Title:
Cushioned pole vault planting box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pole vault planting box is cushioned to reduce and minimize the risk of injury to pole vaulters. The planting box includes a base pan which is mounted below ground level adjacent the runway, and a sloped surface extending downwardly from the base surface to a pole planting position adjacent the stop-board. Cushioning components are positioned on the base surface and sloped surface of the base pan. A top cover may be positioned over some or all of the base pan to provide a cavity which may enclose cushioning components.



Inventors:
Noble, Scott A. (Denver, CO, US)
Wilson, Steven C. (Littleton, CO, US)
Farrell, William E. (Englewood, CO, US)
Foley, Peter M. (Castle Rock, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/263602
Publication Date:
04/08/2004
Filing Date:
10/03/2002
Assignee:
NOBLE SCOTT A.
WILSON STEVEN C.
FARRELL WILLIAM E.
FOLEY PETER M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B5/06; (IPC1-7): A63B5/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Blank Rome LLP - Houston General (717 Texas Avenue, Suite 1400, Houston, TX, 77002, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pole vault planting box comprising: (a) a base pan having a base surface, side walls around the base surface, and a sloped surface that is sloped downwardly from the base surface; and (b) at least one cushioning component positioned in the base pan.

2. The pole vault planting box of claim 1 further comprising a top cover that is positionable over the base pan and the at least one cushioning component.

3. The pole vault planting box of claim 1 wherein the base pan is mounted adjacent a runway surface; and the base pan and the at least one cushioning component are positioned below the runway surface.

4. The pole vault planting box of claim 1 further comprising at least one cushioning component positioned on the sloped surface of the base pan.

5. The pole vault planting box of claim 1 further comprising at least one cushioning component positioned on the base surface of the base pan.

6. The pole vault planting box of claim 1 wherein the sloped surface further comprises a first sloped surface and a second sloped surface and a step between the first and the second sloped surfaces.

7. The pole vault planting box of claim 6 wherein the at least one cushioning component is positioned on the first sloped surface.

8. A planting box for pole vaulting comprising: a base pan positionable below ground level adjacent a runway, the base pan having a base surface, a sloped surface sloping downwardly from the base surface; and a first replaceable cushioning component on the sloped surface, and a second replaceable cushioning component on the base surface, the first and second replaceable cushioning components being below the ground level adjacent the runway.

9. The planting box of claim 8 further comprising a step on the sloped surface.

10. The planting box of claim 9 wherein the first replaceable cushioning component is on a part of the sloped surface between the base surface and the step.

11. The planting box of claim 8 further comprising a top cover over at least part of the base pan and over at least part of the first and second replaceable cushioning components.

12. The planting box of claim 11 wherein the top cover is positioned at ground level.

13. The planting box of claim 11 wherein the top cover is flexible thermoplastic.

14. The planting box of claim 8 wherein at least one of the first and second replaceable cushioning components is a twin sheet structure having indentations extending between the sheets.

15. The planting box of claim 8 wherein the base pan is rigid.

16. A pole vault planting box comprising a base pan having a cushioned base surface, and a sloped surface sloping down from the base surface to a stop-board, at 4 least part of the sloped surface being cushioned.

17. The pole vault planting box of claim 16 wherein the sloped surface comprises a first sloped surface and a second sloped surface, a step between the first and the second sloped surfaces, the first sloped surface sloping down from the base surface to a step and the second sloped surface sloping down from the step to the stop-board.

18. The pole vault planting box of claim 16 wherein the cushioned base surface is below ground level.

19. The pole vault planting box of claim 16 further comprising side walls around the perimeter of the base surface.

20. The pole vault planting box of claim 16 further comprising a top cover over the sloped and cushioned surface.

21. A pole vault planting box, comprising a base surface, a sloped surface, and a top cover positioned over the base surface and sloped surface to form a cavity therebetween.

22. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein the cavity is cushioned.

23. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein at least part of the top cover is positioned in contact with the sloped surface.

24. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein the sloped surface has a step thereon.

25. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein the top cover is attached to at least part of the base surface.

26. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 further comprising side walls around the perimeter of the base surface.

27. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein the top cover is flexible.

28. The pole vault planting box of claim 21 wherein the base surface and sloped surface are positioned below ground level.

Description:

BACKGROUND

[0001] This invention relates to equipment used for pole vaulting. More specifically, the invention relates to planting boxes in which the end of the pole is planted during vaulting.

[0002] A planting box, also referred to as a take-off box, is a structure that is mounted in the ground at the end of a runway. The planting box is sunk below the surface of the ground so that the top surface of the planting box is level with the surface of the runway. The planting box includes a sloped surface that slopes from the runway level down to approximately 20 cm below the surface of the runway. The length of the sloped surface of the planting box is typically approximately 1 meter from the runway end to the pole planting position, which is the deepest end of the planting box adjoining the stop-board. At the runway end, the planting box is typically approximately sixty cm in width, tapered down to approximately 40 cm in width at the deepest end of the planting box. When vaulting, the vaulter may place the end of the pole on the sloped surface and the end slides down until reaching the pole planting position. The planting box must be sufficiently rigid to withstand the force from the end of pole striking the planting box, and to support the weight of the vaulter during the vault. Traditionally, planting boxes have been made of wood or steel. More recently, planting boxes have been constructed of other rigid materials such as welded sheet steel, stainless steel, sheet or cast aluminum, and fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

[0003] Landing pit cushions used in pole vaulting typically are provided with a cutout portion or notch in a forward edge portion of the cushion structure to fit around three sides of the planting box. The cutout portion or notch in the landing cushion may be somewhat larger in width and length than the planting box, so that the pole does not strike the sidewall of the notch in the cushion and interfere with the performance of the vaulter. The notch of the landing pit cushion may have inclined surfaces around the planting box to minimize interference with the pole during vaulting, as disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,965,507.

[0004] During vaulting, there are numerous reasons why the pole vaulter may have a false jump or for some reason lack sufficient forward momentum to carry himself or herself over the planting box to the landing pit cushion. For example, the vaulter's hand may slip off the pole at or just after takeoff, or the vaulter's pole may be too stiff. The vaulter may fall back on the track or in the plant box area, instead of onto the landing pit. If the vaulter falls on the planting box, he or she can become seriously injured. Traumatic brain injuries have resulted to pole vaulters who fall on the planting box.

[0005] During the period 1980 to 1998, an American Journal of Sports Medicine study attributed 32 catastrophic injuries to pole vaulters, resulting in brain or spinal cord damage or skull or spinal fracture, and including 16 injuries ending in death. During 2002, several more deaths occurred to pole vaulters. Some athletic organizations have encouraged or mandated helmet use by pole vaulters. School districts in Pennsylvania, Texas and Minnesota require pole vaulters to wear helmets. Legislation requiring helmet use by pole vaulters has been introduced in New York. However, the use of helmets also may increase hyperflexion neck injuries or back injuries when the helmet hits the landing cushion.

[0006] Other efforts to reduce injuries to pole vaulters have focused on expanding and modifying the landing pit cushion. In June 2002, the National Federation of High Schools Track and Field Rules Committee passed several rule changes intended to reduce the risk of injury in pole vaulting competition. For example, Rule 7-4-8 increases the size of the landing cushion. Under the new rule, the landing cushion, measured beyond the vertical plane of the planting box, should be a minimum of 19 feet 8 inches wide by 16 feet 5 inches deep, and should be made of material that will decelerate the landing of the athlete. If the landing cushion is made up of two or more sections, the landing surface must be covered with a common pad that will extend over all sections. This minimizes the risk of the seams becoming hazardous to vaulters. In addition, Rule 7-4-9 now states that front pads with a vertical cutout cannot be more than 3 inches from the top of the back of the planting box. A space of 14 inches was formerly permitted. Also, Rule 7-4-14 now states that a minimum of 2 inches of foam padding, or box collar must be used to pad any hard and unyielding surfaces, including those between the planting box and all pads, and must be located midway between the standards.

[0007] In June 2002, the NCAA Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee also proposed several rules changes intended to reduce the risk of injury in the pole vault event. The committee voted to increase the minimum pole vault landing pad measurement beyond the plant box to 19 feet 8 inches wide by 16 feet 5 inches deep. Additionally, the committee voted to make the front portion of the landing pad the same width as the back portion. If the front landing pad does not extend to the area immediately around the vaulting box, a padded collar of 2 to 4 inches of uniform thickness must cover the area behind and to the sides of the vaulting box that is not protected by the landing pad. The collar padding must not affect the bend of the pole.

[0008] Although these rules promote the use of additional padding between the landing pit cushion and planting box, there remains a risk of injury from falling or striking the planting box itself. There is a need for a safer planting box that will reduce, prevent or minimize injuries to pole vaulters. There also is a need for a safer planting box that will not interfere with the performance of pole vaulters.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a pole vault planting box according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a side view, in cross-section, of a pole vault planting box according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a perspective view, in cross-section, of a pole vault planting box according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a cushioning component for use in a pole vault planting box according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0013] The present invention provides a planting box for pole vaulting which provides increases safety and reduced risk of injury from falling on the planting box, but that will not interfere with a vaulter's performance. The planting box may contain one or more cushioning components that are positioned at and/or below the surface level of the runway.

[0014] According to one embodiment of the invention, planting box 10 includes base pan 11 in which cushioning components 12-19 are positioned. In another embodiment of the invention, the planting box includes a top cover 20 that provides a surface layer over the base pan, with one or more cavities between the top cover and base pan into which one or more cushioning components may be positioned. In another embodiment of the invention, the planting box may be cushioned at and/or below the runway surface except for a small rigid area at and immediately adjacent the pole planting position.

[0015] Base pan 11 may be made from rigid durable material such as welded sheet steel, wood, rigid plastic, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or pre-cast concrete. The base pan may be mounted in the ground at or near the end of the runway adjacent the pole vault landing pit. The base pan is configured to position and contain one or more cushioning components therein so that the cushioning components are at or below the level of the runway. The base pan may include side walls 21, 22 around the outer perimeter of base surface 23. Sloped surface 24 in the base pan is sloped downwardly from the base surface. Cushioning components 12, 13 may be positioned on the sloped surface, as will be described in more detail below. In this embodiment, the sloped surface is more than one half of the total length of the planting box, and preferably at least 500 mm in length.

[0016] In one embodiment of the invention, cushioning components 12, 13 are positioned on the sloped surface of the base pan, and cushioning components 14-19 are positioned on the base surface of the base pan. The base pan has sufficient depth and may be sunk in the ground at a depth below ground level (i.e., runway level) so that the cushioning components are at or below ground level. As shown in FIG. 2, the base pan and cushioning components are at or below ground level 29.

[0017] In one embodiment, two cushioning components 12, 13 may be stacked on the first sloped surface. Similarly, two cushioning components 16, 17 may be stacked on base surface 23 of the base pan. Alternatively, a depth of only one cushioning component, or multiple stacked cushioning components, may be provided in accordance with the present invention. The depth, thickness, and number of cushioning components may be varied, depending on the depth of the base pan and the characteristics of the cushioning components. In general, the thickness of the cushioning components depends on the material used and cushioning desired. In another embodiment of the invention, a single cushioning component may be used to cover all regions or areas of the base surface and sloped surface of the base pan. In other embodiments of the invention, the cushioning components may vary in thickness and/or cushioning material.

[0018] In one embodiment, each cushioning component has a thickness of approximately 70 mm or 2¾ inches. As shown in FIG. 4, in one embodiment of the invention, cushioning components each have a top sheet 34 and a bottom sheet 35, with resilient hollow indentations 36 extending between the two surfaces. One example of such cushioning components is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,029,962 assigned to Skydex Technologies, Inc. The resilient indentations may be generally hemispherical or hemiellipsoidal in shape. Several of the advantages of this twin sheet cushioning material include its long term durability, low cost, light weight and maximum cushioning per thickness.

