words // Brandon Richard
In a lot of ways, the Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer Low is a complete throwback to the original Tinker Hatfield designed Air Huarache runner from 1991. The low cut, neoprene inner bootie construction and leather exoskeleton support overlays are all concepts Mr. Hatfield introduced 20 years ago. The inspiration for that classic? A water-skiing trip where Tinker noticed that the neoprene booties he wore gave him a secure feeling. That was the moment his “less is more” philosophy was born – along with Nike’s Cross-Training range.
The latest Zoom Huarache Trainer to release pays homage to one of the original Air Huarache colorways. Featuring a white leather exoskeleton, the trainer is lined with a varsity royal and volt neoprene bootie. Royal is also used for the heel pull-tab, Swoosh branding and outsole. Performance technology includes a Zoom Air bag in the heel for cushioning, modified delta nodes in the forefoot and Waffle traction on the heel.
JOE MAUER x PLAYSTATION x NIKE ZOOM HUARACHE TRAINER LOW LAUNCH EVENT RECAP
words & images // Steve Mullholand
On April 6th, I get a call from one of my friends from PlayStation.
“Can you make it to Minnesota to capture the new PlayStation x Nike Training shoe, and by the way, it’s on the 9th?”
Being in the media world, good things happen – and they happen fast and they happen far away. But that is what makes it fun – you never know where you will be in a week or what story you will be covering. And if PlayStation and Nike are involved, you are guaranteed a good time with some great shoes.
Luckily, I was in Portland when I got the call. A quick call to Delta later, and I was able to change my flight up so I could travel to Minnesota on the way back down to Miami. Not exactly a direct flight, but at least I was headed east. When I landed in Minneapolis early on Saturday, April 9th, I was pretty excited to see the shoes, the box and meet up with Joe Mauer. But I was also interested in seeing the Mall of America, because I had never been. I’m going to have to pre-qualify this next sentence – I dislike malls as much as the next person – but damn…! The Mall of America is no joke. The roller coaster, sheer amount of shops and the huge number of people – even when the doors opened – all made for a great experience. When I made my way to the Nike Store, it didn’t disappoint either. The well laid-out store had something special sitting on the stage awaiting us – a rather large wooden box – and the reason I made the trip.
After getting through security I met up with my friend Alex from PlayStation. We went through the run of show and then he lead me back to the stage where the custom box housing a custom PlayStation and custom cleats where waiting for me. I’ve seen a lot of sneaker boxes over the past few years – everything from carbon fiber to acrylic – and as soon as I saw this box I knew it was going to be in the top 10 sneaker boxes of all time. And man – it did not disappoint.
As you can see by the photos – the box is next level in more ways than one. The base on top of the box with the metal PlayStation logo immediately signaled that something special was within its hold. Upon opening the lid, you’ll notice an amazing customized PlayStation with a baseball controller. It was real nice. Within the second level were two sets of shoes – one pair of customized Joe Mauer player exclusives cleats with “The Show” logo on them. The second pair was the PlayStation x Nike Training Zoom Huarache Trainer Low – super clean and well done.
I only had ten minutes to take photos of the shoes, box and PlayStation, so I took a quick light reading (I had no strobes, so I knew I would have to be smarter than the lights…) and went at it. I fired off 100 shots or so, and then the crowd started moving in. You could tell – these kids were really excited about the event and the chance to see their local star Joe Mauer up close and in person.
Joe got up on stage and was super nice and laid back, eager to interact with everyone. Nike had already picked out three lucky kids to play PlayStation’s “The Show” with Mauer. They put the game on home run derby mode and had at it. The first three kids were pretty good – one of them really good — but when Joe got up there, you could tell he knew what he was doing. After they played a round of home run derby, we got to check out photos of several Nike Training shoes that local area students had designed on NIKEiD.
All in all, it was a great event to showcase Mauer’s with really solid kicks and an amazing box. I guarantee the kids that got up early on a Saturday morning to attend the event were not disappointed. A lucky few were even able to buy the PlayStation x Nike Training Zoom Huarache Trainer Lows at the event. Afterwards, I was able to get a few questions with Twins Catcher and “The Show” front man Joe Mauer:
Steve Mullholand: Have you had the opportunity to bring your own influence to the design for catcher’s gear and cleats?
Joe Mauer: I had an opportunity to meet with the Nike team in Beaverton during the off-season. We discussed the concept of the shoe and it was great to see them incorporate some of my feedback, and they even added my Dad’s saying on the laces, “Bear Down.”
SM: What was it like playing in cold weather growing up and is there any advice you have for kids going through similar issues of having games rained/snowed out?
