David Jacobs - Sport Builder - 2001
Born October 1, 1933 in Montreal, Canada, David Jacobs began his skiing at age thirteen. His first race was at age eighteen. At twenty-one, he won the Quebec Kandahar, proving that he was on the fast track to becoming a nationally competitive skier. Obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from St. Lawrence University and spending one year studying mechanical engineering at MIT proved only to be distractions from his skiing.In 1957, David captured the title of Canadian Downhill Ski Racing Champion. From 1957 through 1961, David was a member of the Canadian FIS Team. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw before competing in the World Championships at Badgastein, Austria when he fractured his leg during a downhill training run. As the first full-time head coach and program administrator for the Canadian National Ski Team from 1964 to 1966, David continued his contribution to the sport at the national level.From 1966 to 1969, David was President of Lange-Jacobs Inc., the manufacturer of Lange plastic ski boots in Montreal. After that company merged with Lange USA in 1969, he moved to Boulder, sat on the board of directors and was the company’s Vice President from 1969 to 1972. During this time, he designed the first Lange competition ski boot, which became the hallmark of World Cup ski boots. In 1972 David founded The Jacobs Corporation, producing Hot Gear, a line of up-market children’s ski clothing. In 1978 he founded the Spyder brand. It began as a small mail order business from his kitchen and became the multinational ski apparel giant that it is today. The company’s name was coined after one of Jacob’s early creations; navy blue racing pants with yellow foam pads extending from the knee to the hip. “Everyone called them spider pants,” Jacobs recalled. “When I decided to produce my own race clothing I thought of using spider, but why not spell it with a ‘y’ like the Ferrari Spyder? Besides, I hate spiders. The most ominous and frightening thing to me is a black widow spider. So that had to be my logo. I figured if I hated them so much, people would look at the clothing and never forget it. I wanted something powerful and menacing, a lasting image” (Ski Tech, Jan/Feb 1988). For two years, Spyder operated out of David’s kitchen. At the end of two years, sales were in the six figures and Jacobs’ kitchen was too crowded.As the desire for high-end skiwear and high-tech items spread to recreational skiers, Spyder’s sales flourished. Today, only 10% of Spyder’s market is composed of racers and 90% are recreational skiers. Spyder’s Boulder, Colorado headquarters have kept at the forefront of technical apparel markets. In 2001, the brand has six collections of men’s skiwear, five collections of women’s skiwear, four lines of children’s skiwear and Venom, a collection targeted to the freeskiing market. Athlete sponsorship is a cornerstone of Spyder’s commitment to the sport with major support going to the U.S. Alpine Ski Team and Team Venom freeskiers. The company sells products in the United States and Canada to over 550 high-quality specialty retailers. Spyder is sold outside North America into thirty-eight countries through its wholly owned subsidiary in Europe and twenty-two independent distributors.David Jacobs is honored as a 2001 inductee into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. His business acumen has also been recognized, as he was a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2001. He was granted a patent on Speedwyre, a new technology that reduces wind drag on race suits by up to 20%. It was used by the U.S. Ski Team when two World Downhill Championships were won by Hilary Lindh and Picabo Street. Speedwyre was eventually banned by the FIS for giving unfair advantage.David Jacob’s contribution to the sport of skiing and the ski industry continues to be the focus of his life. A true competitor, he achieves excellence on the ski run and in the business world. As a top athlete, he has been ranked among the world’s best skiers. As President and founder of Spyder Active Sports, David has spent the past twenty-three years designing and testing high-performance skiwear. David’s dedication to his craft has earned Spyder the indisputable reputation as a leader in the world of high tech skiwear and racewear design. His dedication to skiing is truly an inspiration.“This is not just a job for me, Spyder is an extension of my personality” (Boulder County Business Report, Feb. 1988).