Title:
Ice skate
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An ice skate comprising a blade and a blade holder. The blade holder providing decreasing, non rigid, and/or no lateral support in a rearward region of the blade so that it may facilitate increased or freer flexibility of the blade and improved maneuverability. The blade is rigidly laterally supported at a front end section of the blade holder and preferably also at a back end section of the blade holder so that it may facilitate efficient transfer of force between the skater and the blade. One or more non-rigid support members may be employed to control, absorb and/or cushion the flexing of the blade. The ice skate may be tuned to reflect the desired performance requirements of the individual skater and/or use.



Inventors:
Goldsmith, Edward M. (Granada Hills, CA, US)
Grossman, Richard D. (Granada Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/746955
Publication Date:
07/22/2004
Filing Date:
12/23/2003
Assignee:
JAS. D. EASTON
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C1/00; A63C1/22; A63C1/30; (IPC1-7): A63C1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080111338Indoor WheelchairMay, 2008Ilan
20100032915MOTOR VEHICLE AND RICKSHAW AND TILTING MECHANISM THEREOFFebruary, 2010Hsu et al.
20090051151CUSHION STRUCTURE OF SIDE AIRBAGFebruary, 2009Choi
20030071453Tensioner-proof closure for a safety beltApril, 2003Holzapfel
20040140660Seat belt restraint system with lap belt adjustment deviceJuly, 2004Xu
20030155728Attachable package movement apparatusAugust, 2003Dacosta
20100096838Apparatus, kit and method for trimming a climbing skinApril, 2010Mccrank et al.
20090256333Cambered SnowboardOctober, 2009Canaday et al.
20090115159ARRANGEMENT FOR TELESCOPIC FORK LEG WITH PARALLEL DAMPINGMay, 2009Sintorn
20050029797Grip for a stick or poleFebruary, 2005Roiser
20090289429COLLAPSIBLE ROLLING SUPPORT STAND HAVING A SUPPORT LEGNovember, 2009Voong



Primary Examiner:
BOTTORFF, CHRISTOPHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JONES DAY (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An ice skate comprising: a blade holder including an elongate body extending from a front end section to a back end section; a blade including a front end and a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section, the back end being enclosed by the back end section, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

2. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, wherein the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the back end section of the blade holder.

3. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove adapted to snugly receive the blade.

4. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, wherein a portion of both sides of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

5. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, wherein the blade further comprises an upper surface, the upper surface being spaced apart from the blade holder so as to form a void between the upper surface and the blade holder.

6. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder is located behind the ball of the foot.

7. The ice skate as set forth in claim 1, further comprising an elastic non-rigid support member being interposed between a portion of the blade located behind the front end section and the blade holder.

8. The ice skate as set forth in claim 7, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove and the elastic non-rigid support member is interposed between a portion of at least one side of the blade and the groove.

9. The ice skate set forth in claim 1, further comprising an ice skate boot in communication with the blade holder.

10. An ice skate comprising: a blade including a first and second side, an upper surface, an ice engaging surface generally opposed to the upper surface and a forward section; a blade holder rigidly laterally supporting the blade at the forward section of the blade, a portion of the first side located behind the forward section being displaced from the blade holder; an elastic non-rigid support member being interposed between the blade holder and the portion of the first side located behind the forward section of the blade that is displaced from the blade holder.

11. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the blade further comprises a rearward section located behind the forward section, the rearward section being rigidly laterally supported by the blade holder.

12. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove adapted to snugly receive the blade.

13. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein a portion of the second side of the blade located behind the forward section is displaced from the blade holder.

14. The ice skate as set forth in claim 13, wherein an elastic non-rigid support member is interposed between the blade holder and the portion of the second side of the blade located behind the forward section and displaced from the blade holder.

15. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein at least one side of the blade located behind the forward section is laterally unsupported.

16. The ice skate as set forth in claim 15, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the forward section that is laterally unsupported is located behind the ball of the foot.

17. The ice skate as set forth in claim 16, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the forward section that is laterally unsupported is located underneath the rearward metatarsal bones of the foot.

