The 2022 Winter Olympics are approaching and will be held next February in Beijing, China. In 15 different sports, athletes from around the world will compete in competitions ranging from speed skating to cross-country skiing. However, just like the Summer Olympics, the Winter Games require specific equipment with specific functionality, namely shoes.
While some circumstances have changed — for example, the NHL has withdrawn completely from this year’s games — many are the same. The usual sports of the season, including biathlon, curling, bobsleigh and luge, among others, will resume. Additionally, the unique sports of the Winter Olympics require equally specified footwear, ranging from boots to skates, for athletes to achieve their desired goals.
Below, check out some of the unique footwear required for various Olympic winter sports.
Biathlon has two parts: rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. The shoe that works in both cases is a ski boot with a thin upper, adjustable ridged buckles, and rounded toes. However, only the toes of these shoes attach to the skis of biathlon participants. Their heels, detached from their skis, allow them to go faster in competition.
Bobsleigh shoes should make the starts of their participants count. After all, when sleds are pushed and gaining momentum near the start of races, speed is everything. The unique shoes designed for sports are made from synthetic materials that can bend with the natural movements of the foot. Its other features are tough mid and outer layers, usually in a zip-up silhouette. The pairs also feature slightly upward angled toes, which are accented by brush-shaped tips for quick traction on the ice.
Form-fitting lace-up boots are the norm for figure skating shoes, with thin blades attached to their soles with screws. The sharp tips on the front of each blade allow for better traction on the ice, as well as elaborate movements like jumping.
Curling shoes resemble sneakers, with chunky soles and a lace-up construction in a low-cut silhouette. Two large circular soles are attached to one of the shoes’ outsoles, which are made of Teflon to allow a smooth glide on the ice. The other shoe has an equal sole thickness to maintain balance during competition.
Speed skating and short track speed skating
Compared to figure skating, speed skating and short track speed skating involve faster movements in more enclosed spaces. Speed skates consist of lower boots with ridged straps and thin blades attached to their soles, which are flat along their entire length. Short track speed skates are similar in shape, except that their blades are set higher to allow skaters to move around tighter turns on the ice.
Hockey shoes differ from those used in figure skating, speed or short track speed because of their thickness. Most styles feature hard toes and shanks, which are padded on the inside and feature thick woven laces. Their soles are attached by screws to plastic tubes, which wrap thin metal blades that provide traction to navigate the ice.
Sled slippers are essential for good performance in sport. Olympic styles feature zippered ankle-high uppers, along with curved soles and outsoles that force wearers’ feet into the correct running positions. The streamlined silhouette also includes synthetic uppers which add to their lightweight feel.
In ski jumping, an athlete’s body is essentially horizontal in relation to their skis. This sport requires flexible boots that allow wearers to lean forward. The high-back pairs used by Olympic athletes include ridged soles with toes that clip onto their skis, as well as lace-up silhouettes with front buckles for added safety in flight.
Snowboard boots are arguably the heaviest and most complex styles of all the pairs needed to compete in various Olympic winter sports. Pairs of laces with thick laces and padded soles provide added stability, while textured soles and synthetic uppers provide greater durability. However, the parts of the boots that really make or break riders on the slopes are their bindings – heavily curled plastic housings that connect the boots to the boards.