Title:
Releasable systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to releasable binding systems that utilize at least one torsion member for inducing a releasable binding force upon a releasable member. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski system incorporating at least one torsion member, a base, and a releasable member. The at least one torsion member is fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the releasable member. The releasable ski system may be incorporated within any system to provide a lightweight and compact releasable system. A second embodiment of the present invention relates to a multi mode releasable ski binding system. The system is configured to switch between at least two modes including a fixed mode and a free mode. The fixed mode corresponds to a position in which the base is fixed with respect to the mounting plate and the free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to rotate or pivot with respect to the mounting plate. In addition, an optional or alternative spring biased free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to pivot against a spring with respect to the mounting plate. A third embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski toe binding system in which a ski boot is releasably coupled directly to the base to further minimize the components necessary for providing an effective releasable ski system.



Inventors:
Coles, Peter (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Engle, Jim (Sandy, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/254626
Publication Date:
04/27/2006
Filing Date:
10/20/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
280/616
International Classes:
A63C9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WALTERS, JOHN DANIEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER IP PLLC (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. A releasable ski system comprising: a base; a releasable member disposed over the base; and at least one torsion member fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the releasable member, wherein the at least one torsion member induces a releasable binding force against the releasable member.

2. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the base further includes a fixed retention member.

3. The releasable ski system of claim 2, wherein the fixed retention member includes a curved surface.

4. The releasable ski system of claim 2, wherein the fixed retention member includes at least one roller.

5. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the at least one torsion member is coupled to at least one roller to provide the releasable binding force against the releasable member.

6. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the releasable member is a plate configured for attachment to a foot supporting system via a coupling system.

7. The releasable ski system of claim 6, wherein the coupling system is a plurality of threaded recesses.

8. The releasable system of claim 6, wherein the foot supporting system is a binding.

9. The releasable ski system of claim 6, wherein the foot supporting system is a boot.

10. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the releasable binding force couples the releasable member to the base unless a sufficient lateral release force is applied by the releasable member with respect to the base.

11. The releasable ski system of claim 1 further including at least one roller disposed between the at least one torsion member and the releasable member.

12. The releasable ski system of claim 11, wherein the releasable member includes at least one receiving recess.

13. The releasable ski system of claim 1, wherein the at least one torsion member includes at least one torsion spring.

14. A multi-mode releasable ski binding system, comprising: a base; a releasable member disposed over the base; at least one torsion member fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the releasable member, wherein the at least one torsion member induces a releasable binding force against the releasable member; and a mounting plate, wherein the base is rotatably coupled to a front portion of the mounting plate, and wherein the mounting plate includes a mechanism for securing the base to the mounting plate thereby providing a free mode and a fixed mode.

15. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the base further includes a fixed retention member.

16. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 15, wherein the fixed retention member includes a curved surface.

17. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 15, wherein the fixed retention member includes at least one roller.

18. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the at least one torsion member is coupled to at least one roller to provide the releasable binding force against the releasable member.

19. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the releasable member is a plate configured for attachment to a foot supporting system via a coupling system.

20. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 19, wherein the coupling system is a plurality of threaded recesses.

21. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 19, wherein the foot supporting system is a binding.

22. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 19, wherein the foot supporting system is a boot.

23. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the releasable binding force couples the releasable member to the base unless a sufficient lateral release force is applied by the releasable member upon the torsion member.

24. The releasable system of claim 14 further including at least one roller disposed between the at least one torsion member and the releasable member.

25. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the releasable member includes at least one receiving recess.

26. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the releasable mechanism for securing the base to the mounting plate includes a pin and lever system.

27. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 14, wherein the mounting plate further includes a spring for providing resistance upon the base as it rotates with respect to the mounting plate in the free mode.

28. The multi-mode releasable ski binding system of claim 27, wherein the mounting plate further includes a release mechanism that disengages the spring which therefore allows the base to pivot freely with respect to the mounting plate, wherein this system is a three-mode system including a fixed mode, a spring-biased free mode, and a free mode.

