An important note to our readers: Dr. Goldline is not a real doctor, in any way, shape or form; the moniker is used purely for entertainment value. In addition, the views expressed are entirely those of the author and not of management or any other curler.
Question: Dr. Goldline, I’ve had my current curling shoes for five years. Is it time for me to replace them?
Curling shoes are likely the most important piece of equipment you’ll ever buy. Some people buy new shoes every few years simply because they want the newest product offering out there. At the same time, it amazes me the number of times a customer comes into one of our retail stores with his/her cherished curling shoes that he/she has worn for at least 25 years (and trust me, they look like they’ve been worn for at least that long), simply looking for a new gripper to start out the season.
Shoes are an investment and it is really important to take care of that investment. The sport is such that the shoes are subject to some wear and tear, and the longevity of your shoe will depend on how frequently you play and the level at which you play. Here are my top three tips for taking caring for curling shoes:
- When you’re not in the ice shed, ensure you have a gripper (or anti-slider) covering the shoe of your slider foot. Inevitably, dirt and debris get tracked into the lounge and change rooms of your local curling club and wearing a gripper will limit the number of nicks and scratches on the sliding surface of the shoe.
- I often see people kicking and clearing rocks out of the house using their feet. Stop that! Use your broom to navigate rocks through the house. And don’t try to tell me you’re not using your feet and shoes to move the rocks: those white scuff marks on the sides of your shoes are a dead giveaway!
- Resist the urge to leave your curling shoes in the trunk of your car after your games, particularly when the mercury is dropping well below zero in the coldest of the winter months. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause leather to swell and change shape. Similarly, for the summer, ensure you store your shoes in a cool and dry environment.
Frequently people are concerned with the scuff marks that appear on the trailing foot of their curling shoes. The reality is, leather sliding across pebbled ice is going to get marked up a bit. If it really bothers you, you can put a clear piece of sliding (or duct) tape over the toe of the dragging foot. A more permanent solution is doing a toe coat, which is a thin layer of epoxy that covers the toe of the trailing foot. Note: if you’ve never had a toe coat before, you’ll want to make sure you get out and throw some practice rocks after you’ve had the toe coated, as the amount of resistance of the trailing foot will be much less and, as a result, there will be less leg drive required for your shots than was the case previously. Also, some people experience some fish tailing of the trailing leg due to the reduction in resistance.
Just as the anti-slider covering your slider shoe loses efficacy over time, likewise the gripper foot of your curling shoes may lose a degree of “grippiness” as the years march by (or perhaps it is showing signs of wear and tear around the edges, due to navigating rocks around with ones feet). At Goldline, we can apply new permanent grippers to curling shoes at relatively low cost. Similarly, we may be able to install a thicker Teflon plate on the sliding foot of your shoes if that is what you need.
Ultimately, even if you pamper your shoes and do all the right things, you have to focus on the fit. For optimal performance, you want the shoe to fit snugly around your feet, while still allowing some wiggle room in the toes. If the fit isn’t right, your balance and stability will be compromised. At Goldline, we offer a variety of shoes for curlers of all skill levels. Come in and check out our new G Force shoe, the Podium series and the Glide to find the right shoe for you.