Looks can be deceiving. Just ask Team USA curler Tyler George, owner of what may be the ugliest pair of shoes to grace the Olympics. George admits his tattered white Skechers—purchased eight years ago at a mall in Duluth, Minn., where he lives and owns a liquor store—"look like they were in a dumpster fire," per the New York Times. His teammates say they're "disgusting" and "a mess." Yet they remain George's most coveted piece of equipment as the 35-year-old vies for a medal in his first Olympic appearance, alongside skip John Shuster, lead John Landsteiner, second Matt Hamilton, and alternate Joe Polo, per NBC News.
Just like a baseball glove has to have the right feel, so do curling shoes, George tells the Times. Despite the water damage and tears, only his Urban Tracks Skechers with the Teflon plates he added to the soles will do. He's tried out two other pairs of shoes recently but neither measured up, one causing tendinitis in his right knee. For fear of losing practice time, George chose not to have the shoes patched up before the Olympics and instead is relying on tape to hold his "weary, battle-worn heroes" together. What happens when they fall apart? George playfully lobbied for Skechers to design a shoe exclusively for him, according to a Twitter post, in which he says he's probably "the only curler on the planet" to hit the ice in Skechers. (Read more Olympics stories.)