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Title:
MULTI-PURPOSE COMBINATION SNOWSHOE/SKI
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2001/064067
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A multi-purpose ski/snowshoe (10, 200, 300, 400, 500) with a winged frame (62, 418), an articulated foot plate (11, 202, 302, 402, 506), and interchangeable bottom surface plugs (324, 424, 504) is described. The multi-purpose ski/snowshoe (10, 200, 300, 400, 500) may be configured in several ways, including a short ski, a short ski with heel-plate brake, and a fully articulated snowshoe. It may be reconfigured by a combination of reversing the winged frame (62, 418), inverting or interchanging the bottom surface plug, or adjusting the point of articulation. This provides a highly efficient device for foot-powered transportation over a wide variety of winter landscapes.

Inventors:
Mcmanus, John H. (1758 Indian Way Oakland, CA, 94611, US)
Hethcock, Donn J. (5312 Coventry Place Colleyville, Texas, 76034, US)
Mccullough, John (118 Northchase Drive Willow Park, Texas, 76087, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2001/006426
Publication Date:
September 07, 2001
Filing Date:
February 28, 2001
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Mcmanus, John H. (1758 Indian Way Oakland, CA, 94611, US)
Hethcock, Donn J. (5312 Coventry Place Colleyville, Texas, 76034, US)
Mccullough, John (118 Northchase Drive Willow Park, Texas, 76087, US)
International Classes:
A63C5/00; A63C5/02; A63C7/04; A63C13/00; (IPC1-7): A43B5/04
Foreign References:
US5966844A
US3600829A
US5901471A
US5921007A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Deleon, Ruben C. (Haynes and Boone, LLP 901 Main Street Suite 3100 Dallas, TX, 75202, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS What is claimed is:
1. A snowshoe comprising: a peripheral platform; a deck spanning an interior of the peripheral platform; a portion for receiving a shoe of a user mounted on the deck wherein the portion fits in an aperture in the platform and wherein the portion pivots to allow a front of the portion and a rear of the portion to move in an upward motion and a downward motion; and a plurality of traction portions which extend generally downward from a horizontal plane of the deck.
2. The showshoe of claim 1 wherein the platform includes a first portion in the front of the portion for receiving a shoe and a second portion in the rear of the portion for receiving a shoe and wherein a weight of the first portion is less than a weight of the second portion.
3. The snowshoe of claim 1 wherein the platform is multileveled.
4. The snowshoe of claim 1 wherein the plurality of traction portions.
5. The showshoe of claim 1 wherein the portion for receiving a shoe pivots and retards movement when pivoted and the plurality of longitudinal traction portions extend below the horizontal plane of the deck.
6. A ski comprising: a peripheral platform; a deck spanning an interior of a peripheral platform; a flat bottom surface of the deck, wherein the flat bottom portion is used to traverse a snow covered area; and a portion for receiving a shoe of a user mounted on the deck wherein the portion pivots and retards movement when the portion extends downward below the flat bottom surface of the deck.
7. The ski of claim 4 wherein the platform includes a first portion in front of the portion for receiving a shoe and a second portion behind the portion for receiving a shoe and wherein the first portion is longer than the second portion.
8. A combination snowshoe and ski comprising: a peripheral platform; a deck spanning an interior of a peripheral platform; a portion for receiving a shoe of a user mounted on the deck; a flat bottom surface of the deck, wherein the flat bottom portion is used to traverse a snow covered area, and a removable plurality of traction portions which extend generally downward from the flat bottom surface of the deck.
9. The combination snowshoe and ski of claim 6 wherein the platform includes a first portion in front of the portion for receiving a shoe and a second portion behind the portion for receiving a shoe and wherein the first portion is longer than the second portion when in ski mode.
10. The combination snowshoe and ski of claim 6 wherein the platform includes a first portion in front of the portion for receiving a shoe and a second portion behind the portion for receiving a shoe and wherein the first portion is shorter than the second portion when in snowshoe mode.
11. The combination snowshoe and ski of claim 6 wherein the longitudinal traction portions are attached by means of a pivot pin which passes through the platform, through one of a plurality of holes in the longitudinal traction portion, and into a matching one of a plurality of holes in the opposite side of the platform whereby the platform has elevated extensions above and exterior to the deck of the platform.
Description:
MULTI-PURPOSE COMBINATION SNOWSHOE/SKI CROSS REFERENCE This invention claims the benefit of U. S. Provisional Patent Application 60/186,153 filed on February 29,2000.

BACKGROUND The current invention relates generally to equipment for foot-powered transportation across snow and ice and specifically to a combination ski/snowshoe device that includes a braking system.

There have been many attempts to provide equipment for snow and ice travel and recreation that is both safe and functional as skis and snowshoes. As a result, there are a large range and variety of skis of different composition, lengths, and shapes, with a multitude of different boots, bindings, and even surface preparations available, providing various degrees of safety and functionality.

For example, conventional short skis cannot be used in powder, since they have insufficient surface area to allow the skier to"float"on the snow surface. In contrast, on snow, powder, and ice, showshoes have a bottom surface designed to provide appropriate traction.

It is well recognized that the respective purposes and functions of snowshoes and skis are different. In particular, snowshoes are designed to help a user"grip"the surface being traversed, while skis are designed to allow the user to slide over the surface. Moreover, the shape and length of snowshoes and skis are typically different, with snowshoes being short and wide to support a user's weight on top of the surface being traversed, while skis are typically narrow and long to allow for speed of traversal across the surface.

A report in the December 2000 issue of"Skiing"magazine indicates that torn anterior cruciate ligaments ("ACLs") represent 20 percent of all skiing injuries and that a skier is more likely to completely rip his ACL than he was to break his leg in 1973. It also quotes John Ettlinger, president of Vermont Ski Safety, as stating that designing a ski that performs well when a skier is skiing properly and protects him from himself when he's skiing in an unsafe manner is nothing more than a simple engineering problem. He goes on to state that such ski designs would perform like any other ski when the skier was well-balanced, but if, for example, the skier started to lean too far back, the ski would progressively lose its carving ability and start to skid a turn, thus breaking the sequence of events leading to ACL sprain and allowing the skier to recover his balance.

With regard to snowshoes, conventional snowshoes are difficult to maneuver in a transverse direction up or down a steep incline. A conventional snowshoe will force the foot to roll over and sit evenly with or tangent to the surface. If the surface is loose powder, some relief will occur when one side compacts more than the other and the foot is allowed to sit at a more comfortable angle with the body. However, if the snow surface is crusted over with ice or is packed with more dense snow, a conventional snowshoe can be very uncomfortable if a transverse path up or down a steep incline is taken. Many times it is natural to work one's way up or down a steep incline by walking back and forth

and cutting one's way up or down the incline. This technique reduces the effort of each step and allows one to avoid obstacles by going around them. A conventional snowshoe can force one to go straight up or down a steep incline. This can lead to fatigue and danger if the incline is so steep that is unsafe.

Therefore, what is needed are new designs for snowshoes and skis that fulfill the functions described above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In a first embodiment, a multipurpose braking snowshoe/ski, or"brake ski,"consists of a pair of short, ski-shaped devices that are attached to boots, shoes, or other footwear of the user and have elevated"wings"for providing additional surface area for buoyancy and control. The bottom of the multipurpose snowshoe/ski includes an interchangeable, hinged foot plate, also referred to as a binding plate, that may have a smooth bottom surface for functioning as a ski, or a corrugated bottom surface for functioning as a snowshoe. When the hinged foot plate is configured as a ski, it functions as a brake, enabling the user to lean back, extending and depressing the heel of the plate into the snow, giving additional friction, thus slowing the ski. This action will act to slow the user if even weight is applied to both skis, or to turn the user if more pressure is applied to one ski relative to the other.

