US20080174089A1 - Apparatus, system, and method for a collapsing approach ski - Google Patents

Apparatus, system, and method for a collapsing approach ski Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080174089A1
US20080174089A1 US12/017,949 US1794908A US2008174089A1 US 20080174089 A1 US20080174089 A1 US 20080174089A1 US 1794908 A US1794908 A US 1794908A US 2008174089 A1 US2008174089 A1 US 2008174089A1
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Prior art keywords
ski
sliding
footwear
skin
collapsing
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Abandoned
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US12/017,949
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Lane Ekberg
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Lane Ekberg
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Priority to US88590107P priority Critical
Priority to US88870007P priority
Priority to US89454107P priority
Application filed by Lane Ekberg filed Critical Lane Ekberg
Priority to US12/017,949 priority patent/US20080174089A1/en
Priority claimed from US12/048,187 external-priority patent/US20090256332A1/en
Publication of US20080174089A1 publication Critical patent/US20080174089A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63CSKATES; SKIS; ROLLER SKATES; DESIGN OR LAYOUT OF COURTS, RINKS OR THE LIKE
    • A63C5/00Skis or snowboards
    • A63C5/02Skis or snowboards collapsible; divided
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63CSKATES; SKIS; ROLLER SKATES; DESIGN OR LAYOUT OF COURTS, RINKS OR THE LIKE
    • A63C9/00Ski bindings
    • A63C9/08Ski bindings yieldable or self-releasing in the event of an accident, i.e. safety bindings
    • A63C9/0807Ski bindings yieldable or self-releasing in the event of an accident, i.e. safety bindings for both towing and downhill skiing
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63CSKATES; SKIS; ROLLER SKATES; DESIGN OR LAYOUT OF COURTS, RINKS OR THE LIKE
    • A63C2203/00Special features of skates, skis, roller-skates, snowboards and courts
    • A63C2203/10Special features of skates, skis, roller-skates, snowboards and courts enabling folding, collapsing

Abstract

An apparatus, system, and method are disclosed for a collapsing approach ski for maneuvering over terrain in a climbing and sliding fashion, with a traction component operative below the sliding surface on the underside of the ski to facilitate climbing uphill without substantially interfering with sliding downhill. It combines the advantages of a snowshoe, including a large surface area, a toe cleat that claws into the terrain and a lifting of the front tip with each step, with the advantages of an approach ski, including a fibrous skin for added traction climbing uphill and an ability to slide down hill. A stretchable portion in the skin adjacent to a hinge in the ski permits the ski to be compactly collapsed without removing the skin, for easy packing and storage while not in use. For climbing up a steep incline, a removable fixed cleat provides added traction, and a heel riser reduces the strain on the lower leg and Achilles tendon region of the skier.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/885,901 entitled “PIVOTAL SKI CLEAT SYSTEM AND APPROACH SKI SYSTEM” and filed on Jan. 21, 2007 for Lane A. Ekberg, to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/888,700 entitled “FOLDING APPROACH SKI SYSTEM” and filed on Feb. 7, 2007 for Lane A. Ekberg, and to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/894,541 entitled “FOLDING SKIS FOR PACKS AND SNOWMOBILES AND AN ADJUSTABLE MOUNTING PLATE FOR FOOTWEAR” and filed on Mar. 13, 2007 for Lane A. Ekberg, which are all incorporated into this document by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • This invention relates to winter sports equipment and more particularly relates to an approach ski.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Approach skiing as well as snowshoeing are popular winter sports that provide backcountry exploration, exercise, and entertainment. Unlike a conventional alpine ski which is intended for downhill skiing, an approach ski may be equipped to climb as well as slide. In a single day snowshoers and ascending skiers travel to their various destinations, each having problems with their particular travel modes. Snowshoers cannot ski or glide down any incline they happen to meet and snowshoes do not pack well and take a lot of space. The current ski industry only provides an approach ski that cannot move or climb as easily as snowshoes because the ski is longer in front of the footwear pivot point than behind it. In other words, when the ski is picked up with attached footwear to walk, the front portion of the ski pivots downward as the rear portion goes upward, potentially allowing the front ski tip to catch on the terrain.