[0019] The cushioning components for use in the pole vaulting box of the present invention may comprise other materials that are resilient in that they absorb one or more impacts and return to their original shape, including but not limited to open or closed cell foam, molded rubber structures, air bladders, gel constructions, metal springs, or resilient loose material like shredded rubber tires. Preferably, the cushioning components are removable from the base pan so that they may be replaced without removing or replacing the base pan.

[0020] In one embodiment, certain regions of the base pan at or immediately adjacent the pole planting position 27 may not have cushioning components, or may have thinner cushioning components, positioned thereon. The surfaces of the base pan that lack cushioning components or have thinner cushioning components preferably are limited to those areas immediately adjacent the planting position that require substantial or complete rigidity during vaulting.

[0021] As shown in FIG. 2, for example, the base pan may include a second sloped surface 26 without cushioning components or with thinner cushioning components. Second sloped surface 26 may extend between step 25, and pole planting position 27 adjoining stop-board 28. In this embodiment, the second sloped surface has a length of approximately six inches from the step to the pole planting position.

[0022] Similarly, stop board 28 and/or the region of stop board below line 38 may not have cushioning components or may have thinner cushioning components. Wall 37 and or the region of wall below line 39 may also lack cushioning components or have thinner cushioning components.

[0023] Alternatively, in other embodiments of the invention, all regions or surfaces of the base pan of the planting box may be cushioned. Alternatively, the base pan of the planting box may have only a single sloped surface without a step, and the single sloped surface may be cushioned. In other embodiments of the invention, the first and second sloped surfaces both may have cushioning components of the same or different cushioning characteristics positioned thereon.

[0024] As shown in FIG. 3, in one embodiment of the invention, a top cover may be positioned over the base pan, and may cover the cushioning components and/or regions of the base pan that lack cushioning components. In general, the top cover may be over at least part of the base pan to form a hollow enclosure with one or more cavities into which cushioning components may be positioned. The top cover may be affixed or secured to the base pan, or may rest over the base pan without fixed securement. The top cover may be constructed of a semi-rigid or flexible material that has low surface friction so that the end of a pole can slide on it. The top cover should support the weight of a standing or running vaulter, and have sufficient toughness to minimize abrasion and denting from track spikes, pole strikes, etc.

[0025] In one embodiment of the invention, the top cover should mate and fit snugly over cushioning components on surfaces of the base pan, as well as surfaces of the base pan without cushioning components. For example, the top cover may include surface 30 that is generally level with the runway, to cover and fit snugly over cushioning components 14-19. The top cover also may include surface 31 that covers and fit snugly over the cushioned and/or uncushioned sloped section(s) of the planting box, surface 32 extending between surfaces 30 and 31, and surface 33 covering the stop-board.

[0026] To fit snugly over the sloped surface of the base pan and cushioning components thereon, surface 31 of the top cover should be parallel to and have the same slope as the cushioning components on the first sloped surface of the base pan, and also should be parallel to and have the same slope as the second sloped surface of the base pan. Accordingly, the top cover may provide a smooth surface over the first cushioned sloped surface and the second non-cushioned sloped surface, allowing the end of a pole to slide down to the pole planting position adjacent the stop-board without substantial deflection. The top cover should be flexible enough so that it will deflect under the substantial load of a vaulter falling on it, allowing the cushioning components under the top cover to be compressed.

[0027] In one embodiment of the invention, the top cover is a one-piece structure that may be thermoformed from a resilient thermoplastic, having a thickness of approximately {fraction (1/8)} inch. Preferred materials include but are not limited to polyethylene, particularly high molecular weight, polyurethane, Acetal, or Nylon. The top cover may have drain holes and may be replaceable. The top cover should be UV and moisture resistant, and may have color molded into it. In another embodiment of the invention, the top cover may be integral with one or more of the cushioning components in the base pan. For example, cushioning components may have a skin or cover thereon to protect the cushioning components from the pole and or adverse elements.

[0028] While the present invention has been described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, those skilled in the art will appreciate numerous modifications and variations therefrom. It is intended that the appended claims cover all such modifications and variations as fall within the true spirit and scope of this present invention.