Modern Skiing was invented in the Arlberg mountains in Austria nearly 100 years ago, the very place where not long after the Strolz family started to make Ski boots. In the small town of Lech a man named Ambros Strolz started to make fine leather boots specifically for Skiers from his newly opened workshop. Of course back then it was hardly the huge tourist industry it is today. Largely Skiing was seen as a way of delivering milk to people living in mountainous regions. Ambros had a personal motto, and it’s one that the Strolz family still live by today, to manufacture ski boots by hand with artful craftsmanship and using the finest materials in a bespoke fashion to cater for the individual customer. To this day Strolz are the oldest family owned Ski boot manufacturer in the world.
Ambrose had a son Martin who he tought everything he knew about orthopaedic shoes, although little did he know that it would be Martin who would really put Strolz on the map. A keen Skier himself, Martin became a very successful member of the Austrian national skiing team, rising to become the runner-up world champion in the downhill ski discipline in the 1954 World Championships in Åre, Sweden. Martin used his own experience in skiing to test his own boots, developing them continuously and of course promoting them to his skiing associates, such as Olympic Champions Otmar Schneider and Egon Zimmermann (who won in Strolz boots of course). Following his retirement from international Skiing, Martin was finally ready to fulfil his destiny to take over the business from his father, using his unique mix of skiing expertise, craftsmanship, orthopedic knowledge (he obtained a prestigious certification as a master in Orthapedic Shoe-making) and drive for perfection he was ready to take Strolz to the next level.
Towards the end of the sixties, times were changing for the Skiing industry and time had come for the company to move away from the beautifully crafted leather and start using a new material, plastic. This brought both opportunity and risk for Strolz, but Martin was both excited and cautious in his approach to the switch. It was perhaps his approach to this that meant, of the top five leather ski boot manufacturer based in German speaking countries, Strolz was the sole survivor. After all, it is one thing to know how to beautifully mould leather, it is another to understand the manufacturing process of mould-making and injection of plastics. The first plastic Strolz Ski boot was launched in 1969.
Perhaps Martin’s greatest achievement however was the introduction of the foam- fit system, whereby foam is injected into the space between the outer shell and the boot liner to comfortably mould around the owners foot. This mixed with allowing the greatest possible individualisation of the boots shell has allowed Strolz to keep to the principals developed by its founder Ambros Strolz in 1921. This innovation has been constantly refined over the past thirty years ot ensure the boots are as close to perfection as possible. Now Strolz boots aren’t just worn by professional skiers, but lovers of skiing all over the world. They are also the best boots for people with unique feet who may have never otherwise been able to realise their dream of skiing down the piste.
Following in the family footsteps Hannes Strolz was bought into the business and since 1990 has been the general manager and chief designer. With the newest member of the family to join the business Merlin Strolz also being incorporated into the family business as Head of Sales.
Glide & Slide was founded in 1996 by Steven Hankin who is a former professional ski instructor. Situated in the West Yorkshire town of Otley the business has grown from strength to strength over the years and has the reputation as one of the best specialist ski boot fitters in the UK. Steven started his career as a ski instructor in Glen Shee in Scotland at the Cairnwell Ski School. After this he worked for many years in the French Alps.
Having worked at Cairnwell Ski School which was run by the renowned Austrian skier, Gustav Fischnaller, Steven first came across Strolz boots when he began wearing them and fitting others for their own pairs. He remained at Glenshee ski teaching race training and running the Ski School until leaving in 1988 having gained two teaching qualifications which he then took with him to Les Menuires, France where he ran his next Ski School until returning to the UK in 1993.
Steven then spent the next two years managing the artificial ski slope in Harrogate alongside race training the Ravens Ski Club and the Yorkshire and Humbershire Squad.
In 1999 when Gustav returned to Austria, it was agreed that Steven, with his extensive knowledge and love of Strolz, should continue as the sole UK importer and his new base in Yorkshire would act as a more central location.
Ally Bolton joined the team in 2004 after returning to the UK from Canada where he had been working as a Ski Instructor. Having worked his way through the ranks and himself becoming an expert boot fitter Ally, along with Maddy Hankin, now runs the shop and continue to work very closley with Strolz and provides the same high level of service that Glide & Slide customers have come to expect.