US 3486247 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 30, 1969 F. L. FRANET 3,486,247
SKI BOOT CONSTRUCTION Filed May 23, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. FRANCIS L. FRANET ATTORNEYS Dec. 30, 1969 F. L. FRANET 3,486,247
SKI BOOT CONSTRUCTION Filed May 23, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.
FRANClS L. FRANET BY gram TORNEYS United States Patent O 3,486,247 SKI BOOT CONSTRUCTION Francis L. Franet, 801 Hawthorne Drive, Walnut Creek, Calif. 94596 Filed May 23, 1967, Ser. No. 640,691 Int. Cl. A43b 5/04 U.S. Cl. 362.5 9 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This disclosure describes two ski boots made of a hard plastic material molded to conform to the foot of the wearer. The upper portion of each boot includes sides which extend upwardly beyond the location in the boot for the skiers ankle to provide lateral support for such ankle. However, the upper of each boot is open both at the front and rear thereof to permit the forward and rearward flexing of the skiers lower leg. Entrance to each boot is through a displaceable heel portion or door which allows insertion of the foot from the rear of the boot. When it is in its closed position, the displaceable door on each boot acts to hold the skiers foot against the sole of the boot.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION skiers ankle against lateral movement for edge control while allowing substantially unhindered forward and rearward flexing of the skiers lower leg.
The expertise of a snow skier is a direct function of the skiers ability to control his skis. Before a skier can achieve good ski control, the skis must be secured immovably to the skiers feet so that they act, in effect, as extensions of such feet. Moreover, it is necessary that the skis not be able to move la erally with respect to the lower leg of the skier. That is, the ankle of the skier must be held rigid in the lateral direction. This is required before the skier can have good edge control for direction regulation. On the other hand, it is necessary for a skier to be able to flex his ankle forwardly and rearwardly so that he can appropriately shift his weight for turning and properly keep his body level when traveling over moguls or other uneven snow surfaces. In certain types of skiing activities it is also desirable to restrict or prevent the rearward flexure of the ankle for better control.
Because of the recent rise in popularity of skiing, the
quality of available skiing equipment has increased. It is now possible to obtain skis having the requisite bottoms, bottom edges, and flexibility to satisfy even the most advanced skier. Moreover, the art of bindings for securing a ski boot to a ski have reached the point where the boot can be held immovable with respect to the ski, and yet the boot will be released should an accident occur. However, the development of ski boots has not kept pace. From the above it will be appreciated that to be effective, a ski boot must assure that the skiers foot is held immovable with respect to the sole of the boot and, hence, with respect to the ski. It also must prevent any substantial lateral bending of the skiers ankle, while permitting the skier to flex his lower leg forwardly and rearwardly or at least forwardly with rearward flexure restrained for some types of skiing. The desirability of having these features in a ski boot has long been known but no boot has been available which satisfactorily provides them. Most boots are similar to shoes in that they have laces or buckles for securing together across the front of the boot the boot sides or flaps to hold the foot of the skier in the boot. When these laces or buckles are adjusted to tightly pull the flaps or sides of the boot over the front of the ice skiers foot, they are supposed to hold the foot immovably against the boot insole. Generally, however, if the boot is laced or buckled sufficiently tight to properly hold the toe part of the foot immovable, the boot uncomfortably binds the toes or foot balls of the skier. Furthermore, the downward pressure on the foot caused by the laces or buckles will provide a flattening force on the foot arch of the skier which can be damaging to the foot as well as uncomfortable. Even with a boot tightly laced or with the buckles adjusted to give a tight fit, the heel of the foot is often not properly maintained against the boot sole, especially when the skier shifts his weight forward. This is because due to the configuration of the human foot the forces provided by the laces on the front of the foot are not oriented in the proper direction to effectively maintain the heel tightly in position. While boots made of molded plastic are available now without tightening laces or buckles, such boots do not have an appropriate substitute for such laces or buckles.
