image of Beauty, Identity, Pride gallery
© Max Rossi/Reuters/Corbis

Bound for Glory:
Cutting-Edge Winter Sports Footwear

Focusing on the evolution of winter sports footwear since the Winter Games were first inaugurated in 1924, 'Bound for Glory' celebrates important milestones in the history of winter sports. Whether on ice, on snow or on track, frigid temperatures and challenging conditions continue to test the skills of winter sports athletes. Medals are won in split second finishes and dreams of glory can be helped or hindered by the specialized footwear these athletes wear and the technological advancements they represent.

Visit 'Bound for Glory' and see footwear worn by some of the world's greatest winter athletes, experience their personal stories of triumph and "race" to the finish line in our interactive area.

image of skates worn by Barbara Wagner

Barbara Wagner
Canadian figure skater Barbra Wagner won a gold medal along with her partner Robert Paul at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, U.S.A. Wagner and Paul formed an unbeatable team winning numerous awards and titles. In 1960 they became the first North American figure skating pair to win gold, an achievement that they retained until 2002 when another Canadian pair, Salé and Pelletier won gold in the Salt Lake Olympic Games. Skates with Phantom blades worn by Barbara Wagner, 1960s.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum.

image of skates worn by Jamie Salé and David Pelletier

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier
Jamie Salé and David Pelletier captured the world’s imagination with their flawless performance at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.  The judging scandal revealed when they were first awarded only a silver medal made them household names and resulted in them being awarded a well-deserved gold.  These are the skates that they wore during their 2002 gold winning performance.  Salé’s boots were made in the U.S. by Riedell and her blades, customized with her name, were made by John Wilson Skates, England.  Pelletier’s skates were made in Canada by Graf and his Ultima freestyle blades are Canadian too.
Skates worn Salé and Pelletier, 2002. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, generously donated by Jamie Salé and David Pelletier.

image of skates worn by Gaetan Boucher

Gaetan Boucher
Canadian speed skater Gaetan Boucher won four Olympic gold medals over the course of his career, broke two world records and won the World Sprint Championship in 1984.  Speed skates, such as this pair by Viking, are designed for speed. The skate boot is cut low and is designed to be aerodynamic in shape while the long, thin blade is designed with a limited rocker, or curve, reducing the manoeuvrability of the skate but enabling the skater to move forward at tremendous speed. This pair of speed skates was worn by Boucher during the 1985 World Speed Skating Championship. Today, competitive speed skaters wear clap skates which are hinged at the toe and unattached at the heel allowing for a more natural stride while skating.
Viking skates worn by Gaetan Boucher, 1985. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum.

image of skates worn by Sonja Henie

Sonja Henie
Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie was one of the first Olympic athletes to become an international star.  She was only eleven years old when she first competed in the Olympics and she went on to win three Olympic gold medals, ten world championships, and six European championships.  After retiring from competitive skating Henie went to Hollywood where she was signed by Twentieth  Century Fox and became one of the highest paid actresses of the period.  She also continued to thrill audiences by skating in ice shows and revues.
Stanzione skates with Strauss blades worn by Sonja Henie, c. 1950s. Collection of Ann Bates.

image of skate worn by Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky, “The Great One”, began his hockey career as an underage junior signed to the Indianapolis Racers.  In 1978, Gretzky was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and went on to  become the WHA Rookie of the Year.  Gretzky played as a member of Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan but the team lost in the semi-finals.  Olympic gold was his though, when he became the Executive Director of Team Canada and they won gold in the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake.
This well-worn skate dates to his rookie year wit the Oilers before he began wearing his trademark blue skate holders. Gretzky signed this skate at his Toronto restaurant. Collection of Dr. Hartley Miltchin.

image of ski boot worn by Alberto Tomba

Alberto Tomba
Italian skier Alberto Tomba, affectionately known as Tomba la Bomba or Tom the Bomb, dominated downhill skiing in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  He won five Olympic medals over the course of his illustrious career.  Two gold in 1988, one gold in 1992 and one silver in 1994.  His movie star gold looks and aggressive skiing style made him an international sensation.  This Lange boot was worn by Tomba in 1992.  He retired from skiing in 1998.
Lange boots worn by Alberto Tomba, Collection of Museo dello Scarpone e della calzatura Sportiva di Montebelluna.

imgae of ski boots worn by Rhoda Wurtle

Rhoda Wurtele
Canadian Rhoda Wurtele was one of the world’s best female alpine skiers in the 1940s and 1950s.  Along with her identical twin sister, Rhona, she competed in and won innumerable races.  In 1948 following WWII, the cash strapped Canadian ski team determined that it was only able to support a national team of eight men and two women.  The two women invited to represent Canada at the Olympics in St. Moritz were Rhoda and Rhona Wurtele.  However, Olympic glory was not to be as both women sustained injuries in St. Moritz.  Despite this heartbreak, Rhoda continued to compete and was a part of Canada’s Olympic ski team again in 1952.
Tyrol Shoe Company ski boots, 1945. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, generously donated by Rhoda Wurtele Eaves.

image of luge shoes

Luge Shoes
These two shoes designed by Adidas reveal the evolution of luge footwear over the last thirty years.  The first shoe (1972) looks like a simple high-top sneaker but the back was designed with a low cut to allow the luger to point the foot and fully extend the leg while on the luge.  Because lugers do not need their footwear for running as they use spiked gloves to put their sleds in motion, their shoes have become exceptionally aerodynamic in design as revealed by this modern competition shoe, which is completely aerodynamic.
2005 competition luge shoe. 1972 Olympic luge shoe , Collection of adidas.

The Bata Shoe Museum would like to thank our lending partners:

Media Information

"Bound for Glory" Press Release (2 pages, 434 KB)

Would you like to hear about new exhibitions and events?
Subscribe to our free ENEWSLETTER to receive monthly email updates on Museum activities.