La Sportiva Loveliness01/20/2008
Ever since I started running for La Sportiva a year ago, Buzz, the mountain running team manager, has been telling me about the new lightweight shoe that the Italians had/have in the works–the Skylite. I began running for Sportiva because of my preference for the Slingshot, but the Skylite was supposed to be even lighter than its 308 gram predecessor. However, not only is Sportiva coming out with the Skylite in a couple of months, they now have available a very similar shoe–the Skylite’s fell-running brother, the Crosslite–which is the exact same shoe as the Skylite except for with a much, much more aggressive (read: heavier) outsole.
Nevertheless, after having my appetite whetted at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show back in August, and then getting another preview when the Colorado Running Company (the store I work at) brought in a couple (very small) pairs of the Crosslite, I was finally able to get a closer look at the Skylites and actually try on a pair of the Crosslites this past week when Kyle and I took a visit to Boulder for a little ultra running get-together with the Boulder Trail Runners.
All of this anticipation may seem a little ridiculous, but trail running shoes are very important to me. First, since shoes are the only really (mostly) necessary piece of running equipment, and because I am a huge nerd of the sport, I naturally am very geeky about my shoes. Additionally, my particular (minimalist) philosophy of running and running footwear lends me to be even more interested in my shoes.
Second, trail running (and especially, trail racing) footwear is an industry and technology in relative infancy. Trail shoes have only been around for really no more than 15 years, and in the beginning they fell into basically two categories: either brown/black road shoes or a glorified hiking boot. Obviously, neither of these categories really did the job.
In the last few years, though, many companies are understanding that a trail shoe needs to be fundamentally different from both road shoes and hiking boots, and Sportiva (along with Inov-8) has been an industry leader in this idea. With shoes like the Raceblade, Fireblade, Slingshot, and now, the Skylite and Crosslite, Sportiva has shown that they realize a trail shoe will deliver more effectively if it has a lower profile (but more dense than a road shoe) midsole, and that the virtually bomb-proof upper of a hiking boot is simply overkill–and hugely detrimental when running uphill–for a trail running shoe.
Most importantly, they are showing deliberate efforts to manufacture actual trail racing shoes, which probably arises from their European, short, fast, hill climb/mountain running roots, as opposed to the American trail ultra running roots of a company like, say, Montrail. (Although, this season Sportiva has obviously made a concerted effort to start significantly supporting the trail ultra running community in earnest through new sponsorship of many of America’s top ultra trail runners and of more ultra-distance trail races.)
After meeting with Buzz and Jonathan (the president of La Sportiva, North America) and picking up a couple pairs of Crosslites to take home and try out, I am quite happy with the shoe. The Crosslite is listed as a men’s US 9 (sample size) weighing in at 12.42 oz or 352 grams. That is light for a trail shoe, but actually pretty heavy for a road shoe. The Slingshot was advertised as being 308 grams (previously Sportiva’s lightest shoe) and the Skylite has been advertised at both 250 grams and 268 grams (depending on the website). That is a legitimately very light trail shoe. The only other shoe on the market that compares is Inov-8’s F-lite 250 (250 grams), which is being updated this year with the lighter F-lite 230. When I took my pair of size EU43.5/US10.5 Crosslite’s home, they weighed in at 12.5 oz on the CRC’s mail scale.
But, then came the time for my personal modifications. After some extensive carving (which I will get into in detail soon), I now have my size 10.5 Crosslite down to ~8.2 oz. Considering that the the size 9 Skylites are supposed to be ~100 grams (almost 4 oz) lighter than the size 9 Crosslite, I hope to get a pair of Skylites down to the high 6, low 7 oz range…even lighter than Inov-8’s F-lite 230s. (I haven’t seen a pair of the 230s, but my pair of 250s were already so stripped down that there was basically nothing I could do to them to make them much lighter without significantly compromising their structural integrity—plus, I really believe in the value of supporting/representing a company (Sportiva) that I’ve already developed a very positive relationship with (Buzz is great) and is doing a ton to positively support the sport of trail running in North America.)
On to the modifications (if I can scrounge up a camera from some body I may post some photos in the coming days):