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Title:
FAST ENTRY ELASTIC VAMP CLOSURE SKATE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/089623
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A skate (10) includes a substantially nonrigid upper (12) secured to a base (14). The skate includes a vamp portion (28) defining a vamp opening (30), and a tongue (32) disposed beneath the vamp opening. An elastic web (34) spans across the vamp opening to compress the upper about a skate's foot. The elastic web transmits compressive force to the undrelying tongue for distribution over a greater area of the foot.

Inventors:
BENNETT, D., Paul (4322 Southwest Frontanec Street, Seattle, WA, 98136, US)
Application Number:
US2002/011099
Publication Date:
November 14, 2002
Filing Date:
April 05, 2002
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
K-2 CORPORATION (19215 Vashon Highway Southwest, Vashon, WA, 98070, US)
BENNETT, D., Paul (4322 Southwest Frontanec Street, Seattle, WA, 98136, US)
International Classes:
A43B5/04; A43B5/16; A43C11/00; (IPC1-7): A43B5/16; A43B5/04; A43C11/00
Domestic Patent References:
1999-07-29
Foreign References:
EP0894444A21999-02-03
US5365679A1994-11-22
FR1356453A1964-03-27
EP1084638A12001-03-21
US2144689A1939-01-24
US5437466A1995-08-01
US6168172B12001-01-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DODGE, Ryan, E., Jr. (Christensen O'Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, Suite 28001420 Fifth Avenu, Seattle WA, 98070, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows: 1. A skate having at least one ground engaging member, comprising: a base having an undersurface to which the at least one ground engaging member can be mounted and an upper surface for supporting a skater's foot; a substantially non-rigid upper shoe portion for receiving a skater's foot secured to the upper surface of the base and defining a toe end, a heel end and a vamp portion over the instep of the received foot, the vamp portion defining a vamp opening extending upwardly from the toe end to an upper edge of the non-rigid upper shoe portion; a tongue disposed within the upper shoe portion and having a lower end fastened to the toe end of the upper shoe portion, extending upwardly along the vamp opening to at least adjacent the ankle of the skater's foot; an elastic web fastened to the upper shoe portion on first and second sides of the vamp opening and spanning across at least a portion of the vamp opening over the instep of the skater's foot, compressing the tongue under the vamp portion; and a substantially rigid support structure extending upwardly from the base and including an ankle cuff that provides lateral and medial support of the skater's ankle while permitting forward flexion of the skater's ankle.
2. The skate of Claim 1, wherein the elastic web extends from the toe end of the upper portion to an upper end of the instep.
3. The skate of Claim 1, further comprising a selective fastening strap extending from a first side of the heel end, over the vamp opening, to a second side of the heel end.
4. The skate of Claim 1, further comprising an ankle cuff fastener selectively fastenable from a first side of the ankle cuff to a second side of the ankle cuff to secure the ankle cuff.
5. The skate of Claim 1, wherein the non-rigid upper portion extends upwardly to an upper edge of the ankle cuff.
6. The skate of Claim 1, wherein the elastic web is adapted and configured to exert sufficient compressive force to secure the non-rigid upper about the skater's foot for skating in the absence of additional fasteners.
7. The skate of Claim 1, wherein the elastic web comprises an elastomeric foam and fabric laminate.
8. The skate of Claim 1, further comprising a lacing system threaded to the non-rigid upper portion to further secure the vamp opening.
9. The skate of Claim 8, wherein the lacing system comprises an elongate lace and a selective locking lace fastener.
10. The skate of Claim 8, wherein the lacing system overlies the elastic web.
11. The skate of Claim 1, further comprising a frame secured to the undersurface of the base and a plurality of wheels rotatably mounted on the frame.
12. The skate of Claim 1, wherein the rigid support structure is mounted externally of the non-rigid upper shoe portion.
13. A skate having at least one ground engaging member, comprising: a base having an undersurface to which the at least one ground engaging member can be mounted and an upper surface for supporting a skater's foot; a substantially non-rigid upper shoe portion for receiving a skater's foot secured to the upper surface of the base and defining a toe end, a heel end and a vamp portion over the instep of the received foot, the vamp portion defining a vamp opening extending upwardly from the toe end to an upper edge of the non-rigid upper shoe portion; a tongue disposed within the upper shoe portion and having a lower end fastened to the toe end of the upper shoe portion, extending upwardly along the vamp opening to at least adjacent the ankle of the skater's foot; an elastic web fastened to the upper shoe portion on first and second sides of the vamp opening and spanning across at least a portion of the vamp opening over the instep of the skater's foot, extending from a lower end of the vamp opening to an upper point covering at least a majority of the instep, compressing the tongue under the vamp portion; and a substantially rigid external support structure extending upwardly from the base and including an ankle cuff that provides lateral and medial support of the skater's ankle while permitting forward flexion of the skater's ankle.
Description:

