Title:
Releasable heel riser for ski binding
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to ski bindings. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable heel retention system, which includes a base, a climbing bar, a climbing bar interface member, and a heel throw. The base is coupled to a ski or snow sport device in a fixed manner. The climbing bar is rotatably coupled to the base to provide an extended and retracted position. The climbing bar interface member is configured to bear against the climbing bar in some manner when the heel is retained. In one embodiment, the climbing bar interface member is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the climbing bar interface member may be shaped to selectively hook under the climbing bar when the heel is retained. The heel throw is a lever type releasable coupler for coupling to the heel region of a boot. The heel throw is directly coupled to the climbing bar interface member. In one embodiment, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member are rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member may be coupled to a cable. The releasable heel retention system of the present invention may be completely independent of any of binding systems or used in conjunction with an existing binding system to provide an improved multi-use binding.



Inventors:
Coles, Peter (Salt Lake, UT, US)
Engle, Jim (Sandy, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/254376
Publication Date:
04/27/2006
Filing Date:
10/20/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080122202Multi-function binding systemMay, 2008Furr et al.
20090134611Knee airbagMay, 2009Wigger et al.
20080296855COLLAPSIBLE TRANSPORTATION DEVICE HAVING A BASKET WITH A MOVABLE FLOORDecember, 2008Roseman
20100032922Trailer storage assembly and a trailer having such an assemblyFebruary, 2010Brodak
20040201202Binding for snow boardOctober, 2004Sato et al.
20100044982Shopping Cart With Modular Reusable ContainersFebruary, 2010Meiri
20080191451Mobile Carriage, for Example for a Buggy ( as Amended)August, 2008Driessen
20050017487Vehicle speed related algorithm for an inflatable restraint systemJanuary, 2005Andres
20090261552BICYCLE PROPULSION ASSEMBLY HAVING ELONGATE MEMBERSOctober, 2009Mcisaac
20090315283MOBILE CARRIAGE SUPPORTING A TOOL OR IMPLEMENTDecember, 2009Watkins
20080258429Methods of Modifying a Trailer Kingpin In SituOctober, 2008Lefebvre



Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER IP PLLC (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A releasable heel retention system for use with a ski binding, comprising: a base fixeably coupled to a ski surface; a climbing bar rotatably coupled to the base and configured to pivot between an extended and retracted position with respect to the base; a heel throw shaped to releasably couple to a heel portion of a boot; and a climbing bar interface member coupled to the heel throw to selectively bind against the climbing bar thereby binding the heel portion of the boot to the ski surface.

2. The releasable heel retention system of claim 1, wherein the climbing bar interface member is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar.

3. The releasable heel retention system of claim 1, wherein the releasable heel retention system is operationally independent of a toe retention system.

4. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the heel throw is coupled to a cable which extends from a toe region of the boot.

5. The releasable ski system of claim 4, wherein the cable is part of a Telemark ski binding.

6. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the climbing bar is shaped to bear on a heel portion of the boot when the heel throw is coupled to the heel portion and the climbing bar interface member is in contact with the climbing bar.

7. The releasable ski system of claim 6, wherein the climbing bar is shaped to bear on an upper substantially flat surface of the heel region of the boot when the heel throw is coupled to a lower substantially flat surface of the heel region of the boot and the climbing bar interface member is in contact with the climbing bar.

8. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the climbing bar is shaped to include a spring mechanism.

9. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the climbing bar is shaped in a substantially rectangular shape.

10. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the heel throw is configured to lever against a substantially flat lower cable groove on the heel region of a boot.

11. A releasable heel retention system for use with a ski binding, comprising: a base fixably coupled to a ski surface; a climbing bar rotatably coupled to the base and configured to pivot between an extended and retracted position with respect to the base; a heel throw shaped to releasably couple to a heel portion of a boot; and a climbing bar interface member rotatably coupled to the climbing bar interface member.

12. A releasable heel retention system for use with a ski binding, comprising: a base fixably coupled to a ski surface; a climbing bar rotatably coupled to the base and configured to pivot between an extended and retracted position with respect to the base; a heel throw shaped to releasably couple to a heel portion of a boot, wherein the heel throw is coupled to a cable which extends from a toe region of the boot; and a climbing bar interface member coupled to the heel throw to selectively hook under a portion of the climbing bar thereby binding the heel portion of the boot to the ski surface.