29. The releasable ski system of claim 14, wherein the at least one torsion member includes at least one torsion spring.

30. A releasable ski toe binding system comprising: a base; a ski boot including a toe extension portion, wherein the ski boot is disposed over the base; and at least one torsion member fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the ski boot via the toe extension portion, wherein the at least one torsion member induces a releasable binding force upon the ski boot via the toe extension portion, and wherein the at least one torsion member is shaped to provide a toe bail over the toe extension portion.

31. The releasable ski toe binding system of claim 30, further including a releasable heel portion, wherein the releasable heel portion is rotationally and elevationally releasable.

32. A Telemark ski system comprising: a base coupled to a ski surface; a toe plate rotatably coupled to the base, wherein the toe plate includes a boot retention system for releasably securing a boot within the toe plate; and a torsion member configured to provide a spring bias upon the toe plate as it rotates with respect to the base.

33. The Telemark ski system of claim 32 further includes a retention member configured to adjust the biasing properties of the torsion member.

34. The Telemark ski system of claim 32, wherein the boot retention system includes a cable and a heel throw.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to releasable binding systems. In particular, the present invention relates to releasable binding systems that utilize a torsion member for inducing a releasable binding force upon a releasable member.

2. Related Applications

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

3. Background

Numerous sports involve binding some portion of a participant to a particular device. For example, skiing and snowboarding involve binding an individual's boot to a ski or snowboard respectively. Likewise, cycling and biking involve binding an individual's foot to a pedal to increase performance. In addition, mountaineering, kiteboarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, surfing, etc all involve various systems to couple a user with a particular device. Due to safety concerns, almost all of these binding or coupling systems must also be automatically releasable under certain circumstances. For example, if a skier falls and the binding system between their skis and boots does not properly release, they are likely to suffer a serious injury. Whereas, if the binding system between the skis and boots properly releases when they fall, they are more likely to safely fall independent of their skis. However, the binding system between a mountaineering boot and a crampon is generally not automatically releasable.

Various binding technologies exist in the industry for releasably securing a user to a particular device. One of the main limitations of existing systems is their required weight and size. Weight is a major factor in the performance of almost all sports. In particular, many of the sports that involve some form of binding system are particularly weight sensitive. For example, the overall weight of a ski binding system is added to the weight of the skis and boots to create a combined skiing weight. This combined skiing weight can significantly affect a skier's speed going down or their energy output hiking/skinning up. Likewise, in cycling, the overall weight of a bike, including the pedal binding system, can dramatically affect a cyclists performance.

Therefore, there is a need in the industry for binding systems that efficiently minimize the required dimensions and minimize the weight necessary to releasably bind a particular portion of an individual to a device.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates to releasable binding systems that utilize at least one torsion member for inducing a releasable binding force upon a releasable member. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski system incorporating at least one torsion member, a base, and a releasable member. The at least one torsion member is fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the releasable member. The releasable ski system may be incorporated within any system to provide a lightweight and compact releasable system. A second embodiment of the present invention relates to a multi mode releasable ski binding system. The system is configured to switch between at least two modes including a fixed mode and a free mode. The fixed mode corresponds to a position in which the base is fixed with respect to the mounting plate and the free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to rotate or pivot with respect to the mounting plate. In addition, an optional or alternative spring biased free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to pivot against a spring with respect to the mounting plate. A third embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski toe binding system in which a ski boot is releasably coupled directly to the base to further minimize the components necessary for providing an effective releasable ski system.