  • Additionally, current approach climbing ski systems offer cleats that penetrate the snow only when a user places the footwear heel closer to the ski, and when the footwear pivots upward the traction is pulled away from the snow. This system offers no traction when a user is walking with the heel of the user going upward, thus causing the traction system to be virtually worthless in the most aggressive climbing situation. Furthermore, the traction offers no propulsion from the forward pivot motion as it does in the operation of a snowshoe in which a toe cleat protrudes through the plane of the snowshoe. Traction for “side-hilling” may also be insufficient with a heel cleat alone.
  • Another problem is that an approach ski has less surface area than a snowshoe, and thus is more prone to sink into soft snow. Conversely, approach skis are wider than downhill skis, and thus have poor edge control in sliding downhill.
  • Because approach skis are typically used in conjunction with other skiing equipment such as a snowboard or downhill skis, minimizing the weight of the approach ski without compromising its strength is also an important factor needing improvement.
  • An area in which the current state of the art is further deficient is the lack of modularity in footwear binding mechanisms between snowshoes, approach skis, and other types of skis. Thus the skier must carry additional footwear, adding to the overall weight of the total system.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • From the foregoing discussion, it should be apparent that a need exists for an apparatus, system, and method that combines the benefits and avoids the disadvantages of current snowshoe and approach ski technology. Beneficially, such an apparatus, system, and method would adapt to changing terrain with minimal reconfiguration while in use and would permit easy packing and storage while not in use.
  • The present invention has been developed in response to the present state of the art, and in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art that have not yet been fully solved by currently available approach skis. Accordingly, the present invention has been developed to provide an apparatus, system, and method for approach skiing that overcomes many or all of the above-discussed shortcomings in the art.
  • The apparatus to traverse the terrain is provided with a plurality of modules configured to functionally execute the necessary steps of deploying the approach skis, enabling and disabling a traction component as appropriate in response to the changing terrain, and compactly stowing and packing the approach skis while not in use. These modules in the described embodiments include a collapsing mechanism, traction component, and other related modules as described below.
  • The apparatus, in one embodiment, is configured to include a traction component operative below the sliding surface on the underside of the ski while climbing uphill, but not substantially interfering with sliding downhill.
  • The apparatus is further configured, in one embodiment, to be collapsible via a hinge or telescoping mechanism for easy packing and storage.
  • In a further embodiment, the traction component may be configured to include a collapsing skin, having a stretchable portion adjacent to the hinge that allows the skin to easily collapse with the ski. The skin may be permanently or removably attached to the sliding surface on the underside of the ski, with fibers having a rearward orientation so as to resist sliding backward when climbing uphill but not substantially interfere with sliding forward downhill. Suitable fibers may include nylon or mohair.
  • In a further embodiment, mechanisms are provided for locking the ski in a fully open deployed position and in a fully closed collapsed position. The mechanism for locking open may comprise a sliding member which also imparts additional strength and rigidity to the deployed ski. The mechanism for locking closed may comprise a loop that tightly encircles the tips of the collapsed ski.
  • A footwear base may be provided to bind the user's footwear to the ski. A pivot joint positioned within the front half of the footwear base, hereinafter referred to as the toe end of the footwear base, allows the heel end to rotate up away from the ski with each step taken by the skier. The pivot joint may be comprised of an axle mounted transversely on the ski.
  • In a further embodiment, the traction component may be configured to include a toe cleat extending over the sides of the ski, permanently or removably coupled to the toe end of the footwear base. When the footwear base pivots upward, the toe cleat rotates downward, gripping the terrain in a clawing fashion with each step taken by the skier. When the footwear base is level, the toe cleat is thereby elevated above the terrain so as not to substantially interfere with sliding downhill.
