Title:
SKI BOOT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
One embodiment of the present invention is a ski boot system including a shell and an elongated hollow region disposed substantially sagitally within the base or bottom of the shell. The elongated hollow region is rigidly coupled at the proximal and distal ends to a secondary support structure of the shell that extends dorsally on at least one side of the boot, thereby forming a lateral triangular rigid coupling. The lateral triangular rigid coupling increases the torsional support of a user's foot and lower leg disposed within the shell. An optional second lateral triangular coupling may extend dorsally on the opposite side of the ski boot so as to balance medial and lateral torsional support. The elongated hollow region may be formed internally within the base or created by rigidly coupling a rigid member to a lengthwise U-shaped region.



Inventors:
Narajowski, David (Park City, UT, US)
Hall, Jacob (Draper, UT, US)
Saxton, Jeremy (Draper, UT, US)
Mellon, David (Park City, UT, US)
Whittaker, Chad (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Terry, Paul (Park City, UT, US)
Laakso, Thomas (Park City, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/744325
Publication Date:
11/08/2007
Filing Date:
05/04/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/04
View Patent Images:
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20020069558FLEXIBLE NON-RESTRICTIVE TOE STRUCTURE FOR SHOESJune, 2002Wilkinson
20080229622Shoe Sole ComponentSeptember, 2008Mori et al.
20070017123Insert for footwear midsoleJanuary, 2007Scofield et al.
20100000121Insole for an Item of Footwear and an Item of Footwear Comprising the SameJanuary, 2010Brodie et al.
20080120872Sports shoe for sports involving a sliding movementMay, 2008Grandin et al.
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Primary Examiner:
PRANGE, SHARON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER IP PLLC (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A ski boot system comprising: a shell configured to encase a foot and a portion of a lower leg, wherein the shell includes an upper portion and a lower portion rotatably coupled to one another at a lateral location so as to form a primary support structure, wherein the shell includes a base, toe, and heel, and wherein the shell further includes an independent secondary support structure that is coupled to both the upper and lower portions at the lateral location; and an elongated hollow region disposed within the base of the shell, wherein the elongated hollow region extends substantially sagitally between the toe and heel, and wherein the secondary support structure is rigidly coupled to the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region so as to form a lateral rigid triangular coupling between the elongated hollow region and the lateral location.

2. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the shell includes a second lateral location substantially opposite the lateral location at which the primary support structure and secondary support structure rotatably couple to one another, and wherein the secondary support structure is rigidly coupled to the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region so as to form a second lateral rigid triangular coupling substantially opposite the lateral rigid triangular coupling.

3. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the primary and secondary support structures are injection molded together.

4. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the secondary support structure is composed of a material that is more flexurally rigid than the primary support structure.

5. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the secondary support structure is in part encased by the primary support structure.

6. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the elongated hollow region includes a U-shaped region and a rigid member rigidly coupled to the U-shaped region in at least four locations so as to form the elongated hollow region between the U-shaped region and the rigid member.

7. The ski boot support system of claim 6, wherein the cross-sectional open side of the U-shaped region is plantar oriented.

8. The ski boot support system of claim 6, wherein the cross-sectional open side of the U-shaped region is dorsal oriented toward the foot.

9. The ski boot support system of claim 6, wherein the rigid member includes carbon-fiber.

10. The ski boot support system of claim 6, wherein the rigid coupling between the U-shaped region and the rigid member includes a mechanical keyed coupling system.

11. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the secondary support member includes a recess within lateral rigid triangular coupling.

12. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the elongated hollow region is cross-sectionally curved.

13. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the base is disposed between a foot and a sole of the ski boot support system.

14. The ski boot support system of claim 1, wherein the rigid coupling between the secondary support structure and the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region include encircling portions of the hollow region with the secondary support structure.