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. 1 is a perspective view, illustrating one embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which four torsion members and rollers are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which a single torsion member and retention member are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which a single torsion member and retention member are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of a multi-mode releasable ski binding system, which includes a fixed mode in which the base is fixed to the mounting plate and a free mode in which the base is free to rotate with respect to the mounting plate;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the multi-mode releasable ski binding system illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the releasable member in a released configuration with respect to the base;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the multi-mode releasable ski binding system illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the base rotating with respect to the mounting plate in the free mode;

FIG. 7 is a component view of the device illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the components in the free mode;

FIG. 8 is a component view of the device illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the components in the fixed mode;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a multi-mode releasable ski binding system, which includes three modes of operation including a fixed mode, a spring-biased free mode, and a free mode;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the multi-mode releasable ski binding system illustrated in FIG. 9 in the spring biased free mode;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a releasable ski toe binding system in which a ski boot is releasably coupled directly to the base via the torsion members and rollers;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view, illustrating an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which two compression springs and rollers act as the torsion member to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, wherein the system is illustrated in a coupled configuration;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view, illustrating an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which two compression springs and rollers act as the torsion member to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, wherein the system is illustrated in a released configuration; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a ski system, wherein a torsion member provides compliance between a toe plate and a base.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to releasable binding systems that utilize at least one torsion member for inducing a releasable binding force upon a releasable member. One embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski system incorporating at least one torsion member, a base, and a releasable member. The at least one torsion member is fixably coupled to the base and releasably coupled to the releasable member. The releasable ski system may be incorporated within any system to provide a lightweight and compact releasable system. A second embodiment of the present invention relates to a multi mode releasable ski binding system. The system is configured to switch between at least two modes including a fixed mode and a free mode. The fixed mode corresponds to a position in which the base is fixed with respect to the mounting plate and the free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to rotate or pivot with respect to the mounting plate. In addition, an optional or alternative spring biased free mode corresponds to a position in which the base is free to pivot against a spring with respect to the mounting plate. A third embodiment of the present invention relates to a releasable ski toe binding system in which a ski boot is releasably coupled directly to the base to further minimize the components necessary for providing an effective releasable ski system. Also, while embodiments of the present invention are directed towards releasable binding systems, the teachings of the present invention are also applicable to other areas.

The following terms are defined as follows:

Torsion member—A spring or spring system that is configured in a manner to provide a lateral force; a torsion member may include a torsion spring or some other type of spring configured to provide a lateral or translational force; a torsion member may also include cantilevered objects.

Retention member—a fixed object or surface that is configured to oppose a force;

    • Releasable binding force—a force that is applied to releasably couple two objects together. For example, a torsion member and a fixed retention member may operate to cause a releasable binding force upon a releasable member that is properly disposed between the torsion member and fixed retention member.

Mounting plate—A substantially rigid plate configured for mounting on a variety of surfaces including but not limited to a ski, a snowboard, a wakeboard, a surfboard, etc.

Coupling system—A system for coupling the releasable member to some form of foot support system such as a binding or boot. A coupling system may include various recesses, protrusions, locking systems, etc.

Base—A substantially rigid member coupled to the torsion members in a manner to provide the releasable functionality of the releasable member.

Rotatably coupled—a state in which one object is coupled to another in a manner in which they are free to rotate with respect to one another.

Multi mode binding system—a ski binding system in which a user is able to switch between various modes for particular applications. For example, a fixed mode may correspond to a mode in which the components are fixed with respect to one another. Likewise, a free mode may correspond to a mode in which one or more of the components are free to move with respect to one another.

Reference is initially made to FIG. 1, which illustrates one embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which four torsion members and rollers are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, designated generally at 100. The releasable ski system includes a base (not illustrated), a releasable member 110, and a plurality of torsion members 120. The illustrated torsion members 120 are torsion springs but could be replaced with alternative lateral force inducing configurations such as the one illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13. These components operate together to releasably couple the releasable member 110 to the base via a releasable binding force. The torsion members 120 are fixably coupled to the base via a spring coupling system 103. The illustrated spring coupling system 103 includes an axle and an interface member for securing the torsion members 120 to the base with a particular release force setting such as a DIN rating. Various release force adjustment systems may be incorporated and remain consistent with the present invention. The rollers 115 are coupled to the ends of the torsion members 120 to minimize undesirable frictional properties when interfacing with the releasable member 110. The rollers 115 are rotatably coupled to the torsion members 120 in a manner that allows them to laterally roll with respect to the torsion member yet remain translationally and elevationally fixed.

