An historic page in sport history. Italy’s gold medal in Curling at the Beijing winter Olympics is already monumental. Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner, defeating Sweden on February 8th, gained the highest spot on the podium for the double-mixed category. What shoes were they using? Technical footwear with a leather upper (to keep the foot warm) and a sole that, depending on the role, allowed for more or less grip on the ice.
Gold medal in Curling
As confirmed by the Italian Curling organization (Federazione Italiana Sport del Ghiaccio), Constantini and Mosaner compete with the Delux by Balance Plus, Canadian brand specialized in Curling equipment. The model, which (as the name suggests), represent the brand’s leading product, is made with a leather upper and leather interior. One of the most important characteristics of the Curling shoe is comfort, along with heat. And the leather upper, explains the online feedback of one of the consumers, allows users to maintain the right temperature (even within “glacial climatic conditions”).
Attention to the sole
While the upper is valuable for the comfort it provides to athletes, the sole makes or breaks the quality of the performance, or performances, as curling players will decide to use Teflon-profiled or soft-rubber soles depending on their need (to slide or grip). Possibilities are many: there are also some “slippers” or “boats”, that can be placed on the shoe and then removed. But these are technical aspects that can be studied on more detailed sites (starting with Wikipedia).
A success for Italy footwear as well?
Constantini and Mosaner’s gold medal is also historic for its symbolism: Italy’s Curling association has just 330 individuals, yet it managed to do better than many others with larger pools. Th enthusiasm from the win in Beijing may bring additional athletes to the fold, but we will have to wait to see. And as a consequence, could Italian footwear manufacturers enter the segment? The potential is there, but in the last 10 years only one company (from the Marche region) tried. Sadly, the domestic market didn’t prove profitable. Canadian brands currently dominate the segment (with Balance Plus, Hardline and Asham). If an Italian company were able to gain shares in markets where Curling is more spread, such as Scotland or Sweden, success may come.
In photo from FISG social media account Constantini and Mosaner; Delux in detail