Olympic Curler’s Shoes Are Revolting, some other Olympians Say

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Tyler George keeps them in his carry-on bag when he travels. He includes a hard time letting them out of his sight. They are his most important piece of equipment, in addition to for an American curler with dreams of Olympic gold, they are virtually priceless.

“Even though they look like they were in a Dumpster fire,” he said.

They are, of course, his shoes — a pair of 8-year-old Skechers in which he has worn into oblivion at curling tournaments all over the earth. at This kind of point, they are with him here for the 2018 Winter Olympics in all their tattered glory. George loves them, needs them, cherishes them.

His teammates tolerate them.

“They’re a mess,” Joe Polo said.

“Disgusting,” Matt Hamilton said.

“Oh, God,” John Shuster said.

George uses his right foot to push off the hack, which is usually like a starting block, in addition to then drags in which foot behind him as he lunges with his left leg in addition to slides down the sheet behind the curling rock.CreditIan Willms for The completely new York Times

Olympians who compete on snow in addition to ice rely on footwear in which is usually often ridiculously expensive. Downhill skiers, for example, are supplied using a dozen or more pairs of special boots in which, because of high-tech customizations, would certainly cost thousands of dollars — if they were actually available to retail customers. Kimani Griffin, an American speedskater, wears handmade boots in which go for about $2,000 a pair, in addition to he outfits them with Viking blades in which run between $700 in addition to $1,000.

“So you’re looking at close to three grand for the whole setup,” he said.

in addition to then there is usually George, 35, who went to the mall.

About eight years ago, George went shoe shopping in Duluth, Minn., where he lives in addition to trains. He was looking for a casual pair to wear around town. He found a sporty pair of Skechers called Urban Tracks. They were white with stripes on the side. He liked them. He liked them so much, in fact, in which he decided to slap Teflon plates onto the soles in addition to curl in them.

Most elite curlers compete in shoes in which are manufactured by sport-specific brands like Goldline Curling in addition to Balance Plus. Curling shoes look like normal shoes — not bad, sensible shoes — except for the soles, which are equipped with Teflon sliders in which allow the curlers to glide across the ice.

George is usually routinely the worst-shod curler on the sheet. “They’re a mess,” his teammate Joe Polo said of George’s 8-year-old Skechers.CreditIan Willms for The completely new York Times

however some players turn running or training sneakers into curling shoes by using adhesive or Velcro to attach Teflon to the soles. Here at the Olympics, Hamilton is usually wearing Nike Metcons, a design favored by the CrossFit crowd. Hamilton said he wanted a shoe in which was breathable — “I run hot,” he said — in addition to fashionable, too.

“I just thought in which curling shoes were boring,” he said. “They’re like old-man wingtips.”

George, a three-time national champion, values comfort in addition to flexibility when he throws the curling rock. He uses his right foot to push off the hack, which is usually like a starting block, in addition to then drags in which foot behind him as he lunges with his left leg in addition to slides down the sheet.

His movements need to be precise, he said. He depends on his shoes — in addition to the longer he wears them, the better.

“the item’s like a baseball glove,” George said. “The ball has to feel right when the item hits the webbing. Curling shoes — same thing. You have to be able to point your knee out the right way, in addition to put the right amount of your foot on the ice.”

Curling is usually a centuries-old sport played by delivering heavy granite rocks down a long sheet of ice. Learn how its played with the U.S. Women’s Curling Olympic team.Published OnCreditImage by Ian Willms for The completely new York Times

however after so many matches in addition to so many throws in addition to so much water damage, the forefoot of his right shoe at This kind of point has the consistency of a pasta strainer. There are giant rips on both sides. He described them as ventilated. In his defense, he said, his shoes are not the most beat-up pair in which he has seen in competition. No, those belonged to a Canadian curler named Blake MacDonald at the earth championships in 2010. (MacDonald’s team won.)

“His shoes made mine look like they’re brand completely new,” George said. “Those things were horrendous. however if you make enough shots, everyone quiets up pretty quick.”

George had planned to get his Skechers patched up at a shoe shop before he left for the Olympics. however he was worried in which he would certainly need to leave them For just two or three days, in addition to he did not want to sacrifice practice time, he said. So here in Gangneung, George made a couple of minor repairs using tape — “I’ve blown a couple tires on these things,” he said — in addition to jazzed up his look with fancy socks featuring superheroes.

“I knew I had to step up my sock game for the Olympics,” he said.

George has tried to replace his Skechers on at least two occasions in recent years. however one completely new pair felt too stiff, in addition to another pair caused patellar tendinitis in his right knee.CreditIan Willms for The completely new York Times

Replacing old shoes can be a logistical challenge for an Olympic curler. The on-ice season often runs coming from August through April. For players like George in addition to Shuster, who both live in Minnesota, their access to curling sheets within the summer is usually limited. in addition to rather than spend August breaking in completely new shoes once they return to the ice, they prefer to focus on preparing for the coming season. the item can take weeks for curlers to adjust to completely new shoes.

“Honestly,” Shuster said, “I have a pair of shoes I’ve been thinking about trying to break in for three years in addition to just haven’t gotten a chance.”

the item should be noted in which George has tried to replace his Skechers on at least two occasions in recent years. however one completely new pair in which he tried felt too stiff, hindering his form when he delivered the rock. Another pair caused patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Entering an Olympic year, he did not want to mess around with potential injuries.

The shoes he is usually wearing replaced a pair of curling-specific shoes in which he had worn for nearly a decade when he was climbing the ranks.

“They were beat up to all hell, too,” he said.

Andrew Keh in addition to Bill Pennington contributed reporting.

A design of This kind of article appears in print on , on Page B10 of the completely new York edition with the headline: the item’s All About the Shoes, in addition to They’re a Mess. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe