Title:
Device for supporting a snowboard during use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a support device for easing the strain on the legs of a snowboarder by supporting the weight of a snowboard while riding a chair lift as well as while snowboarding. The device comprises a belt wearable around a waist of a user, a down strap, where one end of the strap has a connector attachable to the snowboard and where another end of the strap is attached to a flexible link, and a flexible link attached to the down strap and the belt.



Inventors:
Siebrecht, Wayne Alvin (Golden, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/283937
Publication Date:
06/01/2006
Filing Date:
11/21/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WALTERS, JOHN DANIEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WAYNE SIEBRECHT (GOLDEN, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A device for supporting the weight of a snowboard during use of said snowboard and while riding a ski lift chair, comprising: a belt wearable around a waist of a user; a down strap, wherein a first end of said strap has a connector attachable to said snowboard and wherein a second end of said strap is attached to a flexible link; and a flexible link attached to the down strap and the belt.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the down strap has a length of flexible material being capable of adjusting the distance between the belt and the snowboard.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein geometry of said device adapts to support the weight of said snowboard when said user rides a ski lift chair.

4. The device of claim 1 further comprising a strap wearable around the leg of the user, the strap configured to maintain the device close to the body of the user.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein one end of the down strap is releasably attachable to said snowboard by a quick-release coupling.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein said device is integrated with an item of apparel worn by the user.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein at least a part of said flexible link is comprised of elasticized material.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the flexible link has a “Y” configuration.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein the flexible link comprises multiple straps connected to the waist belt and the down strap.

10. A method for supporting the weight of a snowboard during the user's use of said snowboard and while riding a ski lift chair, comprising the steps of: connecting around the user's waist a waist belt; connecting a first end of a down strap to said snowboard wherein a second end of said down strap is connected to a flexible link; and adjusting said waist belt and said down strap.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the down strap has a length of flexible material being capable of adjusting the distance between the said belt and said snowboard.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein geometry of said device adapts to support the weight of said snowboard when said user rides a ski lift chair.

13. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of connecting a strap wearable around the leg of the user, wherein the strap is configured to maintain the device close to the body of the user.

14. The method of claim 10 wherein the first end of the down strap is releasably connected to said snowboard by a quick-release coupling.

15. The method of claim 10 wherein said waist belt and down strap are integrated with an item of apparel worn by the user.

16. The method of claim 10 wherein at least a part of said flexible link is comprised of elasticized material.

17. The method of claim 10 wherein the flexible link has a “Y” configuration.

18. The method of claim 10 wherein the flexible link comprises multiple straps connected to the waist belt and the down strap.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE

The present application relies on for priority purposes U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/630,980 filed on Nov. 26, 2004 and entitled “Snowboard leash for automatic support of snowboard weight when riding ski lift”.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related generally to the field of sporting accessories and, more specifically, to a device for supporting and managing the weight of a snowboard while in use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Snowboarding is a popular sport that involves riding a wide, flat, elongated runner similar to a ski, sled, or other gliding device down a snow-covered slope. Unlike in skiing, where the rider of the ski uses ski boots which restrict ankle motion and are mounted inside releasable binding, snowboarding requires constant motion of knees and ankles to maintain the rider's balance and to maneuver the board.

A leash or tether connecting the rider to the snowboard is required by ski areas to reduce the risk of a loose snowboard from injuring other ski area attendees. It is generally required that a rider be connected to the snowboard at all times when using the snowboard, even when walking and carrying the snowboard. Similar devices are used on surfboards, skis, skimming boards, skateboards and related apparatuses.

Various snowboard leashes have been proposed and implemented and are generally constructed of a durable resilient material such as nylon webbing which serves as the tether line. At either end of the tether is a connecting device, generally a small metal swivel, which attaches to the snowboard on one end and a leg cuff on the other, normally made from hook and loop fastening elements.