The illustrated releasable member 110 is a plate that is configured to couple to some form of binding or boot related device. The releasable member 110 further includes a body 114, a coupling system 113, and a plurality of receiving recesses 111. The body 114 is composed of a substantially rigid material that will maximize the force transfer from a binding or boot. For example, if a large lateral force is applied to a binding is coupled to the releasable member, it is desirable for that force to be directly transferred to the releasable member 110. The coupling system 113 is a plurality of threaded holes for use in coupling the releasable member 110 to a boot or binding device. The receiving recesses 111 are recessed regions of the releasable member 110 which are configured and appropriately disposed to interface with the rollers 115. By providing a receiving recess 111, the rollers 115 are able to maximize the surface contact with the releasable member 110 thereby increasing reliability of the release mechanism.

In operation, the releasable member 110 is configured to release from the base when a sufficient translational or rotational force is applied. The releasable member 110 should not release when only an elevational force is applied. As discussed above, the torsion members 120 are wound and coupled to the base via the coupling system 103 in a manner to generate a particular lateral force. Since, the rollers 115 are coupled to the ends of the torsion members 120, the lateral force is applied via the rollers 115. In a released configuration the releasable member 110 is detached from the base, and the rollers 115 are translated in a particular distance. In an engaged configuration, the rollers 115 will induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member 110. A downward compression force could be used to engage the releasable member with the base thereby transitioning from the released configuration to the engaged configuration. The ability to engage the releasable member with a downward compression force enables the device to have a “step-in” engagement feature. The step in functionality minimizes the potential for snow or other debris to affect the engagement thereby making the device more reliable. In the engaged configuration, the releasable binding force exerted on the releasable member can be overcome with a sufficient force that will cause the releasable member to release from the base. Alternatively, other types of manual release mechanisms could be incorporated including but not limited to a lever release system. It should also be noted that an upward force could release the releasable member 110 from the base (not shown).

Reference is next made to FIG. 2, which illustrates a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which a single torsion member and retention member are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, designated generally at 200. This alternative embodiment utilizes a single torsion member 220 and fixed retention member 202 to induce the necessary releasable binding force upon the releasable member. The releasable ski system 200 includes a base 205, a torsion member 220, a releasable member 210, and a heel plate 230. The heel plate 230 is used to provide a level surface for resting a boot or binding on an athletic device. It may be particularly useful for a Telemark type ski binding system.

The base 205 is a substantially rigid plate configured to couple to an athletic device including but not limited to a ski or ski binding. The base 205 includes a spring coupling system 203 that fixably couples the torsion member 220 to the base in a manner to provide a sufficient force. The illustrated torsion member 220 winds around an axle and interface member of the spring coupling system 203 and extends below a portion of the base. This configuration may be useful for efficient torsion member replacement or adjustment. The base 205 further includes a fixed retention member 202. The retention member 202 is a convex surface configured to fixably oppose the releasable member 210 from translating due to the releasable binding force that is applied by the torsion member 220. The base further includes a body 201.

The releasable member 210 is designed to interface with the particular layout of the base 205. The releasable member 210 includes a body 214, a coupling system 213, and a receiving recess 211. The receiving recess 211 is configured to conform to the shape of the torsion member 220 coupled to the base 205. In this embodiment, the receiving recess 211 is disposed at the front of the releasable member 210 to properly interface with the torsion member 220. Rather than using rollers, the shape of the torsion member 220 provides a single convexly curved surface for interfacing with the releasable member 210. The receiving recess 211 provides a concave recess to maximize the interfacing surface area between the torsion member 220 and the releasable member 210.

