Tom Winter

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December 30, 2004
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Lange boots revolutionary in more ways than one

When Bob Lange developed the plastic ski boot in 1962, he started a revolution in ski boot design. But that wasn't the only revolution that Lange started. In 1970, the first Lange Girl poster appeared with the moniker, "Soft inside." The poster was the first in a seemingly endless line of sexy women wearing pretty much nothing but Lange ski boots. Of course, this is a tradition that has been copied by many others. Today, Nordica has its own line of girls. The defunct Hanson boot company used to rely on sexy models to help sell its brand. Unfortunately while sex sells, it only sells so much.

And while Hanson can lay claim to being an innovator - the company introduced the first rear entry ski boot - the lack of performance and fit that Hanson boots offered couldn't be corrected by a few girls wearing thongs while prancing around in Hanson boots.But Lange was onto something. Not only did his boots work better than anything else on the market, but the design that Bob Lange developed remains the foundation for the modern ski boot. Take a trip into the Colorado Ski Museum in Vail and check out some old Lange boots. They're really not much different than the company's latest offering.

Lange boots work. In fact, they work so well that they're the overwhelming choice for World Cup ski racers and the brand has more victories from the circuit than any of their competitors.Still, what's function without fashion? And what is fashion without sex appeal? Always the innovator, Bob Lange knew this, and thus the Lange Girl was born."The Lange Girls were always beautiful and some of them could even ski, although they did so barely clothed," says Richard Allen of Vintage Ski World, an Aspen-based shop that is one of the only places you can purchase old Lange Girl posters.

Allen adds, "In the early days, the Lange Girls were on the slopes skiing. The later Lange Girls were models and most of them did not ski."The fact that later editions of the poster featured non-skiers isn't a surprise, considering that in 1992 Pamela Anderson posed as a Lange Girl. Pamela ripping up the Back Bowls? Not likely.

While Anderson has moved on to bigger and better things, each year Lange still produces a new poster and distributes them directly to ski shops across the country. If you want one, all you have to do is get a job in a shop that supports the brand.But if you want a classic Lange Girl poster (who wouldn't?), you'll have to look hard. Many of them are unavailable, and the ones that are can cost close to $300. Lange's fractious history and relocation to Montbelluna, Italy, from the company's early headquarters in Colorado resulted in the loss of the brand's archives, including copies of many classic Lange Girl posters. Happily for us, though, a few do remain. Vintage Ski World (vintageskiworld.com) still has a few that they can sell you. As Bob Lange would say, sex does sell.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 30, 2004 09:40PM Published Dec 30, 2004 12:00AM Copyright 2004 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.