Title:
Ski boot insert
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ski boot insert is disclosed for use in imparting an enhanced sense of balance and for promoting and developing coordination in making downhill skiing maneuvers. The insert comprises a base member having a first rigid platform surface and a second compressible platform surface. The rigid platform surface and compressible platform surface are formed in a side-by-side fashion extending along the length of the insert. The rigid platform surface is preferably formed to be positioned beneath the outwardly facing portion of the underside of the skier's foot whereas the compressible side is formed to be positioned under the inwardly facing portion of the skier's foot. The insert may be integrated into new ski boot fabrication or may otherwise be formed for incorporation into an existing ski boot.



Inventors:
Harb, Harald (Dumont, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/751782
Publication Date:
07/07/2005
Filing Date:
01/05/2004
Assignee:
HARB HARALD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/04; A43B13/18; (IPC1-7): A43B5/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MATTHEW A. NEWBOLES;STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER (Suite 250, 75 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, CA, 92656, US)
Claims:
1. A ski boot insert comprising: a. a base portion having a peripheral edge defining a sole; b. a first platform surface formed upon a portion of said base, said first platform surface being fabricated from a rigid, non-compressible material; and c. a second platform surface formed upon a portion of said base and adjacent to said first platform surface, said second platform surface being fabricated from a compressible material.

2. The ski boot insert of claim 1 wherein said first platform surface and said base are integrally formed.

3. The ski boot insert of claim 2 wherein said first platform surface and said base are formed from a plastic material.

4. The ski boot insert of claim 1 wherein said second platform surface is fabricated from a material selected from the group consisting of foam, gel or fluid-filled compartment.

5. The ski boot insert of claim 4 wherein said fluid-filled compartment is filled with a fluid selected from the group consisting of a gas and a liquid.

6. The ski boot insert of claim 1 wherein said first and second platform members are arranged in a side-by-side fashion extending along a medial axis, said medial axis extending along the length of said insert.

7. The ski boot insert of claim 6 wherein said medial axis bisects said base of said insert.

8. The ski boot insert of claim 1 wherein said first and second platform surfaces are arranged in a side-by-side fashion extending along a diagonally extending axis, said diagonal axis extending across said insert.

9. The ski boot insert of claim 6 wherein said first platform surface extends outwardly from said medially-extending axis and said second platform surface extends inwardly relative said medial axis.

10. A ski boot insert comprising: a. a base portion having a peripheral edge defining a sole; b. a platform surface formed upon said base, said platform surface being fabricated from a compressible material; and c. at least one spring member disposed within said platform surface, said at least one spring being operative to upwardly support said platform surface.

11. The ski boot insert of claim 10 wherein said at least one spring member comprises an elongate spring extending lengthwise within said platform surface.

12. The ski boot insert of claim 11 wherein said at least one spring member extends along the medial side of said sole defined by said base portion.

13. A ski boot insert comprising: a. a base portion having a peripheral edge defining a sole, said base portion defining a medially extending apex; and b. a platform surface formed upon said base, said platform surface being fabricated from a compressible material and sized and configured to define a level platform; and c. wherein said platform surface is operative to compress on opposed sides of said apex of said base upon application of weight thereto.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The sport of skiing is well-known and enjoyed by millions throughout the world. While skiing may be deemed to include a variety of different types of activities and specialties, the activity of skiing typically may be characterized as either Alpine (i.e., downhill) or Nordic (i.e., cross-country). Both offer exceptional forms of exercise and, especially with respect to Alpine skiing, offer tremendous fun and excitement for both amateurs and professionals.

Achieving, maintaining and increasing ski angles to the skiing surface is one of the biggest challenges for skiers. Edging is achieved by tilting the ski onto its side. This is done by tilting the ankles and feet to the side inside the ski boot. The feet can be articulated in both directions laterally or medially and the legs naturally follow and assist in this action. This articulation of the foot presses the ankles to the side of the boot wall and pushes the boot to the side to tilt it onto an angle. When the boots are tilted the skis react in the same manner as the boots, as they are firmly attached to the skis via a binding, (described later). When a ski is tilted its edges cut into the snow. As the tilting of the skis increases the ski bends into a turn and the skier holds on the slope and increases balance.

Indeed, the ability to make turning or edging maneuvers with strong tilting movements while skiing downhill is a skill that even the most proficient skiers strive to perfect. As is well-recognized, the sport of downhill skiing or racing in large part measures skiers' ability to make such edging motions and maneuver about a plurality of gates strategically placed about a downhill course. In this regard, downhill skiing is essentially considered a technical event due to the agility and control skiers must possess to pass through tightly placed gates at high speeds.

