Title:
Suspension ski boot
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention in the broadest sense comprises a ski boot, freely pivoting at the ankle, in combination with an adjustable suspension shock absorber to control and optimize compression and rebound damping characteristics. In the preferred embodiment, the ski boot would comprise a rigid, pivoting exoskeleton (providing the lateral stiffness and torsional control), a sub-boot (providing padding, thermal insulation, and water-proofing), and a fully adjustable pneumatic/hydraulic/spring suspension system (providing adjustable fore-aft stiffness, shock absorption, and rebound damping). The object of the invention is to optimize ski boot performance by separating the necessary boot components, allowing them to be designed to optimize different performance characteristics.



Inventors:
Forrest, Mark Robert (Durango, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/973463
Publication Date:
04/27/2006
Filing Date:
10/27/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070051018Bladder with improved constructionMarch, 2007Issler
20040020077Rubber footwear with neoprene layerFebruary, 2004Thomas et al.
20060117601Transparent heel and sole assemblyJune, 2006Chang
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20030102641Cuff pivoting of in-line roller skateJune, 2003Liu
20080115386Split-toed shoeMay, 2008Geuss
20060174520Vamp for a sport shoeAugust, 2006Wu
20010007176Transpiring sole structure for footwearJuly, 2001Attilieni
20020020082Continuous design footwearFebruary, 2002James



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARK R. FORREST (DURANGO, CO, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A ski boot utilizing a separate adjustable hydraulic shock absorber to control and optimize fore-aft (ankle flexion-extension) compression and rebound damping. said ski boot comprising in the preferred embodiment an exoskeleton, a sub-boot, and a separate hydraulic shock absorber;

2. The ski boot as defined in claim 1 wherein said exoskeleton, preferably adapted to the shape of a foot and leg, comprises a front flap, rear flap, hinge, closure buckles, quick release shock mount, toe cage, heel cage, sole, and attachment sites, and is cast, forged, molded or machined from any durable, stiff material such as metallic alloy, hard plastic, carbon fiber, or composite material. said front flap (1) providing support to the shin (tibia), in the preferred embodiment incorporating releasable attachment sites (10) to fasten the exoskeleton to the sub-boot, and in some cases providing a fixation point for the quick release shock mount (2) and mounted to said hinge (5); said rear flap (4) providing support to the calf, in the preferred embodiment incorporating releasable attachment sites to fasten the exoskeleton to the sub-boot, and in some cases providing a fixation point for the quick release shock mount and mounted to said hinge; said hinge (5) attaching the front and rear flaps together and allowing for unrestricted ankle flexion and extension; means for securing the front and rear flaps together, such as standard ski boot closure buckles (8) currently in use for similar applications; said hinge attached to a rigid heel cage (6), in the preferred embodiment with provision for canting adjustment (adjustment of the side-to-side angle of the front and rear flaps with respect to the sole (7) of the exoskeleton); said heel cage attached to the rigid sole, in the preferred embodiment providing attachment sites for securing the heel cup (15) of the sub-boot; said toe cage (3) attached to the sole, in the preferred embodiment providing attachment sites for securing the toe cup (14) of the sub-boot and providing an attachment for the quick release shock mount in a boot-mounted compression system; said releasable attachment sites in the preferred embodiment fastening the exoskeleton to the sub-boot and comprising simple screw fastening mechanisms;

3. The ski boot as defined in claim 1 wherein in the preferred embodiment said sub-boot comprising an inner liner attached to a plastic shell adapted to the shape of a foot and leg with closure straps and reinforced areas in the tongue (12), calf support (13), and toe and heel cups. said inner liner comprising a waterproof material and insulated padding; in the preferred embodiment said plastic shell comprising any available durable plastic or composite, and incorporating reinforced areas in the tongue, calf support, and toe and heel cups providing releasable attachment sites to fix the shell to the exoskeleton; means for fastening said shell to the foot and leg, defined as closure straps (11);

4. The ski boot as defined in claim 2 wherein said shock absorber would be a modification of existing technology comprising any adjustable hydraulic shock absorber to provide control of the compression and rebound damping characteristics of the boot as a whole as well as the starting and full-compression leg positions. in the preferred embodiment means for attaching it to the exoskeleton by quick release shock mounts, allowing it to be easily disengaged or removed to permit easy ambulation and climbing for Randonee systems; * Note: The use an adjustable hydraulic shock absorber to define damping characteristics is an integral part of the patent application, but the shock as a separate entity is not the subject of this patent application.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY FUNDED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention is intended to address several design short-comings inherent in all current alpine and Randonee ski boots, namely the relative lack of adjustable fore-aft stiffness and compression and rebound damping. Current ski boots rely on an outer shell of varying stiffness to provide control and comfort, or at most, a minimally adjustable spring, screw, bladder, gas chamber, or elastic rods. The inherent properties of the shell material and these minimally adjustable parts define the performance characteristics of the boot, and as such cannot be altered significantly in any given boot.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The suspension ski boot as described in this application is a combination of existing technologies in a novel fashion. In its most basic form this invention is a ski boot that utilizes a separate adjustable mechanical shock absorber to control the fore-aft (ankle flexion/extension) compression and rebound damping characteristics. In the preferred embodiment, I propose a ski boot that incorporates a rigid pivoting exoskeleton (to provide lateral and torsional stiffness as well as support for the other components), a sub boot (to provide insulation and water-proofing), and a fully adjustable hydraulic shock absorber (to define compression and rebound damping). The novel advantages of this design include maximal lateral stiffness and torsional control (provided by the rigid exoskeleton) with unsurpassed flexibility of control with respect to fore-aft compression and extension (provided by the separate suspension shock absorber). With this system, the skier would be able to control compression speed and damping, rebound speed and damping, and starting and full-compression leg positions. Adjustments in these parameters could be made day-to-day or run-to-run, and could be based on terrain and snow conditions. Comfort and performance would be enhanced. The shock could be disabled for ease of ambulation, thereby further enhancing comfort and flexibility. Disabling the shock would also allow ease of climbing for Randonee systems. The object of the invention is to optimize ski boot performance by separating the necessary boot components, allowing them to be designed to optimize different performance characteristics.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1: Lateral view of exoskeleton (boot-mount compression shock system)