15. A ski boot system comprising: a shell configured to encase a foot and a portion of a lower leg, wherein the shell includes an upper portion and a lower portion rotatably coupled to one another at a lateral location so as to form a primary support structure, wherein the shell includes a base, toe, and heel, and wherein the shell further includes an independent secondary support structure that is coupled to both the upper and lower portions at the lateral location; an elongated hollow region disposed within the base of the shell, wherein the elongated hollow region extends substantially sagitally between the toe and heel, and wherein the secondary support structure is rigidly coupled to the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region so as to form a lateral rigid triangular coupling between the elongated hollow region and the lateral location; and wherein the elongated hollow region includes a plantar oriented U-shaped region and a rigid member rigidly coupled to the U-shaped region in at least four locations so as to form the hollow region between the U-shaped region and the rigid member.

16. A method of manufacturing and assembling a ski boot that increases the torsional rigidity comprising the act of: providing a shell configured to encase a foot and a portion of a lower leg, wherein the shell includes an upper portion and a lower portion rotatably coupled to one another at a lateral location so as to form a primary support structure, wherein the lower portion includes a base, toe, and heel, and wherein the shell further includes an independent secondary support structure that is coupled to both the upper and lower portions at the lateral location, and wherein the base includes a substantially sagittal U-shaped region; coupling a rigid member to the U-shaped region in at least four locations so as to form an elongated hollow region between the U-shaped region and the rigid member, wherein the elongated hollow region extends substantially sagittally between the toe and heel; and coupling the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region to the secondary support structure so as to form a lateral rigid triangular coupling between the elongated hollow region and the lateral location.

17. The method of claim 16, further including the act of coupling the dorsal and proximal ends of the hollow region to the secondary support structure so as to form a second lateral rigid triangular coupling between the elongated hollow region and a second lateral location, wherein the second lateral triangular coupling is substantially opposite the lateral triangular coupling.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the act of coupling a rigid member to the U-shaped region includes engaging the rigid member into a key lock region of the U-shaped region.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein the act of coupling a rigid member to the U-shaped region includes inserting at least four coupling members through the rigid member into the base.

20. The method of claim 16, wherein the act of coupling the dorsal and proximal ends of the elongated hollow region to the secondary support structure includes encircling portions of the elongated hollow lengthwise region with the secondary support structure.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/746,574 filed May 5, 2006, the contents of which are incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to ski boots. In particular, the invention relates to a ski boot system with improved torsional support.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Boots are a type of footwear that encase both the foot and a portion of the lower leg of a user. Boots are generally manufactured for a particular purpose or activity and therefore are designed to include characteristics consistent with the intended purpose. For example, a hiking boot is designed to support the ankle of a user while minimizing the overall weight. Likewise, a ski boot is designed to maximize a user's performance at a particular skiing activity.

Boots generally include a shell, a compression system, and a sole. The shell and compression system operate to encase and support the foot and lower leg of a user. Various well-known shell and compression systems are utilized to allow users to insert and remove their foot in an open boot configuration and compress the shell around the foot in a closed boot configuration. The sole of a boot is disposed on the bottom surface of the shell. The sole is generally composed of a rubber or plastic material. The sole may be composed of a single piece or multiple blocks.

The general activity of skiing includes many subsets including but not limited to alpine touring, telemark, and downhill. Each subset of skiing generally corresponds to a unique system of specialized equipment. For example, the boot, ski, and binding systems used for telemark skiing are significantly different from those used for alpine touring. A skiing system may include a standard type of boots, skis, and bindings. Each type of skiing also corresponds to unique boot characteristics for optimal performance. In addition, particular terrain and skier preference may require an even more specific set of performance characteristics. Boots for particular skiing activities must be compatible with the remainder of the system. For example, telemark skiing boots have generally been required to conform to the 75 mm standard to allow for compatibility with telemark type bindings.