To provide the desired lateral support for the wearers ankle, most ski boots extend upward beyond the ankle of a wearer and when the boot is tightened onto the foot the upper portion forms a cuff which tightly encircle the wearers lower leg. While this cuff is for providing lateral support for the skiers ankle, it also undesirably hinders proper forward and rearward flexing of his lower leg. In an attempt to overcome this difficulty, some boots have been provided with hinges at the ankle locations which allow the cuff to move forward and rearwardly more readily. However, this has not proved to be a satisfactory solution for several reasons. The leather of the boot must be stiff to provide the lateral support and while a hinge provides some forward and rearward flexibility to this leather, it does not provide enough. Moreover, as a human ankle pivots, the pivot axis thereof moves forwardly and rearwardly and to be truly effective a hinge should move with such ankle axis. The hinge structure involved for this corresponding movement, however, has been too complicated for adoption by boot manufacturers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is a new approach to ski boots, and which provides the requisite lateral support for a skiers ankle while allowing relatively unhindered forward and rearward movement of the skiers lower leg. Moreover, the boot is designed to securely hold the foot of the skier against the boot insole without discomfort. In its basic aspects, the boot includes side portions which extend upwardly ,beyond the skiers ankle and which are of a relatively rigid material, such as plastic, so that they provide the lateral support for the ankle necessary to prevent substantial lateral movement of the wearers lower leg relative to this foot. In contrast to the cuff on most existing boots, however, the upper portion of the foot is substantially open or devoid of rigid material at the front and rear thereof, above the boot ankle location so that the upper does not hinder forward and rearward movement of the lower leg of the skier. Thus, the side portions of the boot upper provide the desired lateral support while the open front and rear allow prop-er leg flexing.
The ski boot of the invention also includes a novel means by which the skiers foot enters the boot. More particularly, the boot is provided with a displaceable heel portion or heel door which is movable between an open position wherein the wearer can insert his foot into the boot from the rear thereof and a closed position in which the heel portion cooperates with the vamp of the boot to encompass the foot of the wearer. Besides the displaceable heel portion facilitating putting on and removal of the boot, it provides a clamping engagement with the skiers heel which maintains such heel against the boot insole even when the skier flexes far forwardly.
3 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS With reference to the two sheets of drawing:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a preferred ski boot of the invention showing it on the foot of a skier;
FIGURE 2 is a front elevational view of the ski boot of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a side elevational view with a portion broken away of the boot of FIGURE 1, showing in phantom several positions of the skiers leg and the open position of the displaceable heel portion;
FIGURE 4 is an enlarged cross-section taken on a plane indicated by the line 44 of FIGURE 2 illustrating the catch means for holding the displaceable heel portion in a preselected closed position;
FIGURE 5 is a perspective view of another ski boot of the invention showing it on the foot of a skier;
FIGURE 6 is a side elevational view of the boot of FIGURE 5 showing the open position of the displaceable heel portion in phantom; and
FIGURE 7 is a front elevational view of the boot of FIGURE 5.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIGURES 1 through 4 depict one preferred embodiment, generally referred to by numeral 11, of the ski boot of the invention. Boot 11 includes an inflexible sole 12 which, as depicted in the broken away portion of FIGURE 3, includes an outer sole 13 spaced from an inner sole 14. To assure that sole 12 is inflexible, outer sole 13 should be of a stiff, inflexible material, such as a hard plastic, whereas inner sole 14 can be of any suitable material. The space between the inner and outer soles is a trapped air space 16 for insulation purposes. For the comfort of the wearer, a footpad 17 to provide a light amount of resiliency is placed on innersole 14.
Boot 11 also includes a vamp 18 which is at least generally conformed to the foot of the wearer. Most desirably, vamp 18 is of a rigid or semi-rigid plastic material and is molded to conform to the foot of the individual wearer. The material of such vamp is preferably thermoplastic so that if any portion thereof causes discomfort to the foot of the wearer, it can be heated and its shape altered at the point of discomfort. This vamp will act to hold the front part of the wearers foot immovable. While each vamp can be custom made for the foot of each individual wearer, this is not necessary. The boot can be mass produced in the regular sizes and appropriate padding placed therein if desirable as is commonly done on plastic ski boots.
