What Is This Thing, and Why Do X Games Athletes Need It?

By , Crosby Press

In his horrific, inverted crash in the X Games Snowmobile Freestyle event, Daniel Bodin‘s most crucial piece of gear was his helmet — a visor fragment even snapped off when the track of his sled came crashing violently down on his head.

But whatever went wrong to send Bodin sprawling to the 100-foot jump’s packed-snow run-out, we’re pretty sure it wasn’t that his ankles were bugging him. And we’re pretty sure that’s due to ALINE.

A humble company that operates from an old sailing loft in Marblehead, Massachusetts, ALINE makes a custom-fitted insole that many of the world’s top athletes look to for additional support & lower-body health. It’s an unglamorous niche product whose performance benefits have drawn the likes of Tony Hawk, Travis Pastrana, and a ton of snow athletes at this year’s X Games — including the now-bruised Bodin.

“Alines are amazing”, crooned the Swedish sledder. “My left ankle was really messed up, and once I got a pair I can walk further without pain and I can go out to the mountain and it doesn’t hurt. I’ve been on [the insoles] for three years now.”

“The typical insole that comes inside a ski or snowboard boot is just a quarter inch of foam”, explained Derek Carroll, the brand’s president in phone call before the 2013 X Games, at which Aline is one of the few private brands welcomed into the official athlete tent.

“The foot slides around inside… and all the great technology invested in these boots is lost, because companies don’t want to invest in something the company doesn’t see.” But with the insole — the entry- level stock version of which can be had for around 80 bucks — the boot sits on proprietary ribs that run across the arch.

“The Aline lets [the foot] move, because otherwise it can’t generate power”, said Carroll. Effectively, the Aline technology positions the user’s foot operate efficiently, reducing threat of injury and fatigue.

Though it’s operated by a mere seven employees, the brand holds six foot-tech-related patents, which inform products found in Bodin’s boots, plus those of 10 Winter X Games athletes (that we know of). Those clients are medalists, by the way — Bodin, Jamie Anderson, Dave Wise, and Sammy Carlson each earned at least one gold in the past three years’ Winter X Games.

Hit Aline’s webstore to buy a stock pair of insoles, or to learn more about getting custom-fitted for a pair like the pros.