One of the problems with existing boot systems is related to supporting the lower leg of a user for particular skiing activities. Support characteristics include impeding a user's lower leg from articulating about a particular orientation and minimizing flexibility of the boot along a particular axis. For example, almost all boots provide a level of dorsiflexion support to allow a user to lean forward without significantly articulating the ankle. In skiing activities, support between a boot and a user's lower leg is critical for effective force transfer, absorption, and performance. Most conventional skiing boots adequately support a user's lower leg in a lengthwise axis through a series of releasable clamping devices in operation with the overall shell design. However, many of the boot systems fail to also adequately provide the lateral and torsional support that is essential for skiing activities. Lengthwise support generally refers to impeding dorsiflexion of the ankle and minimizing flexibility of a boot along a lengthwise axis. Likewise, lateral and torsional support refers to impeding inversion and eversion of the ankle and minimizing flexibility of a boot along a lateral axis. Conventional clamping devices and shell designs do not adequately impede lateral flexion of the shell material.

Therefore, there is a need in the industry for a boot support system that provides a sufficient level of both lengthwise and lateral support without dramatically affecting the overall weight characteristics of the boot.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a ski boot system with improved torsional support. One embodiment of the present invention is a ski boot system including a shell and an elongated hollow region disposed substantially sagitally within the base or bottom of the shell. The elongated hollow region is rigidly coupled at the proximal and distal ends to a secondary support structure of the shell that extends dorsally on at least one side of the boot, thereby forming a lateral triangular rigid coupling. The lateral triangular rigid coupling increases the torsional support of a user's foot and lower leg disposed within the shell. An optional second lateral triangular coupling may extend dorsally on the opposite side of the ski boot so as to balance medial and lateral torsional support. The elongated hollow region may be formed internally within the base or created by rigidly coupling a rigid member to a lengthwise U-shaped region. A second embodiment of the present invention is a method for increasing the torsional support of a ski boot, including the act of rigidly coupling a rigid member to a plantar-oriented U-shaped region on the base of the shell.

Embodiments of the present invention represent a significant advance in ski boot technology. Torsional support is a critical component of ski boot performance for both Telemark and Alpine Touring boots. During the act of pivoting or rotating the rear of a ski boot, the improved torsional support characteristics will maintain proper boot orientation with respect to a corresponding binding and/or ski.

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

The following description of the invention can be understood in light of the Figures, which illustrate specific aspects of the invention and are a part of the specification. Together with the following description, the Figures demonstrate and explain the principles of the invention. The Figures presented in conjunction with this description are views of only particular-rather than complete-portions of the systems and methods of making and using the system according to the invention. In the Figures, the physical dimensions may be exaggerated for clarity.

FIGS. 1A-1B illustrate a profile and bottom view of a secondary support structure of a boot system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate a series of perspective cross-sectional cutaway views of the secondary support structure of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2D illustrates a perspective cross-sectional cutaway view of an alternative embodiment of a secondary support structure in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded profile component view of a boot system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, including upper and lower portions of a primary support structure and the secondary support structure illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 4 illustrates a profile view of a secondary support structure of a boot system in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate sagittal cross-sectional views of alternate embodiments of elongated hollow regions disposed within a lower portion of a base.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a ski boot system with improved torsional support. One embodiment of the present invention is a ski boot system including a shell and an elongated hollow region disposed substantially sagitally within the base or bottom of the shell. The elongated hollow region is rigidly coupled at the proximal and distal ends to a secondary support structure of the shell that extends dorsally on at least one side of the boot, thereby forming a lateral triangular rigid coupling. The lateral triangular rigid coupling increases the torsional support of a user's foot and lower leg disposed within the shell. An optional second lateral triangular coupling may extend dorsally on the opposite side of the ski boot so as to balance medial and lateral torsional support. The elongated hollow region may be formed internally within the base or created by rigidly coupling a rigid member to a lengthwise U-shaped region. A second embodiment of the present invention is a method for increasing the torsional support of a ski boot, including the act of rigidly coupling a rigid member to a plantar-oriented U-shaped region on the base of the shell. Also, while embodiments of the present invention are directed at ski boots, it should be known that the teachings of the present invention are applicable to other fields, including but not limited to other types of boots.