Notwithstanding the demands to achieve ski tilt angles that offer higher skiing performance in turning maneuvers, coupled with the intense desire of ski enthusiasts to master the skills, there are virtually no methods or systems of any kind that assist in the development of skiers by increasing tipping and tilting movements for better edging, balance and coordination, while skiing. In this respect, almost every ski boot manufacturer uses a hard and rigid platform inside the plastic ski boot shell to support the feet. As a consequence, there is particularly lacking any system, let alone a ski boot-based system, that can enhance the ability of the skier to increase his or her tilt ability (i.e., achieve tilting angles that alter high skiing performance) as is necessary to become more proficient in making turning or edging maneuvers while skiing. In this regard, skiers are either relegated to training on simulators which attempt to approximate skiing motions, or simply practice skiing using conventional equipment until such time as the skier develops the requisite skill level. In either case, such approaches are time consuming and do little to develop or improve the balance and coordination necessary to master downhill skiing techniques.

Accordingly, there is a substantial need in the art for a system that can help promote and develop a skiers' balance and coordination in making turning or edging motions during downhill skiing. There is a further need for such a system that is of simple construction, easy to utilize, and can be readily integrated into conventional skiing practices and equipment, and are useful for any and all types of training and competition related to downhill skiing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, the present invention is directed to a ski boot insert that is incorporated into or otherwise inserted in a conventional ski boot that greatly enhances the ability of the skier utilizing the same to make downhill turning or edging maneuvers while skiing. The present invention is also exceptional at rapidly developing a sense of positioning and angling of the foot inside the ski boot that has not heretofore available.

According to a preferred embodiment, the ski boot insert is configured to have a shape or footprint substantially conforming to the soles of each of the skier's feet as per conventional boot boards. In this regard, the insert is sized and configured to be incorporated in place of or in addition to conventional ski boot or boot board members that are typically incorporated in virtually all types of conventional ski boots. The ski boot insert is provided with a base member upon which are formed first and second platform surfaces. A first platform surface, which may be integrally molded with the base, is formed from a hardened material, such as plastic. A second platform surface formed adjacent to the first platform surface and on top of the base is provided that is formed from a compressive material, such as a foam, gel, or possibly other fluid-filled compartment that enables the second platform surface to compress or otherwise deform when weight is distributed thereon.

The first and second platform surfaces formed upon the base are preferably arranged in a side-by-side fashion that extend medially along the length of the insert. The first platform surface will be formed on the outwardly-facing portion of the sole whereas the second platform surface will be formed upon the inwardly facing side of the sole, and will preferably be configured to extend underneath the arch of the skier's foot. In an alternative embodiment, the first platform surface and second platform surface are disposed in side-by-side fashion about a diagonal border extending about the length of the ski boot insert. As per the first embodiment, the first platform surface will extend toward the outwardly-facing side of the skier's foot whereas the second platform portion will extend toward the inwardly-facing side of the user's foot.

In alternative embodiments, the ski boot insert may include a base member upon which is formed an upwardly biased spring member operative to push up against a respective side of the skier's foot secured within the ski boot that can also compress when weight of the skier, as occurs when the skier's foot compresses against the spring member. In this regard, such embodiment enables a side of the platform surface of such insert to selectively compress or otherwise deform when weight is distributed thereon, as per the aforementioned embodiment. In a further embodiment, the ski boot insert, as per the other aforementioned embodiments, is configured per a conventional boot board insert that includes a base defining an apex or fulcrum that extends medially along the length of such insert. A layer of compressive material, such as foam, gel, or possibly other fluid-filled compartment, is disposed atop the base member and defines a level platform surface. In use, such embodiment enables the platform surface to compress or otherwise deform on opposed sides of the apex or fulcrum when weight is distributed on opposed sides thereof.

The ski boot insert of the present invention may be incorporated into the manufacture of new ski boots or may be fabricated as a replacement insert or retrofit for use in existing ski boots. The ski boot insert will further be specifically formed per conventional shoe sizes and will thus be capable of being designed for any and all types of conventional ski boots previously constructed or as may be constructed in the future.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These as well as other features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a downhill skier making a downhill turning motion.

FIG. 2 is a right side view, shown partially in phantom, of the left ski boot of the skier depicted in FIG. 1, the ski boot shown housing therein a ski boot insert constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top view of the ski boot insert of the present invention taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3 wherein a portion of the platform surface of the insert is shown in a first non-compressed configuration.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 4 wherein a portion of the platform surface is shown assuming a compressed configuration.

FIG. 6 is a top view of an insert as constructed in accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a rear cross-sectional view of the ski boot of the present invention as constructed in accordance with a further preferred embodiment thereof.

FIG. 7A is a top view of the ski boot insert depicted in FIG. 7.

FIG. 8 is a rear cross-sectional view of the ski boot of the present invention as constructed in accordance with another preferred embodiment thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The detailed description set forth below is intended as a description of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and sequences of steps for constructing and operating the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments and that they are also intended to be encompassed within the scope of the invention.