The interchangeable foot plate is attached with a pivot pin that extends through the body of the multipurpose snowshoe/ski, through the foot plate, and into the multipurpose snowshoe/ski body on the other side. There may be several pivot pin positions, allowing the user to set the degree to which the heel of the plate descends into the snow, controlling the amount of friction and braking applied. A top surface of the foot plate is customizable so that an appropriate binding can be attached, allowing the user to select one of the many types of boots and bindings available.

It will be recognized that the natural position for a skier to go the fastest downhill is to lean forward. When the skier is leaning forward, the multipurpose snowshoe/ski performs like a normal ski and generates no additional drag or braking force. In contrast, the natural reaction for a skier who encounters the need to slow down suddenly is to lean back. This natural reaction will cause the brake to engage. The harder the skier leans back, the stronger the brake force will be.

The first embodiment addresses three distinct considerations in the field of snowshoe and ski equipment. First, it is a combination snowshoe and ski, allowing the user to easily and quickly change the surface in contact with the snow or ice from"sliding" (ski) to"gripping" (snowshoe). Second, it is of a shape and length appropriate both to ski and snowshoe such that the user can traverse terrain (specifically, narrow downhill and uphill passages) not easily maneuvered by traditional skis or snowshoes. And third, it has an automatic braking system that provides additional safety in preventing anterior cruciate ligament injuries. The embodiment can be easily converted from ski to snowshoe and from snowshoe to ski by simply interchanging the foot plate comprising the bottom surface of the invention. This allows the user the maximum flexibility in choosing his or her route over a variety of

uphill and downhill terrain. The process takes only a few moments to remove the current plate and installing the new plate.

In a second embodiment, a fully articulating snowshoe has a gently tapered or wedged body across its width and away from the center. This allows the snowshoe to easily roll back and forth up to 30 degrees or so, allowing the foot to take on a more natural posture while still engaging a transverse lie on a slope. A crampon plate that attaches to the foot is fully articulating such that the foot has a full range of motion to pitch forward or aft and engage teeth under either the toe or the heel into the surface.

Side teeth provide firm engagement so that the snowshoe will not slip on transverse surfaces.

In a third embodiment, a convertible ski shoe combines all the benefits of the first and second embodiments into a single design. The convertible ski shoe is a versatile device that enables a person to travel at the most efficient rate across a wide range of winter landscape. The convertible ski shoe can be quickly transformed from a fast downhill ski into an all terrain snowshoe in seconds. To do so, a user reaches down and partially pulls out two quick release pins on either side of the ski shoe. A binding plate stays attached to the foot while a convertible plug is flipped over. The foot is then reversed in direction and the ski is transformed into a snowshoe. The quick release pins are pushed back into place to lock the binding plate in the new position. The convertible ski shoe has a ski front end and a snowshoe front end combined into the same body. In snowshoe mode, most of the body length is portioned behind the foot. This insures that the back of the shoe falls and drags against the ground so that the front of the body is lifted up to make it easier to step forward into soft snow. In ski mode, the front of the body extends out further than the back. This configuration is thus optimized for control while skiing.

In ski mode, the convertible plug can be set to provide some controlled degree of forward rotation before hitting the stop. This can be used for an optional glide mode where the heel is released similar to cross-country skis. The toe is allowed to pivot slightly forward to enable a grabber feature or shovel to dig in slightly and give a cross-country skier a toe hold with which to push off.

In snowshoe mode, the convertible ski shoe becomes a fully articulating snowshoe and a user can walk or run up or down steep slopes at any angle with comfort, while maintaining maximum control and grip in any slope angle. Moreover, if very tight conditions are encountered, such as climbing among snow-covered rocks, crampons can be released and used as separate devices.

In a fourth embodiment, a dual bridge convertible ski shoe, also combines all the benefits of the first and second embodiments into a single design. The dual bridge convertible ski shoe is also a versatile device that enables a person to travel at the most efficient rate across a wide range of winter landscape. The dual bridge convertible ski shoe can be quickly transformed from a fast downhill ski into an all terrain snowshoe. To accomplish this, a user reaches down underneath a convertible plug and squeezes together two binding plate release springs to release two bridges. Each bridge has two sets of release springs.

One bridge is attached to the forward part of the foot and the other to the aft part of the foot. The binding

plate or bridges stay attached to the foot while the convertible plug is flipped over. The foot is then reversed in direction and the ski is transformed into a snowshoe. The dual bridges stay attached to the foot through binding straps or similar devices and fit back into slots on either side of the convertible plug. They snap into place to lock the bridges to the convertible plug.

The dual bridge convertible ski shoe has a ski front end and a snowshoe front end combined into the same body. In snowshoe mode, most of the body length is portioned behind the foot to insure that the back of the shoe falls and drags against the ground so that the front of the body is lifted up to make it easier to step forward into soft snow. In ski mode, the front of the body extends out further than the back. This configuration provides optimum control while skiing.

In ski mode, the convertible plug could be set to provide some controlled degree of forward rotation before hitting the stop. This can be used for an optional glide mode where the heel is released similar to cross-country skis. The toe is able to pivot slightly forward to enable a grabber feature or shovel to dig in slightly and give the cross-country skier a toe hold with which to push off.

In snowshoe mode, the dual bridge convertible ski shoe becomes a fully articulating snowshoe, enabling a user to walk or run up or down steep slopes at any angle with comfort. The user maintains maximum control and grip in any slope angle. Moreover, if very tight conditions are encountered such as climbing among snow covered rocks, the crampons can be released and used as separate devices.

In a fifth embodiment, a smooth bottom convertible ski shoe combines all the benefits of the first, second, and third embodiments into a single design. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe is a versatile device that enables a person to travel at the most efficient rate across a wide range of winter landscape. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe can be quickly transformed from a fast downhill ski into an all terrain snowshoe in seconds. To accomplish this transformation, a user reaches down and releases binding plate locks. A binding plate assembly stays attached to the binding and foot as the foot is lifted up. A convertible plug is attached to the body of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe by means of two coaxial pivot pin assemblies. The convertible plug assembly is then flipped over or converted. The foot is then reversed in direction and reinserted into the opposite side or snowshoe side of the convertible plug assembly and the ski is transformed into a snowshoe. The binding plate locks are then secured.

Any number of different kinds of standard bindings can be attached to a deck of the binding plate. The preferred type of binding would a standard snowboard type, such as the K-2 Clicker step in standard or high back system, although any number of Burton binding systems, telemark, cross-country, short ski, such as Solomon Snow Blade or ski shoe, bindings, or crampons such as Atlas Mountain Tracker could also be adapted and mounted. The snowboard bindings would be adapted for use with the foot mounted fore and aft like a standard ski instead of transverse as on a snow board. The more compliant boots used for snow boarding would offer a good balance between flexibility and rigidity for control. The snow board bindings can be adjusted to allow the optimum foot angle for pigeon-toed or

bow-legged people to align their ski shoes straight. The cross-country and snowshoe bindings would be more difficult to control because of their lack of foot restraint. The short ski bindings are designed for use with regular ski boots, which are very rigid for comfortable walking. Other types of bindings, including various strap arrangements can be mounted a number of ways through strap binding holes not detailed.

A technical advantage achieved with the first embodiment is that, while conventional skis are difficult to maneuver down steep narrow trails., the multipurpose snowshoe/ski, when in the ski configuration, is a short ski, appropriate to these types of terrain.

Another technical advantage achieved with the first embodiment is that, while conventional skis are difficult to maneuver up steep narrow trails, the multipurpose snowshoe/ski can be easily converted to a snowshoe to be used in these circumstances.

Yet another technical advantage achieved with the first embodiment is that it takes advantage of the natural inclination of a skier to lean back when he wants to slow down by causing such an action to trigger the braking mechanism of the embodiment, slowing the skier and allowing him to regain his balance.