18. The ice skate as set forth in claim 16, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the forward section that is laterally unsupported is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

19. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the upper surface is spaced apart from the blade holder so as to form a void between the upper surface and the blade holder.

20. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located behind the ball of the foot.

21. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located underneath the rearward metatarsal bones of the foot.

22. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

23. The ice skate as set forth in claim 10, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove and the elastic non-rigid support member is interposed between a portion of at least one side of the blade and the groove.

24. The ice skate set forth in claim 10, further comprising an ice skate boot in communication with the blade holder.

25. An ice skate comprising: a blade holder including a front member having a front end section, a back member having a back end section, the front member extending from the front end section toward the back member and the back member extending from the back end section toward the front member; a blade including a front end and a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front member and the back end being enclosed by the back member, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section, a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

26. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the back end section of the blade holder.

27. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove adapted to snugly receive the blade.

28. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein a portion of both sides of the blade located behind the front end section are laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

29. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the blade further comprises an upper surface, the upper surface being spaced apart from the blade holder so as to form a void between the upper surface and the blade holder.

30. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder is located behind the ball of the foot.

31. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder is located underneath the rearward portion of the metatarsal bones of the foot.

32. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section being laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

33. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, further comprising an elastic non-rigid support member interposed between a portion of the blade located behind the front end section and the blade holder.

34. The ice skate as set forth in claim 33, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove and the elastic non-rigid support member is interposed between a portion of at least one side of the blade and the groove.

35. The ice skate as set forth in claim 33, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located behind the ball of the foot.

36. The ice skate as set forth in claim 33, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located underneath the rearward metatarsal bones of the foot.

37. The ice skate as set forth in claim 33, wherein the elastic non-rigid support member is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

38. The ice skate as set forth in claim 25, further comprising an elastic non-rigid support member being interposed between the blade holder and a portion of both sides of the blade located behind the front end section.

39. The ice skate set forth in claim 25, further comprising an ice skate boot in communication with the blade holder.

40. An ice skate comprising: a blade holder including a front member generally underlying the toe region and the forward metatarsal area of the foot, a back member generally underlying the heel of the foot, a center section longitudinally extending from the front member to the back member, the center section having a portion being more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member; a blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front member of the blade holder.

41. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, wherein the portion of the center section being more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member is located behind the ball of the foot.

42. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, wherein the portion of the center section being more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member is located underneath the rearward metatarsal bones of the foot.

43. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, wherein the portion of the center section being more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

44. The ice skate set forth in claim 41, 42 or 43, wherein the portion of the center section being more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member communicates continuous and decreasing lateral rigidity extending rearward toward the heel of the foot to the underlying portion of the blade.

45. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, wherein at least one side of the blade located behind the rigid lateral support is laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

46. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, further comprising an elastic non-rigid support member interposed between at least one side of the blade and the blade holder.

47. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, wherein the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the back member of the blade holder.

48. The ice skate set forth in claim 40, further comprising an ice skate boot in communication with the blade holder.

49. An ice skate comprising: a blade holder including a front end section, a back end section and, a center section longitudinally extending between the front end section and the back end section, a portion of the center section located behind the ball of the foot having continuos decreasing lateral rigidity extending toward the heel of the foot. a blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder.

50. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, wherein the portion of the center section having continuos decreasing lateral rigidity extending toward the heel of the foot is located underneath the rearward metatarsal bones of the foot.

51. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, wherein the portion of the center section having continuos decreasing lateral rigidity extending toward the heel of the foot is located underneath the tarsal bones of the foot.

52. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, 50 or 51, wherein the portion of the center section having continues decreasing lateral rigidity extending toward the heel of the foot communicates continuous and decreasing lateral rigidity extending rearward toward the heel of the foot to the underlying portion of the blade.

53. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, wherein at least one side of the blade located behind the rigid lateral support at the front end section of the blade holder is laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

54. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, further comprising an elastic non-rigid support member interposed between at least one side of the blade and the blade holder.

55. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, wherein the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the back end section of the blade holder.

56. The ice skate set forth in claim 55, wherein the center section is integrally connected with the front and back end sections.

57. The ice skate set forth in claim 49, further comprising an ice skate boot in communication with the blade holder.

58. An ice skate for a foot comprising: a blade holder including a front end section and a back end section; and a blade including a front end and a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section not being rigidly laterally supported.

59. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the back end section of the blade holder.

60. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder comprises a plastic construction.

61. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder comprises a fiber reinforced plastic construction.

62. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade, when secured to the blade holder, is configured to allow lateral flexing of the blade relative to the blade holder.

63. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder includes a first passage and the blade includes a second passage configured to be in alignment with the first passage when the blade is secured to the blade holder.

64. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade includes a convex ice engaging surface.

65. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder is removably secured to the blade.

66. The ice skate as set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder further comprises a groove adapted to snugly receive upper regions of the blade.

67. The ice skate set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade further comprises an upper surface spaced apart from the blade holder to define a space between the upper surface of the blade and the blade holder.

68. The ice skate set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder further comprises a front pedestal configured to underlie the toe region of the foot of the intended wearer and a rear pedestal configured to underlie the heel region of the foot of the intended wearer.

69. The ice skate set forth in claim 58, wherein the blade holder further comprises molded opposed wall members spaced apart from one another.

70. The ice skate set forth in claim 69, wherein the opposed wall members are constructed of molded plastic.

71. The ice skate set forth in claim 68, further comprising a boot configured to receive a foot, said boot being secured to the front and rear pedestals of the blade holder.

72. The ice skate set forth in claim 71, wherein the boot is secured to the blade holder via rivets that extend through flanges of the front and rear pedestals.

73. The ice skate set forth in claim 58, wherein a portion of both sides of the blade located behind the front end section are not being rigidly laterally supported.

74. The ice skate set forth in claim 58, wherein the portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section not being rigidly laterally supported is configured to be located behind the ball of the foot.

75. An ice skate for a foot comprising, a blade holder and blade assembly configured such that, when the blade is operatively secured to the blade holder, the blade is enclosed by the blade holder at the blade's front and back ends and a portion of at least one side of the blade located between the front and back ends is laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

76. A method for making an ice skate for a foot comprising the steps of: (a) providing a blade holder including an elongate body extending from a front end section to a back end section; (b) providing a blade that extends from a front end to a back end; (c) securing the blade holder to the blade to form a blade holder and blade assembly; (d) configuring the blade holder and blade assembly, such that, when the blade is operatively secured to the blade holder: the blade is enclosed at its front and back ends by the front and back end sections, respectively, of the blade holder, the blade is rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder, and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section is not rigidly laterally supported.

77. The method of claim 76, further comprising the step of securing the blade holder to a boot.

78. An ice skate for a foot comprising: a blade holder including a front end section and a back end section; and a unitary metal blade extending from a front end to a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section, the back end being enclosed by the back end section, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section not being rigidly laterally supported.

79. An ice skate blade and blade holder assembly comprising: a blade holder including a front end section and a back end section; and a unitary metal blade extending from a front end to a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section, the back end being enclosed by the back end section, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section not being rigidly laterally supported.

80. An ice skate blade and blade holder assembly comprising: a blade holder including an elongate body extending from a front end section to a back end section; and a unitary metal blade extending from a front end to a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section, the back end being enclosed by the back end section, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder and a portion of at least one side of the blade located between the front and back end sections being adapted to allow for lateral flex of the blade relative to the directly overlying portion of the blade holder.

81. A unitary metallic ice skate blade extending from a front end to a back end and having a top surface and bottom surface and a first and second side, such blade configured to being secured to an ice skate blade holder, such that when the blade is operatively secured to the blade holder: (a) the front end and back end are enclosed by the blade holder; (b) the front end of the blade is rigidly laterally supported by the blade holder; (c) a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the rigidly laterally supported front end is not rigidly laterally supported; and (d) the top surface of the metallic blade at said portion being vertically displaced from the blade holder.

