Deckers Corporation announced that it has signed Jan Frodeno to its HOKA One One brand as part of a 3-year deal. Olympic triathlon champion Frodeno is just off a banner year where he won his third IRONMAN World Championship title in a course record performance.
I wanted to know why he did the deal, after a career-long relationship with ASICS. He said he, “was totally clueless and had even avoided informing myself about any of the current mega trends in running, i.e. carbon soles. I was with Asics for 17 years and honestly had blinkers on about shoe development, outside of the brand. So when it became apparent that I would need to change brands I went and tested what felt best, regarding speed and comfort.”
“HOKA is known for things like its rocker, ” I asked him, “ and its forefoot cushion, low drop, and what it calls the ‘active footframe,’ or what some refer to as the 'bucket seat' that is formed by the midsole as it wraps up the side of, and cradles, the upper. Did you consider these architectural elements as you migrated to HOKA?”
“It was later that I dove into the details of construction and understanding how the technology works,” he said. “It was much more of a feel-based decision for me though. Honestly I’ve always loved a minimalist racing flat, aesthetically more than anything, but the wow effect running in such a chunky looking, but not at all feeling shoe convinced me after 100 meters.
The pathway among Slowtwitchers is to ask advice about which HOKA is best based on the shoe the user is coming from, so, I asked him, “Can you walk us through that pathway from your use perspective?”
ASICS implemented a rocker technology in the [Tokyo 2020] prototype I raced in in Kona. They built a trainer to go with it called the Glideride and this is simply a wide version of that shoe. Neither of them have a carbon technology but they have a lot of volume midfoot and therefore make for a rolling run stride that pushes you into a slightly forward position."
I was hoping to hear something like this. For decades, and for all of Frodeno's career, ASICS followed an architectural scheme that was the opposite of what HOKA makes. It wouldn't have seemed authentic to move to HOKA from, say, a Gel Nimbus platform. The Metaride and Glideride series represents an about face for ASICS. There's some congruence to Frodo moving from a Glideride to a Clifton and a Rincon.
Back to the HOKAs he'll choose for himself: "That [the ASICS shoes he was lately running in] is the closest to a Rincon I would say, and the racing shoe was the same in a very unstable version. While the Rincon is my go-to for just about any terrain and speed in training, nothing beats a Clifton for a slow recovery jog, the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever run in. The Carbon X is my track and speed choice while I’ve loved the Speedgoat [for offroad] before it was all shut down here in Spain."
Frodeno joins a HOKA roster that includes Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell, Sarah Crowley, Heather Jackson, Patrik Nilsson and Joe Skipper.