In operation, the releasable member 210 is able to release from the base 205 by overcoming the induced releasable binding force applied by the torsion member 220. The illustrated component configuration will substantially prevent the releasable member 210 from releasing as a result of a purely elevational or separational force. A sufficient rotational or translational force must be applied to the releasable member 210 in order to overcome the releasable binding force and release the releasable member 210 from the base 205. However, a release could also occur from an upward separational force.

Reference is next made to FIG. 3, which illustrates a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which a single torsion member and retention member are configured to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, designated at 300. This embodiment illustrates the releasable member 310 in a released configuration with respect to the base 305. In addition, this embodiment illustrates a different spring coupling system 303 for use in coupling the torsion member 320 to the base 305. The base 305 includes a body 301, a retention member 302, and the spring coupling system 303. The releasable member 310 includes a body 314, a coupling system 313, and a receiving recess 311.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, various configurations of torsion members, coupling systems, releasable members, spring coupling systems, retention members, and bases may be used to create a releasable system consistent with the present invention. Numerous other configurations are contemplated and remain consistent with the present invention.

Reference is next made to FIG. 4, which illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of a multi-mode releasable ski binding system, designated generally at 400. The multi-mode releasable ski system includes a fixed mode in which the base is fixed to the mounting plate and a free mode in which the base is free to rotate with respect to the mounting plate. In addition, the system maintains the releasable functionality of the systems described with reference to FIGS. 1-3. The system 400 further includes a mounting plate 425, a base 405, a torsion member 420, a lever 430, and a releasable member 410.

The mounting plate 425 is a substantially rigid plate configured to be coupled to an athletic ski device such as a ski. The mounting plate 425 includes a flat portion and a rear flanged portion with a recess. The base 405 is coupled to the mounting plate via releasable pivot system that includes a lever 430, a hinge 432, and a T-connector 442. The releasable pivot system will be described in more detail with reference to FIGS. 6-8. The lever 430 allows a user to switch between the fixed mode and the free mode.

The remaining components of the base 405 and the releasable member 410 are analogous to the systems described with reference to FIGS. 1-3. The base 405 further includes two fixed rollers 407 which act as retention members to oppose translation of the releasable member 410 when the releasable binding force is applied via the torsion member 420 and the rollers 415. The releasable member 410 includes a body 414 and a coupling system 413. The illustrated releasable member 410 is releasable from the base 205 regardless of whether the system 400 is in the fixed or free mode.

Reference is next made to FIG. 5, which illustrates a perspective view of the multi-mode releasable ski binding system illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the releasable member in a released 410 configuration with respect to the base.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the multi-mode releasable ski binding system illustrated in FIG. 4, specifically illustrating the base rotating with respect to the mounting plate in the free mode. This figure particularly illustrates a portion of the releasable pivot system between the base 405 and the mounting plate 425. The pivot arm 440 is an elongated member that extends between the bottom of the base 405 and a rear flange on the mounting plate 425. The pivot arm 440 assists in providing lateral stability between the base 405 and the mounting plate 425 in the free mode. The pivot arm 440 may also be configured to provide a spring bias in the free mode. The pivot arm 440 further includes a top T-connector 450, an extension arm 448, a spring chamber 446, a lower portion 444, and a lower T-connector 442. The top T-connector 450 is configured to slidably fit within an appropriately shaped groove on the base 405, as illustrated. Likewise, the lower T-connector 442 is shaped to rotatably lock within a recess on the mounting plate 425. The extension arm 448 is configured to extend and retract within the spring chamber 446 depending on the angle of rotation between the base 405 and the mounting plate 425. An optional extension spring (not shown) may be disposed within the spring chamber 446 and coupled to the extension arm 448 and the lower portion 444 to provide a spring bias against the base 405 when it rotates with respect to the mounting plate 425 in the free mode. The spring would restrict the base 405 from rotating away from the mounting plate 425 and assist the base 405 from rotating toward the mounting plate 425. An alternative spring bias and lateral stability system is described with respect to FIGS. 9 and 10.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 7-8, which illustrate component views of the releasable pivot system between the base 405 and the mounting plate 425 in which the base 405 has been removed for illustration purposes. FIG. 7 illustrates the free mode while FIG. 8 illustrates the fixed mode. The releasable pivot system includes a lever 430, a hinge 432, two retractors 460, two locking members 465, and the pivot arm 440. The lever 430 allows a user to switch between the fixed and free mode. When the lever 432 is in a raised configuration the pivot system is in the free mode (FIG. 7), and when the lever 430 is in the lowered configuration the pivot system is in the fixed mode (FIG. 8). The lever 430 is coupled to the hinges 432 such that when the lever 430 rotates, the hinges 432 also rotate. The retractors 460 are rotatebly coupled to the hinges 432 such that when the hinges 432 rotate, the retractors laterally translate forward or back with respect to the mounting plate 425. The retractors 460 are coupled to the locking members 465 which are shaped to conform to recesses in the rear flanged portion of the mounting plate 425. The retractors 460 and the locking members 465 are disposed within the body region of the base 405 so as to be translationally coupled to the base 405. Therefore, if the retractors 460 and the locking members 465 are constrained from pivoting with respect to the mounting plate 425, the base 405 is also constrained.