82. The ice skate blade of claim 81, further comprising a means for removably securing the blade to the blade holder.

83. The ice skate blade of claim 82, wherein said means comprises at least two fastening apertures arranged to receive a fastener.

84. The ice skate blade of claim 81, wherein said portion is configured to be located behind the ball of the foot.

85. The ice skate blade of claim 81, wherein said portion is not laterally supported on both sides.

86. The ice skate blade of claim 81, wherein said lower surface includes a convex ice engaging surface.

87. The ice skate blade of claim 81, wherein said upper surface includes a recessed region positioned between the front and back ends of the blade.

88. The ice skate blade of claim 81, wherein the blade is an ice hockey blade.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/230,799 filed on Aug. 28, 2002, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/156,847 filed on Sep. 16, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,467,778. This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 to each of the foregoing-identified applications, which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The field of the present invention is ice skates.

[0003] The following U.S. patents are hereby incorporated by reference: U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,484,148, 5,456,495, 5,383,674, 5,332,242, 5,318,310, 5,248,156, 4,826,183, 4,773,658, 4,453,727, 4,218,069, 4,150,837, 4,088,335, 4,085,944, 4,074,909, 4,071,938, 4,053,168, and 3,934,892, and U.S. Pat. Nos. Des. 254,201, and 249,973.

[0004] In conventional ice skate assemblies such as those disclosed in the aforementioned referenced patents and those manufactured and sold by Canstar Sports Group, Inc. under the trademark TUUK, a molded plastic blade holder, which is designed to be attached to or integral with a skate boot, has a longitudinal slot or groove in which an ice skate blade is snugly received. The blade holder, either separately or in combination with a reinforcement member of greater rigidity, is designed to be in direct contact with the sides of the blade and, thereby, provides lateral support along the full longitudinal length of the blade. Greater support is typically provided toward the front and rear of the blade and less support in an around the center of the blade. The center sections are generally designed to provide increasing or non-varying lateral support to an underlying portion of the blade located generally behind the ball of the foot and increasing or non-varying as it extends toward the heel.

[0005] In operation, the support provided by the blade holder functions to inhibit the blade from freely flexing in the lateral direction along its longitudinal axis and twisting around its longitudinal axis. While conventional blade holders provide a certain degree of lateral and torsional support to the blade they nonetheless are capable of being twisted, flexed, and/or bent by the forces placed on them by the blade. Such deformations while perhaps beneficial in some circumstances may be detrimental to the efficient transfer of force between the skater and the skate blade and to the maneuverability of the skater.

[0006] Accordingly, a need exists for an improved ice skate that can efficiently transfer force so as to facilitate rapid acceleration and deceleration and yet achieve the desired maneuverability.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention is directed to an ice skate including a blade holder and blade. The configuration of the combination provides decreasing, non-rigid and/or no lateral support in a section of the blade holder.

[0008] Accordingly, a first separate aspect of the present inventions comprises an ice skate having a blade holder and a blade. The blade holder comprises an elongate body extending from a front end section to a back end section. The blade includes a front end and a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front end section of the blade holder and the back end being enclosed by the back end section of the blade holder. The blade is rigidly laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder; and a portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section is laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

[0009] A second separate aspect of the present invention comprises an ice skate having a blade, a blade holder, and an elastic non-rigid support member. The blade includes a first and second side, an upper surface, an ice engaging surface generally opposed to the upper surface, and a forward section. The blade holder rigidly laterally supports the blade at the forward section of the blade. A portion of the first side of the blade located behind the forward section is displaced from the blade holder. An elastic non rigid support member is interposed between the blade holder and the portion of the first side of the blade located behind the forward section of the blade that is displaced from the blade holder.

[0010] A third separate aspect of the present invention comprises an ice skate having a blade holder and a blade. The blade holder includes a front member having a front end section, a back member having a back end section, the front member extending from the front end section toward the back member and the back member extending from the back end section toward the front member. The blade includes a front end and a back end, the front end being enclosed by the front member and the back end being enclosed by the back member, the blade being rigidly laterally supported at the front end section. A portion of at least one side of the blade located behind the front end section is unsupported and displaced from the blade holder.

