US ski team ends 33-year partnership with Spyder, makes clothing deal with Kappa

Brand’s name was conceived on the slopes of Vail Mountain

John LaConte
Vail Daily
U.S. ski racer A.J. Kitt skis the men's World Cup Downhill course in Beaver Creek on Friday, Dec. 1, 1995. Spyder race suits, identifiable by the webbed logo on Kitt’s right arm, sponsored Kitt before he made the U.S. Team, and Kitt continued to wear the suits once on the team as Spyder provided suits for U.S. skiers for more than 30 years.
Stefano Rellandini/AP

VAIL — The U.S. ski team and Spyder outerwear have ended a 33-year partnership, the team announced on Tuesday.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard will now use Italian sportswear company Kappa to outfit its teams, a deal which will run through the 2030 season, the team said.

The Kappa deal also includes all snowboarding athletes, something not included in Spyder’s contract with the team.

“Kappa is now the Official Technical Apparel Partner of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboard Team and U.S. Freeski Team,” according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s announcement. “Kappa will also provide uniforms for all U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Italy as well as the 2030 Olympic Games.”

Spyder, a Boulder-based company that was started in a garage in 1978, was once described by U.S. Ski and Snowboard as the “perfect partner” for the Alpine ski team, which has been racing in Spyder suits since 1989. Spyder-branded uniforms were worn annually by snow sports athletes during the more than 35 domestic events and 100 worldwide events on the World Cup circuit.

Jeff Temple, of Steamboat Springs, co-founded Spyder with Canadian downhill champion Dave Jacobs in 1978. Temple ran the company until 1993, helping to secure the deal with the U.S. ski team in 1989.

Temple said the partnership ran through Vail, with one of their Yugoslavian athletes’ performance at the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships helping to seal the deal.

After being denied by the U.S. ski team in 1988, Spyder sought out other partnerships with World Cup teams on the advice of Bill Marolt, who recommended Yugoslavia. A year later, Yugoslavian slalom skier Mateja Svet won the slalom in Beaver Creek at the 1989 world championships.

This photo from the Feb. 8, 1989 Vail Daily shows Yugoslavian ski racer Mateja Svet being hoisted into the air following her world championships slalom win at Beaver Creek. Svet’s win while wearing a Spyder-designed race suit helped convince the U.S. ski team to agree to a deal with the Boulder-based company, said co-founder Jeff Temple.
Vail Daily archive

“We carried her out on our shoulders, Dave and I, in the finish area,” Temple said. “After that, we returned and said we really want to sponsor the U.S. ski team … and we signed a deal. It was so important to our brand.”

Conceived in Vail

The name Spyder was conceived on the slopes of Vail Mountain, Temple said.

“I was skiing down Gold Peak, I had black ski pants on — our first pair of Spyder pants — and we had injection molded pads that wrapped around the thigh, to the knee,” Temple said. “Billy, Dave’s son, looked at me and said, ‘It looks like Jeff has spiders on his legs.'”

Before going full steam ahead with the name, they called the brother of deceased American ski legend Spider Sabich for permission.

“He understood and said that’s fine,” Temple said.

Over the years, it became a thriving partnership, with Beaver Creek providing a convenient meeting place for Spyder designers and their top athletes.

“Almost all our fitting sessions would be in Vail at Beaver Creek in November,” Temple said. “There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. You gotta make sure things fit, make sure your fabric is on the cutting edge. We always loved working on that stuff. It was a very serious endeavor, making the suits as fast as possible with a fantastic fit.”

Temple said the company and the team made long-lasting relationships through the partnership.

The Colorado Snowsports Museum has the competition uniforms for Alpine, Aerials, Freestyle and Freeski on display.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

“We started working with A.J. Kitt when he was 15,” Temple said. “I’ll never forget the talk with him. He said, ‘I’m going to be on the U.S. ski team, I’m going to be really fast, I just want a suit.’ From that day, we’re still in touch.”

Olympic provider

In 2019, Spyder and the U.S. ski team celebrated 30 years together.

“Everyone at U.S. Ski & Snowboard is delighted that we have renewed and grown our partnership with Spyder,” said Dan Barnett, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Chief Marketing Officer, at the time. “For over 30 years, Spyder has been the perfect partner for our Alpine Team and now we are very pleased to be able to announce that Spyder is adding our Freestyle and Freeski Teams to their roster. Spyder is now the exclusive apparel partner for our Alpine, Freestyle and Freeski teams, a partnership that takes us through 2023, which means Spyder will be worn exclusively by more than 50 world-class athletes competing in Beijing during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.”

The Spyder uniforms for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games were worn by athletes in competition. To create the design, Spyder collaborated with Eric Haze, an American artist who helped popularize graffiti-style designs in mainstream culture.

The Spyder/Eric Haze uniforms were on display in Vail at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in advance of the 2022 Olympics and are still being exhibited today.