Yet another technical advantage achieved with the first embodiment is that it provides a more versatile skiing platform to improve the safety, flexibility, performance, and cost over conventional ski art.

A technical advantage achieved with the second embodiment is that, while conventional snowshoes allow the toe to rotate forward and dig in for forward traction, but the heel motion is restricted, the fully articulating snowshoe allows the foot go where it wants to naturally go, independent of the surface orientation.

Another technical advantage of the second embodiment is that it provides more flexibility to traverse a variety of surfaces in a wide range of conditions and provides more comfort to the user with less fatigue and chance of injury.

Yet another technical advantage of the second embodiment is that the crampon foot piece is also removable so that the user can go places where a snowshoe body would get in the way without a lot of extra equipment for traction.

A technical advantage achieved with the third embodiment is that it enables skiing in light powder because the body has enough lift surface area to keep a skier floating up.

A further technical advantage achieved with the third embodiment is that it is small, light, inexpensive and compact and facilitates skiing with speed and confidence while improving safety, even when skiing down tight narrow trails or glade runs between trees, because the brake can be used for control and steering without cutting.

Yet another technical advantage achieved with the third embodiment is that it is easier to learn because of the easy instant and automatic reflex control and braking design.

A technical advantage of the fourth embodiment is that it enables skiing in light powder because the body has enough lift surface area to keep a skier buoyed up.

Another technical advantage of the fourth embodiment is that it is small, light, and inexpensive and facilitates skiing with speed and confidence while improving safety when skiing down tight narrow trails or glade runs between trees, because the brake can be used for control and steering without cutting.

Yet another technical advantage of the fourth embodiment is that it is easier to learn because of the easy instant and automatic reflex control and braking design.

A technical advantage achieved with the fifth embodiment is that the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe is quickly transformed from a fast down hill ski into an all terrain snowshoe in seconds.

Another technical advantage achieved with the fifth embodiment is that any number of different types of bindings and boots can be used therewith.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is a top perspective view of the first embodiment.

Figure 1A is another top perspective of the first embodiment.

Figure 2 is a bottom perspective view of the first embodiment.

Figure 2A is another bottom perspective view of the first embodiment.

Figure 3 is a top perspective view of the first embodiment with the brake removed.

Figure 3A is another top perspective view of the first embodiment with the brake removed.

Figure 4 is a bottom perspective view of the first embodiment with the brake removed.

Figure 4A is another bottom perspective view of the first embodiment with the brake removed.

Figure 5 is a top perspective view of a brake ski cover of the first embodiment.

Figure 6 is a bottom perspective view of a binding attachment plate, or brake, of the first embodiment.

Figure 7 is a side perspective view of the binding attachment plate of Figure 6.

Figure 8 is another perspective view of the binding attachment plate of Figure 6.

Figure 9 is yet another perspective view of the binding attachment plate of Figure 6.

Figure 1 OA is a top plan view of the first embodiment.

Figure 1 OB is a side plan view of the first embodiment.

Figure 1 OC is a bottom plan view of the first embodiment.

Figure 11 A is a sectional view of the first embodiment as illustrated in Figure I OA along the line A-A.

Figure 11B is a sectional view of the first embodiment as illustrated in Figure 10B along the line B-B.

Figure 11C is a front plan view of the first embodiment.

Figure 11D is a rear plan view of the first embodiment.

Figure 12 is a top perspective view of the second embodiment.

Figure 13 is a bottom perspective view of the second embodiment.

Figure 13A is another bottom perspective view of the second embodiment.

Figure 14 is a top perspective view of the second embodiment with the crampon removed.

Figure 15 is a bottom perspective view of the second embodiment with the crampon removed.

Figure 16 is a top perspective view of a crampon plate of the second embodiment.

Figure 17 is a bottom perspective view of the crampon plate of the second embodiment.

Figure 18A is a top plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 18B is a side plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 18C is a rear plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 18D is a front plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 19A is a sectional view of the second embodiment as illustrated in Figure 18A along the line A-A.

Figure 19B is a sectional view of the second embodiment as illustrated in Figure 18B along the line B-B.

Figure 19C is a front plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 19D is a rear plan view of the second embodiment.

Figure 20 is a top perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 21 is a bottom perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 21A is another bottom perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 22 is a top perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a showshoe.

Figure 23 is a bottom perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a snowshoe illustrating a convertible plug.

Figure 23A is another bottom perspective view of the third embodiment configured as a snowshoe illustrating a convertible plug.

Figure 24 is a top perspective view of the third embodiment with the convertible plug removed.

Figure 25 is a bottom perspective view of the third embodiment with the plug removed.

Figure 26 is a top perspective of a binding attachment plate of the third embodiment including the convertible plug.

Figure 27 is a bottom perspective view of the binding attachment plate of the third embodiment.

Figure 28 is a bottom perspective view of a portion of the convertible plug shown in Figure 26.

Figure 29 is another bottom perspective view of a portion of the convertible plug shown in Figure 26.

Figure 30 illustrates a pivot pin of the third embodiment.

Figure 31A is a top plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 31B is a side plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 31C is a rear plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 31D is a front plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 31E is a bottom plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 32A is a sectional view of the third embodiment as illustrated in Figure 31A along the line A-A.

Figure 32B is a sectional view of the third embodiment as illustrated in Figure 31B along the line B-B.

Figure 32C is a front plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 32D is a rear plan view of the third embodiment.

Figure 33 is a top perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 34 is a bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 34A is another bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 35 is top perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a showshoe.

Figure 36 is a bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a showshoe illustrating a plug and bridge thereof.

Figure 36A is another bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment configured as a showshoe illustrating a plug and bridge thereof.

Figure 37 is a top perspective view of the fourth embodiment with the plug and bridge removed.

Figure 37A is another top perspective view of the fourth embodiment with the plug and bridge removed.

Figure 38 is a bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment with the plug and bridge removed.

Figure 38A is another bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment with the plug and bridge removed.

Figure 38B is yet another bottom perspective view of the fourth embodiment with the plug and bridge removed.

Figure 39 is a top perspective view of a binding attachment plate, or bridge, section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 39A is another top perspective view of a binding attachment plate, or bridge, section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 40 is a bottom perspective view of a binding attachment plate, or bridge, section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 40A is another bottom perspective view of a binding attachment plate, or bridge, section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 41 is a top perspective view of a convertible plug section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 41 A is another top perspective view of a convertible plug section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 42 is bottom perspective view of a convertible plug section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 42A is another bottom perspective view of a convertible plug section of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 43 illustrates a pivot pin of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 43A is another illustration of the pivot pin of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 44A is a top plan view of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 44B is a side plan view of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 44C is a bottom plan view of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 45A is a sectional view of the fourth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 44B along the line A-A.

Figure 45B is a sectional view of the fourth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 44A along the line B-B.

Figure 45C is a front plan view of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 45D is a rear plan view of the fourth embodiment.

Figure 46 is a top perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 46A is another top perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 47 is a bottom perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 47A is another bottom perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 48 is a side perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 49 is an exploded view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 49A is another exploded view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 49B is another exploded view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 50A is a top plan view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 50B is a side plan view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 50C is a bottom plan view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 50D is a front plan view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 50E is a rear plan view of the fifth embodiment configured as a ski.

Figure 51 is a sectional view of the fifth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 50A along the line A-A.

Figure 52 is a top perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a showshoe.

Figure 53 is a bottom perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe.

Figure 53A is another bottom perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe.

Figure 54A is a side perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe illustrating no rotation of a convertible plug thereof.

Figure 54B is a side perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe illustrating maximum rotation of a convertible plug thereof.