  • For climbing steeper terrain, a heel riser may be optionally brought into position under the heel end of the footwear base. By maintaining the footwear base in a more level position while the ski is inclined uphill, the heel riser reduces the strain on the lower leg and Achilles tendon region of the skier.
  • An advantage of the collapsing capability is that the approach ski may be made longer than otherwise possible and therefore less prone to sink into soft snow. In addition, by mounting the footwear base on the front half of the ski, the weight of the rear half of the ski will tend to raise the front tip of the ski up with each step taken by the skier, similar to the operation of a snowshoe. In another embodiment, a tensioning mechanism such as a bungee cord may be coupled between the front tip of the ski at one end and on or about the footwear base at the other end.
  • In a further embodiment, a heel lock may be provided to hold the footwear level with the ski for improved stability and control in sliding downhill. In addition, because an approach ski is wider than a downhill ski, better leverage for edge control may be obtained by mounting the footwear base in higher position, on top of a supporting member on the upper surface of the ski. The supporting member may be a rail device which allows the position of the footwear base along the ski to be adjusted for optimal operation and/or to accommodate different sizes of footwear.
  • The footwear base may also be configured to accept different types of footwear, including a soft-shelled boot or an AT boot. This capability may allow the approach ski to be interchangeable with other skiing equipment without changing footwear. Specially made footwear which integrates the pivoting and heel locking mechanisms of the footwear base directly into the sole of the footwear may also be provided, eliminating the need for a separate footwear base. With the toe cleat installed, the footwear base may also serve as a crampon device when removed from the approach ski. Removing the footwear base also facilitates the nested stacking of two or more skis for efficient transport.
  • In a further embodiment, the traction component may be configured to include a removable fixed cleat. The removable fixed cleat may be temporarily attached to the ski for improved traction on steep uphill terrain and then removed when sliding downhill.
  • A system of the present invention is also presented to augment and enhance the utility of the approach ski. The system may be embodied by the approach ski in conjunction with other skiing equipment, such as a snowboard or downhill skis.
  • The system may further include porting equipment. The porting equipment may be a backpack capable of holding the approach skis inside it in a collapsed position, with straps on the outside to hold the other skiing equipment.
  • A method of the present invention is also presented for approach skiing. The method in the disclosed embodiments substantially includes the steps necessary to carry out the functions presented above with respect to the operation of the described apparatus and system. In one embodiment, the method includes providing the collapsing ski, deploying the ski into a locked open position, traversing the terrain, collapsing the ski into a locked closed position, and stowing the ski. The method also may include enabling a traction component when climbing uphill and disabling the traction component when sliding or gliding as desired.
  • In a further embodiment, the method includes utilizing other skiing equipment such as a snowboard or downhill skis when a destination skiing site has been reached via the approach skis.
  • Reference throughout this specification to features, advantages, or similar language does not imply that all of the features and advantages that may be realized with the present invention should be or are in any single embodiment of the invention. Rather, language referring to the features and advantages is understood to mean that a specific feature, advantage, or characteristic described in connection with an embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, discussion of the features and advantages, and similar language, throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, refer to the same embodiment.
  • Furthermore, the described features, advantages, and characteristics of the invention may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize that the invention may be practiced without one or more of the specific features or advantages of a particular embodiment. In other instances, additional features and advantages may be recognized in certain embodiments that may not be present in all embodiments of the invention.
  • These features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In order that the advantages of the invention will be readily understood, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments that are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered to be 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 side view of a collapsing approach ski.
  • FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski.
  • FIG. 3 is a detailed view of a collapsing member.
  • FIG. 4 is a detailed view of a collapsing skin for a collapsing approach ski.
  • FIG. 5 is a detailed view of a collapsing skin in a collapsed position.
  • FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a collapsing approach ski.
  • FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a sliding member.
  • FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a collapsing approach ski in a collapsed position.
  • FIG. 9 is a side view of a collapsing approach ski in a collapsed position.