13. A method for releasably securing a heel region of a boot to a ski, comprising the acts of: providing a heel retention system which includes a base, a climbing bar, a heel throw, and a climbing bar interface member; rotating the climbing bar to a position that allows the heel region of the boot to contact the base; positioning the heel region of the boot on top of the base; releasably securing the heel throw to the heel region of the boot and the climbing bar via the climbing bar interface member.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the act of releasably securing the heel throw to the heel region of the boot and the climbing bar via the climbing bar interface member further includes: hooking the heel throw over a lower surface of the boot; and levering the heel throw against the lower surface of the boot such that the heel throw clasps against the boot.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein the heel throw is rotatably coupled to a cable which extends from a toe region of the boot, and wherein the heel throw is coupled to the climbing bar interface member.

16. The method of claim 15 further includes hooking the climbing bar interface member under the climbing bar.

17. The method of claim 13, wherein the heel throw is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar via the climbing bar interface member.

18. The method of claim 13 further includes hooking a portion of the climbing bar over a surface of the boot.

19. The method of claim 14 further includes hooking a portion of the climbing bar over an upper surface of the boot.

20. The method of claim 13 wherein the climbing bar includes a spring mechanism.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/621,254 filed Oct. 22, 2004.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to ski bindings. In particular, the present invention relates to a releasable heel retention system.

2. Background

Numerous snow sports involve binding a participant's lower extremity to a surface to allow for gliding or riding over snow covered surfaces. The exact binding configuration and surface dimensions are different among the different snow sports. For example, in alpine skiing and snowboarding, a participant's foot and ankle region are bound to a ski or snowboard at both the toe and heel at all times. Therefore, all foot movements are transferred to the device/surface including pivoting, leaning, rotating, etc. Whereas, in Telemark and cross-country skiing, a participant's heel is never bound to a ski. A participant's foot is thereby free to pivot independent of the ski. In Randonee or Alpine Touring (AT) skiing, participant's switch between binding and releasing their whole foot with respect to the ski to accommodate going up or down. AT bindings usually include some form of rigid plate or member, which extends between the toe and heel regions. When the heel is released from the ski, the toe region is also released to allow the entire foot to freely pivot with respect to the ski. Likewise, when the heel is secured to the ski, the toe region is also secured to the ski. Therefore, conventional bindings either bind both the heel and toe regions to the ski at the same time or bind only the toe region to the ski.

Therefore, there is a need in the industry for an improved releasable heel retention system that is capable of independently releasably binding the heel region of boot to a ski or snowboard.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates to ski bindings. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable heel retention system, which includes a base, a climbing bar, a climbing bar interface member, and a heel throw. The base is coupled to a ski or snow sport device in a fixed manner. The climbing bar is rotatably coupled to the base to provide an extended and retracted position. The climbing bar interface member is configured to bear against the climbing bar in some manner when the heel is retained. In one embodiment, the climbing bar interface member is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the climbing bar interface member may be shaped to selectively hook under the climbing bar when the heel is retained. The heel throw is a lever type releasable coupler for coupling to the heel region of a boot. The heel throw is directly coupled to the climbing bar interface member. In one embodiment, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member are rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member may be coupled to a cable. The releasable heel retention system of the present invention may be completely independent of any of binding systems or used in conjunction with an existing binding system to provide an improved multi-use binding. These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be set forth or will become more fully apparent in the description that follows and in the appended claims. The features and advantages may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. Furthermore, the features and advantages of the invention may be learned by the practice of the invention or will be obvious from the description, as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the manner in which the above-recited and other advantages and features of the invention are obtained, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of one embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a raised climbing configuration;

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of one embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in which the climbing bar is rotated out of the extended configuration to allow the boot to contact the base in transition from the raised climbing configuration to either the lowered or locked configuration;

FIG. 1C is a perspective view of one embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a lowered configuration;

FIG. 1D is a perspective view of one embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a locked or retained configuration in which the heel portion of the boot is retained with respect to the ski;

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a raised climbing configuration;

FIG. 2B is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in which the climbing bar is rotated out of the extended configuration to allow the boot to contact the base, and wherein the climbing bar interface member is hooked under the climbing bar in transition from the raised climbing configuration to the locked configuration;

FIG. 2C is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a lowered configuration; and

FIG. 2D is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable heel retention system in a locked or retained configuration in which the heel portion of the boot is retained with respect to the ski;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to ski bindings. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable heel retention system, which includes a base, a climbing bar, a climbing bar interface member, and a heel throw. The base is coupled to a ski or snow sport device in a fixed manner. The climbing bar is rotatably coupled to the base to provide an extended and retracted position. The climbing bar interface member is configured to bear against the climbing bar in some manner when the heel is retained. In one embodiment, the climbing bar interface member is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the climbing bar interface member may be shaped to selectively hook under the climbing bar when the heel is retained. The heel throw is a lever type releasable coupler for coupling to the heel region of a boot. The heel throw is directly coupled to the climbing bar interface member. In one embodiment, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member are rotatably coupled to the climbing bar. Alternatively, the heel throw and climbing bar interface member may be coupled to a cable. The releasable heel retention system of the present invention may be completely independent of any of binding systems or used in conjunction with an existing binding system to provide an improved multi-use binding. Also, while embodiments of the present invention are directed towards a releasable heel retention system, the teachings of the present invention are also applicable to other areas.