FAST ENTRY ELASTIC VAMP CLOSURE SKATE FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to roller and ice skates, and particularly to in-line skates with rapid entry features.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Skating, and particularly in-line skating and ice skating, requires a close fit and firm support of a skater's foot for efficient force transmission, control and safety. A loose fit permits the skater's foot to shift within the skate, leading to inefficiencies and lack of precise control. Support of the skater's ankle in the lateral and medial directions is also required for most types of skating, to avoid wobbling or injury, while the ability to flex the ankle in the forward direction is generally desirable.

In order to provide a skate that fits a skater's foot closely and securely, while providing the skater a comfortable fit and maintaining support in the lateral and medial aspects, soft-boot skates have been developed. Soft boot skates have an upper shoe portion, or boot, that is at least in part constructed from non-rigid materials, such as fabric, leather or flexible plastics. The non-rigid upper is supported on a generally rigid base including a frame, which may run the length of the shoe portion either continuously or in multiple split or hinged segments. Wheels or a blade or mounted on the frame below the base. The non-rigid upper is typically reinforced by a rigid ankle cuff that is pivotably mounted to a heel cup rising upwardly from the base, as is disclosed in US Patent Number Bl 5, 437, 466 to Meibock et. al., or by rigid or semi-rigid components built internally within the skate upper in the heel and ankle area, as is disclosed in US Patent Number 6, 168,172 to Meibock et. al., the disclosures of which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference.

Such soft-boot skates typically include a vamp opening along the skater's instep and arch, covered by a tongue secured near the toe end of the boot and rising upwardly therefrom. The vamp opening is drawn closed and the soft upper is fitted and drawn about the skater's foot by a lacing system. The lacing system, sometimes in combination with multiple selectively fastenable straps, is very useful in providing a close, custom fit and securement of the soft upper about the skater's foot. However, tightening and fastening of the lacing system when the skate is to be worn is time consuming.

Additionally, if the skater has insufficient leverage (as may be the case for children in particular) to adequately tighten the laces, or does so inadequately, the skate fit is loose and inefficient. Further, the lacing system must be loosened completely along its length for removal of the foot after skating.

Efforts have been made to design skates with vamp closure systems that are more readily and quickly fastened. Quick lace skates, with a draw string type lacing system secured by a locking device, have been provided and are faster for entry and exit.

However, obtaining a tight, consistent securement of the lacing is difficult and requires a strong draw on the laces. Another style uses an elastic web, such as neoprene foam rubber backed with fabric, which spans across the otherwise open vamp of the skater's foot. The elastic may be combined with a lacing system as well, or may be devoid of laces. Entry into the skate is quick, but the design tends to exert excessive pressure on the instep of the skater's foot, and insufficient pressure on the remainder of the upper.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a skate having at least one ground engaging member, such as in line roller wheels or a blade. The skate includes a base having an undersurface to which the at least one ground engaging member can be mounted, and an upper surface for supporting a skater's foot. A substantially non-rigid upper shoe portion for receiving a skater's foot is secured to the upper surface of the base. The upper shoe portion includes a toe end, a heel end and a vamp portion defined over the instep of the received foot. The vamp portion includes a vamp opening extending upwardly from the toe end to an upper edge of the non-rigid upper shoe portion. A tongue is disposed within the upper shoe portion and has a lower end fastened to the toe end thereof, extending upwardly along the vamp opening to at least adjacent the ankle of the skater's foot. An elastic web is fastened to the upper shoe portion on first and second sides of the vamp opening, and spans across at least a portion of the vamp opening over the instep of the skater's foot, compressing the tongue under the vamp portion. The skate also includes a substantially rigid support structure extending upwardly from the base, including an ankle cuff that provides lateral and medial support of the skater's ankle while permitting forward flexion of the skater's ankle. The skate of the present invention permits rapid insertion of the foot into the skate, with the skate securely fitting around the foot

automatically due to the presence of the elastic web. The compression force exerted by the elastic web is distributed over the full width of the instep through the tongue underlying thereunder. Excessive pressure on the central portion of the instep is thus avoided. In one embodiment of the skate, a lace system is not included, so that fastening is quick and automatic. In another embodiment, a lacing system is also included in compliment to the elastic web, with the elastic web serving to pre-compress the skate about the foot for an easier and more certain lace tightening.