  • FIG. 10 is a side view of a collapsing approach ski with a pivoting toe cleat.
  • FIG. 11 is a detailed side view of a pivoting toe cleat.
  • FIG. 12 is a detailed perspective view of a pivoting toe cleat.
  • FIG. 13 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski with a cleat traction component installed.
  • FIG. 14 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski with a collapsing skin installed as an additional traction component.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart illustrating a method for using the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment,” “an embodiment,” or similar language means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment,” “in an embodiment,” and similar language throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, all refer to the same embodiment.
  • Furthermore, the described features, structures, or characteristics of the invention may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. In the following description, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of programming, software modules, user selections, network transactions, database queries, database structures, hardware modules, hardware circuits, hardware chips, etc., to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that the invention may be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other methods, components, materials, and so forth. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the invention.
  • The schematic flow chart diagrams included herein are generally set forth as logical flow chart diagrams. As such, the depicted order and labeled steps are indicative of one embodiment of the presented method. Other steps and methods may be conceived that are equivalent in function, logic, or effect to one or more steps, or portions thereof, of the illustrated method. Additionally, the format and symbols employed are provided to explain the logical steps of the method and are understood not to limit the scope of the method. Although various arrow types and line types may be employed in the flow chart diagrams, they are understood not to limit the scope of the corresponding method. Indeed, some arrows or other connectors may be used to indicate only the logical flow of the method. For instance, an arrow may indicate a waiting or monitoring period of unspecified duration between enumerated steps of the depicted method. Additionally, the order in which a particular method occurs may or may not strictly adhere to the order of the corresponding steps shown.
  • FIG. 1 is a side view of a collapsing approach ski 100. A front ski segment 102 is connected to a rear ski segment 104 via a hinge 106. Hinge pins 108 allow front ski segment 102 and rear ski segment 104 to rotate relative to hinge 106. One embodiment is an easily manufactured light weight ski 100 that can be made in composite plastics and elastomers. In an embodiment the ski 100 is less than 6 inches wide. Additionally ¼ inch steel reinforcement rods can be used as support in the construction, making plastic skis strong but light and durable. Another embodiment allows the ski 100 to be constructed in metal, or plastic, or carbon fiber, or typical layered wood or composite construction with an optional metal edge.
  • A rail device 110 on front ski segment 102 holds a footwear base 112 via corresponding holes 114 into which one or more axles 116 are inserted. The right rail having a plurality of holes 114 is visible in this view. There is an identical left rail with corresponding holes 114 on the left side of front ski segment 102. With one axle 116 through corresponding holes 114 in rail device 110 and a toe end of footwear base 112, footwear base 112 is free to pivot allowing the heel of the skier to rotate up away from the upper surface of ski 100 with each step taken. A plurality of holes 114 in rail device 110 permits the footwear base 112 to be moved forward or backward on the ski 100, allowing a variety of footwear sizes to be accommodated as well as pivoting differently on the ski 100. In another embodiment, the pivoting capability of the footwear base 112 may be incorporated directly into the footwear itself, eliminating the need for a separate footwear base.
  • The rail device 110 may be constructed integrally with the ski 100 or as a separate piece to be mounted on any make and model of ski or snowshoe so that they may also have pivotally equipped footwear and bindings. The rail device 110 generally sits laterally on the periphery of the ski 100 but could be constructed anywhere on the ski 100 admitting of a footwear pivoting mechanism. The rail device may be constructed in metals, composites, carbon fiber, wood, and plastics.
  • If the ski is more than 6 inches wide at its widest point the sole of the user's footwear must be at least ½ inch or more mounted above the bottom side of the ski device to allow some edge control. Normally when a ski design is wide its binding placement should be raised considerably. One embodiment of the present invention is having a separate rail system that may be mounted to a multitude of ski designs of different makes and models.
  • In an embodiment, the toe end of footwear base 112 should be positioned with approximately two thirds of the length of the ski 100 behind it, like a typical snowshoe, thus causing the front tip of the ski 100 to move upward when the user raises his foot up to take a step.