The most prevalent mechanism for transporting the skiers or snowboarders to a higher elevation is a chair lift. To use the chair lift, a snowboarder must detach his or her back foot in order to position himself or herself on the chair. Thus, a snowboarder mounts the chair lift with only one foot attached to the bindings on the snowboard and with the second foot dangling free. Because snowboards can weigh a substantial amount, considerable downward force is experienced by the front leg of the snowboarder, causing stress and fatigue.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,564,729 describes a support strap that is connected at its upper end to a harness worn around the waist and shoulders of the user and connected at its lower end to a snowboard to support the weight of the snowboard when the user is riding a chair lift. A short tether extends between the support strap and a lower leg portion of the user to tether the snowboard to the user when the snowboard is being ridden. The support strap needs to be shortened for riding a chair lift or the like. When it is desired to ride the snowboard down a slope, the support strap is again adjusted to an appropriate length to permit the user to ride the snowboard normally.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,951,048 discloses a leash arrangement attachable to a snow gliding device and having a leash tube extending up along the user's leg with a strap at the top to hold the leash tube at a position accessible to the user. A shock cord is threaded inside the leash tube. One end of the shock cord is attached to the snowboard and the other end has a handle, which may be mounted by a snap to the leg strap. Upon sitting on a lift chair, the user pulls on the handle thereby elongating the shock cord. The handle is then placed under the thigh of the user to provide affirmative hoisting of the snow-gliding device during the chair lift ride.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,290,260 discloses an apparatus for preventing injury to an individual who seeks to transport a snowboard on a chairlift. It provides a detachable loop strap which encircles a portion of the snowboard and goes over the individual's knee and/or thigh such that when the individual has one foot in the snowboard binding at one end, the dangling portion of the board is supported by the loop strap over the individual's knee or thigh. Upon reaching the top of the chairlift, the board is released by unbuckling and removing the looped strap.

Attempts at improving leash mechanism for snowboards have largely focused on providing support while the user is riding a ski lift, rather than when the snowboard is in use. Further, in cases where an integrated leash device has been developed, that can be used both while maneuvering a snowboard and while riding a ski lift, the user is required to adjust the leash manually every time he or she switches between these two activities. Additionally, prior art devices are designed to require frequent adjustments or other interactions by the users, thereby increasing the degree of inconvenience and imposing a safety risk if the prior art devices are not adjusted properly.

There is therefore a need for connection methods and systems that are comfortable for a user during snowboarding maneuvers and provide the user with support for the snowboard while sitting on a ski lift. There is an additional need for that support to be provided automatically, that is, without requiring further adjustments or actions by the user. Such a system should not only provide the required safety, but should also be capable of supporting the weight of the snowboard to minimize strain on one leg of the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed toward a support device for easing the strain on the legs of a snowboarder by supporting the weight of a snowboard while riding a chair lift as well as while snowboarding. In one embodiment, it comprises a device for supporting the weight of a snowboard during use of said snowboard and while riding a ski lift chair, comprising a belt wearable around a waist of a user, a down strap, wherein a first end of said strap has a connector attachable to said snowboard and wherein a second end of said strap is attached to a flexible link, and a flexible link attached to the down strap and the belt.

Optionally, the down strap has a length of flexible material being capable of adjusting the distance between the belt and the snowboard. The geometry of said device adapts to support the weight of said snowboard when said user rides a ski lift chair. At least a part of the flexible link is comprised of elasticized material. The flexible link has a “Y” configuration. The flexible link comprises multiple straps connected to the waist belt and the down strap. A strap is wearable around the leg of the user and the strap is configured to maintain the device close to the body of the user. One end of the down strap is releasably attachable to the snowboard by a quick-release coupling. The device can be integrated with an item of apparel worn by the user. In another embodiment, the present invention includes a method for supporting the weight of a snowboard during the user's use of said snowboard and while riding a ski lift chair, comprising the steps of connecting around the user's waist a waist belt, connecting a first end of a down strap to said snowboard wherein a second end of said down strap is connected to a flexible link, and adjusting said waist belt and said down strap. Optionally, the method further comprises the step of connecting a strap wearable around the leg of the user, wherein the strap is configured to maintain the device close to the body of the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be further appreciated, as they become better understood by reference to the detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a diagram depicting a configuration of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2a and 2b are diagrams illustrating device geometry in standing and sitting positions respectively;

FIG. 3 is a diagram depicting the application of the device of the present invention during snowboarding;

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate configuration of the device of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating an exemplary embodiment of the device of the present invention with the device being integrated with apparel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention discloses a support device for easing the strain on the legs of a snowboarder by supporting the weight of a snowboard while riding a chair lift as well as while snowboarding. Various modifications to the preferred embodiment will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, and the disclosure set forth herein may be applicable to other embodiments and applications without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the claims appended hereto. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments described, but is to be accorded the broadest scope consistent with the disclosure set forth herein. In particular, while the figures depict the use of the present invention with a specific leg, it can be equally used with either the right or left leg.

Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of the present invention is shown. The device consists of a waist belt 120, a strap from the snowboard (referred as down strap hereinafter) 140, and a flexible link 110 that connects the belt 120 to the down strap 140. The device also comprises a quick release clip 150 which is releasably fastened to a complementary coupling device on the snowboard and optionally, a leg encircling strap 130 for comfortable positioning of the device. Adding the extra leg strap 130 which attaches around the thigh of the snowboarder helps maintain the support device close to the body of the snowboarder and make the device more comfortable and less noticeable during movement. The waist belt 120 and the leg strap 130 may be secured using buckles or any other comfortable means such as Velcro. The straps and clips may be made of nylon or polypropylene webbing or other materials suitable for the intended purpose such as ribbon, cord, line, or laces, either natural or synthetic, which are lightweight but strong and are able to withstand corrosive effects of water, strong winds and low temperatures.

The flexible link 110, connecting the waist belt 120 and the down strap 140, allows the device to move with the user when performing maneuvers while riding a snowboard. The flexible link is preferably made of durable, extensible material, such as elastic rubber, thereby making the flexible link expandable and capable of taking up slack as the user moves. When sitting on the ski lift chair, the flexible link ensures proper position of the down strap for maximum support and distributes the weight of the snowboard across the user's waist. For the flexible link to be effective, it needs to be properly positioned relative to the user's body. The “Y” configuration depicted in FIG. 1 avoids having the down strap dig into the user's backside and distributes the weight of the snowboard across its back. If the flexible link is positioned too far to one side of the user's body, excessive weight is localized on one side of the body. If the flexible link is positioned too far below the waist belt, it fails to provide sufficient support. Further, for it to be effective, it is preferable for the flexible link to be separate and independent from the waist belt itself.

While the design depicted in FIG. 1 is preferred, the flexible link can be of different configurations, lengths, and widths. For example, the link can be a single strap connected to, and integrated with, the down strap 140. The link can comprise multiple single straps connected at various points to the waist belt 120 and, on their other ends, connected to the down strap 140. The embodiment in FIG. 4 depicts yet another structure to connect the waist belt 120 and down strap 140.

In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 1, the present invention uses polypropylene webbing for the waist belt 120. The waist belt 120 has dimensions in the range of 1″ to 2″ wide, preferably 1.5″ wide. The flexible link 110 is preferably a ¼″ elastic cord with a nylon sheath. The elastic cord can be connected on its ends to the waist belt in any manner known in the art. In one embodiment, the elastic cord is connected by feeding the cord through a metal grommet in the waist belt, the cord is doubled over at a length of 0.5″ to 1.5″, more preferably 0.75″-1.0″, and the doubled over cord is held by two ring staples.

In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 1, the down strap 140 is looped over the flexible link and held in place with a sewing stitch. The down strap 140 and leg strap 130 are held together with a box stitch. Buckles, tri-glide attachments, and loops are used on the waist belt 120, down strap 140 and leg strap 130 to allow for adjusting lengths to accommodate the users body geometry. The waist belt 120 is preferably adjustable from 12″ to 56″, more preferably from 18″ to 48″. The leg strap 130 is preferably adjustable up from 4″ to 28″. The down strap 140 is preferably adjustable up to a 57″ inseam. For the novel device described herein to effectively operate, the user must have the ability to adjust the down strap 140 between the waist belt 120 and snowboard to a certain length. If it is too long, it then it fails to provide the necessary support when the user sits down. If it is too short, then it exerts an excessive pull on the user as he rides the snowboard. The waist belt 120 to leg strap 130 is adjustable from 10″-32″. The quick release clip 150 is held to the snowboard with a cord loop, such as a ⅛″ cord loop.