Figures 55A and 55B respectively illustrate side perspective views of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe in climbing mode and descending mode.

Figure 56 is a top perspective view of the fifth embodiment configured as a snowshoe illustrating a maximum heel down mode.

Figure 57 is a top perspective view of the fifth embodiment in glide mode illustrating no rotation of the convertible plug thereof.

Figures 58A and 58B respectively illustrate side perspective views of the fifth embodiment in glide mode illustrating zero and maximum rotation of the convertible plug.

Figure 59 is a top perspective view of a body portion of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 59A is another top perspective view of a body portion of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 60 is a bottom perspective view of the body portion of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 61 A is a top plan view of a body assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 61B is a side plan view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 61C is a bottom plan view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 61D is a front plan view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 61E is a rear plan view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 62A is a sectional view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 61A along the line B-B.

Figure 62B is a sectional view of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 61B along the line A-A.

Figures 63A-63C are various sectional views of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 61A along lines C-C, D-D, and E-E, respectively.

Figure 64 illustrates various sectional views of the body assembly of the fifth embodiment as illustrated in Figure 61B along lines F-F, G-G, H-H, J-J, K-K, L-L, and M-M.

Figure 65 illustrates a plug rotation limiter clip of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 66 is a top perspective view of a binding attachment plate assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 67 is a bottom perspective view of the binding attachment plate assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 68 is an exploded view of the binding attachment plate assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figures 69A-69F respectively illustrate top, side, bottom, left, and right end plan views of a convertible plug assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figures 70A-70E respectively illustrate sectional views of the convertible plug assembly of the fifth embodiment as shown in Fig. 69A along the lines A-A, B-B, C-C, D-D, and E-E.

Figures 71A-71C respectively illustrate sectional views of the convertible plug assembly of the fifth embodiment as shown in Fig. 69B along the lines O-O, F-F, and L-L.

Figure 72 illustrates various detailed views of a lock plug of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 73 illustrates various detailed views of a pivot pin doubler of the fifth embodiment.

Figures 74 and 75 are top perspective views of a convertible plug assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 76 is a bottom perspective view of the convertible plug assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 77 illustrates various views of a pivot pin assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 78 is an isometric view of the pivot pin assembly of the fifth embodiment.

Figure 79 illustrate various views of a plug rotation limiter pin of the fifth embodiment.

Figures 80A-80E illustrate various views of a convertible plug of the fifth embodiment.

Figures 81A-81B illustrate various views of a convertible plug of the fifth embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS The present invention can be described with several examples given below. It is understood, however, that the examples below are not necessarily limitations to the present invention, but are used to describe typical embodiments of operation.

First Embodiment-Brake Ski Figure 1 is a top perspective view of a brake ski 10 of the first embodiment of the present invention, which is adapted for wearing on either the right foot or left foot. It is to be understood that

brake ski 10 is but one of a pair of the brake skis of the first embodiment, the other of that same pair being an appropriate mirror image of the brake ski 10.

Referring now to Figures 1,1A, 2,2A, 3, and 3A, it can be seen that the brake ski 10 includes a body 11 that, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of five portions, including a center portion lla, a forward portion llb, an aft portion llc, a nose portion lld, and a tail portion lle. As best seen in Figure 3, the center portion lla extends along the cutout region. Outer beams 12 are contained in the narrow center portion lla around a brake aperture 14. The outer beams 12 are proportioned to transition bending, shear, and twist loads from the forward portion llb, a constant section forward of the brake aperture, to the aft portion lie, a constant section aft of the brake aperture.

As best shown in Figure 3, the nose portion lld forms the transition to a forwardmost point 16, and is curved upward similar to existing ski designs. The nose portion lld insures that the body 11 stays on top of the snow surface and rides smoothly over small obstacles or choppy ice and snow. The tail portion lle, forms the transition to a rearwardmost point 18. Although the tail portion lle, as shown in Figure 3, is very similar to the nose portion lle, it could be truncated without an upward arch. The shape of the various portions can be changed and styled in various ways without changing or sacrificing the basic function of the brake ski 10.

As shown in Figures 3,4, and 4A, a primary snow contact surface 20 of the brake ski body 11 makes contact with a surface over which a wearer is traversing. In soft snow or powder, a secondary snow contact surface, or"wings,"24 will also make contact with the snow surface. The overall brake ski body 11 can be proportioned/sized to have sufficient area to keep skiers of various weights floating up in soft snow or deep powder. The combination of primary 20 and secondary snow contact surfaces 24 will allow a short ski design, as depicted in Figure 1, to act similarly to a long ski. Current narrow short ski designs are not functional in deep powder conditions because of a lack of sufficient lift.

Referring now to Figures 6-9,10A-lOC, and 1 lA-l lD, as best illustrated in Figures 11A-11D, the brake ski body 11 is connected to the binding attachment plate or brake 26 with a pivot pin 28. Rolling motion is imparted by the foot through the pivot pin 28 and into the brake ski body 11. This rolling motion causes either of two inner edges 30 (Figure 4) to dig into the snow for directional control similar to existing short or long ski designs. A roll angle is sufficient to allow this rolling motion to occur without interference from the wings 24. In case of extreme rolling due to a fall or extreme slopes, an outside edge 34 can cause the inner edge 30 to lift off the snow surface. The inner edges 30 are simply sharp corners of the parent material of the brake ski body 11. Molded in metal inserts could be used to improve the cutting action of the edges if more control is desired especially on ice. However, if extreme roll conditions are experienced and the outside edges cause the inner edges to pry off of the surface, a loss of control could result. If the two edges are similar in construction and geometry, then they will both perform similarly, and a surprise loss of control will not be experienced. Therefore, it is recommended that both inner 30 and outer edges 34 have inserts or have similar geometry and material. The outer

edges 34 as depicted are not optimum and have a large gentle radius and an edge that is not straight and parallel to the inner edges 30.

The brake ski body 11 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a two piece hollow design comprising an upper and lower shell preferably constructed from a reinforced injection molded plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement is preferably a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The two halves preferably have a snap fit design where plastic snap elements permanently lock the two halves together. Once the two halves lock together, they act as an integral closed cell box. Using shear bosses would insure that the two halves would act as a single torque box.

This manufacturing method would also be consistent with the other parts. Local stiffeners and internal ribs may be used to internally stiffen the skins of the shells. Local areas of higher stress could be strengthened by an increase in thickness. An alternate method to assemble the halves would be to secure them together with fasteners or screws spaced periodically around the perimeter.

The body 11 could also alternately be constructed as described above, except the snap feature (s) could be replaced with a bond or welding. The body 11 could also alternately be constructed as a one piece foam filled or hollow part having a skin material, such as epoxy-bonded fiberglass, carbon or a metallic material, such as aluminum, disposed thereover. The skin material could form a bonded assembly with an internal foam core and could be a wet lay up over a foam core to save weight. An alternate means of manufacture would involve some form of resin transfer molding or vacuum assist resin transfer molding of resin into a closed cavity mold with dry preform broad goods over an internal mandrel. A hollow design could also be produced using a rotomolding process.

As best shown in Figures 3 and 6, a toe surface 37 of the brake ski body 11 is shaped to interfere and contact with a corresponding toe surface 38 on the brake 26. This contact will prevent a toe portion 26b of the brake 26 from digging into the snow surface as the skier leans forward and will prevent a sudden deceleration or loss of control. As shown in Figures 4 and 9, a heel surface 40 of the brake ski body 11 is designed not to interfere with a corresponding heel surface 42 of the brake 26. If the heel surfaces 40 and 42 are radiused with the center at a pivot axis, a tight fit will insure that the gap is minimized and foreign objects can not easily get wedged or trapped.

