Robert B. Lange - Sport Builder - 1998


Hall
Bob Lange is best known as the inventor of the first injection molded plastic ski boot, which helped replace the uncomfortable leather boots with the laces and long thongs that put ruts in your fingers “while lacing when others are racing.” The boots provided more support around the ankles and calves, providing better control, which also had the flexibility.  Bob conceived the idea to manufacture boots in 1955 because he was tired of his leather Molitor ski boots not fitting the way he thought they should. Between 1956 and 1966 he also invented and patented the first fiberglass/leather ski boot, the first thermoplastic ski boot, the first self molding inner boot, the first plastic ski boot with hinged upper, the first ski boot that had a sole the width of a ski, the first brightly colored plastic ski boot, the first ski boot buckle with micro screw adjustment, the first thermoplastic polyurethane boot, the first thermosetting elastomeric boot, and the first Sabre grip racing ski pole.  At the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, 72% of the competitors wore Lange boots and five won medals. Additionally in 1968, Bob patented the first self-aligning swivel post buckle. In 1970 he patented the first slalom ski with fixed or removable offset ski tip and in 1972 he patented the first plastic boot with a flex-cut sole.  After a few years of retirement, Bob re-entered the ski industry with a revolutionary line of skis containing exciting concepts of side cut, torsion and flex. All skis were specially designed for each class of skier.  Among his other endeavors, he and Bob Beattie started the pro Ski Racing Tour, was assistant coach of the Women's Downhill Canadian National and Olympic ski teams. He was also head coach of the Australian national and Olympic teams.  Bob was a member of the Ski Business Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ski Industries of American Founders Award.   (Deceased)