Our Spyder HQ is located right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, which also serves as the home of the University of Colorado. Spyder’s relationship with CU has been a significant part of our growth since our inception in 1978. Thus, it made perfect sense that Spyder’s newest partnership—following the Supreme Court’s July 1st ruling that NCAA athletes should legally be able to use their name, image, and likeness (NIL) for their own personal gain and profit— with CU Alpine Skier Bobby Ryan III. We caught up with Bobby at the heart of CU’s campus in the sunny plaza outside the university’s Norlin Library to talk to him about what it means to be Spyder’s first sponsored collegiate athlete and what this means for him.
Bobby, a native of Kingston, NY, started out his racing days at the local hill—Belleayre Mountain. It was a family affair for the Ryans, as Bobby recalls. “My dad was a huge skier and wanted us all to know how to ski (my mom, my dad, my younger brother, my two older sisters, and myself).”
Bobby, like many young racers, has been in Spyder gear since he started out, which Bobby attributes to helping drive his interest in pursuing a partnership with Spyder. “My first race suit when I was 11 was an orange Spyder hand-me-down suit from my cousin, and that’s how I got into racing”, he says.
“I think it’s really cool that Spyder is working with college athletes, since college skiing in the U.S. has been neglected for a long time” compared to World Cup skiing, says Ryan. “I’m excited to be a part of Spyder’s interest in college athletes, and I think it’s especially cool that they chose someone from CU”, particularly since the CU Ski Team shares a long partnership with Spyder.
From 100 miles north of New York City, Bobby soon found himself at the famed Killington Mountain School (KMS) in Killington, Vermont. What started initially as intermittent 3-month stints with a host family to take his skiing to the next level ultimately led to 7 years spent at KMS with the same host family, where Bobby took his skiing to the next level. Bobby’s career at KMS led to a one-year stint at Boston College, where Bobby remembers he “would spend 29 hours a week in the car just to ski” commuting from Boston to a local hill. After a gap year spent working on Cape Cod, Ryan got a call from legendary CU Ski Team coach Richie Rokos offering him a spot on one of the most successful NCAA sports programs in history. Ryan returned from Saas Fee, Switzerland over the summer to enter his second year at CU, as the Buffs seek to avenge their 2nd place finish to Utah in the NCAA Championships last year.
To contextualize the meaning of the NIL rule changes, Bobby shared that “on July 1st, the NIL rules went into effect; ruling that the NCAA could no longer restrict athletes from using their own name, image, and likeness. From there, more specific guidelines were handed down to the state-level.” For many athletes, the insight into the business side of sponsorships in their individual sports plays a huge part in their desire to explore the loosened NIL rules, and Bobby is no exception. “I had a sports marketing internship in Miami this summer… and as a double-major in marketing and finance, the business side of all of this is super interesting to me”, says Ryan.
From the New York Metropolitan area to Boulder, by way of Vermont, Bobby’s tenacity to improve between the gates, in the classroom, and professionally is palpable. We couldn’t be more excited to begin a new chapter in the longstanding CU-Spyder relationship with Bobby Ryan!