Title:
NORDIC SKI BOOT SUPPORT AND ATTACHMENT STRUCTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A Nordic ski boot support and attachment mechanism (100) having a toe piece 102 that slidably engages a ski 90, a lever (106) that is pivotably attached to the toe piece, a rigid forefoot support 110 that is fixedly attached to the lever, a heel support (120) that is pivotably attached to the forefoot support, and an ankle support (130) that is pivotably attached to the heel support. The lever engages the toe piece at the left and right side, including a moment arm therebetween that is at least one half inch long. The lever may include a recess 107 that engages a rearward projection on the toe piece. A heel piece (140) is also slidably disposed on the ski providing a second projection (141). The heel support includes an engagement member (122) that engages the second projection when the lever is in the down position.



Inventors:
Svensson, John E. (Vashon, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/768131
Publication Date:
02/28/2008
Filing Date:
06/25/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/04; A43C19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GURARI, EREZ
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A Nordic ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism comprising: a toe piece that is adapted to engage a ski, the toe piece having a right boss, and a left boss that is separated a distance from the right boss; a lever pivotably connected to the toe piece to pivot about a first pivot axis, the lever engaging the left boss and the right boss such that the lever is pivotable between an up position and a down position; a rigid forefoot support having a base portion and left and right sidewalls, the forefoot support being fixed to the lever; a heel support having left and right sidewalls that are pivotably attached to the left and right sidewalls of the forefoot support such that the heel support is pivotable with respect to the forefoot support about a second pivot axis; an ankle support pivotably attached to the left and right sidewalls of the heel support such that the ankle support is pivotably with respect to the heel support about a third pivot axis.

2. The mechanism of claim 1, wherein the toe piece further comprises a rear portion defining an upwardly-extending first projection, and the lever further comprises a recess adapted to engage the first projection when the lever is in the down position.

3. The mechanism of claim 2, wherein the toe piece is adapted to slidably and adjustably engage the ski.

4. The mechanism of claim 3, further comprising a heel piece defining a second upwardly-extending projection, and further comprising an engagement member extending downwardly from the heel support, wherein the engagement member engages the second projection when the lever is in the down position.

5. The mechanism of claim 4, wherein the engagement member defines a channel that slidably engages the second projection such that the engagement member and second projection can move longitudinally relative to each other.

6. The mechanism of claim 5, wherein the heel piece is adapted to slidably and adjustably engage the ski.

7. The mechanism of claim 1, wherein the left boss is spaced a distance of at least one half inch from the right boss.

8. The mechanism of claim 1, wherein the rigid forefoot support is formed from one of a rigid composite material and an injection molded plastic.

9. The mechanism of claim 1, wherein the lever is formed from a lightweight metal.

10. The mechanism of claim 1, wherein the first pivot axis, the second pivot axis and the third pivot axis are all approximately horizontal.

11. A Nordic ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism comprising: a toe piece that is adapted to engage a ski, the toe piece having a right boss, and a left boss that is separated a distance from the right boss; a rigid forefoot support having left and right sidewalls, the forefoot further comprising a transverse member that engages the right boss and the left boss of the toe piece; a heel support having left and right sidewalls that are pivotably attached to the left and right sidewalls of the forefoot support such that the heel support is pivotable with respect to the forefoot support about a second pivot axis; an ankle support pivotably attached to the left and right sidewalls of the heel support such that the ankle support is pivotably with respect to the heel support about a third pivot axis.

12. The mechanism of claim 11, wherein the toe piece further comprises a rear portion defining an upwardly-extending first projection, and the lever further comprises a recess adapted to engage the first projection when the lever is in the down position.

13. The mechanism of claim 11, wherein the toe piece is adapted to slidably and adjustably engage the ski.

14. The mechanism of claim 13, further comprising a heel piece defining a second upwardly-extending projection, and further comprising an engagement member extending downwardly from the heel support, wherein the engagement member engages the second projection when the lever is in the down position.

