From the fluffy, glistening snow to magnificent mountain views, few skiers can deny the awe-inspiring aspects of the sport. But Don McLean (Bus’77) has found a way to make the sport even better for college enthusiasts.
Inspired to raise money for the CU-Boulder athletic department and the university’s ski team, McLean started a company in his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colo., called LDM to sell custom CU-themed skis.
He and his two business partners, Luke Dudley and George Danellis, donate 20 percent of all proceeds from the skis to CU — eight times the amount required to give in accordance with the Collegiate Licensing Company and CU. Using word-of-mouth, social media and limited advertising, they began to sell the skis in May 2012.
“We were really pleased with the early responses,” says McLean, whose daughter is a sophomore on the ski team. “Selling skis in May and June is like selling snow tires, but now that the skis are getting out on the mountains, we are seeing momentum develop.”
McLean, who has been involved in the ski business most of his life, was motivated to sell the skis after marveling over the look and quality of handmade skis produced by David Mazzarella, owner of the Colorado-based ski company SkiLogik, at a snow sport convention in Denver. Shortly after, he sent SkiLogik the Buffalos logo to get his own custom design and secured approval for the skis from the university.
The skis have images of the Flatirons and Ralphie on the hardwood tops. Because of the intricate design, some, including Fraser, Colo., mayor Peggy Smith (Rec’73), think the skis are too beautiful to ski on, McLean says.
“We’ve had people buy the skis and put them on the walls of their dining room or offices,” he says, adding that CU athletic director Mike Bohn has a pair hanging on his office wall.
McLean plans to sell custom skis and snowboards for other schools but will keep CU the primary focus.
The skis are designed for skiers of all skill levels and have been a hit with CU fans across the country. Michael Leeds (Fin’74), president of the aircraft management firm FlightStar and whom the CU-Boulder business school is named, owns a set and the assistant alpine coach of the CU ski team Taggart Spenst, a senior at CU, says the skis are his favorite.
“The skis are beautiful and represent everything that being a Buff is all about, but I have been blown away by how well they ski and how durable they are,” Spenst says. “I have 50 days on the skis, including a trip to Chile, and put them through every test possible from groomers to powder. They’ve performed and still look like new.”
Visit www.collegeskis.com to view and purchase the skis (and eventually snowboards). The skis cost $795, and include shipping.