  • “Locked heel style” skiing may be achieved by simply inserting an axle 116 through the heel end of footwear base 112 and the corresponding holes 114 in rail device 110. Thus footwear base 112 has at least two holes 114 that accept axles 116. When two or more axles 116 are in place, including the axle 116 in the toe end, footwear base 112 cannot pivot thus providing a locked heel position. Each axle 116 may be locked in place by a mechanism that prevents it from moving out of position in the rail device 110, such as a cotter pin. This style may also be used on a snowshoe ski system.
  • The ski 100 may be held in a fully open deployed position with a sliding lock 118 which is kept in place by a cotter pin 120. The ski 100 may be held in a fully closed collapsed position by encircling the tip of front ski segment 102 with a locking loop 122 attached to the tip of rear ski segment 104.
  • A spring loaded like suspension may also be used to pull the front ski tip in an upward motion in the form of a tensioning member 124 that can be configured in a variety of ways. One such way is coupling one end of a “bungee cord” type device to the front end of the ski and another end to the footwear, binding, binding strap, lower leg, or footwear base 112. This tensioning member 124 may also be used on a snowshoe.
  • Also disclosed is a heel riser comprised of a heel block 126 which retains a heel lift 128 that relieves strain on the lower part of the leg and Achilles region. The heel lift 128 may be raised and lowered dependent upon its desired use. A further embodiment is a heel lift 128 able to be set right into the top construction of the ski 100. Additionally means may exist for a separate heel lift 128 and may be bolted to the top side of the ski 100. The top side of the ski 100 may include attachment means like the use of pems (not shown) to couple the heel block 126.
  • FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski 100. The sliding surface 202 on the underside of the ski 100 is visible in this view. In one embodiment a piece of permanently attached skin 204 is shown on front ski segment 102. The tip of an axle 116 is visible protruding from the front hole 114 of rail device 110, thereby allowing footwear base 112 to freely pivot. Axle 116 may be either permanent or removable.
  • FIG. 3 is a detailed view of a collapsing member. Two ¼ inch steel hinge pins 108 are mounted to hinge 106 and to respective front ski segment 102 and rear ski segment 104 pivot hinges (not shown). The hinge pins 108 are held in place by E-clips (not shown).
  • FIG. 4 is a detailed view of a collapsing skin 400 for a collapsing approach ski 100. Collapsing skin 400 is configured to flex in its center when collapsed with the ski, comprising a front skin segment 402 and rear skin segment 404 connected via stretchable portion 406 at sewn locations 408. In one embodiment, the collapsing skin 400 may be attached to a tip of ski 100 via an attachment loop 410.
  • FIG. 5 is a detailed view of a collapsing skin 400 in a collapsed position. Collapsing skin 400 has stretchable portion 406 that flexes adjacent to hinge 108 when the ski 100 is placed into a fully closed collapsed position.
  • FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a collapsing approach ski 100. The ski 100 is held in a fully open deployed position by sliding lock 118 locking the front ski segment 102, rear ski segment 104 and hinge 106 using guiders 602. Guiders 602 are present on top surface of the ski 100 and hinge 106. When the sliding lock 118 is engaged in all of the guiders 602 the ski 100 will remain in the ski mode.
  • FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a sliding member. Sliding lock 118 is constructed of a ¼ inch stainless steel u-shaped rod that may be moved to a forward position bridging collapsing hinge 108 and locked into position by cotter pin 120 inserted into slider hole 702, or a drop-nose pin or T-lock with a spring bias system (not shown). The sliding lock 118 also acts as a brace for the ski 100 offering much support and strength. The sliding lock 118 has a handle 704 with which the user can easily move the sliding lock 118 back and forth.
  • FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a collapsing approach ski 100 in a fully closed collapsed position. Hinge 106 allows the ski 100 to be collapsed as shown, shortening the length of the ski 100 into a compact size for convenient storage on a snowmobile, pack, or transport for the military.