The connection to the snowboard is designed to use any suitable coupling mechanism such as a cord, buckle, or hook and loop fasteners, which is suitable to hold the required load. In one embodiment the quick release clip 150 is designed as a “D” ring and snap hook which can be conveniently disengaged from the snowboard, and yet has enough strength for keeping the board secured. This design of the quick release clip is advantageous for disconnecting from the snowboard without having to remove the device when in a safe area such as a ski lodge. The present invention preferably anchors to the inside of the user's front foot; anchoring to the outside of the front foot, while possible, tends to be more awkward for the user to use.

The waist belt 120 can be a multi-functional device and include containers, straps, and fanny packs for attaching accessories typically used by a snowboarder. Specifically, the waist belt can include straps, connected using Velcro, buckles, snaps, or other attachment mechanisms, used to surround and hold tool sets, water bottles, electronic devices, such as GPS receivers, music players, mobile phones, or personal data assistants. The waist belt can also include fanny packs to contain money, keys, and other loose items.

FIGS. 2a and 2b depict the device geometry in standing and sitting positions respectively. The flexible link that connects the belt 205a to the down strap 206a is made up of an elastic material and allows for lengthening the distance between the waist belt 205a and the snowboard. The down strap and flexible link arrangement are connected to the waist belt such that they ride over the users backside 200a and down the inseam to the snowboard connection 206a. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 2a, in standing position and in motion, the device acts as the required tether to the snowboard and the flexible link moves with the user for comfort.

When the user 202b sits on the ski lift, as illustrated in FIG. 2b, there is a change in device geometry in accordance with the sitting position. This change in geometry requires the down strap 200b to cover more length then when standing. The user sits on the down strap 200b, pinning it in place. The lower portion of the down strap rides 206b against the front edge of the ski lift chair 225b, thereby supporting the weight of the snowboard and enabling the device 200b to hold the snowboard without stressing the user's legs 220b.

FIG. 3 illustrates the application of the support device 300 during active snowboarding. Once the device 300 is worn and adjusted to fit properly, no additional user interface is required for full function of the device. As the user 305 glides on the snow, the device 300 moves with its user 305 due to the flexible link 310 and does not interfere with movement. Since the support device 300 is worn around the waist 302 and leg 303 of the user 305, it serves to secure the snowboard 306 to the user 305 in a way that prevents the snowboard 306 from sliding uncontrolled down a slope in the event of a fall.

The design of the device of the present invention may be simplified by omitting the flexible link. An alternative configuration of the support device, without the flexible link is shown in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 4, the support device comprises a waist belt 410, a down strap 420, a leg strap 430 and a quick release clip 440.

Further, the leg strap 430 and the quick release clip 440 are also optional accessories to the support device and are not necessary for the functioning of the device. Hence these two accessories may also optionally be omitted.

In another embodiment, the support device of the present invention is integrated into apparel such as pants or snowsuit. An example of this embodiment is shown in FIG. 5. Referring to FIG. 5, the waist belt is sewn or otherwise fastened onto the snow pants 500. To provide for adjustability in size, the waist belt is made up of an elastic material. The down strap 510 is attached to the inseam of the pants 500 and is designed to be adjustable from above the knee down to the snowboard connection 505. In case the apparel comprises a snowsuit that does not end at the waist with a waistband but is a dungaree or one-piece type suit, the waist belt of the support device can be fastened at the back of the waist of the apparel with any type of pin or other common fastener. Alternatively, the user can wear a belt inside the snowsuit to which the support device can be attached in a similar way. Thus in one embodiment, the waist belt and the down strap become part of the apparel itself, thereby excluding the need for separately donning the support device and adjusting it for a proper fit. Attaching the support device to the apparel of a user also offers the added advantage of reducing the likelihood of straps, buckles, catches, and the like getting entangled to cause accident or injury while snowboarding.

The above examples are merely illustrative of the many applications of the system of present invention. Although only a few embodiments of the present invention have been described herein, it should be understood that the present invention might be embodied in many other specific forms without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Therefore, the present examples and embodiments are to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive, and the invention may be modified within the scope of the appended claims.