As shown in Figures 3,8, and 1 lA-11D, the brake 26 is attached to the brake ski body 11 by means of a pivot pin 28. The pivot pin 28 is mounted along a transverse"Y"axis through pivot holes 46 in each of the two outer beams 12 of the brake ski body 11 and corresponding pivot holes 48 contained in the brake 26. A pin height is set to keep the pivot pin 28 clear of the rolling clearance and up into the wings 24 without any additional lugs or other features. The pivot pin 28 is shown as comprising a single piece with a head formed at installation on the shank. The type and details for the pivot pin could vary considerably. The pivot pin 28 could be fixed as shown or removable. The brake 26 is free to rotate

about the pivot axis 44. Although the pivot axis is illustrated as being roughly at the middle of the brake 26, the axis could be shifted either forward or aft to make the braking action stronger or weaker.

Referring now to Figures 6-8, it can be seen that the binding attachment plate or brake 26, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of three portions, including, a center portion 26a, the toe portion 26b, and a heel portion 26c. As best shown in Figure 9, the center portion 26a extends along the constant section region. The toe portion extends the tangency to a toe surface 56, and the heel portion 26b extends from the opposite tangency to the heel surface 58. In operation, when a skier wants to slow down or stop, weight is simply shifted to the heel portion 26b of the brake. The heel portion 26b then will push down into the surface of the snow and cause the snow to displace downward and to the side. The energy required to displace the snow will cause the skier to slow down and finally stop.

As shown in Figures 6-9, the brake 26 also has a primary snow contact surface 60 that makes contact with the surface over which the wearer is traversing. In soft snow or powder, a secondary snow contact surface, or"wings,"62 will also make contact with the snow surface as described for the brake ski body 11 above. When a skier wants to ski without braking action or restraint, weight is shifted forward, and the brake 26 rotates into a position in which the primary and secondary snow contact surfaces 60,62 of the brake align themselves with the primary and secondary surfaces snow contact surfaces 20,24, of the body 11. In this position, the brake ski 10 offers very little resistance to sliding. The width of the brake 26 depicted here as narrower than the foot. There is no need to make the brake 26 wider than the foot since only a small engagement of the heel portion 26c will allow sufficient braking force. This should reduce the overall size and width of the brake ski 10.

Referring to Figure 8, the brake 26 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic, as injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement material could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. Local stiffeners and ribs 64 would be used to stiffen the skins of an outer shell 66. The ribs 64 form a crisscrossed diagonal pattern to maximize the torsional stiffness along the longitudinal"X"axis of the brake. Binding attach bosses 68 are located to provide a built up area in which to mount a standard ski binding, a cross-country or telemarking binding. These bindings would be attached with fasteners at binding attachment holes 70 disposed through an outer flange 71.

To prevent moisture from accumulating in the cavities of the brake 26 and adding unnecessary weight to the device, an optional cover 72, as illustrated in Figures 5,1 lA, and 11B, can be sandwiched between the binding and the brake to seal off the inner cavities of the brake. The cover 72 has an edge 72a that matches the brake 26 and holes 72b that corresponded to the binding attach holes 70.

Alternately, a stiff closed foam insert material (not shown) could be molded or cut to fit snugly into the open cavities between the ribs and the shell of the brake to provide a light weight inexpensive seal. The foam insert could be glued in place to keep it secure.

In an alternate brake ski arrangement, the brake 26 spans a traditionally-shaped center ski portion. The brake surface is divided up into two surfaces on each side of the center ski portion and there is a bridge like structure that spans the center ski portion and joins together the two brake surfaces. A pivot pin connects the center portion to the brake to allow it to rotate backwards for braking. A stop prevents excessive forward rotation. The binding is attached to the bridge portion of the brake Second Embodiment-Fully Articulating Snowshoe Figure 12 is a top perspective view of a fully articulating snowshoe 200 of the second embodiment of the present invention, which is adapted for wearing on either the right foot or left foot. It is to be understood that the fully articulating snowshoe 200 is but one of a pair of the fully articulating snowshoes of the second embodiment, the other of that same pair being an appropriate mirror image of fully articulating snowshoe 200.

Referring now to Figures 13,13A, 14, and 15, as best shown in Figure 14, it can be seen that a body 202 of the fully articulating snowshoe 200, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of five portions, including, a center portion 202a, a forward portion 202b, an aft portion 202c, a nose portion 202d, and a tail portion 202e. The center portion 202a extends along a cutout region. Outer beams 204 are contained in the narrow center portion 202a around a crampon aperture 206.

The outer beams 204 are proportioned to transition the bending, shear and twist loads from the forward portion 202b that extends along the essentially constant region as shown in Figure 15, to the aft portion 202c, that extends along the essentially constant region also shown in Figure 15. The nose portion 202d, which that forms the transition to a forwardmost snowshoe point 208, is curved upward as best-shown in Figure 14 and is styled with an optional bear claw arch 210 pattern. The tail portion 202e, which transitions as shown in Figure 14 to a rearwardmost point 212, is curved upward. The shape of the various portions can be changed and styled in various ways without changing or sacrificing the basic function of the fully articulating snowshoe 200.

As shown in Figure 15, a primary snow contact surface 214 of the body 202 makes contact with a surface over which the wearer is traversing. In soft snow or powder, a secondary snow contact surface or "wings"218 will also make contact with the traversal surface. The overall body 202 can be proportioned to have sufficient area to prevent sinking in snowshoe mode. Since the secondary snow contact surface 218 is offset from the primary snow contact surface 214, both surfaces can be nearly flat and parallel with respect to the ground plane while allowing the fully articulating snowshoe to freely roll form side to side. In snowshoe mode, the primary snow contact surface 214 will sink into soft snow first. The secondary snow contact surface 218 will provide enough extra support to keep the user from sinking.

The secondary snow contact surface 218 is almost parallel with the ground and will not tend to wedge into the snow as a result.

Referring now to Figures 16,17,18A-18D, and 19A-19C, the body 202 is connected to a binding attachment plate, or"crampon plate,"224 with a pivot pin 226. Rolling motion is imparted by the foot

through the pivot pin 226 and into the body 202. A roll angle is sufficient to allow this rolling motion to occur without interference from the wings 218.

The body 202 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a two piece hollow design comprising an upper and lower shell preferably constructed from a reinforced injection molded plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement is preferably a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The two halves preferably have a snap fit design where plastic snap elements permanently lock the two halves together. Once the two halves lock together, they act as an integral closed cell box. Using shear bosses would insure that the two halves would act as a single torque box. This manufacturing method would also be consistent with the other parts. Local stiffeners and internal ribs may be used to internally stiffen the skins of the shells. Local areas of higher stress could be strengthened by an increase in thickness. An alternate method to assemble the halves would be to secure them together with fasteners or screws spaced periodically around the perimeter.

The body 202 could also alternately be constructed as described above, except the snap feature (s) could be replaced with a bond or welding. The body 202 could also alternately be constructed as a one piece foam filled or hollow part having a skin material, such as epoxy-bonded fiberglass, carbon or a metallic material, such as aluminum, disposed thereover. The skin material could form a bonded assembly with an internal foam core and could be a wet lay up over a foam core to save weight. An alternate means of manufacture would involve some form of resin transfer molding or vacuum assist resin transfer molding of resin into a closed cavity mold with dry preform broad goods over an internal mandrel. A hollow design could also be produced using a rotomolding process.

As best shown in Figures 14,16, and 17. a toe surface 230 and a heel surface 232 of the fully articulating snowshoe body 202 are shaped so as not to interfere and contact with corresponding end surfaces 234 on the crampon plate 224. This will ensure unrestrained fully articulating toe and heel engagement in snowshoe mode. The toe surface 230 and the heel surface 232 of the body 202 and the corresponding end surfaces 234 of a convertible plug are radiused with the center at a pivot axis, a tight fit will insure that the gap is minimized and foreign objects can not easily get wedged or trapped.