Referring now to the figures, and initially to FIG. 1, there is shown the downhill turning motion 10 of a skier 12 during Alpine skiing. As illustrated, the motion 10 comprises a complex movement requiring balance and proper positioning. To achieve that end, it is necessary for the skier 12 to shift his or her weight via the use of the skier's arms and poles 14, 16 and more importantly his or her legs 22, 24 such that skis 18, 20 are caused to extend in generally parallel relation to one another as the skier 12 shifts his or her body positioning at an appropriate angle, represented by the letter “A”, relative the ground. Key to accomplishing such movement is how the skier 12 distributes his or her weight to the respective skis 18, 20 via the ski boots 26, 27. In this regard, given the static nature of the interconnection between the ski boot and the skis, the only means by which the skier 12 can impart turning motion is by merely shifting his or her weight upon the skis, via the respective ski boots 26, 27.

Unfortunately, however, virtually all types of ski boots, such as 26, 27, provide no means whatsoever to accommodate the shifting of the skier's weight. In this regard, virtually all types of ski boots are provided with a flat sole portion formed from a rigid, non-deformable material, such as hardened plastic and the like that does not provide any type of cushioning support or is otherwise adapted to compress to accommodate shifts in the skier's weight when applied thereto. As a consequence, the skier is provided with no means to shift his or her weight in a manner that would correct or compensate in order to make faster and more maneuverable motions.

Through the present invention, it has recently been discovered that providing a ski boot insert operative to partially provide a compressive platform surface will, in fact, substantially improve a skier's edging and tilting abiity, therefore improving the skier's sense of direction in making downhill skiing maneuvers by enabling the skier to shift his or her weight across the sole of the ski boot. As illustrated in FIG. 2, there is shown the right side view of the left ski boot 26 of the skier depicted in FIG. 1. As per typically all conventional ski boots, the ski boot 26 comprises a foot housing portion 26a in combination with an ankle housing portion 26b. The interior of the ski boot 26 may be selectively opened and closed via buckles 28, the latter of which may take a variety of configurations well-known to those skilled in the art. The ski boot 26 is further provided with a binding fastening portion 26c, the latter operative to interlock with a ski binding operative for holding the boot firmly on the ski. The present invention comprises an insert 30 positionable with the ski boot 26 and operative to extend about the sole or under surface of the skier's foot when the boot 26 is worn. As illustrated, the ski boot insert 30 is operative to provide a base portion 32 and an upper portion platform surface, a portion of which is shown as 34, discussed more fully below. It will further be understood that a separate insert will be provided for right ski boot 27, as shown.

With respect to the insert 30, the same is more clearly seen in FIG. 3. As per conventional sole insert devices, the insert 30 substantially conforms to the general outline extending about a human foot. In this regard, it is expressly contemplated that the insert 30 will be expressly configured per any and all conventional foot sizing schemes known or later developed that are operative to substantially conform to a particular size of foot. Along these lines, it is expressly contemplated that the insert 30 may be configured to be integrated into newly manufactured ski boots or otherwise designed as a separate insert capable of being installed as a retrofit insert into existing ski boots.

The ski boot insert 30 will be expressly configured such that the same includes at least two types of platform surfaces 33, 34 formed thereon, as illustrated in FIG. 3. A first platform surface 33 will be formed from a hardened, non-deformable material, such as plastic and the like, and may be integrally formed as part of the base 32 of the sole insert 30, as illustrated in FIG. 4. A second platform surface 34 is also provided that is formed adjacent to the first platform surface 33 and preferably extends along a medial axis extending along the length of insert 30, as shown in FIG. 3. The second platform surface 34 will be formed from a compressible or deformable material, which may take any of a variety of materials well-known in the art. Exemplary of such materials may include but are not limited to compressible foam, gel, or a fluid filled compartment, which may comprise either a liquid-filled compartment, a gas-filled compartment, or combinations thereof. In any such embodiment, it will be understood that the second platform surface 34 will be adapted to compress or deform to the extent a skier's weight, as distributed by the skier's foot is compressed thereagainst.

Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, initially to FIG. 4, there is shown an arrangement by which the side-by-side platform surfaces 32, 34 are operative to react to the application of pressure or weight thereto. FIG. 4 illustrates the insert 30 as shown in a neutral position whereby first and second platform surfaces 32, 34, as formed atop base 32 are positioned adjacent to one another thereon. As illustrated, adjacent platform surfaces 33, 34 cooperate to define a continuous surface atop of base 32. As discussed above, in order to facilitate the manufacturing of such device, it is contemplated that first platform surface 33 may be integrally formed as part of base 32.

