If I have any big events I come back to Amsterdam to cater but otherwise I prefer to stay in the mountains and train.
During my studies I also chose subjects that did not obligate me to be stuck at University so I could ski all winter and just come back in time for exams. I am really grateful that the Dutch government and my father were willing to help me with my studies.
How and when did you start skiing?
My parents really spoiled me, I was able to ski 4 weeks a year in Verbier. They provided me with everything to become a good skier, equipment, lessons etc. I’m really blessed that I grew up having these possibilities. I started skiing around the same time I was able to walk.
It seems that once you’ve decided you want to reach a goal, you just go for it, isn’t there anything that scares you or slows you down?
Not really… I just go for it! If I break a leg it happens for a reason and therefore I can explore many other things in life and develop other parts of myself.
What’s your favourite food?
Breakfast is my favourite… Just yogurt with fruit, oatmeal with almond milk or an avocado-spinach-date-banana-shake.Do you have a recipe you want to share?
Of course! My own version of ‘melanzane alla parmigiana’. Its a lasagne without gluten and meat. You can transport the ingredients quite easily if you have a long trip as the ingredients are not too perishable. I always bring it with me if we drive to the Alps as we don’t want to spend too much money and time at the local supermarket.
3 eggplants thinly sliced
250 gr of mozzarella really thinly sliced.
700 ml of your favourite tomato sauce. If you are in a hurry buy one a good quality one from the supermarket. (Grand’Italia sugocasa herbe for example)
One big hand of basil leaves
200 gr of grated parmesan cheese
Variation: add some fried spinach to the layers.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Take a baking tray and start making layers. Start with some tomato sauce, put a layer of eggplant slices, a layer of tomato sauce (use just a little tomato sauce, just cover the eggplant layers slightly), layer of mozzarella (just a little, not fully covered), some basil leaves. Start again with eggplant, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese or mozzarella, basil and so on. End with eggplant, tomato sauce and top with parmesan cheese.
Put in the oven for 35 minutes or until the eggplant is soft)
Serve with a rocket salad with balsamic cream!
You really live your life to the fullest, what is your driving force?
“If you think, think big” is one of my mottos.
I want to make people more conscious about what they are doing and why are they doing it. Do they work for a corporation because it’s what their environment expect from them? Or is it what they really want and what makes them really happy. I hope I inspire people. I want to show that it is also possible to ski 6 months or even the whole year if you really want to.
My goal is to become a “free” person. Somebody who can live without being judgemental, afraid and opinionated about other people’s beliefs. A good example is overcoming fear. Fear is something that makes me imprisoned.
Which means that I need to overcome fear so I can live more freely. I believe in faith and I think that everything happens for a reason. This way of thinking helps me a lot. I often ask myself why certain things cross my path and what I can from those things. This way you can grow from every situation. Growth is very important for me, it never gets boring.
This has turned into a deep and profound interview, do you have a tip on how to start chasing your dreams?
I suggest starting a dream book. Every New Year’s evening, write down what your dreams are for the coming year and where you want to be in five years. What do you want to do in life? If you write it down it becomes a commitment, it will be stored in your consciousness and it will happen for sure!
Ultimately, being happy is your own decision.
However, a friend of mine sent the following to me a couple of weeks ago.
“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
You playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson
Who would you consider to be your role model and why?
Many people in life inspire me, they are not always well known individuals but also people I have met once for example. I can look at people and learn something from them. The way they think or behave gives me food for thought. For example, I see people who have a lot of humour, are careful, that dare a lot or inspire others. People who carry a lot of love, are balanced and super dedicated. I can look at them and integrate a little part of them into myself.
If we were to interview you in 5 years from now, where would that be? What would your life look like?
I hope I got the most out of competitions and I am ready to do more filming, expedition and ski mountaineering. Catering is hopefully done by my employees. Let’s see what life brings.
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
These question really made me think about my life again. I discussed some of these questions with my boyfriend while driving through the mountains and had really good conversations about life for which I thank you!