  • FIG. 9 is a side view of the collapsing approach ski 100 in the fully closed collapsed position. When the sliding lock 118 is moved toward the back end of the ski 100 past hinge 108 the rear ski segment 104 may by rotated to fit so that the bottom of rear ski segment 104 and front ski segment 102 are touching. The locking loop 122 holds the tips of ski 100 together in the fully closed collapsed position for easy storage.
  • FIG. 10 is a side view of a collapsing approach ski 100 with a pivoting toe cleat 1002 under the ball of the foot up to or past the toe region, illustrating the ski 100 with the footwear base 112 pivoting upward and the toe cleat 1002 protruding downward below the sliding surface 202 to penetrate the snow or ice. Thus the ski 100 may climb with a traction component oriented somewhat like a snowshoe cleat. The toe cleat 1002 may surround the outer periphery of the lateral sides of the ski 100 or the toe cleat 1002 may even be equipped to penetrate an opening through the ski 100 itself, thereby engaging the terrain.
  • The toe cleat 1002 may be permanently or removably coupled to the footwear base 112 by inserting axle 116 through hole 1004 in tab 1006. The footwear base 112 may also be mounted to rail device 110 using the same axle 116.
  • Also shown are the heel lift 128 and the heel block 126. These devices relieve the lower leg and Achilles tendon region during climbing. The footwear base may include heel strap 1008 and toe strap 1010 connected to strap holes 1012 for soft shelled boots or may be configured to accept AT boots. Additionally, pivotal footwear for devices meant for sliding over snow may be accepted by the ski device without the need for a separate footwear base 112. Another embodiment of the present invention is the ability of the ski 100 to accept a separate snowshoe binding manufactured for the purpose of being able to be used on both a snowshoe and a ski 100. Thus, the user can economically purchase separate items of one device to use on another when it comes to skiing, snowshoeing, and any other winter sport with which the parts may be compatible. The footwear base 112 may hold a variety of footwear, including hiking boots, ski boots, snowboard boots, cross-country ski boots, or a slip-over type device wherein the user places a foot. The slip-over device may be permanently or removably coupled to the footwear base. The slip-over device may also have multiple pivots to be used on a variety of products including a snowshoe, ski, snowboard, cross-country ski and split-board.
  • FIG. 11 is a detailed side view of a pivoting toe cleat 1002 having a hole 1004 through a tab 1006.
  • FIG. 12 is a detailed perspective view of a pivoting toe cleat 1002. The axle 116 is inserted from left to right through holes 1004 in tabs 1006. Axle 116 is retained in position by an E-clip 1202 on the left and locked into place on the right by either a cotter pin 1204 or a T-lever (not shown).
  • FIG. 13 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski 100 with a cleat traction component installed, including a removable fixed (stationary) cleat 1302 mounted to rear ski segment 104. One embodiment includes a spring loaded quick-release fixed cleat 1302 that may extend below the sliding surface 202 of the ski 100 with the spring system locking to the top or bottom side of ski 100. Additionally “side hilling” may also be aided by toe cleat 1002 and fixed cleat 1302. Toe cleat 1002 and fixed cleat 1302 may be used together or separately, and toe cleat 1002 may be fixed or pivoting.
  • Also shown are the hinge 106 and the hinge pins 108 in accordance with the present invention. The footwear base 112 can be seen as well as strap holes 1012 in which straps may be mounted to hold a soft shelled boot.
  • FIG. 14 is a bottom perspective view of a collapsing approach ski 100 with a collapsing skin 400 installed as an additional traction component. The collapsing skin 400 may be configured to have attachment loops 410 to the ski 100, operating in conjunction with fixed cleat 1302 and pivoting toe cleat 1002 that reach far below the sliding surface 202 for optimum climbing power. The fixed cleat 1302 and the pivoting toe cleat 1002 may be aligned so that when the ski 100 is collapsed they may overlap the periphery of the ski 100 in the fully closed collapsed position (not shown).
