By John Fry
In 1987, the New York Times Co.’s Golf Digest magazine publishing division decided to start a new magazine aimed at skiers, Snow Country.
The premiere issue was published in March 1988.
Shortly after being retained as the magazine’s founding editor, I took a trip in the summer of 1988 to Colorado, where I was astounded by the amount of building in ski towns. Construction derricks were everywhere. New hotels, condominiums and second homes filled valleys. Even if the sport of skiing wasn’t growing, the place sure as hell was. “Why not make Snow Country a magazine about a place?” I asked. The magazine could be edited, not so much as a special interest magazine about a sport that wasn’t growing, but about a place that was. It would be about the mountainous region where people ski, take vacations and, increasingly, come to live. Moreover it would serve the publisher’s decision to publish not only in winter, but also in summer when people don’t ski. A magazine oriented to a place would be relevant in July in a way that a magazine strictly about skiing could not.
The contents page of Snow Country’s premiere issue listed articles about Lifestyle, Property, Travel, Buying and Instruction. The magazine photographed fashions suitable for wearing in the place, snow country. Readers were introduced to unusual products made and sold by crafts people living in Snow Country.
There was a chart of recent selling and asking prices for second homes and condos. Skiing was beginning to morph into one of several “lifestyle” amenities offered to guests at four-season mountain resorts, causing editors and publishers to re-think what a ski magazine should be.
In October 1992 Snow Country received an Acres of Diamonds Award as one of 13 best of 937 new American magazines in the previous five years. In 1994, Ad Week Magazine named it one of America’s hottest new magazines.
Circulation reached more than 400,000 at one point. But while general advertisers were attracted to the lifestyle content, Snow Country failed to turn a profit. The New York Times Co. sold it in 1998. The new publisher, Miller, changed its name to Mountain Living, then shut it down in the summer of 1999.
Among the most powerful research tools is the ability to view actual pages of all of the back issues of the award-winning Snow Country (published 1988-99), containing thousands of names, places and events in the history of skiing and snowboarding.
To search back issues, first go to Search the Snow Country Index. Use the search box there to find the name or place you're looking for. Note the year and issue for each article you want to read. Then go to Google Books Back Issues and scroll through the covers to find the issue you need.