15. The mechanism of claim 14, wherein the engagement member defines a channel that slidably engages the second projection such that the engagement member and second projection can move longitudinally relative to each other.

16. The mechanism of claim 15, wherein the heel piece is adapted to slidably and adjustably engage the ski.

17. The mechanism of claim 11, wherein the left boss is spaced a distance of at least one half inch from the right boss.

18. The mechanism of claim 11, wherein the rigid forefoot support is formed from one of a rigid composite material and an injection molded plastic.

19. The mechanism of claim 11, wherein the first pivot axis, the second pivot axis and the third pivot axis are all approximately horizontal.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/816,003, filed Jun. 23, 2006, the disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety, and priority from the filing date of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. § 119.

BACKGROUND

Nordic skiing is a winter sport that encompasses all types of skiing where the heel of the boot is not fixed to the ski. This includes a wide range of ski equipment and techniques such as classic and skate cross country skiing, skinny skiing, ski touring, track skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, and telemark skiing. Nordic skiing often involves racing. Olympic events include cross country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, and the biathlon. The International Ski Foundation's FIS Nordic World Ski Championships is a major event of these sports and happens in winter of odd-number years between Winter Olympics.

As a hobby, cross-country skiing may be viewed as a kind of akin to cross-country hiking, but on skis. Of course recreational cross-country skiers tackle trails of various lengths and difficulties. As a sport, cross-country skiing is an endurance sport using every major muscle group, and is generally recognized as one of the most physically demanding of sports competitions. Even so, cross-country ski competition is experiencing a resurgence in popularity that began with the addition of the sprint event to the World Cup and Olympic competitions that are more readily accessible to audiences. More races are being held in audience friendly formats, such as mass start, sprint, relay and pursuit races. World Cup and Olympics cross-country skiing events include the 1 km Sprint, the 2×1 km Team Sprint, the 10 km/15 km Individual Start, the 15 km/30 km Pursuit, the 30 km/50 km Mass Start, and the 4×5 km/4×10 km Relay.

Nordic ski bindings generally connect the toe of the user's ski boot to the ski, and are matched to the boot as common systems. There are three primary types of binding systems used in modern cross-country skiing, the NNN (New Nordic Norm)—including the new R4 NIS variant, the SNS Profil (Salomon Nordic System), and SNS Pilot. Older styled three-pin bindings, sometimes referred to as “Nordic Norm” or “toe-bail” bindings, are still used, especially by backcountry and Telemarking enthusiasts.

In the NNN binding a bar in the toe of the shoe hooks into a catch in the binding. Two ridges on the binding plate fit into corresponding slots on the boot soles. The NNN system is used for both classic and skating styles cross-country skiing. A backcountry variation (NNN BC) is generally wider and more rugged.

SNS Profil bindings have a slightly narrower bar and catch system, and use a single rail design on the binding plate and boot sole. Skate and Classic versions of the SNS Profil system can use the same boots. SNS Pilot bindings feature dual rails on the binding plate.

Typically, in conventional prior art boots and binding systems for Nordic skiing the ski boot has a sole with a toe portion that may include a transverse rod. The toe portion and/or rod engages a toe piece of a binding mechanism to attach the boot to the ski. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,907,353 and U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2005/0212263, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. Generally, the sole of the boot is relatively flexible whereby the user can lift the boot heel away from the ski during use.

It is necessary for some maneuvers in Nordic skiing for the user to apply a pivoting moment to the ski about the longitudinal axis of the ski. It is also sometimes necessary to apply a pivoting force or moment about the vertical axis, i.e., to rotate the ski about an axis perpendicular to the upper face of the ski. The flexibility of the sole of the boot can limit or interfere with the ability of the user to apply a roll and yaw torque to the ski.

SUMMARY

This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This summary is not intended to identify key features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.