The following terms are defined:

Ski—any type of snow sport platform device including but not limited to an alpine ski, a cross country ski, a snowboard, a powder ski, etc.

Boot—any lower extremity covering apparatus including but not limited to a ski boot, a snowboard boot, a hiking boot, a shoe, etc.

Toe retention system—a binding system that releasably binds the toe region of a boot to a ski.

Heel retention system—a binding system that releasably binds the heel region of a boot to a ski.

Reference is initially made to FIGS. 1A-D, which illustrate one embodiment of a releasable heel retention system, designated generally at 100. The system 100 includes a boot 120, a toe binding 105, and a releasable heel binding 140. The illustrated releasable heel binding 140 is configured to operate independently of the toe binding 105. The illustrated toe binding 105 is configured to releasably secure the toe portion 122 of the boot 120 to the ski (not shown for illustration purposes). The boot 120 further includes an ankle region 124, an upper surface 126, and a lower surface 128. The upper and lower surfaces 126, 128 are disposed on the lower heel region of the boot. The upper and lower surfaces 126, 128 are substantially flat surfaces that are substantially parallel to the bottom surface of the boot 120.

The releasable heel retention system 140 is configured to releasably secure the heel portion of the boot 120 to a ski for particular skiing configurations including but not limited to alpine, Randonee, snowboarding, etc. The releasable heel retention system 140 includes a base 144, a climbing bar 146, a heel throw 142, and a climbing bar interface member 148. The base 144 is a substantially rigid platform that is generally coupled directly to the ski. The base 144 provides a platform on top of which the heel portion of the boot 120 can make contact. It is preferable for the height of the base 144 to be approximately equal to the height of the toe binding system 105 such that the boot 120 can be extended substantially parallel to the ski.

The climbing bar 146 is rotatably coupled to the base 144 to allow the climbing bar 146 to rotate in the manner shown in FIGS. 1A-1D. In particular, the climbing bar 146 can be positioned in an extended climbing position shown in FIG. 1A or a lowered position shown in FIG. 1C. Conventional climbing bars 146 are used selectively to provide leverage when ascending a snow-covered slope. In the illustrated extended configuration, the heel region of the boot 120 is supported at a particular elevated height. In accordance with the present invention, the climbing bar 146 can also be selectively utilized to releasably bind the heel region of the boot 120 directly to the base 144, as shown in FIG. 1D. Therefore, the climbing bar 146 provides multiple functions without significantly increasing the overall weight. The illustrated climbing bar 146 is shaped to include a spring biasing mechanism. The spring biasing mechanism expands the range of boots 120 which can be releasably retained. Alternatively, the climbing bar 146 could be shaped in a conventional rectangular shape and remain consistent with the present invention. For example, a conventional climbing bar could be modified to include a heel throw and climbing bar interface member, and remain consistent with the present invention.

The heel throw 142 is a lever coupling mechanism that releasably couples to the heel region of the boot 120. In the illustrated embodiment, the heel throw 142 is rotatably coupled to the climbing bar 146 via the climbing bar interface member 148. The heel throw 142 is shaped to initially hook onto and lever against the lower surface 128 of the heel portion of the boot, as shown in FIGS. 1B and 1D. The heel throw 142 includes lower hooking portion, a medial connection portion, and an upper lever portion. The shape of the illustrated climbing bar 146 has the additional benefit of displacing the heel throw 142 in the climbing configuration shown in FIG. 1A. This displacement may be useful to prevent interference between the boot 120 and the climbing bar 146 during ascent.

The climbing bar interface member 148 is coupled directly to the heel throw 142 and rotatably coupled to the climbing bar 146. Alternatively, the climbing bar interface member 148 could be integrated with the heel throw 142 as a single member. The climbing bar interface member 148 interfaces the heel throw 142 with the climbing bar 142. This interface is particularly significant because the heel throw 142 is configured to releasably couple with the heel region of the boot and the climbing bar 146 is coupled to the base 144. Therefore, if the climbing bar 142 is interfaced with the heel throw 142, the heel region of the boot 120 is effectively bound to the base 144. Various climbing bar interface member configurations may be used and remain consistent with the present invention.