As best shown in Figures 18A-18D and 19A-19C, the crampon plate 224 is attached to the body 202 by means of one pivot pin 226. As shown in Figure 17, the pivot pin 226 is protected from damage by capturing it internally inside a pivot hole rib 240. The pivot hole 242 is located inside the pivot hole rib 240 that has been widened to accept it. The crampon plate 224 is free to rotate about the pivot axis. The pin height is set to keep the pivot pin 226 clear of the ground plane when the body 202 is rolled to either side for walking transverse along inclines in snowshoe mode. As best shown in Figures 15-17, the pivot pin 226 is mounted along a transverse"Y"axis through pivot holes 246 in each of the two outer beams 204 of the body 202 and corresponding pivot holes 242 in the crampon plate 224. The pivot pin 226 engages through lugs 250 that hang down from the outer beams 204 of the body 202.

The pivot pin 226 is detailed as a quick release pin, although many other types of shear pins would work in this application. A simple pivot pin similar to the one shown for the brake ski 10 would work. Or a simple spring clip (not shown) could be slipped through a small hole transverse to the longitudinal axis of the pivot pin or a self locking wing nut could be used to make a simple releasable pin. The pivot axis is located roughly at the middle of the convertible plug. A single removable pivot pin could be placed in any number of multiple pivot hole positions (not shown), located forward and aft of each other along the longitudinal axis of the ski shoe, to customize the braking or gripping response.

This optional design where there are multiple positions for a single removable pivot pin that passes through the entire convertible plug would be the best arrangement for an initial prototype to investigate overall performance of snowshoe geometric relationships.

The configuration of the pivot pin 226 is the same as that described with reference to Figure 43A below.

Referring now to Figures 16,17, and 13A, it can be seen that the crampon plate 224, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as comprising three portions, including a center portion 224a, a toe portion 224b, and a heel portion 224c. As best seen in Figure 14, the center portion 224a extends along the region of constant width. The toe and heel portions 224b and 224c extend along the end transition radius to an end surface 234. In snowshoe mode, weight is simply shifted to either the toe portion 224b or heel portion 224c to cause the convertible plug to rotate and engage teeth 268 for gripping and traction. The width of the crampon plate 224 is wider than the foot to allow a full range of motion of the foot.

The crampon plate 224 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic, as injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement material could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. As shown in Figures 16 and 17, longitudinal ribs 270 and lateral ribs 272 can be used to stiffen skins of a deck 274. Optional binding attach bosses and binding attach holes are not shown, but could be detailed in the deck 274 to receive standard snowboard style bindings. The snowboard style bindings are highly recommended because of their excellent support of the foot and ankle. Other types of bindings, including various strap arrangements can be mounted a number of ways through either forward strap binding holes (not shown). The deck 274 and outer flange 264 of the binding attachment plate 224 can support any number and arrangements of strap holes or additional flanges or other features that would be molded into or would extend above the surface of the deck 274. Various other types of telemark, cross-country, snowshoe, or Rottefella bindings can be mounted to standard mounting holes and inserts located on the surface of the deck 274.

An optional non-skid surface 278 feature is shown on the deck surface to keep the foot from sliding around.

The binding attachment plate 224 has an outer flange 264 with teeth 269 formed on the edge.

These teeth 268 provide traction and gripping. Although the teeth 268 are best shown in Figure 17 as integral with the rest of the convertible plug material, an optional metal or other material insert could be used in an injected molded part to make the teeth edges more durable and effective. For cost considerations, however, the integral material approach has merit.

To prevent snow and ice from accumulating in the cavities of the underside of the binding attachment plate 224 and adding unnecessary weight to the device, an optional stiff closed foam insert material (not shown) could be molded or cut to fit snugly into the open cavities between the ribs and the shell of the convertible plug 236 or the binding attachment plate 224 to provide a lightweight inexpensive seal. The foam insert could be glued in place to keep it secure. The foam insert would naturally shed ice buildup. The ice would crack and shed off as the foam deflects and springs back into original position.

Third Embodiment-Convertible Ski Shoe Referring to Figure 20, there is shown a convertible ski shoe 300 of the third embodiment of the present invention, which is adapted for wearing on either the right foot or left foot. It is to be understood that the convertible ski shoe 300 is but one of a pair of the convertible ski shoes of the third embodiment, the other of that same pair being a left/right mirror image of the convertible ski shoe 300. As will be described, Figures 20,21, and 21A show the convertible ski shoe 300 in a ski mode configuration.

Figures 22,23, and 23A show the convertible ski shoe 300 in snowshoe mode.- As best shown in Figures 24 and 25, a body 302 of the convertible ski shoe 300, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of five portions, including a center portion 302a, a snowshoe mode forward portion 302b, a ski mode forward portion 302c, the snowshoe mode nose portion 302d, and a ski mode nose portion 302e. As best seen in Figure 24, outer beams 304 are contained in the narrow center portion 302a around an aperture 306. The outer beams 304 are proportioned to transition the bending, shear and twist loads from the snowshoe mode forward portion 302c to the ski mode forward portion 302c.'The snowshoe mode nose portion 302d that forms the transition to a forwardmost snowshoe point 308, is curved upward as best-shown in Figure 24 and is styled with an optional bear claw arch 310 pattern. The ski mode nose portion 302e that transitions as shown in Figure 24 to a forwardmost ski point 312, is curved upward and insures that the body 302 stays on top of the snow surface and rides smoothly over small obstacles or choppy ice and snow. The shape of the various portions can be changed and styled in various ways without changing or sacrificing the basic function of the convertible ski shoe 300.

The convertible ski shoe 300 has two primary modes of operation. Figure 20 shows the convertible ski shoe 300 assembled in a ski mode. Figure 22 shows the same parts rearranged and reconfigured in a snowshoe mode.

Referring to Figure 25, a primary snow contact surface 314 of the body 302 makes contact with a surface over which the wearer is traversing. In soft snow or powder, a secondary snow contact surface

or"wings"318 will also make contact with the snow surface. The overall body 302 can be proportioned to have sufficient area to keep the device floating up in soft snow or deep powder while in ski mode or providing sufficient area to prevent sinking in snowshoe mode. The combination of primary 314 and secondary snow contact surfaces 318 will allow a short ski design, as depicted here, to act similarly to a long ski. Current narrow short ski designs are not functional in deep powder conditions because of a lack of sufficient lift surface area.

Since the secondary snow contact surface 318 is offset from the primary snow contact surface 314, both surfaces can be nearly flat and parallel with respect to a ground plane 316 while allowing the convertible ski shoe to freely roll form side to side. In snowshoe mode, the primary snow contact surface 314 will sink into soft snow first. The secondary snow contact surface 318 will provide enough extra support to keep the user from sinking. The secondary snow contact surface 318 is almost parallel with the ground and will not tend to wedge into the snow as a result. This geometry also works to prevent wedging and lifting the skier in ski mode.

Referring to Figures 20,22,28,29,31A-31D, and 32A-32D, the body 302 is connected to a convertible plug 324 with two coaxial pivot pins 326. The pivot pins 326 also connect a binding attachment plate 328 to the convertible plug 324. Rolling motion is imparted by the foot through the pivot pins 326 and into the body 302. This rolling motion causes either of two inner edges 330 to dig into the snow for directional control similar to existing short or long ski designs. A roll angle is sufficient to allow this rolling motion to occur without interference from the wings 318. In case of extreme rolling due to a fall or extreme slopes, one of two outside edges 334 can cause the inner edge to lift off the snow surface. The inner edges 330 are simply sharp corners of the parent material of the brake ski body 202. Molded in metal inserts could be used to improve the cutting action of the edges if more control is desired especially on ice. However, if extreme roll conditions are experienced and the outside edges cause the inner edges to pry off of the surface, a loss of control could result. If the two edges are similar in construction and geometry, then they will both perform similarly, and a surprise loss of control will not be experienced. Therefore, it is recommended that both inner 330 and outer edges 334 have optional inserts or have similar geometry and material. The outer edges 334 as depicted are not optimum and have a large gentle radius and an edge that is not straight and parallel to the inner edges 330.