A Nordic ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism is disclose that include a toe piece that in the current embodiment is adapted to be removably attachable to the ski, preferably in a number of different locations. The toe piece includes left and right spaced-apart bosses that pivotably receive a lever that is attached to a rigid forefoot support. The lever pivots between an up position and a down position, for example to accommodate the stroke or gate of the user. A heel support is pivotably attached to the forefoot support, for example through upright sidewall portions. The heel support may define a heel counter. An ankle support is pivotably attached to the heel support. It will therefore be appreciated that the support structure includes three-pivot articulation. In a current embodiment the three pivot axes are all substantially horizontal. The mechanism may also include a heel piece that is attachable to the ski, and an engagement mechanism that extends from the heel support to engage the heel piece when the heel support is in the down position.

In an embodiment of the mechanism the toe piece includes a rear portion defining an upwardly-extending first projection that is received by a corresponding recess in the lever when the lever is in the down position. This provides the user with a greater ability to apply a torque or twisting force about a generally vertical axis.

In embodiments of the invention, the toe piece and the heel piece are slidably and adjustably attachable to the ski.

These and other aspects of the invention will be appreciated by the artisan after reading the particular embodiment of the invention described herein.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same become better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism according to the present invention, shown attached to a cross-country ski (shown in phantom) having an integral binding mounting plate;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism shown in FIG. 1, illustrated in the down position;

FIG. 3A shows the support structure and attachment mechanism of FIG. 1, with the heel support pivoted away from the ski, and the forefoot support in the down position;

FIG. 3B shows the support structure and attachment mechanism of FIG. 1, with the heel support and the forefoot support pivoted away from the ski;

FIG. 3C shows the support structure and attachment mechanism of FIG. 1, with the forefoot support pivoted further away from the ski; and

FIG. 4 shows an exploded view of the support structure and attachment mechanism shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a ski boot support structure and attachment mechanism 100 (hereinafter, referred to as the “support mechanism”) according to the present invention, and FIG. 2 shows a side view of the support mechanism 100. The support mechanism 100 is shown mounted to a ski 90 having integral or fixedly attached forward and rearward mounting plates 92 and 93, respectively, as are well-known in the art. For example a current mounting system is known in the art as NNN (“New Nordic Norm”) R4 NIS (“Nordic Integrated System”). The currently preferred embodiment of the support mechanism 100 is compatible with, and is mountable to, the NIS system.

The support mechanism 100 includes a forward toe piece 102 that is slidably and adjustably attached to the ski 90 through the forward mounting plate 92. The toe piece 102 includes a right boss portion 104 and a left boss portion 105. A substantially rigid lever 106 is pivotably mounted to the left and right boss portions 104, 105 with pivot pin 108, such that the lever 106 pivots about a horizontal (i.e., generally parallel to the upper face of the ski 90) first pivot axis 80. The lever 106 may be formed, for example, from aluminum or from another lightweight metal. The lever 106, and therefore the user's toe, is pivotable between a “down” position generally flat with the ski 90, and an “up” position wherein the distal end of the lever 106 is elevated away from the ski 90. A projection 101 extends upwardly from a rearward portion of the toe piece 102. As seen most clearly in FIG. 2 (and FIG. 7), the lever 106 includes a cup-shaped recess 107 at its distal end, that is sized and shaped to receive the projection 101 when the lever 106 is in the down position shown in FIG. 2. It will be appreciated that when the projection 101 is captured in the recess 107, a user can more easily exert a significant twisting force to the ski 90 by turning the user's foot.

A substantially rigid forefoot support 110 is attached to the lever 106, for example with a nut and plate assembly 112. (Other attachment means may alternatively be used, without departing from the present invention.) The forefoot support 110 has a substantially horizontal base portion 114 that supports the user's forefoot (not shown), and left and right sidewalls 116 extending upwardly from the base portion 114. In a current embodiment the forefoot support 110 is contoured to better accommodate the anatomy of a user's foot. An aperture 118 with an inner lip is provided in the base portion 114 to receive the nut plate assembly 112 without the nut plate assembly 112 protruding above the upper surface of the base portion 114. The aperture 118 is preferably an elongate slot oriented to be essentially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the ski 90 during use, whereby the longitudinal position of the forefoot support 110 on the lever 106 is readily adjustable.

