This invention relates to a device to assist location and retrieval of a ski lost after a skier's fall in deep snow.
It is an increasingly popular aspect of skiing to go "off-piste", and to ski in deep, previously unskied, powder snow. Unfortunately, there are inherent problems associated with skiing in deep snow. When a skier falls, and the ski bindings separate from the skier's boots, the skier may on some occasions have difficulty in locating one or both skis because they may have become embedded in the snow.
One solution to this problem is to tie the ski to the leg of the skier by a loose but secure connection. However, this involves a different risk in that, during a fall, a catapulted ski might seriously injure the skier if it does not become entirely separated from the skier's boot.
Thus a different solution has been suggested which involves tying a ribbon to the ski, the ribbon being about two metres in length and brightly coloured. In use the ribbon is loosely stuffed inside the skier's trouser leg. When he or she falls and breaks out of the bindings of the ski, the ribbon is progressively drawn out from the trouser leg. At least some of the ribbon tends to stay on the surface of the snow so that it provides an easily visible marker for the ski. In this respect a ribbon is entirely satisfactory.
However, a disadvantage with this method is that, once the ribbon has been pulled out during a fall, it must now be stuffed back up the trouser leg of the skier when it is probably covered in clinging snow. If a skier makes a habit of falling over, this can be an uncomfortable experience repeated after every fall.
Thus it is an object of this invention to provide a device to
assist location of lost skis, but which does not suffer from, or at least mitigates, the aforementioned disadvantages.
In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a device to assist location of a ski lost in deep snow after a fall, characterised in that the device comprises a housing, a drum rotatably mounted in the housing, a cord secured to and wound around the drum and passing through an aperture in the housing, a clip means disposed at the free end of the cord, a repeatably separable coupling comprising first and second elements, the first being adapted to be secured to the skier's trouser leg or boot and the second being disposed on or forming part of the housing, and a plate which extends around the housing.
The housing is preferably integral with said plate.
In accordance with a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a device to assist location of a ski lost in deep snow after a fall, characterised in that the device comprises a housing adapted to be secured to the ski or a binding thereof, a drum rotatably mounted in the housing, a cord secured to and wound around the drum and passing through an aperture in the housing, a clip means disposed at the free end of the cord, a repeatably separable coupling comprising first and second elements, the first being adapted to be secured to the skier's trouser leg or boot and the second providing an attachment point for said clip, and a plate which extends around the attachment point.
Preferably the attachment point comprises a ring secured to the plate.
Said repeatably separable coupling is provided to separate when tension is applied thereto after a skier has fallen, his ski bindings having separated and the cord having been extended from the housing to its full extent.
The plate has two functions in a fall and when the coupling has sparated. The first is to resist complete burial or covering of the housing or end of the cord in snow, and the second is to assist location of a ski which might be buried in the snow as a result of the fall.
The coupling elements may be adapted to resiliently snap into and out of engagement with one another. For instance the first element may comprise an annular flange having an external lip and the second element a corresponding flange having an internal lip of diameter less than that of the first part, the dimensions and materials being selected so that the two flanges can be interengaged by a snap fit. One or even both flanges may have slots cut into it or them to relieve strain.
The first element of the coupling may be adapted to be adhered and/or sewn to the skier's trouser leg or boot. In the case of sewing, the first element may comprise a stitch plate provided with a ring of apertures around its periphery for engagement by a sewing thread.
Preferably rewinding means are provided to recoil the cord inside the housing after extension thereof.
The rewinding means may comprise a leaf spring coiled inside the drum and connected at one end to the drum and at the other end to the housing. The housing may have a central spindle about which said spring is wound and which has a slot retaining said other end of the spring.
A brake means may be provided to prevent the cord being rewound after having been unwound at least a certain distance, and may comprise a grommet disposed around the cord outside of the housing, said grommet being larger than said aperture in the housing and only being movable along the cord by application of force greater than that capable of being exerted by the spring.
The cord may be a single strand of nylon or may even comprise a ribbon or tape. Where it is in fact a ribbon or tape it is necessary to arrange for the aperture in the housing to be such that the tape or ribbon can freely be drawn out of the body from any direction without creasing or folding the tape so that it does not jam in the aperture. This problem does not arise with a round section cord.