BRIEF 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: FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of an in-line skate constructed in accordance with the present invention, with securement straps fastened.

FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of the skate of FIGURE 1, with the instep securement strap opened.

FIGURE 3 is a perspective view of the skate of FIGURE 1, with the elastic web cut away to expose vamp construction.

FIGURE 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a skate constructed in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT A first embodiment of a skate 10 constructed in accordance with the present invention is illustrated in FIGURE 1. The skate 10 is an in-line roller skate, and includes a substantially non-rigid upper 12 secured to the upper surface of a base 14. The upper 12 is supported by a substantially rigid external support, including a heel cup 16 extending upwardly from the heel end of the base 14, and an ankle cuff 18 pivotably secured to the base 14. A frame 20 including first and second sidewalls is secured to or integrally formed with the base 14. A plurality of wheel assemblies 22 are mounted rotatably between the sidewalls of the frame 20.

Referring to FIGURE 2, and as shall be described in greater detail below, the upper 12 includes a toe end 24, a heel end 26, a vamp portion 28, and a vamp opening 30.

A tongue 32 is fastened within the upper 12, extending upwardly beneath the vamp opening 30. An elastic web 34 extends across a lower portion of the vamp opening 30, overlying the tongue 32. The skate further includes an instep strap 36 secured across the upper 12, extending from a lateral side of the heel cup to a medial side of the heel cup, below the ankle. An ankle cuff strap 38 may be selectively secured to fasten the cuff 18 about the skater's lower leg, above the ankle cuff.

Before describing the vamp closure of the present invention, the construction of the balance of the skate will be briefly described. The skate 10 illustrated in FIGURES 1- 3 has an upper 12 including a majority of substantially non-rigid materials, particularly within the instep portion 28, and is supported by a rigid or at least semi-rigid external support. The substantially non-rigid upper 12 is suitably constructed from flexible materials such as fabric, leather, flexible plastics, and cushioning material such as fiber fleece, batting or elastomeric foams. The upper 12 can be readily drawn together and compressed about the skater's foot for a close fit. The upper 12 is securely fastened to the base 14, such as by riveting, adhesion, stitching, through bolts or the like. The rigid heel cup 16 may be integrally formed with the base, or secured to the base, extending upwardly therefrom on the lateral and medial sides of the heel end 26 of the upper 12.

The ankle cuff 18 is pivotably secured to the upper lateral and medial ends of the heel cup 16, to pivot forwardly and rearwardly at about the natural pivot axis of the ankle. The ankle cuff 18 wraps the rear, lateral and medial sides of the leg, above the ankle. The ankle strap 38 includes a quick release ratcheting buckle assembly to selectively secure and tighten the cuff about the leg. These aspects of the construction of the skate 10 are more fully described in US Patent No. Bl 5,437,466 to Meibock et al., the disclosure of which has been incorporated herein.

While the skate 10 has been described as including an external support structure, the invention is well suited for use with skates having a substantially non-rigid upper supported by an internal rigid or semi-rigid support structure, such as more fully described in US Patent No. 6,168,172 to Meibock et al., the disclosure of which has also been expressly incorporated by reference. Additionally, the present invention may also be used with a substantially non-rigid upper having a combination of internal and external

support structures, such as an internal heel cup and an external ankle cuff pivotably secured thereto. The components of the support structure may be hinged or flex at appropriate points, rather than being formed from separate components.

The upper 12 of the skate 10 extends continuously upwardly from the base to above the upper edge of the ankle cuff 18. However it should be apparent that the present invention is also suitable used with skates having an upper that is discontinuous, having a separate cuff pad, or that terminates below the ankle.

The base 14 of the illustrated embodiment is rigid from heel to toe. However, the present invention may also be used with a skate that flexes, that is hinged, or that is split.

The instep strap 36 may be selectively tightened by pulling on the end of the strap, which is then secured in place by a hook and loop fastener. The instep strap 36 pulls the foot downwardly and rearwardly within the upper 12, into the heel cup 16. While the ankle cuff strap has been shown as a buckle, it may also be a hook and loop fastened strap like the instep strap. Likewise, the instep strap may have a buckle like the ankle strap.

The instep strap 36 is preferred for use with the present invention, but is not necessary.