In operation, when the lever 432 is lowered from a raised configuration (FIG. 7) to the lowered configuration (FIG. 8), the hinges rotate 432, causing the retractors 460 to extend back towards the rear flange of the mounting plate 425. The retractors 460 cause the locking members 465 to extend within the recesses on the mounting plate 425 therein locking the base 405 (not shown) to the mounting plate 425.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 9 and 10, which illustrate a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a multi-mode releasable ski binding system, designated generally at 500. This system 500 includes the ability to switch between three independent modes including a free mode, a spring-biased free mode, and a fixed mode. The system 500 generally includes a mounting plate 525, a base 505, a torsion member 520, a lever 530, and a releasable member 510. The releasable functionality between the releasable member 510 and the base 505 remain consistent with the embodiments described in reference to FIGS. 1-3. In addition, this embodiment utilizes a portion of the same pivoting system described in reference to FIGS. 7-8 that includes the lever 530, the hinge 532, the retractors (not shown), and the locking members 565. However, rather than utilizing a pivot arm (440 in FIGS. 6-8), this embodiment utilizes a lateral torsion member 540 coupled to the mounting plate 525 and which is releasable couplable with the base 505. The base 505 includes two spring receiving members 508, which are configured to allow the end regions of the lateral torsion member 540 to be releasably coupled to the base 505 by positioning on top of the spring receiving members (FIG. 10) to provide the spring-biased free mode. Alternatively, the end portions of the lateral torsion member 540 can be removed from the base (FIG. 9) to provide the free mode. As illustrated, the lateral torsion member 540 is coupled and looped around an axle portion of the mounting plate 425. In addition, the median portion of the lateral torsion member 540 is curved to provide the opposing force necessary to generate the spring like compliant properties in the ends of the lateral torsion member 540. Various winding, looping, and shape configurations may be used to adjust the compliant properties of the lateral torsion member 540.