  • The footwear base 112 can be removed from the ski 100 by removing axle 116, permitting footwear base 112 to be used as a separate climbing device such as a crampon, or simply to make the ski 100 easier to stow. Another embodiment is a quick-release allowing the axle 116 to release from the ski 100 thus allowing the footwear base 112 to be removed. When the footwear base 112 is removed the ski 100 can be stowed conveniently in a pack. Yet another embodiment of the present invention is the optional means of locking unoccupied skis 100 to each other in a fully locked manner so that the lock manually needs to be disengaged to release one ski 100 from another. Also included in this embodiment is the ability for more than two skis 100 to hook to each other up to a large amount for easy transport, especially in military operations.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart illustrating a method for using the present invention. The method 1500 starts 1502 and a collapsing approach ski 100 is provided 1504. The skier deploys 1506 the ski 100 and locks 1508 it in the fully open deployed position. If the terrain is downhill 1510 then the skier detaches 1512 the fixed cleat 1302, lowers 1514 the heel lift 128, and locks 1516 the footwear base 112 into the locked heel position, thereby enabling the skier to slide 1518 downhill with good control and without substantial interference. Note that the toe cleat 1002 need not be removed since it may pivot up out of the way in the locked heel position. Note also that the collapsing skin 400 need not be removed, since its fibers have a rearward orientation so as not to substantially interfere with sliding 1518 forward. If the terrain is not downhill 1510 then the skier unlocks 1520 the footwear base 112 so that it may freely rotate upward with each step taken by the skier while simultaneously engaging the pivoting toe cleat 1002 into the terrain for improved traction. If the uphill terrain is steep 1522, then the skier also attaches 1524 a fixed cleat 1302 for additional traction and raises 1526 heel lift 128 so as relieve strain on the lower leg and Achilles region. The skier is thus enabled to walk 1528 with a traction component appropriate to the terrain. As the skier reaches various points along the terrain, the skier may decide to continue 1530, repeating the foregoing steps starting with the step of determining whether the terrain is downhill 1510 or not. If the skier decides not to continue, then the skier collapses 1532 the ski 100. Note that the collapsing skin 400 need not be removed, since the stretchable portion 406 permits it to be collapsed 1532 along with the ski 100. The skier then locks 1534 the ski 100 into the fully closed collapsed position, stows 1536 the ski 100, and the method 1500 ends 1538.
  • 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 which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

Claims (25)

1. A ski for maneuvering over terrain, the ski comprising:
a plurality of ski segments, each ski segment having a sliding surface disposed at a bottom thereof;
a collapsing mechanism connecting the ski segments and allowing the ski segments to be arranged longitudinally for skiing and to be rearranged compactly for storage; and
a traction component connected to one or more of the ski segments and operative below the sliding surface thereof to facilitate climbing uphill but not substantially interfering with sliding downhill.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the traction component is operative entirely below the sliding surface.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the collapsing mechanism is comprised of one or more hinges.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the collapsing mechanism is telescoping.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the traction component comprises a skin having a skin segment removably coupled to the sliding surface of each of the plurality of ski segments and a stretchable portion adjacent to the collapsing mechanism connecting the skin segments so as to permit the ski segments to be collapsed together without removing the skin by allowing the skin to stretch.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the skin is fibrous, containing fibers having a rearward orientation so as to resist sliding backward while climbing uphill but not substantially interfering with sliding forward downhill.
7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the fibers are selected from the group consisting of nylon and mohair.
8. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the skin segment is permanently coupled to the sliding surface of at least one ski segment.
9. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a mechanism for locking open for maintaining the ski in a fully open deployed position.
10. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a mechanism for locking closed for maintaining the ski in a fully compact collapsed position.