Referring to FIGURE 2, the vamp closure of the present invention will now be more fully described. The upper 12 includes lateral and medial side portions 40 that cover the lateral and medial sides of a skater's foot between the toes and heels. The lateral and medial sides 40 are joined to extend continuously over the toes in the toe end 24 of the upper 12. The lateral and medial sides 40 are split by the vamp opening 30 beginning at a lower most end 42 of the vamp opening, just rearwardly of the metatarsal heads of the foot. The vamp opening 30 extends centrally and longitudinally from the lower most end 42 to the uppermost edge 44 of the upper 12, above the ankle cuff 18.

The vamp opening 30 thus extends centrally over the skater's instep and along the anterior side of the skater's ankle. An elongate gap is defined by the vamp opening 30, between the opposing sides 40 of the upper 12.

The tongue 32 has a lower end that is sewn or otherwise attached to the interior of the toe end 24 of the upper 12, just forwardly of the lower most end 42 of the vamp opening 30. The tongue 32 extends rearwardly and upwardly therefrom below the vamp opening, at least along the instep to near the beginning of the ankle, and suitable continues upwardly along the anterior side of the ankle, terminating slightly above the ankle cuff 18. The tongue 32 is wider than the gap defined by the vamp opening 30, and

is overlapped on either longitudinal side by the upper edges-of the sides 40 of the upper.

The tongue 32 is three dimensionally contoured to follow and confirm to the contours of the instep and anterior ankle, bowing upwardly in the longitudinal direction and curving downwardly from side to side to follow the instep. The tongue 32 is formed from material that is sufficiently flexible to conform to the skater's foot, and that has sufficient stiffness to transfer and transmit force from the elastic web 34 to the complete instep portion of the foot covered by the tongue. The tongue 32 is suitably formed from an outer stiff but flexible material 32a, such as fabric, leather or plastic, and is padded on its anterior side by a compressible cushion layer 32b.

The elastic web 34 is formed from a resilient and elastic material. In the embodiment illustrated, the elastic web 34 is formed from an elastomeric foam material, such as neoprene foam, that is backed on first and second sides by a stretchable knit fabric, such as spandex. Other elastic materials, such as a woven cloth including rubber strands or larger cords incorporated into the weave, may be utilized.

The elastic web 34 spans from the lateral side 40 to the medial side 40 of the upper 12, over the vamp opening 30. The elastic web is secured on either side to the upper 12 by stitching. The elastic web 34 extends over an inner edge portion 41 of each side 40 before being stitched, so as to span across a majority of the width of the instep to distribute load. The elastic web suitably extends from near the lower most end 42 of the vamp opening to an upper point spanning at least a majority of the length of the instep.

As illustrated in FIGURE 2, the elastic web extends fully from the lower most end 42 along the full length of the instep to the beginning of the ankle. The illustrated embodiment has a continuous web, but a discontinuous web may be utilized.

As illustrated in FIGURE 3, the elastic web 34 contacts the upper center surface of the tongue 32. When the skater's foot is inserted into the skate 10, the elastic web 34 is stretched, and it exerts a predetermined compressive force, pulling the sides 40 of the upper 12 together, and exerting a downward compressive force on the tongue 34, which more broadly transmits that force to the foot.

To enter the skate, the ankle and instep straps (if included) are opened (FIGURE 2), and the skater slides his or her foot between the upper 12 and tongue 32.

The elastic web is stretched during entry, and then contracts to enclose the foot with a sufficient force to secure the foot for skating. The ankle and instep straps can then be

secured. In the embodiment of FIGURES 1-3, the elastic web 34 and ankle and instep straps are all that are utilized to secure the vamp for use.

In alternate embodiments, a lacing system, such as a tied lace or a quick lace system, may also be included with the elastic web to assist in securing the vamp opening 30. The lacing system may be more readily and quickly tightened than in the absence of the elastic web due to the compressive force of the elastic web.

One such alternate embodiment is illustrated in FIGURE 4. A quick lace system 50 is included that overlies the elastic web 34. A plurality of lace loops 52 are included at intervals along the edges of the sides 40, and a lace 54 is threaded there through. The terminal ends of the lace 54 are threaded through a sliding jam lock 56, including a central sliding member that can be moved to pinch and lock the laces in cooperation with a lock housing.

While FIGURE 4 includes a lacing system disposed to overly the elastic web 34, alternately a lacing system can be disposed below the elastic web 34, between the elastic web 34 and the tongue 32.

The embodiments above have been illustrated and described in terms of a an in- line roller skate, it should be understood that the boot described above may also be utilized with other types of roller skates and with ice skates.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has 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.