In operation, the climbing bar 146 is positioned or rotated into a raised configuration to facilitate efficient snow ascension, as illustrated in FIG. 1A. The heel of the boot 120 is elevated providing additional leverage during ascent. In addition, the shape of the climbing bar 146 displaces the heel throw 142 below the contact between the boot 120 and the climbing bar 146 in the raised configuration. The climbing bar 146 may also be configured to lock into the raised configuration to prevent inadvertent rotation during ascension. The climbing bar 146 may then be rotated out of the raised configuration, as illustrated in FIG. 1B. FIG. 1B illustrates a transitional position in which the climbing bar 146 is rotated away from the boot 120 a particular distance to allow the boot to extend down to the base 144. From the transitional position illustrated in FIG. 1B, a user can either transition to the lowered configuration illustrated in FIG. 1C or the locked configuration illustrated in FIG. 1D. The lowered configuration illustrated in FIG. 1C involves rotating the climbing bar 146 completely away from the boot 120 to prevent interference. The climbing bar 146 may also be configured to lock in this lowered configuration to prevent inadvertently rotating up and causing undesired interference between the boot 120 and the base 144.

The locked configuration illustrated in FIG. 1D facilitates releasably binding the boot 120 to the base 144. The locked configuration is accomplished by levering the heel throw 142 against the lower surface 128 of the boot 120 thereby releasably coupling to the boot. The heel throw 142 exerts a binding force upon the lower surface 128 of the boot 120. In addition, the climbing bar 146, which is coupled to the base 144, opposes any separational forces via the climbing bar interface member 148 coupled to the heel throw 142. The illustrated climbing bar 146 is also shaped to hook onto an upper surface 126 of the boot to further oppose separational forces between the boot 120 and the base 144. The locked configuration is released or disengaged by releasing or pivoting the heel throw 142 away from boot 120. In addition, the climbing bar 146, climbing bar interface member 148, and heel throw 142 can be configured to automatically release if the boot 120 exerts a particular rotational or lateral force.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 2A-D, which illustrate an alternative embodiment of a releasable heel retention system, designated generally at 200. The alternative releasable heel retention system 200 includes a boot 220, a releasable heel binding 240, and a cable 207. In this embodiment, the heel binding 240 is not independent of other systems because of the necessity of the cable 207. However, this system illustrates that an existing toe binding system such as Telemark binding could be modified to incorporate an optional heel binding system. The boot 220 includes an ankle region 224, an upper surface 226, and a lower surface 228 analogous to the boot illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1D.

The base 244 and climbing bar 246 are shaped and configured in substantially the same manner as the corresponding components described in reference to FIGS. 1A-1D. However, The heel throw 242 is rotatably coupled to the cable 207 as illustrated. The illustrated cable 207 is part of an existing toe binding system such as a Telemark binding. This configuration is particularly useful for modifying an existing binding system to incorporate a selective heel retention system in accordance with the present invention. In addition, the climbing bar interface member 248 is coupled directly to the heel throw 242 and not the climbing bar 246. The climbing bar interface member 248 is shaped to include a hooked region such that it can be selectively hooked under the climbing bar 246 when retaining the heel of the boot 220 to the base 244 in the locked mode, illustrated in FIG. 2D.

In operation, the climbing bar 246 is positioned or rotated into a raised configuration to facilitate efficient snow ascension, as illustrated in FIG. 2A. The heel of the boot 220 is elevated providing additional leverage during ascent. The climbing bar 246 may also be configured to lock into the raised configuration to prevent inadvertent rotation during ascension. The climbing bar 246 may then be rotated out of the raised configuration, as illustrated in FIG. 2B. FIG. 2B illustrates a transitional position in which the climbing bar 146 is rotated away from the boot 220 a particular distance to allow the boot to extend down to the base 244. The climbing bar interface member 248 is hooked under the climbing bar 246 to initiate the transition to the locked configuration. From the transitional position illustrated in FIG. 2B, a user can transition to the locked configuration illustrated in FIG. 2D by levering the heel throw 242 against the lower surface 228 towards the ankle region 224 of the boot 220. Alternatively, a user could disengage the heel throw 242 and rotate the climbing bar 246 to transition into the lowered configuration illustrated in FIG. 2C. The climbing bar 246 may also be configured to lock in the lowered configuration to prevent inadvertently rotating up and causing undesired interference between the boot 220 and the base 244.

Thus, as discussed herein, the present invention relates to ski bindings. In particular, the present invention relates to a releasable heel retention system. The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:





 
Previous Patent: Truck for skateboards

Next Patent: Snowboard binding