It will be noted that vamp 18 does not extend around the heel of the boot, and that the usual heel counter is not provided. Rather, in accordance with the invention, a displaceable heel portion or door 19 is pivotally secured at its lower end to sole 12 adjacent the rear end thereof. More particularly, bolts 21 extend through ears on the lower end of each side of door 19 and into sole 12. These bolts secure the door to the boot in such a manner that the door is pivotal about an axis extending laterally of the boot at the rear of the sole. Door 19 is pivotal between the closed position shown in full lines in FIGURE 3 and the open position shown in phantom lines. When the door is in the open position, the skier can easily slip his foot into or out of the boot. In its closed position, the door cooperates with the vamp 18 to encompass the foot of the skier and hold the boot onto such foot. Suitable means are provided for securely maintaining the door in the closed position. More particularly, a buckle or other suitable fastening means is attached to the front of the sides of the door for securing the door around the top front edge of the vamp. A rectangular member is suitably adhered to the vamp adjacent the top front edge thereof. As shown, the exposed upper surface of such member is serrated such that the serrations extend in the transverse direction. As seen in the enlarged partial view of FIGURE 4 the lower forward edge of each door side has a rectangular member 30 secured on the inner surface thereof which has serrations complementary to the serrations in member 25. When buckle 20 is fastened, it holds the serrations on members 30 in engagement with the serrations on member 25. This engagement acts to prevent either forward or rearward pivoting of the door relative to the vamp when the buckle is fastened and thereby maintains the boot in a preselected closed position.
The ease by which this construction allows the putting on and removal of the boot should be clear from the above and is to be contrasted with the time consuming lacing of conventional boots. In this regard, it is to be noted that most good buckle boots include a so-called inner boot which is closed by laces and which must be laced and tightened in the usual time consuming manner.
The inner surface of back wall 22 of the heel portion is conformed in a general manner to the human heel. More particularly, it includes a lower outwardly protruding cup or pocket portion 23 and an inwardly projecting upper portion 24. It has been found that depending upon the extent to which heel portion 19 is pivoted forward, the pocket 23 and the inwardly projecting upper portion 24 cooperate to grip or clampingly engage the heel of the skier to maintain same against the inner sole of the boot and also vary the forward cant of the upper portion. The door provides this securance of the heel against the sole without causing discomfort and even when the skier shifts his weight far forward. It is believed that this good gripping of the skiers heel is obtained because the door clamps the heel directly and the boot does not rely upon downward pressure on the foot such as provided by laces or buckles to hold the foot and heel down. The amount of heel clamping or forward cant of the upper portion desired will depend, of course, upon the configuration of the foot of the wearer and upon the type and strenuousness of the skiing expected. The extent to which the heel portion clamps the foot and prevents rearward cant of the leg depends upon the forward pivotal location of the door when it is in the closed position. The place of engagement of the serrations of member 26 with those of member 25 can be varied so that the door will be held in the chosen location of the closed position. In this regard, it should be noted that both sets of the serrations are desirable on an are having the pivot point of the door as the center so that good engagement of the serrations will be obtained at the different locations.
Buckle 20 can be of any suitable type and in the em bodiment shown includes a strap 26 which is secured at one of its ends to one of the boot door side portions adjacent the front thereof. A buckle loop 27 is secured to the free end of strap 26 and is adapted to be engaged with and held by a lever catch 28 mounted adjacent the front of the other door side portion. Loop 27 is secured to the free end of strap 26 by means of a threaded rod 29 which threadably engages the loop and is rotatable with respect to strap 26. Rotation of rod 29 with respect to loop 27 will cause translational movement of such loop and, hence. a change in the length of the strap portion of the buckle. Thus, the length of the buckle can be adjusted if necessary to assure that good engagement of the serrations.
The upper of ski boot 11 includes ankle supporting side portions 31. As shown, these side portions are an integral part of door 19 and extend upwardly beyond the location in the boot for the ankle of the skier. Such side portions 31 are of a relatively rigid material such as a hard plastic so that they will provide lateral support for the ankle and lower leg of the skier and thus prevent any substantial lateral movement of the skiers lower leg. In this connection, the side portions for the door are made to conform at least generally to a human foot. That is, they include outwardly protruding ankle locations 32 and follow some what the curve of the sides of the wearers lower leg. While the door can be conformed to the specific foot of each individual wearer; this is not necessary.
The upper side portions 31 only provide lateral support for the skiers ankle. That is, they do not extend to around the front or rear of the boot. In other words, rather than the boot of the invention including a conventional cuff, the forward and rearward portions of the boot upper are open above the location for the ankle. This construction will permit the skiers lower leg to move forwardly and rearwardly within the boot without hinderance from the boot upper. Because it is not necessary for any of the boot upper to follow the skiers leg upon this forward or rearward movement, the hindering binding found in prior boots is not present.