[0011] A fourth separate aspect of the present invention comprises an ice skate having a blade and a blade holder. The blade holder includes a front member generally underlying the toe region and the forward metatarsal area of the sole, a back member generally underlying the heel of the sole, and a center section longitudinally extending from the front member to the back member. The center section includes a portion that is more laterally rigid toward the front member than the back member. The blade is laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder.

[0012] A fifth separate aspect of the present invention comprises an ice skate having a blade holder and a blade. The blade holder includes a front end section, a back end section and a center section longitudinally extending between the front end section and the back end section. A portion of the center section located behind the ball of the foot has continuous decreasing lateral rigidity extending toward the heel of the foot. The blade is laterally supported at the front end section of the blade holder.

[0013] In a sixth separate aspect of the present invention it is contemplated that elements of the aforementioned aspects of the present invention may be combined.

[0014] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an ice skate that can improve maneuverability and yet can be efficient in the transfer of acceleration and deceleration forces. Other and further objects and advantages will appear hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a side view of a first embodiment of an ice skate.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a side view of the ice skate blade holder and blade illustrated in FIG. 1, wherein the blade is unattached to the blade holder.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the ice skate blade holder and blade illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a bottom view of a second alternative embodiment of an ice skate blade holder and blade.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a side view of a third alternative embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 8 is a bottom view of a second preferred implementation of the second alternative embodiment of an ice skate blade holder and blade depicted in FIG. 5.

[0023] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8.

[0024] FIG. 10 is a bottom view of a first preferred implementation of the third alternative embodiment depicted in FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] In the drawings, for clarity of description, any reference numeral representing an element in one figure shall represent the same element in any other figure.

[0026] FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a first preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1 illustrates an ice skate 1 comprising an ice skate boot 10, an ice skate blade holder 100 and an ice skate blade 200. The ice skate boot 10 is comprised of an upper 11, an outsole 12, the outsole 12 being attached to the ice skate blade holder 100. The blade holder 100 is comprised of a front member 120 including a front end section 130 and a back member 140 including a back end section 150. The front member 120 may be in the form of a front pedestal generally underlying the toe region 610 and the forward metatarsal area 620 of the skater's foot 600 overlying the outsole 12. The back member 140 may be in the form of a rear pedestal generally underlying the heel 630 of the skater's foot 600 overlying the outsole 12. Flanges 160 surround the top of the blade holder 100 at the front and back members 120, 140. Blade holder-boot attachment holes 170 may be provided through the flanges 160 to facilitate the attachment of the blade holder 100 to the boot 10 via conventional means such as rivets, screws or the like. It should be recognized however that the blade holder 100 could be formed integrally with the ice skate boot 10, thus, making conventional mechanical attachment of the blade holder 100 to the ice skate boot 10 unnecessary.

[0027] In order to improve the blade holder's integrity and rigidity and to facilitate efficient communication between the front and back members 120 and 140, the ice skate blade holder 100 is preferably further comprised of a center section 110 extending longitudinally between the front and back members 120 and 140. In this configuration, the blade holder 100 is generally in the form of an elongate body.

[0028] Grooves 180 adapted to snugly receive the blade 200 are formed at the bottom of the blade holder 100. Blade attachment holes 185 are provided through the blade holder 100 at the front and back members 120 and 140 to facilitate the retention of the blade 200 within the blade holder 100. The blade holder 100 may be formed of opposed wall members 190 manufactured of fiber reinforced composite material such as fiber reinforced rigid plastic, sheet and bulk molding compounds of a high fiber content, or like material capable of providing rigid lateral support to the blade 200.