JM: Growing up in Minnesota you definitely have to get used to playing in the elements. Although I must say that with the new Target Field, you simply can’t beat playing outdoors on a perfect summer day.
SM: The catcher’s position is one where defense is most important. With you being such a huge threat on offense and defense, do you feel any added pressure to perform at a high level both at the plate and defensively as a catcher?
JM: Being a catcher, you are involved in every single play of a baseball game, so you constantly have to stay focused. I think that focus translates well when I get up to bat because I spend 90% of a game staring at pitchers.
SM: With 162 games on the schedule, Major League Baseball without a doubt has the most grueling run to the postseason. What do you think are the keys to being as mentally focused in April as you are in October?
JM: I think our team is fortunate that we have a really great spring training program that gets you into the right mindset immediately when the season starts. The coaches promote competition from day one, and we have a great mix of players in the locker-room that thrive off of that.
SM: Did the Zoom Huarache Trainer Low play a role in your training for the current season? If so, what were your impressions and did they help you with any baseball-specific drills?
JM: The new trainers are amazing. Because so much of what we do on the baseball field is lateral movement, it really is important to have a shoe that gives you the proper support. You can go from the weight room directly to the field, without having to worry about changing your shoes.
SM: Though video games are generally regarded as a downtime activity, Playstation has gone above and beyond to bring a sense of realism to the players on ‘The Show.’ Do you find that being involved with the game’s development and playing at home helps you familiarize yourself with other teams and their in-game tendencies?
JM: Video games have come a long way since I was younger. MLB The Show is definitely a useful tool because they have done such a great job of capturing every little detail. I know our pitchers have used the game to stay current on opposing lineups and become more familiar with each players stance.
words & images_Zac Dubasik
EVENT RECAP: NIKE UNVEILS AIR ZOOM ALPHA TALON CLEAT & 2011 PRO COMBAT UNIFORMS
Nike’s NFL uniform endorsement deal might not kick in until the 2012 season, but, as proven today, their focus on the future of football is already strong. Earlier, at Cowboys Stadium, in front of a large gathering of media, Nike unveiled their newest cleat, the Air Zoom Alpha Talon, along with their 2011 Pro Combat uniforms.
The day started with Matt James, Nike Master Trainer, introducing a SPARQ training session that was underway with local high school players. The stadium’s massive video screen lived up to, and surpassed, expectations, and served as what was undoubtedly the most epic SPARQ scoreboard of all-time.
Next, it was time to move into what can almost be described as a mini-stadium inside a stadium. The day’s emcee, retired NFL-great Desmond Howard, took over the stage, and first introduced Nike’s Vice President of Global Athletic Training, Kris Aman. Aman talked about the brand’s lifelong focus on athletes, their rich history in football, and commitment to progress. “Our success is based on creating breakthrough products and experiences unmatched in our industry, helping write the next chapter for Nike Football,” Aman explained. He also set out three components of the category: Train, Compete and Express, which encompasses the preparation, game day, and lifestyle facets to an athlete’s life.
From there, Aman brought out Design Director of Athletic Training, Ken Link, to tell the story of the Air Zoom Alpha Talon. This Link-designed shoe is Nike’s most advanced cleat yet, combining often-used existing technologies like Zoom Air and Flywire, with new uses of Deflex padding, and an adaptive traction system. Nike Football athletes Ndamukong Suh, Clay Matthews, Dwayne Bowe, Felix Jones and Steven Jackson next made an appearance to talk about how this new cleat can help each of their different games. Be on the lookout, because we will have much more technical detail of the shoe coming soon, including an interview with Link.
Once the footwear portion of the day had concluded, it was time to get a look at the 2011 Pro Combat uniforms, which were detailed by Nike?s Global Apparel Design Director, Todd Van Horne. After discussing the latest base layer advancements, including adjustable and interchangeable carbon fiber plates, we got a look at the upcoming uniforms of TCU, Florida, Boise State, and the University of Oregon?s National Championship gear. Not surprisingly, just as much technology went into the uniforms themselves as the base layer. The use of Flywire, chainmail mesh and Deflex padding in the Pro Combat uniforms plays directly into Nike’s “give the athletes what they want, and only what they want” philosophy.
Following the Pro Combat presentations, we had a chance to tour the massive stadium, and get a closer look at some of the upcoming products out of Nike Training, including the upcoming Zoom Huarache Trainer Low, and additional colorways of the Air Zoom Alpha Talon. It was an awesome experience, and a great reminder about how serious Nike is about football. With 2012 just around the corner, expectations are now higher than ever for when their NFL deal kicks in.