Boot 11 includes a tongue 33 which extends upward from vamp 18 to between the side portions 31 at the front thereof. Tongue 33 is also most desirably of an inflexible material such as plastic and the lower end thereof is suitably secured to vamp 18 such that the tongue can pivot forwardly when the lower leg of the skier is brought against it. To provide the connection of tongue 33 to vamp 18, pins 34 (one of which is shown in phantom in FIG- URE 3) extend through the lower end of such tongue at the sides thereof and pivotally secure it to the vamp 18. This pivotal connection provides the desired pivotal movement of the tongue pivotal motion. Tongue 33 acts as a stop which will prevent the skiers foot from going too far forwardly into vamp 18. If desired, the tongue can be so mounted that its position longitudinally of the boot is adjustable forwardly and rearwardly to permit adjustment for the foot of each individual wearer.
Many skiers are so accustomed to the resistance to forward flexing provided by conventional ski boots that they rely upon the same to give them an indication of the extent to which they are flexed forward and to provide some support. For this reason, tongue 33 is adapted to provide resistance to forward flexing in a controlled manner. More particularly tongue 33 is inwardly of upper boot sides 31 and the edges 37 thereof are enclosed by the front edges 38 of the sides 31. Because of this construction, before tongue 33 can pivot forwardly, tongue edges 37 must engage the front edges 38 and force apart the boot sides 31. To permit this relative outward movement of the sides, they should be of a somewhat resilient plastic material. It will be appreciated that the resistance of the sides to the outward flexing will provide resistance to forward pivotal movement of the tongue. By appropriately shaping the tongue edges 37 and the forward edges 38 of the upper boot side portions, the amount of resistance the tongue provides to forward flexing of the tongue can be controlled. Thus, a selected amount of resistance can be provided. If desired, this resistance can be enhanced by securing an elastic strap or buckle between the front edges of boot sides 31 and bridging the gap between them.
The difference between the selected amount of resistance provided by tongue 33 and the resistance provided by a conventional cuff is that the amount of the former is controlled whereas that provided by a cuff is not controlled and undesirably hinders the movement. It is to be noted that besides providing resistance to the forward pivoting of the tongue, the outward flexing of the side portions 31 by the tongue will facilitate forward movement of the skiers leg. That is, the outward flexing will prevent tne curved side portions from engaging the leg and hindering the forward movement.
Boot 11 includes the usual means for securing the boot by bindings to a ski. More particularly, the toe of sole 12 includes a rectangular shelf 39 and the heel door has a cable groove 40 adjacent the lower end thereof. It is to be realized, of course, that any other means for securing the boot to a ski could easily be used. Since boot 11 does not include a conventional cuff, the boot itself does not provide a seal around the skiers leg to prevent ingress of snow or the like into the boot. For this reason it is desirable that a gaiter 45 be provided surrounding the top of the boot and sealing the same to the skiers leg.
From the above description of boot 11 it will be seen that it provides a rigid securance of the skiers foot to the boot sole and yet permits the desired amount of forward and rearward flexing of the skiers leg. Moreover the boot is put on and removed easily.
FIGURES 4 through 6 depict another preferred embodiment of the ski boot of the invention. The parts of this ski boot which correspond to parts of the boot shown in FIGURES 1 through 3 are referred to by primed like numerals. A large part of this embodiment is the same as the earlier described embodiment. However, it differs in certain respects. In this embodiment an insulating material, such as cellular material 41, is contained within the space between inner and outer soles 13' and 14 to assure comfort of the foot of the skier.
The vamp 18' of this boot is similar to the vamp 18 of the previously described boot in that it is generally conformed to the foot of the wearer and most desirably is custom fit to the foot of each individual wearer. However, rather than the side supporting portions 31' being a part of the heel door, they are integrally a part of the vamp and extend upwardly therefrom beyond the location in the boot for the skiers ankle. In accordance with the invention, the front and rear of the upper of the boot are open between the sides 31 above the boot ankle location so that the upper does not obstruct forward and rearward movement of the skiers lower leg. It is to be noted that this embodiment does not include a tOngue to provide resistance to forward flexing of the skiers lower leg. More particularly, the forward portion of the boot is completely open above the angle location. Since the heel tendons of a foot can be damaged if the lower leg is flexed too far forward, the front of vamp 18 terminates above the ankle location in an outwardly flared lip 42. Lip 42 acts as a stop to prevent the skiers lower leg from flexing so far forward that damage is done.
Door 19 clampingly engages the heel of the skier in the same manner, and as effectively as the door of the previously described embodiment. In this connection, the back wall thereof includes the outwardly protruding heel pocket or cup 23' and the inwardly projecting portion 24'. The configuration of these two portions are not shown as pronounced as the like portions of the previously described embodiment to emphasize that these portions do not have to be any more pronounced than the heel of the wearer. It has been found that the desired heel clamping is obtained if the back wall of the boot just follows the general configuration of the back of the skiers heel.
