Lange Boots 2001-02
Lange took a bold step last year with the introduction of a boot designed to reduce the risk of ACL injury. It's been a success on two levels, the company says. A growing body of research, though still not conclusive, indicates the Rear Release Technology of the V9 model indeed does what it's designed to do, which is give a skier's knee an escape hatch in ligament-stressing fall situations. And despite what Lange acknowledges as the skepticism of some retailers, the company says it is selling through with satisfying vigor. "Most insiders are so close to it that they don't realize how important a benefit that is to most people who ski," says Lange product manager Tait Wardlaw. "Being able to buy a reduction in the risk of knee injury is a no-brainer, and sell-through has borne that out."
Another no-brainer for Lange would be bringing back one of its most successful model names, Banshee, and applying it to a boot that (finally, the company admits) provides Lange performance in a boot with refined fit characteristics. The new Banshees essentially replace the AC series in the Lange lineup, though a new liner-construction technique renders it a whole new boot. All of this occurs against the backdrop of favorable exchange rates, Lange notes, which should translate into better value for the consumer and greater margins for the dealer.
New colors....a tweak here and there....but why mess with a boot that enjoys such success in the race world and among loyal experts? The L10 World Cup takes L10 Race performance to a new level. The World Cup is in essence the same boot that comes out of the Lange race room, subtly modified to provide more humane flex and fit. But Lange stresses the importance of the L8, suitable for an advanced or even intermediate skier with a narrow foot: No other manufacturer delivers such a narrow last in that category. The L10 is available in Lange's wider-fitting ACD last.
Modified: L10 World Cup, L10/ACD/L, L8/L.
"We took a classic Lange fit, and we made it comfortable," says Wardlaw, thanks to stamp-molding liner construction capability acquired by the Lange factory. Instead of being die-cut and then hand-finished, Lange liners are now pressure-molded around their lasts in a way that yields more accurate shapes and foam densities and an overall refinement of fit and finish. The result, the company says, is a boot that finally delivers true Lange performance in a fit that is still Lange-accurate but without the discomfort. There are four models: The Pro features Race Fit lasting, while the 9, 8 and 7 (and corresponding women's models) are more generous fitting. New: Banshee Pro, Banshee 9, Banshee 8/L, Banshee 7/L.
Will it save your knee from a ligament sprain in a rearward fall? Research takes time, but Lange says it continues to receive mounting evidence from the TUV (a European lab) that it does, and research projects are under way in demo/rental programs in Vermont and Colorado. But perhaps the most compelling analysis is in its sell-through: Lange says consumers are buying into the injury prevention story. A new model has been added: The V8 is essentially last year's V9, while the new V9 features higher performance thanks to a stiffer flex and slightly snugger fit. Both, of course, feature RRS, a modified ski-walk device that releases under intense rearward pressure, allowing the boot to snap to vertical and, in theory, reduce stress on knee ligaments.
Lange's meat-of-the-market boot shares the same platform as the RRS, which has been split off into its own separate family. Vectors are for men; Venus models offer women's-specific lasting, cuff height, etc. All share Lange's roomy Comfort Fit last, which is 13 percent more generous than Lange's Race Fit.
> Unchanged: Vector 7/Venus 7, Vector6/Venus 6, Vector5/Venus 5.