By Deborah Olsen
Colorado college life and skiing go together like island living and surfing. The surprise isn’t that a start-up, Steamboat-based company has found a way to develop officially licensed skis and snowboards for colleges and universities. The surprise is that it took so long for someone to come up with the idea.
Don McLean, George Danellis and Luke Dudley, three Steamboat men, formed LDM LLC, the parent company of CollegeSkis.com, last year. The basic idea is to start with a pair of high-quality, all-mountain skis that has been thoroughly product-tested (read, skied) by the CollegeSkis.com test team (aka Dudley, Danellis and McLean). The next step is designing graphics for the skis that encompass a college logo, mascot and/or images and verbiage that represent the school.
“One of the fun aspects of it is that the skis are more like a canvas; people really dig the design we create on them,” says Danellis.
CollegeSkis.com’s first release is a fundraiser for the University of Colorado. The LDM team chose Skilogik’s top-rated Ullr Chariot and Goddess models, high-performance skis that have received accolades from industry magazines and were selected as the 2012 Ski of the Year by RealSkiers.com. The graphics depict the beauty of Boulder and embody CU’s school spirit. Twenty percent of the proceeds from sales go to CU’s ski team and athletic department. For this first project, CollegeSkis.com plans a run of 100 pairs.
Undergraduates are not the target audience for CollegeSkis.com. “It’s people who have a strong affinity to the university who are looking for something different,” Danellis says.
The next project in the works will be a similar line of skis for Colorado State University, a plan that is well under way already.
CollegeSkis.com is hoping to work with Colorado ski manufacturers for future projects. College-branded snowboards are also on the drawing board. “Our goal is to grow, to expand out to a lot more universities in order to get the price point down,” Danellis says.
Marketing for the company is based on crowd-sourcing, and using social media as a promotional method. The LDM team hopes to train interns from Colorado Mountain College in entrepreneurial business. “We’re all Steamboat-based,” Danellis says.
CollegeSkis.com is the latest name on an impressive list of locally based sports-related businesses that includes SmartWool, BAP!, Honey Stinger, Moots and Ericksen Cycles.