FIG. 2: Rear view of exoskeleton (boot-mount compression shock system)

FIG. 3: Lateral view of exoskeleton (boot-mount extension shock system)

FIG. 4: Rear view of exoskeleton (boot-mount extension shock system)

FIG. 5: Lateral view of exoskeleton (ski-mount compression shock system)

FIG. 6: Rear view of exoskeleton (ski-mount compression shock system)

FIG. 7: Lateral view of exoskeleton (ski-mount extension shock system)

FIG. 8: Rear view of exoskeleton (ski-mount extension shock system)

FIG. 9: Lateral view of sub-boot

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

* Numerals in parentheses refer to specific parts of the invention listed in the various drawings.

In its preferred embodiment, this invention is a combination of a rigid, pivoting exoskeleton (providing the lateral stiffness and torsional control), a sub-boot (providing padding, thermal insulation, and water-proofing), and a fully adjustable hydraulic shock absorber (providing adjustable fore-aft stiffness, shock absorption, and rebound damping). The object of the invention is to optimize ski boot performance by separating the necessary boot components, allowing them to be designed to optimize different performance characteristics. The exoskeleton as diagrammed would be cast, forged, or machined from aluminum or similar alloy, or it could be cast or formed from plastic, composite material, carbon fiber, or other similar durable, stiff material. In the preferred embodiment, it would have releasable attachments to fasten it to the sub-boot, which in the preferred embodiment would be simple screw fasteners. The exoskeleton could be permanently bonded to, or be formed with, the shell of the sub-boot. There would be several possibilities for position of the suspension shock absorber. On the compression boot-mounted shock option, the toe cage would have a shock mount, and on the compression ski mounted shock option, this mount would either be on the toe binding, or on the ski itself. The extension boot-mounted shock would attach to the sole in front of the binding, while in the extension ski-mounted option, the shock mount would either be on the rear binding, or on the tail of the ski itself.

FIG. 1 is a lateral view of the compression boot-mounted shock option. The front flap (1) of the exoskeleton would provide support for the skiers shin and could have several possible points of fixation (not diagrammed) on the shin rest to which the shock could be attached, allowing customization of travel and forward lean. In the preferred embodiment, there would also be a quick-release shock mount (2) either on the front flap or toe cage (3) allowing the shock to be easily disengaged or removed to permit easy ambulation and climbing for Randonee systems. The rear flap (4) would provide support for the calf, and along with the front flap, would be attached at the hinge (5), which would allow for unrestricted ankle flexion and extension as well as canting adjustment. The hinge would be mounted to the heel cage (6), which would provide fixation for the heel of the sub-boot. The portion of the exoskeleton holding the lower leg could be either a clamshell or vertically-hinged, allowing easy step-in access for the inner boot. The clamshell option is the preferred embodiment. The exoskeleton sole (7) would have standard toe and heel tabs designed for standard ski bindings. The front and rear flaps would have closure buckles (8), which would be of any typically available variety as are currently employed for ski boot shell closure. The suspension shock absorber (9) would provide adjustable fore-aft stiffness, shock absorption, and rebound damping. The front flap, rear flap, toe cage, heel cage, and sole would have releasable exoskeleton attachment sites (10—indicated by phantom boxes) to fasten the exoskeleton to the sub-boot.

FIG. 2 is a rear view of this shock-mount position. The additional variations of shock mounting areas are diagrammed in FIGS. 3-8.

In the preferred embodiment, the sub-boot would be much like a typical ski boot, with a plastic shell and a soft liner, but the shell would be thinner, more flexible, and more breathable than a typical ski boot. The liner would be constructed of available breathable waterproof material and insulating padding. The liner would be closed around the skier's leg with closure straps (11). The sub-boot and exoskeleton could also be formed as a single unit to be used in conjunction with a shock absorber, but this would not be the preferred embodiment. The sub-boot would have a reinforced tongue (12), calf support (13), toe cup (14), heel cup (15), and sole (16) providing supportive areas for the sub-boot attachment sites (17). These attachment sites would serve to fix the sub-boot to the exoskeleton.

The shock absorber would be a modification of existing technology. It is not the subject of this patent application other than its inclusion with the other components to control the fore-aft compression and damping control. The primary design is of a compression-based shock system, but the design drawings include a system based on both compression and extension possibilities. In compression-based versions the shock absorber compression resistance could be either pneumatically or spring controlled, and in the extension shock versions, the extension resistance either pneumatically, spring, or elastomer controlled.

A utility patent is requested to cover the proposed invention and any use of any hydraulic shock absorber to control the afore-mentioned properties of a ski boot. The proposed invention is also demonstrably different from the devices described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,694,593, 4,949,480, and 4,777,746. In these inventions the “shock absorber” is either a chamber forming part of the outer wall of the boot and housing “an elastically deformable body”, or a simple plastic spring. These are not true adjustable suspension shock absorbers as currently used in motor sports or mountain biking, as described in this patent application. Furthermore, this invention describes a separable three-component system (exoskeleton, inner liner, and separate suspension shock absorber). Characteristics of each of the elements can be easily separately altered, upgraded, and even exchanged without affecting the other elements. The inventions described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,694,593, 4,949,480, and 4,777,746 are either non-separable, and/or are not as easily tuned, modified, upgraded or exchanged.