The Nike ACG Winter Olympics Boot Is The Best Shoe Money Can’t Buy
Nike made its debut with the Cortez at the 1972 Munich Olympics and has been making its mark at the games ever since. From classic Jordan colorways to stylish podium jackets, the sport’s biggest stage has long been one of the Swoosh’s signature showcases. Beijing 2022 is no different. Once again in charge of outfitting Team USA in the medal stand and throughout the games (Ralph Lauren directs the uniforms for Friday’s Opening Ceremonies), Nike outfits USA Olympians with a full line enviable pieces. The most coveted of these, however, remains exclusive to athletes: you’ll have to be an elite winter sportsman to get your hands on a pair.
Team USA athletes whose hard work will lead them to medals this year will do so in the Nike ACG Gaiadome FlyEase boot. With pumped-up tech and old-school vibes, it’s both functional and fashionable – the kind of shoe that would be an instant sell if it went on sale in the first place. A sturdy Air Zoom unit anchors the heel of the chunky sole while the upper is fitted with GORE-TEX materials – a great look, sure, but one that can back up its gorpcore vibes with the kind of resistance to the elements that athletes from winter need. What it lacks is traditional lacing: the Gaiadome is Nike’s latest iteration to feature the brand’s FlyEase technology, a revelation in accessible sneaker design.
The 2022 Medal Stand collection as a whole is designed with inclusiveness in mind. The garment features oversized magnetic buckles, clasps, and zippers (which, to be fair, are also a plus for athletes who wear thick gloves). The “Chain of Craters” jacket even features side zippers for Paralympians who use wheelchairs. The inclusion of FlyEase in the Gaiadome is an extension of this initiative.
FlyEase is the brainchild of designer Tobie Hatfield, who started working on the technology in 2012 after meeting Matthew Walzer, a high school student whose battle with cerebral palsy had led to mobility issues. Welzer contacted Hatfield to ask him to consider designing a shoe that would allow him to put on his shoes on his own, and from there FlyEase was born. Its rollout hasn’t been without a hitch – the FlyEase Go, the first hands-free sneaker to feature the tech, was sadly so desirable it was scalped by sneaker retailers upon its original release – but its launch Regular implementation in a variety of sneaker styles from running to basketball is an essential step in inclusive practices. The Gaiadome’s FlyEase entry comes in the form of a rear zip entry, with a toggle system in place of laces that allows athletes to easily tighten the boot. This attention to detail makes Beijing’s coolest exclusive as accessible to Winter Games legend Shaun White as it is to cross-country skier and 10-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters. “I like the thought put into the design of the elements and where they are going to be used,” Masters says, “Not only is the garment thoughtful in design, it’s also thoughtful in execution.”
The Gaiadome FlyEase has all the attributes of a sneaker of the year. Its gorpy space-age vibes are equal parts vintage ACG and retro-future Tom Sachs — plus, it continues Nike’s longstanding tradition of debuting important innovations on the Olympic stage. That it doesn’t get a wide release is a shame, but only adds to the appeal of the shoe. In the age of sneaker robots and dealers, there’s something to be said for a sneaker you can only get if you’re one of the best athletes in the world.