[0029] A blade 200 is formed so that it is generally curved throughout its length in a longitudinal plane to define a convex lower surface or ice engaging surface 210. The blade 200 may be formed of plated or unplated carbon steel, stainless steel, or any material that functions to achieve the desired results. The ice engaging surface 210 usually includes one or more edges that engage the ice surface. Generally opposed to the ice engaging surface is an upper surface 220 of the blade 200. The blade 200 is further comprised of a first and second side 230 and 240 generally opposed to one another and generally vertical to the ice engaging surface 210 and the upper surface 220. The blade 200 further comprises a front end 250 and a back end 260. Positioning holes 275 are provided in attachment ears 270 of the blade 200 so that when the blade 200 is received in the blade holder 100 the positioning holes 275 are generally concentric with the blade attachment holes 185. Screws 400 and securing nuts 410, adapted to being secured to one another and directionally received within the positioning holes 275 and the blade attachment holes 185, retain the blade 200 within the grooves 180 of the blade holder 100.

[0030] As best illustrated in FIGS. 1, and 3-6, the blade 200 is rigidly supported in the lateral direction at a forward section 280 of the blade 200 and preferably at the front end section 130 of the blade holder 100. The blade 200 may also be rigidly supported in the lateral direction at a rearward section 290 of the blade 200, preferably at the back end section 150 of the blade holder 100. The rigid support can facilitate the efficient transfer of force between the skater and the skate blade 200 as well as limit the torsional bending of the blade. Thus, the rigid lateral support can facilitate the skater's efficient acceleration and deceleration. The rearward section 290 of the blade 200 is defined as the section of the blade 200 located rearward (toward the heel) of the forward section 280 of the blade 200. A portion of at least one side of the rearward section 290 of the blade 200 is laterally unsupported and displaced from the blade holder 100 to facilitate the flexing of the blade 200 in the lateral direction along the blade's longitudinal axis and thereby allows the blade 200 to “hug” or bend into contact with the ice surface. This portion is preferably located generally behind the ball 640 of the skater's foot 600 underneath the rearward metatarsal 650 and/or tarsal 660 bones of the skater's foot 600.

[0031] In this preferred embodiment, a portion of the upper surface 220 of the blade 200 located in the rearward section 290 is displaced from the blade holder 100 so as to form a void 430 between the blade holder 100 and the upper surface 220 of the blade 200. The void 430 is formed so that it underlies a portion of the center section 110 of the blade holder 100. The void 430 may be achieved by reducing the height of the blade 200. The height of the blade 200 is defined by the distance between the upper surface 220 and the ice engaging surface 210 of the blade 200. While the void 430 in this preferred embodiment is achieved via the design of the blade 200, it should be understood that the void 430 may also be formed by modification or design of the blade holder 100. The front end 250 and the back end 260 of the blade 200 are enclosed within the blade holder 100 at the front member 120 and back member 140 of the blade holder 100, respectively.

[0032] In a second alternative preferred embodiment, illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, the blade 200 is rigidly supported in the lateral direction at a forward section 280 of the blade 200 and preferably at the front end section 130 of the blade holder 100. The blade 200 may also be rigidly supported in the lateral direction at a rearward section 290 of the blade 200, preferably at the back end section 150 of the blade holder 100. A groove 180 is employed to house at least a portion of the rearward section 290 of the blade 200 so that the upper surface 220 resides within the groove 180. The sides of the groove 180 are set apart a distance greater than the thickness of the blade 200 so that at least a portion of one side of the rearward section 290 housed by the groove 180 is displaced from the blade holder 100, preferably in the center section 110 and more preferably behind the ball 640 of the foot 600 of the skater so as to be positioned behind the rearward metatarsal 650 and/or tarsal 660 bones of the skater. The thickness of the blade 200 is defined as the distance between the first and second side 230 and 240 of the blade 200. In this respect, the sides of the groove 180 serve the dual purpose of functioning as a rigid “stop”, so as to limit the distance the blade 200 can flex in the lateral direction and as a protective guard by covering the upper edges of the blade 200.