The body 302 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a two piece hollow design comprising an upper and lower shell preferably constructed from a reinforced injection molded plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement is preferably a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The two halves preferably have a snap fit design where plastic snap elements permanently lock the two halves together. Once the two halves lock together, they act as an integral closed cell box. Using shear bosses would insure that the two halves would act as a single torque box. This manufacturing

method would also be consistent with the other parts. Local stiffeners and internal ribs may be used to internally stiffen the skins of the shells. Local areas of higher stress could be strengthened by an increase in thickness. An alternate method to assemble the halves would be to secure them together with fasteners or screws spaced periodically around the perimeter.

The body 302 could also alternately be constructed as described above, except the snap feature (s) could be replaced with a bond or welding. The body 302 could also alternately be constructed as a one piece foam filled or hollow part having a skin material, such as epoxy-bonded fiberglass, carbon or a metallic material, such as aluminum, disposed thereover. The skin material could form a bonded assembly with an internal foam core and could be a wet lay up over a foam core to save weight. An alternate means of manufacture would involve some form of resin transfer molding or vacuum assist resin transfer molding of resin into a closed cavity mold with dry preform broad goods over an internal mandrel. A hollow design could also be produced using a rotomolding process.

Referring to Figures 24,25,28, and 29, a ski mode toe surface 336 of the body 302 and a snowshoe mode toe surface 338 are shaped not to interfere and contact with corresponding end surfaces 340 of the convertible plug 324. A stop located on the convertible plug 324 will contact the body 202 only in ski mode. This contact will prevent a toe end portion 324b of the convertible plug 324 from digging into the snow surface as the skier leans forward and will prevent a sudden deceleration or loss of control. In snowshoe mode the convertible plug is flipped over and the stop will pass unrestricted through a stop slot 344 in the body 302. This will insure unrestrained fully articulating toe and heel engagement in snowshoe mode. If the ski mode toe surface 336 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 338 of the body 202 and the with their corresponding end surfaces 340 of the convertible plug 324 are radiused with the center at a pivot axis, a tight fit will insure that the gap is minimized and foreign objects can not easily get wedged or trapped.

As illustrated in Figures 31A-31D and 32A-32D, the convertible plug 324 is attached to the body 302 by means of the two coaxial pivot pins 326. The pivot pins 326 are mounted along a transverse"Y" axis through pivot holes 348 (Figures 24,25) in each of the two outer beams 304 of the body 302 and corresponding pivot holes 350 (Figures 28,29) in the convertible plug 324. As shown in Figure 29, each pivot pin 326 engages through two lugs, an outer lug 352 and an inner lug 354. The pivot pin 326 can slide partially out of the convertible plug 324 by backing out of the inner lug 354 while remaining engaged in the outer lug 352. When the pivot pin 326 is partially released, it also clears a lug hole 356 (Figures 28,29) and releases a binding plate release lug 358 (Figure 27) and the binding attachment plate 328. The convertible plug 324 can now be flipped over to change modes. The binding attachment plate 328 is attached or bound to the foot and remains attached to the foot during a conversion to ski mode from snowshoe mode or vice-versa. The foot is rotated so that the toe points to the opposite end of the ski shoe body 302. Then the binding plate release lugs 358 are inserted back through the lug holes 356

on the reversed side of the convertible plug 324. The two pivot pins 326 are then pushed back into full engagement and the binding attachment plate 328 is again secured to the convertible plug 324.

Referring to Figure 30, the pivot pin 326 is detailed as a quick release pin, although many other types of shear pins would work in this application. A simple pivot pin similar to the one shown for the brake ski 300 would work if one end were modified to make it removable. A simple spring clip (not shown) could be slipped through a small hole transverse to the longitudinal axis of the pivot pin or a self locking wing nut could be used. If a one piece removable pin were used, more time and effort would be required to realign the convertible plug 324 after it is flipped and then reattached to the binding attachment plate 328. A single removable pivot pin could be placed in any number of multiple pivot hole positions (not shown) located forward and aft of each other along the longitudinal axis of the ski shoe to customize the braking or gripping response. This optional design where there are multiple positions for a single removable pivot pin that passes through the entire convertible plug 324 would be the best arrangement for an initial prototype to investigate overall performance of ski mode and snowshoe mode geometric relationships.

The convertible plug 324 is free to rotate about the pivot axis. A pin height is set to keep the pivot pin 326 clear of the ground plane when the body 302 is rolled to either side for cutting in ski mode or walking transverse along inclines in snowshoe mode. The pivot pin is supported by lugs 362 that hang down from the outer beams 304 on the body 302. The pivot is. shown roughly at the middle of the convertible plug 324, so that the convertible plug will rotate and have equal clearance between the end surface 340 and the ski mode toe surface 336 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 338.

To retain the convertible plug 324 while the ski shoe is being converted, the recommended and preferred pin arrangement would be as shown in Figure 32A-32D. Two short pivot pins are inserted from both left and right sides through pivot holes 364 on lugs 362 hanging down form the outer beams 304 on the body 302. This pivot hole is aligned with the pivot holes 350 going through the outer and inner lugs 352,354, in the convertible plug 324. The pivot hole 364 on the binding plate release lug 358 on the binding attachment plate 328 is sandwiched and secured between the outer and inner lug 352,354, on the convertible plug 324.

Referring now to Figure 30, each pivot pin 326 is a quick release pin comprising a hollow shaft 368 that carries shear loads and a button 370 that extends inside of the hollow portion of the hollow shaft 368. The button 370 is springloaded and when pushed in allows retaining ball (s) 374 to displace inside the hollow shaft 368. Leverage is gained by placing the index middle fingers behind and around a handle 376 while pushing in the button 370 with the thumb. Once the retaining balls are displaced inside the hollow shaft 368, the pivot pin assembly will slide out of the pivot holes until an optional key 378 contacts one of the lugs 362 on one side of the body 302. The pivot hole 350 in the convertible plug 324 could have an additional groove (not shown) that allows the optional key 378 to pull through the pivot hole only at one alignment angle. The optional key 378 is positioned so that it passes through the groove

(not shown) and contacts the respective lug 362 on the body 302. This stop position is a safety feature that simply provides for extra pin engagement security and is entirely optional. If the convertible plug 324 needs to be released in order to use the crampon feature separately, the pivot pin handle 376 is rotated to some other angle to align the optional key 378 the release groove (not shown) in the lug 362 of the body 302. Therefore, an extra twist is required to fully release the pivot pin 326.

A simpler way to retain the quick release pin 326 without an optional key 378 is to allow and align the retaining balls 364 to snap and lock into back to back chamfers (not shown) on common faces of the respective lug 362 and an outer flange 380 (Figures 26,27). Chamfering is much easier to tool than a feature internal to and locked inside a part. A push of the button 370 would release the ball (s) 374 and the pivot pin 326 would slide out. An optional lanyard (not shown) could be used to retain a loose pin. This lanyard could be an elastic"bungee cord"that pulls itself back into the. pin when not used to prevent a possible entanglement or snagging.

