Born October 1, 1933 in Montreal, Canada, David began skiing at age 13.
During his school days, he also played ice hockey, but hung up his skates at age 16 to devote his time to skiing. His first race was at age 18, and at 21, he won the prestigious Quebec Kandahar, Canada's ski equivalent to the Superbowl. In 1957 he captured the title of Canadian Downhill Ski Champion. From 1957 through 1961, David was a member of the Canadian National Ski Team, and during the 1958 season, he was the top-ranked member of the Canadian FIS Team. Tragically, he fractured his leg during a downhill training run and was forced to withdraw from competing in the World Championships at Badgastein, Austria.
David Jacobs, a legend of his time
David was friends with members of the French National team and joined them for skiing in France during the spring of '64. Here he absorbed the systems that an organized, politically-backed national team operated under, recognizing the power and depth that a well-supported team could have. He suggested a similar program to the Canadian Amateur Ski Association, who, coincidentally, was searching for a way to combine education with athletics. David's experience made him the ideal candidate to launch such a program, and he was named the first full-time head coach and program administrator for the Canadian National Ski Team from 1964 through 1966. Although the job didn't pay well, he subsidized his income by putting his math degree to work, teaching part-time at the local university in Nelson, BC.
David parlayed his love for sports into numerous successful business ventures. From 1966 to 1969, he was President of Lange-Jacobs, Inc., the manufacturer of Lange plastic ski boots in Montreal. After that company merged with Lange USA in 1969, David moved to Boulder, Colorado, sat on the board of directors, and was vice president until 1972. During this time, he designed the first Lange competition ski boot, which became the hallmark of World Cup ski boots and predecessor to the Lange race boots used today.
David is second from right
In 1972 he founded The Jacobs Corporation, producing Hot Gear, a line of up-market children's ski clothing, and Cool Gear, a collection of adult bicycle clothing and accessories. During this time he was granted a patent for his design of a new bicycle saddle that revolutionized the nature of bicycle saddle construction. After the sale of The Jacobs Corporation, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to found the Spyder brand in 1978. It began as a small mail order business in his kitchen, race sweaters being the only offering. In 1981 he also introduced the Pearl Izumi technical cycling apparel brand to the U.S. market, designing both the ski and cycling collections. David sold Pearl Izumi in 1989 to focus his efforts on the Spyder brand.
After the successful introduction of race sweaters, David added ski pants to the catalog offering. One of his early creations was a navy blue racing pant with yellow striped pads extending from the knee to the hip. His son Billy mentioned that skiers were calling them "spider" pants, due to their spider leg-like appearance. David recognized this as an opportunity to have a powerful, lasting name and logo associated with his products, and renamed the company. A passionate sports car fan, he borrowed the spelling with a "y" from the Ferrari Spyder. For two years, Spyder operated out of David's kitchen. At the end of two years his kitchen was too crowded. He financed an expansion in 1980, selling Spyder to Boulder-based Hanson Industries, a ski boot manufacturer. Not willing to let his dream go down in flames, he bought Spyder back 18 months later, before Hanson went bankrupt. Over the years, David grew the brand and led the company to greater sales and global distribution.
The "spider" pants
Besides being an athlete and businessman, David is also an innovator. In 1994, he was granted a patent on SpeedWyre, a technology that reduced wind drag on race suits by up to 20%. It was used by the U.S. Ski Team to win two World Downhill Championships by Hilary Lindh and Picabo Street. SpeedWyre was eventually banned by alpine racing's governing body, FIS, for giving unfair advantage.
David Jacobs' contributions to skiing have not gone unnoticed. He has the distinction of being named to the Honor Role of Canadian Skiing. He is also a past recipient of the John Semmelink Award, an honor given to those skiers whose sportsmanship, conduct, and ability best represent Canada in international competition. He's a 1987 inductee into the Laurentian Ski Hall of Fame in Quebec, Canada, and a 2001 inductee into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. His business acumen has also been recognized, with his 2004 induction into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame. He was Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2004, and was a finalist for the same honor in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, and 2001.
David's latest passion
Spyder's growth exploded over the turn of the century, and the company is now the largest ski-specialty brand in the world. David has recently discovered the adrenaline rush in racing classic Formula One cars, finding success - not surprisingly - in this new pastime. For a man who's thrived on sports, technology, and professional advancement, the world is sure to see David go a few more times around the track.