The following terms are defined as follows:

Ski—Any type of skiing apparatus that allows a user to translate on a snow surface, including but not limited to cross country skis, alpine skis, powder skis, telemark skis, downhill skis, snowboards, splitboards, skiboards, etc.

Shell—The portion of the boot that extends around the lower leg, ankle, and the upper and lower surfaces of a user's foot. The shell may be composed of a flexible lightweight plastic composite material. The shell may include multiple support structures commonly referred to as “dual density” or “multi-density”.

Base—A lower portion of the shell disposed between a corresponding engaged foot and the sole or bottom most surface of the boot system.

Sole—One or more objects coupled to the bottom most surface of the boot system. For example, a rubber sole footprint is often attached to boot systems to improve traction.

Medial—An anatomical term referring to the big toe lengthwise side of an engaged foot within a ski boot.

Lateral—A term that is used in two ways in this application anatomically and horizontally. The term “lateral” when used in “lateral rigid triangular coupling” refers broadly to the side of the secondary support structure including both the lateral and medial anatomical sides of a corresponding engaged foot. Whereas, “balance the lateral and medial” uses “lateral” in the anatomical sense of the pinkie/small toe lengthwise side of an engaged foot within a ski boot. These usages are not inconsistent with one another but are necessary for proper explanation of three dimensional positioning.

Sagittal—An anatomical term referring to a vertical plane bisecting an object in a manner corresponding to a standing corresponding human. A sagittal plane of a ski boot is illustrated in FIG. 1B as element 110.

Dorsal—An anatomical term referring to the upper/top surface of an engaged foot within a ski boot.

Plantar—An anatomical term referring to the lower/bottom surface of an engaged foot within a ski boot.

Elongated hollow region—A substantially enclosed hollow region integrated within the base of a shell or shell component. A cross-section of the elongated hollow region includes two sides or layers separated by at least one hollow region. The two sides or layers are integrally formed or coupled to one another to form the at least one internal hollow region. The elongated hollow region may include various curvatures, tapers, slopes, and shapes to provide specific weight and support characteristics.

Torsion—A measure of support related to the lateral or rotational flexibility of a rear portion of the boot with respect to a substantially fixed toe region location.

Reference is initially made to FIGS. 1A-1B, which illustrate a profile and bottom view of a secondary support structure of a boot system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, designated generally at 100. The secondary support structure 100 is part of a boot system as illustrated and explained in more detail with reference to FIG. 3. Embodiments of the present invention relate to increasing the torsional support of the rear or heel portion 130 of the boot in relation to the front or toe portion 120. The sole or bottom 105 of the support structure is disposed on the bottom most surface. The secondary support structure 100 includes a support structure 150 and an elongated hollow region 170. The support structure 150 is composed of a material that includes a particular minimal flexural rigidity so as to support the shape of the boot system. The support structure 150 includes a base 158, a toe shell 156, a rear support 152, a lateral articulation location 164, and a side region 154. The components of the support structure 150 are designed to include the minimal surfaces and densities necessary to properly support a lower portion of the boot system so as to minimize overall weight. The lateral articulation location or lateral location 164 is located in the vicinity of an engaged foot ankle and is one of the coupling location between the different components of the shell, which will be described and illustrated in FIG. 3.