A heel support 120 for supporting the rear portion of the user's foot is pivotably attached to the forefoot support 110 such that the heel support 120 is pivotable about an axis 82. The axis 82 is also substantially horizontal, and positioned to approximately correspond with the natural location of flexure in the user's foot near the metatarsal head region of the foot, or just behind the forefoot region. The heel support 120 includes a base portion 124 and upright sidewalls 126 that extend around the back of the heel support 120 to form a heel counter. The sidewalls 126 extend forwardly to engage the forefoot support sidewalls 116 for pivotable attachment thereto. In a current embodiment the heel support 120 is contoured to better accommodate the anatomy of a user's foot.

The forefoot support 110 and the heel support 120 are preferably shaped such that a gap 123 is formed between the forefoot support base portion 114 and the heel support base portion 126 at least along most of the width of the structure. A substantially rigid heel engagement member 122 extends downwardly from near the back end of the heel support 120, as discussed below. In a preferred embodiment the heel support 120 is also substantially rigid, and the heel engagement member 122 is formed from aluminum or another lightweight metal.

An ankle support 130 is pivotably attached to the heel support 120 such that the ankle support is pivotable about an axis 84. The axis 84 is approximately horizontal, and positioned to accommodate the natural flexure of the user's ankle. The ankle support 130 includes arms 134 that extend down to pivotably attach to the heel support 120 sidewalls 126, and is shaped to extend or wrap about an ankle or lower leg portion of the user, defining a front gap 132. In a preferred embodiment the ankle support 130 is also substantially rigid, although retaining sufficient flexibility to allow the ankle support 130 to receive the user's leg through the gap 132.

In a current embodiment the forefoot support 110, heel support 120 and ankle support 130 are formed from a rigid composite material, for example a graphite composite. However, other materials are clearly suitable for this support structure, and in particular it is contemplated that one or more of these elements may be formed from a rigid injected plastic or the like.

A flexible boot 95 (shown in phantom) may typically be provided, either fixed to the support structures 110, 120, 130 or separable therefrom. The construction of the flexible boot 95 itself is well-known in the art, and particular aspects are not believed to be important to the inventive aspects of the present invention. Therefore, for clarity, the boot 95 is not discussed in any detail herein.

A heel piece 140 is slidably and adjustably mounted to the ski 90, rearwardly of the toe piece 102. The heel piece 140 includes a projection 141 that extends upwardly from the ski 90, and is positionable and sized such that the heel engagement member 122 will engage the heel piece 140 when the heel support 120 is pivoted to the down position, as shown in FIG. 2. In the current embodiment, the heel engagement member 122 defines a channel tapered in the vertical direction that slidably receives the heel piece projection 141 such that the heel engagement member 122 and projection 141 can move longitudinally relative to each other. The user can apply a lateral force to the projection 141 (and therefore the ski 90) using a foot-twisting motion. However, because the defined channel is tapered and constant in the longitudinal direction, the two parts do not need to stay precisely aligned for proper engagement therebetween.

The support mechanism 100 is shown in different positions in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C. Referring first to FIG. 2, the support mechanism 100 is shown in the down position, wherein the heel engagement member 122 engages the heel piece 140. It will be appreciated that in this position the user can exert relatively large twisting forces about the vertical axis on the ski 90 due to the fixed or hard connection (relative to rotation about the vertical axis) at both the forefoot support 110, and the heel piece 140. In FIG. 3A the user has lifted the heel support 120 away from the ski 90, which is accommodated by pivoting of the heel piece 120 about axis 82, such that the heel engagement member 122 releases from the projection 141 of the heel piece 140. The forefoot support 110, including the lever 106, remains in the down position. The user can still exert a relatively large twisting moment to the ski 90 in this position due to the engagement of the lever 106 at both the front boss portions 104, 105 and rearwardly at the projection 101 of the toe piece 102.

