The whole point of a curling shoe is to be able to curl. We need to be able to attach rubber grippers and Teflon sliders to the bottom of the shoes. So it makes sense that I discuss some factors that could help or hinder that goal.
In very general terms, flatter and smoother soles work best. Though this does limit your selection a little, most anything CAN work. The issue is how well it will work and at what potential performance cost.
Flat soles. We’re sticking flat Teflon onto the area. If it’s not flat, then… Well, take a look at the example below. The green line indicates the flat teflon area compared to the shape of the sole. These profiles don’t look compatible, because they aren’t.
Conversely (oh how I now wish I’d used a Converse shoe), the below profile has very minimal upturn at the toe and heel areas. This is ideal.
Also be aware of the heel striking area. This can throw things out of whack really fast when trying to fit the sliders on flat. Take a look at the red line that shows the actual heel bottom compared to the green line that is perpendicular to the shoe. Green line good. Red line bad.
Tread concerns. This matters less on the gripper shoe, as that is more forgiving than Teflon in terms of flexibility to conform to irregular shapes. But unless the shoe industry takes a drastic turn, the tread on both shoes will probably match. Look for shoes that have a good bonding surface area. Take a look at the example below. The green circles highlight the areas that would come in contact with the Teflon for bonding. Not very much.
The issue here is two fold. The more surface contact area, the better the bond. And, if there are areas that are not bonded, it can give a lip for getting caught on something, or for debris to collect and fall on the ice during your slide.
Here’s an example of really aggressive tread. Also note the deep void areas in the heel and the flex areas of the toe and mid foot.
To remove the tread to a point where there’s a good bonding surface would mean to nearly completely remove the rubber from the sole. Bad.
Below is an example of an ideal tread.
Ideal doesn’t mean it’s the only option. But the closer you can get to this, the better the shoes will turn out.
Sole Material. From soft foam to super dense rubber and everything in between. The best curling shoes are definitely the firmer soles. The softer, or more cushion-y the sole is, the more play the slider will have. The softer material will compress more under weight. As you shift weight heel to toe, or side to side, you’ll feel this in your slide. Especially if your delivery balance and position is anything less than rock solid.
Another thing to consider, and this is purely aesthetic, is the transition from bottom to side. Soles that have a clean break where the bottom and the side meet always turn out looking super clean. Soles that round up to the side in a smoother transition don’t allow for as sharp a delineation. Again, personal preference, but I think the clean edge looks nicer.
Finally, after all is considered, they’re your shoes and I can probably make them work. Unless…
… well, you know, maybe I’d give it a shot! If you think you can curl in them, I’ll figure out a way to get these on the ice.
Next: Your delivery technique.