The elongated hollow region 170 is disposed within the base 158 of the illustrated secondary support structure 100. As illustrated in FIG. 1B, the elongated hollow region 170 is substantially sagitally disposed so as to be within the lengthwise middle of the base 158. Various methods of creating an elongated hollow region may be utilized including but not limited to pre-molding the secondary support structure 100 around a hollow region and capping/coupling a rigid member over a U-shaped region to form an internal hollow region. FIGS. 5A-5C further illustrate techniques and systems for forming the elongated hollow region. An enclosed hollow region inherently has more torsional support than a filled, gapped, or solid region of similar dimensions. As will be described in more detail below, torsional rotational forces must deform both sides of the hollow region, therein making it torsionally more rigid and significantly lighter than a solid or gapped object of substantially the same material. By positioning the elongated hollow region 170 within the base 158, the torsional rigidity of the base is significantly increased. Further, by properly coupling the elongated hollow region 170 to the secondary support structure 100, the torsional rigidity of the system is even further increased without unnecessarily increasing the overall weight. Therefore, the use of both an elongated hollow region and a coupling to the secondary support structure produces an efficient torsional support system and method of improving upon conventional boot architecture.

The side region 154 extends from the lateral location 164 and is rigidly coupled to the elongated region at the distal 174 and proximal 172 ends. The rigid coupling may include extending a pre-molded portion of the side region 154 to and/or around the elongated hollow region 170. The connection between the side region 154, the lateral location 164, and the elongated hollow region 170 forms a lateral rigid triangular coupling 176 illustrated by the dashed triangular shape. The dashed triangular lines are meant to illustrate the triangular nature of the coupling between the elongated hollow region 170 and the lateral location 164; in no way do they imply a particular shape, structure, or composition. The lateral rigid triangular coupling 176 dramatically improves torsional support by utilizing the flexural rigidity of both the side region 154 and the elongated hollow region 170. In addition, the dorsal extension of the side region 154 to the lateral location 164, enables torsional forces to be distributed through both the primary and secondary support structure, therein further increasing stability without increasing weight. As illustrated, an optional recess may be formed within the lateral rigid triangular coupling 176 to further minimize material and overall weight. The nature, shape, and orientation of the lateral triangular coupling 176 may include non-linear, curved, and webbed rigid connections between the proximal 172 and distal 174 ends of the elongated hollow region 170 and the lateral location 170.

An optional second lateral rigid triangular coupling 196 may be created by similarly extending and coupling a corresponding side region on the opposite side of the boot, as illustrated in FIG. 1B. The inclusion of the optional second lateral triangular coupling 196 balances the torsional support characteristics so as to efficiently resist both clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the rear portion 130 of the secondary support structure 100 with respect to the front portion 120. However, the inherent rigid nature of the first lateral triangular coupling 176 will provide an increase in torsional support in both rotational directions because it is rigidly coupled to the shell framework.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 2A-2C, which illustrate a series of perspective cross-sectional cutaway views of the secondary support structure of FIG. 1A, each designated generally at 100. FIG. 2A illustrates a coronal cross-section illustrating the extension of the elongated hollow region 170 to the rear portion of the secondary support structure 100. It can be seen that the proximal coupling 174 between the side region 154 and the elongated hollow region 170 is formed by extending the elongated hollow region 170 along the lengthwise substantially sagittal axis of the secondary support structure. The side region 154 extends dorsally to the lateral location 164. The lateral rigid triangular coupling 176 is illustrated for reference purposes. In the illustrated embodiments, the elongated hollow region 170 is formed by encircling a hollow region with pre-molded material. Alternative methods of creating an elongated hollow region may also be utilized, as illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5C. FIG. 2B also illustrates the distal coupling 172 between the side region 154 and the elongated hollow region 170. Likewise, FIG. 2C illustrates a complete perspective view of the secondary support structure for reference purposes.

Reference is next made to FIG. 2D, which illustrates a perspective coronal cross-sectional cutaway view of an alternative embodiment of a secondary support structure in accordance with the present invention, designated generally at 200. The cross section illustrates the rear portion of a boot including an elongated hollow region 270, a side region 254, and the proximal coupling therebetween 274. It will be appreciated that the elongated hollow region may incorporate curved widthwise regions and/or curved lengthwise regions to facilitate efficient disposition within the shell and/or various support characteristics. For example, the elongated hollow region may be wider at the rear of the base than at the front so as to minimize material weight.