In FIG. 3B the support mechanism 100 is shown wherein, for example, the user is further into a typical power stroke. The forefoot support 110 is pivoted (clockwise in FIG. 3A) such that the lever recess 107 does not engage the projection 101 on the toe piece 102. In FIG. 3C the forefoot support 110 is pivoted even further such that the forefoot support 110 almost perpendicular to the ski 90. The heel piece 120 has pivoted (counterclockwise in the figure) about axis 82. It will also be appreciated that this degree of movement is beneficial when getting up after a fall or the like. Throughout the user's motion the user's ankle is pivotable in the fore and aft direction about axis 84.

An exploded view of the support mechanism 100 is shown in FIG. 4, showing additional details of the current embodiment. The lever 106 includes a pair of spaced apart end portions 151 having apertures 153 therethrough. A generally tubular sleeve 155 approximately one inch in length is disposed between the end portions 151, and receives a pair of springs 157 that bias the lever towards the down position. The pivot pin 108 is disposed through apertures 159 (one aperture 159 visible in FIGURES) in the toe piece left and right bosses 104, 105, and extends through the lever apertures 153 and through the tubular sleeve 155 disposed therebetween.

An important aspect of the support mechanism 100 is that the user can exert a significant rolling moment to the ski 90 because the moment applied by the user is exerted across a moment arm extending between the left and right sides of the toe piece 102. In other words, in this embodiment when the user applies a rolling moment with his or her feet, one of the spaced-apart lever end portions 151 will apply a downward force on one side of the pivot pin 108, and the other end portion 151 will apply an upward force on the opposite side of the pivot pin 108, generally forming a couple with an arm equal to the distance between the end portions 151. The couple is applied to the ski through the bosses 104, 105 of the toe piece 102, and therefore it is desirable that the bosses 104, 105 be separated by a reasonable distance, preferably without extending beyond the width of the attached ski 90.

In the currently preferred support structure 100 the bosses 104, 105 are separated by at least one half inch and preferably by one inch or more. Moreover, as discussed above the forefoot support 110 and the lever 108 are substantially rigid, which is desirable to maximize the user's ability to apply the twisting moment.

The advantage of the pivoting forefoot support 110 and heel support 120 can now also be better appreciated. Prior art Nordic ski boot structures typically comprise a sole portion that is unitarily constructed. In order to allow the user to comfortably lift the heel away from the ski, however, the unitary sole must be flexible enough to permit some flexure about a horizontal axis between the forefoot region and the heel region. This flexibility in a unitary sole results in greater than desired flexibility about other axes, however, reducing the user's ability to apply a rolling moment and a twisting (yawing) moment.

In the support structure 100 described above, however, substantially rigid support structures 110, 120 are pivotably connected about a substantially horizontal axis 82. Therefore, the support structure 100 is desirably very flexible in the direction to allow flexure of the foot, but very stiff about other axes.

Therefore, the support structure 100 provides a system having very high flexibility for flexure of the foot and ankle in the forward and rearward direction, while providing sturdy support in the lateral direction, and in particular allowing the user to exert lateral and twisting forces on the ski 90 during use.

To use the support structure 100 a user may slidably install the toe piece 102 at a suitable location on the ski 90, and the heel piece 140 as a suitable location rearward of the toe piece 102. Although these components may be permanently fixed to the ski 90, in a currently preferred embodiment these components are compatible with the Nordic Integrated System standard, whereby the installation and positioning of the toe piece 102 and heel piece 140 are readily and adjustably accomplished. It is contemplated that the lever 106 may be constructed to be releasably attached to the toe piece 102, such that the user can easily engage and disengage from the toe piece 102.

While illustrative embodiments have been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.





 
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