11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a footwear base, attached to an upper surface of the ski via a pivot joint on or about a toe end of the footwear base, so as to lift the ski with each step taken by a skier wearing footwear mounted upon the footwear base, allowing a heel end of the footwear to freely rotate up away from the upper surface with each step taken by the skier.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the pivot joint is comprised of an axle mounted transversely to the ski adjacent to the upper surface.
13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein a rail device is interposed between the footwear base and the upper surface thereby providing adjustable positioning of the footwear base along the ski as well as greater leverage for edge control of the ski when sliding downhill.
14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the traction component comprises a toe cleat, mounted on or about the toe end, extending over the ski, so as to grip the terrain in a clawing fashion below the sliding surface, rotating downward as the footwear pivots upward with each step taken by the skier.
15. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising an adjustable heel riser attached to the upper surface under the heed end to reduce strain on lower leg and Achilles tendon of the skier climbing uphill.
16. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the footwear base is mounted to the upper surface within a front half of the ski so as to keep a front tip of the ski up when lifted with each step taken by the skier.
17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the footwear base accepts different types of footwear.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, where in the footwear is selected from the group consisting of a soft-shelled boot and an AT boot.
19. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the footwear base is removable from the ski so as to serve as a crampon on the footwear if one or more cleats are mounted thereon, and to permit nested stacking of a plurality of the skis.
20. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the footwear base is integrated into the sole of the footwear thus obviating the need for a separate footwear base.
21. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the traction component comprises a fixed cleat which may be temporarily attached below the sliding surface so as to resist sliding backward or sideways while climbing uphill and removed so as not to interfere with sliding forward downhill.
22. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein there are three or more ski segments.
23. A ski for maneuvering over terrain, the ski comprising:
a plurality of ski segments, each ski segment having a sliding surface disposed at a bottom thereof;
a collapsing mechanism connecting the ski segments and allowing the ski segments to be arranged longitudinally for skiing and to be rearranged more compactly for storage;
a skin segment removably coupled to the sliding surface of each ski segment; and
a stretchable portion adjacent to the collapsing mechanism connecting the plurality of skin segments so as to permit the ski segments to be collapsed together without removing the skin by allowing the skin to stretch.
24. An apparatus for maneuvering over terrain, comprising:
a ski, having a sliding surface disposed at a bottom thereof;
a footwear base, attached to an upper surface of the ski via a pivot joint on or about a toe end of the footwear base, so as to lift the ski with each step taken by a skier wearing footwear mounted upon the footwear base, allowing a heel end of the footwear to freely rotate up away from the upper surface with each step taken by the skier; and
a toe cleat, mounted on or about the toe end, extending over the ski, so as to grip the terrain in a clawing fashion below the sliding surface, rotating downward as the footwear pivots upward with each step taken by the skier.
25. A method for maneuvering over terrain, comprising the steps of:
providing a ski which is collapsible, having a traction component which is operative below a sliding surface of the ski to facilitate climbing uphill but not substantially interfering with sliding downhill;
opening the ski into a fully open position;
enabling the traction component when climbing uphill;
disabling the traction component when sliding downhill;
collapsing the ski into a fully compact position; and
stowing the ski.
US12/017,949 2007-01-21 2008-01-22 Apparatus, system, and method for a collapsing approach ski Abandoned US20080174089A1 (en)

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US88590107P true 2007-01-21 2007-01-21
US88870007P true 2007-02-07 2007-02-07
US89454107P true 2007-03-13 2007-03-13
US12/017,949 US20080174089A1 (en) 2007-01-21 2008-01-22 Apparatus, system, and method for a collapsing approach ski

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US12/017,949 US20080174089A1 (en) 2007-01-21 2008-01-22 Apparatus, system, and method for a collapsing approach ski
US12/048,187 US20090256332A1 (en) 2007-02-07 2008-03-13 Apparatus, System, and Method for Folding, Stowing, and Deploying Skis
PCT/US2008/056914 WO2008112936A1 (en) 2007-03-13 2008-03-13 Apparatus, system, and method for folding, stowing, and deploying skis

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