Reference is next made to FIG. 3, which illustrates an exploded profile component view of a shell portion of a boot system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, including upper and lower portions of a primary support structure and the secondary support structure illustrated in FIG. 1A. The secondary support structure 100 is designed to include a minimal shape necessary to create the necessary support characteristics. The secondary support structure 100 may be composed of a more dense material that has a higher flexural rigidity. The primary support structure includes both a lower portion 250 and an upper portion 300. The lower portion 250 interfaces with the secondary support structure 100 to enclose an engaged foot. The lower portion 250 and secondary support structure 100 are moveably coupled to the upper portion at a lateral location so as to enable articulation of an engaged ankle. Various alternative shell systems may also be utilized. Various additional components including but not limited to clasps, buckles, inserts, etc. may be included and remain consistent with the present invention.

Reference is next made to FIG. 4, which illustrates a profile view of a secondary support structure of a boot system in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention, designated generally at 400. The secondary support structure 400 includes a support structure 450 and an elongated hollow region 470. The support structure 450 is composed of a material that includes a particular minimal flexural rigidity so as to support the shape of the boot system. The support structure 450 includes a base 458, a toe shell 456, a rear support 452, a lateral articulation location 464, and a side region 454. Likewise, the elongated hollow region includes a proximal 472 and distal 474 rigid coupling to the side region 454, therein forming a lateral triangular coupling 476 between the elongated hollow region 470 and the lateral location 464. The illustrated secondary support structure further includes a bellows region 485 commonly used on telemark ski boots to allow articulation about the metatarsal region of an engaged foot.

Reference is next made to FIGS. 5A-5C, which illustrate coronal cross-sectional views of alternative embodiments of elongated hollow regions disposed within a lower portion of a shell. FIG. 5A illustrates a system 500 comprising a shell 520, rigid member 515, hollow region 525, coupling plate 510, coupling recesses 530, and coupling members 505. The shell 520 includes a dorsal oriented U-shaped region which forms an un-enclosed gapped region dorsally exposed and extending sagittally. The rigid member 515 is rigidly coupled over the U-shaped region so as to cap or enclose the region, thereby forming the hollow region 525. The rigid coupling between the rigid member 515 and the shell 520 includes at least four coupling points so as to provide sufficient force transfer necessary for torsional rigidity. The rigid member 515 may be composed of a lightweight material such as carbon-fiber that exhibits the desired support and weight characteristics. The coupling plate 510, coupling recesses 530, and coupling members 505 illustrate a system for rigidly coupling to the shell 520 that sufficiently distributes coupling forces so as not to damage the shell 520 material.

FIG. 5B illustrates a system 550 including an inner shell 555, an outer shell 560, a rigid member 570, a coupler 575, and a hollow region 565. The inner shell 555 includes a plantar-oriented U-shaped region, which forms an un-enclosed gapped region extending sagittally. The rigid member 570 is rigidly disposed over the U-shaped region so as to cap or enclose the region, thereby forming the hollow region 565. The rigid member 515 may be composed of a lightweight material such as carbon-fiber that exhibits the desired support and weight characteristics. The outer shell 560 is positioned adjacent to the rigid member 570 in order to provide side support and alignment coupling. The coupler 575 is rigidly coupled to the inner 555 and/or outer shell 560 so as to rigidly couple the rigid member 570 to the inner shell 555.

FIG. 5C illustrates a system 600 including a shell 605, a rigid member 610, and lower shell portion 615. In this embodiment the rigid member 610 is three dimensionally enclosed by the lower shell portion 615. This may be accomplished by positioning the rigid member 610 into the sagittal orientation during the molding process so as to mold the shell 605 around the rigid member 610. However, as long as the shell 605 does not chemically bond to the rigid member 610, a small air gap 620 is disposed around the rigid member 610, therein forming an elongated hollow region within the lower portion of the shell 615 consistent with the definition discussed above.

Various other embodiments have been contemplated, including combinations in whole or in part of the embodiments described above.





 
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