[0033] In order to avoid frictional contact between the upper surface 220 of the blade 200 and the blade holder 100 so as to facilitate freer lateral flexibility of the blade 200, it is preferred that the upper surface 220 of the portion of the blade 200 located in the rearward section 290 and displaced from the groove 180 also be displaced from the groove's upper surface. However, it is apparent that contact between the groove's upper surface and the upper surface 220 of the blade 200 may also be practiced to achieve the substantial benefits of the invention.

[0034] In order to control, absorb or cushion the flexing of the blade 200, one or more elastic non-rigid support members 500 may be interposed between the sides of the groove 180 and a displaced portion of the first side 230 and/or the second side 240 of the rearward section 290 of the blade 200. The term “elastic” shall mean a material having greater capability to recover its size after being deformed than that material used in the construction of the portion of the blade holder 100 which the elastic non-rigid support member 500 is interposed. Materials suitable for use in manufacturing the elastic non-rigid support member 500 include elastomer thermoplastics such as urethane and rubber and thermoset materials, cork, foam elastomer, low density polyethelyne, and any other material that functions in a like manner.

[0035] The ice skate may be tuned or adjusted to reflect the abilities of the user and or the type of use for which the ice skate is employed. For example, for heavier or more accomplished skaters the length of the displaced and/or unsupported portion of the rearward section 290 of the blade 200 may be shortened to reflect the skater's capabilities of exerting the force required for flexing the blade 200 in the lateral direction.

[0036] The ice skate could also be tuned via the selection of the material(s) used in the construction of the elastic non-rigid support member(s) 500. The choice of material(s) would be based, among other things, on their suitability in effectuating the desired performance for the particular individual skater and/or use, as well as, the inherent lateral rigidity of the blade holder 100 and blade 200 as reflected in their design and the materials employed in their manufacture. Furthermore, the selection of the materials employed in the manufacture of the elastic non-rigid support members 500 may reflect the distinctive characteristic forces of supination and pronation of the skater's foot. For example, the material(s) employed in the manufacture of the elastic non-rigid support member 500 on the medial side of the blade 200 may be different than the material employed on the lateral side of the blade 200. In addition, the size and placement of the elastic non-rigid member 500 in the rearward section 290 of the blade 200 may differ to reflect the desired performance.

[0037] In a third alternative preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7, a section of the blade holder 100 is designed so that there is a portion of continuous decreasing lateral support located rearward from the ball 640 of the ice skater's foot 600. The ball 640 of the foot 600 is defined generally as the area where the most medial forward metatarsal 620 bone meets the most medial phalange 670 bone of the foot 600 and is characterized externally by the beginning of the arch 680 of the foot 600 on the medial side of the foot 600. The decreasing lateral support located rearward from the ball 640 of the ice skater's foot 600 and extending toward the heel of the foot 600 can facilitate an increasing and transitionally smooth flexing of the underlying region of the blade 200 and can facilitate improved skater maneuverability. It is preferable that the section of the blade holder having decreasing lateral support be positioned to underlie the rearward metatarsal 650 and/or the tarsal 660 bones of the skater. In this preferred embodiment, the center section 110 of the blade holder 100 longitudinally extending from the front member 120 to the back member 140 is formed with decreasing lateral rigidity from behind the ball 640 of the foot 600 to the back member 140 so as to communicate decreasing lateral support to the underlying portion of the blade 200. This configuration is achieved by a continuous decrease in the height of the blade holder 100 in a section located rearward from the ball 640 of the foot 600 and extending toward the back member 140. The height of the blade holder 100 is defined as the distance, in a given vertical plane, between the lower edge of the blade holder 100 and the top surface of the blade holder 100. Alternative blade holder designs such as varying the thickness of the wall members 190, varying the distance between the wall members 190, and/or by selecting the resilience of the material(s) employed in the manufacture of the blade holder 100 may also achieve the desired results.

[0038] The foregoing specification and the drawings forming part hereof are illustrative in nature and demonstrate certain preferred embodiments of the invention. It should be recognized and understood, however, that the description is not to be construed as limiting of the invention because many changes, modifications and variations may be made therein by those of skill in the art without departing from the essential scope, spirit or intention of the invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of the invention be limited solely by the appended claims