The means by which the door of this embodiment is maintained in the closed position is different than that of the previously described embodiment. More particularly, the means of this embodiment includes a mounting strap 46 suitably secured, such as by means of rivets 47, beneath 42 across the front of the boot. Strap 46 mounts at each side of boot 11 a collar 48 having an internally threaded bore. A threaded rod 49 is threadably engaged within each collar 48 and extends rearwardly therefrom. As shown, rod 49 has a semi-circular catch member 51 secured transversely thereof, and slotted catch engaging plates 52 are secured on each side of door 19' adjacent the forward edges thereof. Each plate 52 has a plurality of longitudinally spaced vertical slots 53 for engagement by member 52. By appropriately rotating rod 49, semicircular catch member 51 can be brought into engagement with one of the slots to maintain door 19' in its closed position. By reversing rotating rod 49, the catch member is disengaged from the slot to permit the heel door to be moved to its open position. Because a plurality of slots 53 are provided, the location of the closed position of the door can be adjusted to vary the amount of heel clamping obtained.
In all other material aspects, the boot of this embodiment is the same as the earlier described embodiment. It provides the desired lateral support for the skiers ankles while allowing forward and rearward flexing, and while securely holding the skiers heel to the sole of the boot. It should be noted that in practice the forward and rearward portions of the boot upper do not have to be completely open before the skiers leg will be free to flex forwardly and rearwardly. For example, an elastic material can be used across the front and back of the boot to seal the boot against ingress of snow. The material would have to be elastic so that it would not hinder forward and rearward flexing. Thus, as long as the front and rear of the boot upper are devoid of an inelastic material encircling the wearers leg, forward and rearward flexing will not be hindered.
What is claimed is:
1. In a ski boot which includes a sole and a vamp generally conforming to the human foot, an upper having upwardly extending relatively rigid ankle supporting side portions, said side portions extending upwardly to the lower leg and above the ankle of a wearer for rigid lateral support of said ankle and lower leg and fixedly related to said sole and vamp, and means defining an opening be tween said side portions for permitting forward movement of said ankle and leg, whereby said side portions provide lateral support of said ankle and provide forward and backward freedom of movement of said ankle and leg slidably between said side portions.
2. The ski boot of claim 1 wherein said boot includes a tongue extending between the forward edges of the side portions of said upper.
3. The ski boot of claim 1 wherein said means for permitting forward movement of the lower leg of the wearer comprises outwardly resilient edge portions along the forward upwardly extending edge of said side portions whereby the resistance of said edges to outward flexing due to said resilience provides a selected amount of resistance to forward movement of said leg.
4. The ski boot of claim 1 wherein said boot includes a displaceable heel portion at the rear thereof, said heel portion having a pivot adjacent the rear end of said sole for pivotal movement about an axis horizontally transverse of said boot, said heel being rotatable between two positions, the first of which positions is an open one permitting the foot of wearer to be inserted into said boot from the rear thereof and the second of which is a closed one in which said heel portion cooperates with said vamp to encompass the foot of the wearer, and wherein means are provided for maintaining said displaceable heel portion in said second position.
5. The ski boot of claims 1 and 4 wherein said side portions are integrally a part of said displaceable heel portion and move therewith between said two positions.
6. The ski boot of claim 5 wherein said displaceable heel portion clampingly engages the heel of the wearer. when in said second position, and said means for maintaining said heel portion in said second position is adjustable to selectively vary the location of said second position and the amount of said clamping engagement.
7. The ski boot of claim 5 wherein said means for maintaining said heel portion in said second position is adjustable to selectively vary the location of said second position, the cant of said upper and the amount of said clamping engagement.
8. A ski boot of claim 1 wherein said upper is open at the front and rear thereof above said location for the wearers ankle whereby said upper allows unobstructed forward and rearward movement of said lower leg relative to said upper.
9. A ski boot of claim 1 wherein said side portions are integrally connected to said vamp and said heel portion is pivotally connected to said boot adjacent the rear end of the sole thereof, said heel portion being pivotal about an axis transverse of said boot between said two positions.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,444,428 7/ 1948 Carrier 36-2.) 3,303,584 2/1967 Werner et al 362.5 3,374,561 3/1968 Werner et a1. 362.5
PATRICK D. LAWSON, Primary Examiner