Reference is next made to FIG. 11, which illustrates a perspective view of a releasable ski toe binding system in which a ski boot is releasably coupled directly to the base via the torsion members and rollers, designated generally at 900. This system may be particularly applicable for an Alpine or Randonee type ski binding in which the entire boot is coupled to a substantially rigid plate. The system 900 provides the same functionality as the releasable ski systems described in reference to FIGS. 1-3 without the need for a releasable member. The boot 910 acts as the releasable member in the illustrated system 900. The base 905 includes a body 901 and two fixed rollers 907 which act as retention members to releasably secure the boot 910 against translational movement when coupled to the base 905. The base 905 is coupled to the torsion member 920 via a spring coupling system 903. The torsion member 920 is coupled to the rollers 915 that engage with a toe portion of the boot to induce a releasable binding force directly upon the boot 910. The configuration will prevent the boot 910 from releasing from the base 905 when an elevational or separational force is applied on the boot 910. However, when a sufficient translational or rotational force is applied on the boot 910, the toe portion of the boot 910 will displace the rollers 915 in a manner to allow the boot 910 to release from the fixed rollers 907 and thereby release from the base 905. Various roller and boots configurations may be utilized to improve the reliability and functionality of the releasable ski toe system 905. Likewise, this embodiment may be incorporated within the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 4-10 to provide a multi-mode boot binding system.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 12 and 13, which illustrate an alternative embodiment of a releasable ski system, in which two compression springs and rollers act as torsion members to induce a releasable binding force upon the releasable member, designated generally at 1000. FIG. 12 illustrates the system 1000 in a coupled configuration and FIG. 13 illustrates the system 1000 in a released configuration. The system 1000 includes a releasable member 1010, a base 1005, a mounting plate (not shown for illustration purposes), two torsion members 1020, a lever 1060, two retention members 1007, and two retractors 1060. The torsion members 1020 each include a compression spring configured in a manner to provide a releasable binding force upon the releasable member 1010. An additional benefit of the torsion member 1020 configuration illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13 is that the rollers 1015 rotate out of the path of the releasable member 1010 upon release from the base 1005, as illustrated in FIG. 13. This may be important to ensure and unobstructed release of the releasable member 1010. The functionality and operation of the lever 1030, retention members 1007, retractors 1060 and other non-torsion member components are analogous to the system described in reference to FIGS. 4-8. Various torsion member configurations may be incorporated into any of the embodiments and remain consistent with the present invention. For example, an extension spring could also be configured to provide the same functionality as the torsion member 1020.

It should also be noted that any of the releasable system embodiments may include a mechanism for disabling the releasability functionality. For example, certain applications may require that a binding system be non-releasable. The binding of a crampon to a mountaineering or ice climbing boot is one application in which a user would never want the binding to release automatically. Various embodiments of mechanisms for disabling the releasability functionality may be incorporated and remain consistent with the present invention.

It should also be noted that the torsion members included in the various binding systems may be adjustable. The binding force or biasing force created by a torsion member may be adjusted by adjusting the loading of the torsion members. This adjustment may be done before assembly of the binding system or may be incorporated as a user controlled mechanism.

Reference is next made to FIG. 14, which illustrates a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a ski system, designated generally at 1100. The system 1100 can be used as a Telemark binding to provide a compliant flex as the toe plate 110 rotates with respect to the base 1105. The system 1100 is unique in that the resistive flex of the binding system is generated by the torsion member 1120 rather than the boot 1130. The system 1100 includes a base 1105, a toe plate 1110, a torsion member 1120, a retention member 1135, a boot 1130, a cable 1125, and a heel throw 1127. The base 1105 is fixably coupled to a surface via some form of coupling and retention system. The retention member 1135 opposes the spring force of the torsion member 1120 but may also couple the base 1105 to the surface 1135. The illustrated retention member 1135 is a knob, which could be used to adjust the compliant properties of the torsion member 1120. Alternative retention members may be used and remain consistent with the present invention. The toe plate 1110 is configured to receive the toe region of a boot 1130, as illustrated. The toe plate 1110 is rotatably coupled to the base 1105 and torsion member 1120, as shown. The torsion member 1120 induces a spring bias on the toe plate 1110 when it is rotated with respect to the base 1105. The boot 1130 is further coupled to the toe plate 1110 via the cable 1125 and the heel throw 1127.

Thus, as discussed herein, the present invention relates to releasable ski binding systems. In particular, the present invention relates to releasable binding systems that utilize a torsion member for inducing a releasable binding force upon a releasable member. 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.