The invention is further described hereinafter, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:-
Fig 1 shows a skier with a device according to the present invention connected between the skier's leg and ski;
Fig 2 shows the device in action after a fall;
Fig 3 is a section through a device according to the first aspect of the present invention;
Fig 4 shows in section a clip for use with the device of Fig 3;
Figs 5 and 6 are sections along the lines V-V and VI-VI in Fig 3;
Fig 7 shows a device according to the second aspect of the present invention; and,
Fig 8 is a section al ong the l ine A-A i n Fig 7.
Referri ng to Fi gs 3, 5 and 6 , a devi ce 10 accordi ng to the invention compri ses a housi ng 12 mountiny a rotatable drum 14 on which i s wound a cord 16.
On a central spindle 18 of the housing 12 there is retained in a slot 22 formed in the spindle 18 one end 19 of a coiled leaf spring
20. After several turns around the spindle, the other end 21 of the leaf spring 20 is connected to the drum 14 by hooking over a finger
23 formed in the cylindrical wall 25 of the drum. Rotation of the drum about the spindle 18 coils and uncoils the spring 20. An aperture 24 is disposed in a lower portion 26 of the housing 12.
The cord 16 passes through the aperture 24 and terminates in a connector 30 (see Fig 4). The connector 30 has a hook 32 and spring clip 34 and can thereby be releaseably connected to an appropriate anchorage on a ski .
Thus it can be seen that withdrawal of the cord 16 from the housing 12 rotates the drum 14 about the spindle 18 and in so doing, is arranged to coil the spring 20. Indeed, the drum is so arranged that the cord is fully withdrawn from the drum before the spring becomes coil-bound. Release of the cord will thus result in the spring 20 tending to unwind and rotate the drum back around the spindle 18 and drawing the cord through the aperture 24 and recoiling it about the drum 14. The cord is preferably not so long that the spring becomes completely uncoiled before all or most of the cord has been rewound on the drum 14. The drum is provided with flanges 36,38 to prevent the cord slipping off when it is coiled around the drum.
The cord 16 is secured at one end to the drum 14 by being threaded through a hole 28 in the flange 38 and being retained in a channel 29 formed around the flange 38. Friction and the kinks made in the cord once in place prevent the cord from being pulled out of the hole 28.
The cord 16 may have a rubber grommet 40 or other cord yrip mounted thereon outside the housing 12 and which is slidable up and down the cord but only with some force which is greater than the force exerted by the coil spring 20 attempting to draw the cord through the aperture 28. This enables a desired length of cord 16 to be
left free of tension outside the housing 12.
The housing 12 is adapted to be secured to the leg of a skier by a repeatably releaseable coupling 50. The coupling 50 is in two parts, the first of which comprises a stitch plate 52 which has a ring of holes 54 through which cotton or the like may be threaded to sew the stitch plate 52 to the trouser leg 56 of the skier. The stitch plate has an annular flange 58 having an external lip 60.
The second part of the coupling 50 is integrally formed on the housing 12 and comprises an annular flange 62 having an internal lip 64. The internal diameter of the lip 64 is slightly smaller than the external diameter of the lip 60. Thus only by resilient deformation of the flanges can the coupling be interengaged in a snap-type fit. Slots 66 may be provided on the flange 62 to loosen the coupliny if the material selected for the flanges is relatively inflexible.
The housiny 12 is provided with a plate 90 which extends around the housing and is of relatively large surface area. It can be formed in any convenient and aesthetically attractive shape (,such as heart-shaped as shown in the drawings for instance; so as to have such a larye surface area. This assists in preventing the device 10 from becoming buried in snow and helps subsequent relocation thereof.
With reference to Figs 1 and 2, a device 10 is attached to each ankle 82 of a skier 80 by the coupling 50. The cord 16 is drawn out of the housing 12 sufficiently to allow each connector 30 to be securely connected to each ski 86. Preferably, attachment is made to the rear binding 88 of each ski, as this is usually the closest and most convenient connection point to the ankle. The grommet 40 on the cord 16 would then be positioned under the aperture 24 so that the skier does not experience a constant tugginy at the ankle from the cord 16 tending to be rewound on the drum 14.