To the extent a skier's weight is distributed about the platform surfaces 33, 34 the second platform surface 34 will be caused to depress as indicated by the letter “B” whereas first platform surface 33 will remain static. In this regard, the ski boot inserts of the present invention will be operative to only partially deform upon the application of a skier's weight thereto. Quite unexpectedly, by enabling only a portion of the skier's foot to compress downwardly upon the insert 30 provides an optimal sense of balance and coordination that has not heretofor been available. Accordingly, in order for the ski boot insert of the present invention to optimally function, it will be understood that at least two different platform or zones must be provided with at least one platform surface being deformable or compressible in nature whereas the other portion does not possess such properties.

In addition to the foregoing need for two separate and distinct zones with one being compressible or deformable in nature and the other one being rigid, such zones must further be located about the platform surface of the ski boot insert. As discussed above with respect to FIG. 3, in a first preferred embodiment it is contemplated that the first and second platform surfaces 33, 34 will be arranged in a side-by-side fashion with the first rigid platform surface 33 extending outwardly relative the skier's foot and compressible second platform portion 34 will be formed on the inwardly-facing side of the skier's foot. Accordingly, it will be readily understood that the insert 30 as will be provided for the right foot of the skier will comprise a mirror image of that depicted in FIG. 3.

In FIG. 6 there is shown another preferred embodiment which likewise illustrates the use of adjacent platform surfaces 33, 34 with first platform 33 being rigid in nature and second platform surface 34 being compressible or deformable in nature. As opposed to extending along a medial axis bisecting the length of the insert 30, the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6 positions adjacent platform surfaces 33, 34 along a diagonally-extending axis. It will be understood that the corresponding right ski boot insert for use in the right ski boot will be a mirror image to that depicted in FIG. 6.

Although shown as either extending along a medially-disposed axis or a diagonally-extending axis, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that alternative configurations will be readily apparent and that so long as first and second platform surfaces are provided having dedicated compressible and non-compressible properties, such insert will be deemed to fall within the scope of the present invention. Along these lines, it is contemplated that first and second platform surfaces 33, 34 may be arranged as specific segments or portions distributed about and across portions of the ski boot insert 30, and may likewise be situated adjacent one another along curved borders and the like. Accordingly, such adjacent nature between first and second platform surfaces 33, 34 should be construed as broadly as possible.

Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 7a, and initially to FIG. 7, there is shown yet a further embodiment of the ski boot insert 30 of the present invention. As per the other aforementioned embodiments, the ski boot insert 30 is operative to provide a selectively compressible or deformable upper platform surface to the extent the skier's foot is tilted or angled thereupon. Per the other aforementioned embodiments, the insert 30 is provided with a rigid, flat base 32 formed from a non-deformable material. Formed atop base 32 is a layer of compressible material, which as discussed above may take the form of foam, gel, or any other material operative to selectively compress when the weight of the skier is distributed thereupon. Disposed within a respective side of the platform surface 34 is a spring member 40, the latter being operative to provide an upwardly biased force, as indicated by the letter “C” but also operative to compress downwardly in the direction indicated by the letter “D” to the extent a force (i.e., the weight of the skier imparted by the skier) is focused thereon, as occurs during tilting of the skier's foot.

In use, such spring member 40 will be operative to provide a more rigid platform portion of the ski boot insert 30 than that portion of the insert, more particularly compressible platform surface 34, that does not include such upwardly biased spring reinforcement. Accordingly, per the other aforementioned embodiments, the ski boot insert 30 will be operative to provide a first, more rigid zone of platform surface support and a second, more easily compressible platform surface.

Referring now to FIG. 7a, there is shown a top view of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 7 showing the placement of first and second spring members 40a, 40b along the medial side of an insert 30 operatively positionable within the right foot boot of a pair of ski boots. Advantageously, by selectively positioning the spring members 40a, 40b, a more rigid, and hence more supportive platform surface can be selectively defined about the insert 30 as may be desired in particular applications.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is shown a further embodiment of the ski boot insert 30 of the present invention which is operative to provide compressible platform surface areas extending along opposed sides of the insert. More particularly, the base 32 is formed to have an apex or fulcrum 42 extending lengthwise along the median of such insert 30. A level platform surface 34, again formed from compressible material, is formed on top of base 32 which thus defines left and right platform surface areas that may be selectively compressible, as indicated by the letters “E” and “F”. In this regard, to the extent the skier's foot is caused to tilt away from either side of apex 42, that portion extending away from the apex will compress downwardly against the compressible platform surface 34, whereas the median portion extending along apex 42 will be provided with slightly greater support. Such embodiment is particularly well suited to facilitate the development of balance and coordination during edging and tilting of the skier's feet when making down hill skiing maneuvers.

Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of parts and steps described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices and methods within the spirit and scope of the invention.