Lange is a major producer of ski boots used in alpine (downhill) skiing. They introduced the world’s first plastic ski boots in 1962, and a greatly improved model aimed at the racing market in 1965. After several World Cup and Olympics wins in 1967 and 1968 made them a must-have on the circuit, Lange has remained a force in the racing market ever since. Their boots have equipped five times as many World Cup medal winners as any other brand into the 2000s.
Bob Lange had been experimenting with plastic reinforced ski boots as early as 1958, but it took some time before the basic design was made usable. The first examples from 1962 used ABS shells and laces for closure, but were not very successful. A follow-up design released in volume in the winter of 1965/66 used a new thermoplastic shell, hinged cuff, and latching buckles, and became the first commercially successful replacement for leather boots. By 1970 they were almost universal on the racing circuit, and selling hundreds of thousands of examples as the world’s leading ski boot brand. Lange entered the hockey market during the 1970s. Lange skates were an outgrowth of their plastic ski boots. Phil Esposito endorsed and used Lange skates. They went out of favor due to their weight non-traditional looks but had the advantages that they were comfortable to wear and offered more protection than traditional skates.
A major technical misstep in 1970 led to financial difficulties and the eventual sale of the company to Garcia in 1973. Under the new ownership, the company continued development of the classic front-opening ski boot design. Over a series of models, the cuff began extending up the calf of the leg to greatly improve directional control and reduce lower-leg injuries. Garcia ran into financial difficulties of their own, and their suite of ski products was purchased by the owner of Rossignol in 1978. Under their direction, Lange released the famous bright-orange XL-R and Z designs of the 1980s, versions of which remained the racer’s choice well into the 1990s. Modern Lange boots have changed little in design since these models.
The front-entry design introduced by Lange is used by almost every modern ski boot to this day. Lange remains a major brand worldwide.
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