When a rail occurs and the skier 80 parts company with his skis and comes to rest in a position perhaps not dissimilar to that shown in Fig 2, the cord 16 will have been drawn out of the device 10 by the ski 86 until the cord is entirely unwound from the drum 14. At this point, if the skier continued to fall away from the ski, the tension on the cord 16 would cause the coupling 50 to separate.
Once the skier 80 has finally come to rest and extricated him- or herself from the snow, at least a portion of the cord 16 and/or the plate 90 of each device 10 will usually still be evident on the surface of the snow, even if the skis themselves are entirely buried.
Although the tension in the spring 20 will tend to rewind the cord 16, this is not likely to occur in the process of a fall as the housing 12 and ski 86 are likely to be whirliny about one another. Once the ski and device have come to rest the cord may then rewind but only if there is no significant resistance in the cord, as there would of course be if the ski was buried. The spring 20 is arranged to be too weak to pull the housing 12 through snow.
If it is considered a problem that the cord might prematurely rewind, it is quite feasible to arrange a releaseable ratchet mechanism in the housing 12 so that the cord can be drawn out freely but rewound only by releasing the ratchet mechanism. A particularly simple such mechanism is described in British patent number 1336553 which is thus included herein by reference. No further description here of such a rachet mechanism is considered necessary.
If such a ratchet mechanism is employed then the grommet 40 becomes redundant as the ratchet can be employed to keep the required slack in the cord duriny normal operation.
When the skier has retrieved his or her skis and got into the bindings ayain, the cord 16 will rewind under the tension of the
spriny 20, either automatically, or after release of any. rachet mechanism included. Once fully retracted the housiny 12 is simply re-attached to the skier's ankle by reconnection of the coupling 50.
The invention in its second aspect is illustrated in Fiys 7 and 8. Here, the device 10" according to this second aspect comprises a housing 12" containing the extendable cord 16. The cord 16 terminates in connector 30 through which it can be releasably connected to a plate 90".
The plate 90" is inteyrally formed with the second part 62 of repeatably releasable coupling 50. The first part of the coupling 50 comprises the stitch plate 52 secured to a skier's trouser ley 56 in the region of its outer ankle. The stitch plate could be secured to the ski boot instead of the trouser ley if preferred. A lug 74 is disposed on the front of the plate 90". A hole 76 is formed in the luy and throuyh which a riny 72 is enyayed forming an attachment point for the clip 30 on the end of the cord 16. The housiny 12" is secured to a ski 86 by any convenient means such as by screws 87 as shown.
In use a device 10" is attached to each ski 86, and a plate 90" to each ankle 56 of a skier. The cord 16 is drawn out of the housiny 12" sufficiently to allow each connector 30 to be securely connected to each plate 90".
When a fall occurs and the skier 60 parts company with his or her skis, the cord 16 is drawn out of the housiny 12" by the skier's ley. If the skier falls away from the ski beyond the lenyth of the cord 16, the tension on the cord would then separate the coupling 50. The plate 90" would tend not to be covered in snow and would assist relocation of any buried ski.
When the skier has retrieved his or her skis and yot into the bindinys again, the cord 16 is rewound inside the housiny 12". Once it is fully retracted, the plate 90" is sim ly re-attached to the
stitch plate 52 by reengayement of the coupling 50.
Apart from the differences disclosed herein, the device 10" is in other respects the same as the device 10 described above.
In either case, the cord 16 is preferably single strand nylon because this is less prone to becoming iced and thus rigid. The cord is also dyed with a bright or fluorescent colour so that it is easily visible. It is of a diameter not so large as to render it too stiff to be wound easily on the drum 14, even in cold conditions, but not so thin that it is likely to snap under the snatchiny tension likely to be exerted on it during a skier's fall.
The cord 16 is as lony as possible ι,and preferably at least 1.5 metres lony; yiven the requirement to limit the size of the device 10 to reasonable dimensions and the limit thus imposed on the size and rewindiny capability of the spriny 20.
While the invention has been described with reference to specific elements and combinations of elements, it is envisayed that each element may be combined with any other or any combination of other elements. It is not intended to limit the invention to the particular combinations of elements suggested. Furthermore, the foregoiny description is not intended to suyyest that any element mentioned is indispensable to the invention, or that alternatives may not be employed. What is defined as the invention should not be construed as limiting the extent of the disclosure of this specification.