Referring now to Figures 26,27, and 22, it can be seen that the binding attachment plate 328, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as comprising three portions, including a center portion 328a, a toe portion 328b, and a heel portion 328c. As best seen in Figure 27, the center portion 328a extends along the region of constant width. The toe portion 328b extends along the end transition radius to a heel surface 382. If the skier wants to slow down or stop, weight is simply shifted to the heel portion 328c of the binding attachment plate 328. The heel portion 328c will then push down into the surface of the snow through the convertible plug 324 and cause the snow to displace downward and to the side.

The energy required to displace the snow will cause the skier to slow down and finally stop. In snowshoe mode, weight is simply shifted either to the toe portion 328b or heel portion 328c to cause the convertible plug 324 to rotate and engage teeth 382 for gripping and traction. The width of the binding attachment plate 328 is wider than the foot to allow a full range of motion of the foot in snowshoe mode.

The binding attachment plate 328 and either a ski side 328a or snowshoe side 324b of the convertible plug 324 nest together in the same way by contact at plug interface surfaces 386 on the binding attachment plate 328.

The binding attachment plate 328 can be constructed in a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. Local stiffeners and ribs (not shown) are used to stiffen the skins of an outer shell. The ribs are much smaller and simpler than other ribs shown for the other designs because the binding attachment plate 328 works in conjunction with the convertible plug 324 to form an effective closed box structure. A closed box structure is naturally the most efficient section for maximum torsional stiffness. Optional binding attach bosses and binding attach holes are not shown, but could be detailed in a deck 392 to receive standard snowboard style bindings. The snowboard style bindings are highly recommended because of their excellent support of the foot and ankle. Other

types of bindings, including various strap arrangements can be mounted a number of ways through either forward strap binding holes 393a or aft strap binding holes 393b as best shown in Figure 26. The deck 392 and outer flange 380 of the binding attachment plate 328 can support any number and arrangements of strap holes or additional flanges or other features that would be molded into or would extend above the surface of the deck 392. Various other types of ski, telemark, cross-country, snowshoe, or Rottefella bindings can be mounted to standard mounting holes and inserts located on the surface of the deck 392.

An optional non-skid surface 395 feature is shown on the deck surface to keep the foot from sliding around.

Referring now to Figures 28,29, and 23A, it can be seen that the convertible plug 324, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of four portions, including a center portion 324a, an end portion 324b, a ski side 324c and a snowshoe side 324c. As best seen in Figure 28, the center portion 324a extends along the region of constant width. The end portion 324b extends along the end transition radius to the end surface 340, the ski side 324b also has a primary ski surface 396b that makes contact with the surface being traversed by the user. In soft snow or powder, the secondary ski surface or"wings"398 will also make contact with the snow surface as described for the body 302.

When the skier wants to ski without braking action or restraint, weight is shifted forward, and the binding attachment plate 328 rotates into the a position in which the primary and secondary ski surfaces 396,398, of the convertible plug 324 align themselves with the primary and secondary surfaces 314,318, of the body 302. In this position, the convertible ski 300 offers very little resistance to sliding.

The snowshoe side 324c of the convertible plug 324 has an outer flange 398a with teeth 398b formed on the edge. These teeth 398b provide traction and gripping. Although the teeth are best shown in Figure 28 as integral with the rest of the convertible plug material, an optional metal or other material insert could be used in an injected molded part to make the teeth edges more durable and effective. For cost considerations, however, the integral material approach has merit.

The convertible plug 324 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The outer flange 398a, the end surface 340, lateral ribs 398d, and the thicker pivot hole rib 398e would be used to stiffen the primary ski surface 396 and wings 398. The lateral ribs 398d are much smaller and simpler than other ribs shown for the other designs because the binding attachment plate 328 works in conjunction with the convertible plug 324 to form an effective closed box structure.

To prevent snow and ice from accumulating in the cavities of the snowshoe side 324c of the convertible plug 324 or the binding attachment plate 328 and adding unnecessary weight to the device, an optional stiff closed foam insert material (not shown) could be molded or cut to fit snugly into the open

cavities between the ribs and the shell of the convertible plug 324 or the binding attachment plate 328 to provide a light weight inexpensive seal. The foam insert could be glued in place to keep it secure.

Fourth Embodiment-Dual Bridge Convertible Ski Shoe Referring to Figure 33, there is shown a dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400 of the forth embodiment of the present invention, which is adapted for wearing on either the right foot or left foot. is to be understood that the dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400 is but one of a pair of the dual bridge convertible ski shoes of the fourth embodiment, the other of that same pair being a left/right mirror image of the dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400.

Referring now to Figures 33-38B, it can be seen that the dual bridge convertible ski shoe body 402, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of five portions, including a center portion 402a, a snowshoe mode forward portion 402b, a ski mode forward portion 402c, a snowshoe mode nose portion 402d, and a ski mode nose portion 402e. As best seen in Figure 38A, the center portion 402a extends along a cutout region. Outer beams 404 are contained in the narrow center portion 402a around an aperture 406. The outer beams 404 are proportioned to transition the bending, shear and twist loads from the snowshoe mode forward portion 402c to the ski mode forward portion 402c. The snowshoe mode nose portion 402d that forms the transition to a forwardmost snowshoe point 408, is curved upward as best-shown in Figure 38B and is styled with an optional bear claw arch 410 pattern. The ski mode nose portion 402e that transitions as shown in FIG 37A to a forwardmost ski point 412, is curved upward and insures that the body 402 stays on top of the snow surface and rides smoothly over small obstacles or choppy ice and snow. The shape of the various portions can be changed and styled in various ways without changing or sacrificing the basic function of the convertible ski shoe 400.

The dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400 has two primary modes of operation. Figures 33-34A shows the dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400 assembled in a ski mode. Figures 35-36A shows the same parts rearranged and reconfigured in a snowshoe mode.

A primary snow contact surface 414 of the body 402 makes contact with the surface being traversed. In soft snow or powder, the secondary snow contact surface or"wings"418 will also make contact with the snow surface. The overall body 402 can be proportioned to have sufficient area to keep the device floating up in soft snow or deep powder while in ski mode or providing sufficient area to prevent sinking in snowshoe mode. The combination of primary and secondary snow contact surfaces 414,418, will allow a short ski design, as depicted here, to act similarly to a long ski. Current narrow short ski designs are not functional in deep powder conditions because of a lack of sufficient lift/surface area.

The secondary snow contact surface 414 is offset from the primary snow contact surface 418.

The primary snow contact surface is nearly flat and parallel with respect to the surface being traversed.

However, the secondary snow contact surface 418 is not parallel with the ground plane 416. The secondary snow contact surface angle shows the wedge shape formed by the two secondary snow contact

surfaces on each side of a fin 423. The offset between the primary and secondary contact surfaces does allow the dual bridge convertible ski shoe 400 to freely roll from side to side. In snowshoe mode, the primary snow contact surface 414 will sink into soft snow first. The secondary snow contact surface 418 will provide enough extra support to keep the user from sinking. The secondary snow contact surface 418 is not parallel with the ground and may tend to wedge into the snow as a result. The overall width or length may have to be adjusted to compensate for this tendency. The extra surface area may also be required in ski mode to provide sufficient lift.

As shown best in Figs. 44A-44C and 45A-45D, the body 402 is connected to a convertible plug 424 with a pivot pin 426. Rolling motion is imparted by the foot through the pivot pins 426 and into the body 402. This rolling motion causes either of two inner edges 428 to dig into the snow for directional control similar to existing short or long ski designs. A roll angle is sufficient to allow this rolling motion to occur without interference from the wings 418. In case of extreme rolling due to a fall or extreme slopes, one of two outside edges 430 can cause the inner edge to lift off the snow surface. The inner edges 428 are simply sharp corners of the parent material of the body 402. Molded in metal inserts could be used to improve the cutting action of the edges if more control is desired especially on ice. However, if extreme roll conditions are experienced and the outside edges cause the inner edges to pry off of the surface, a loss of control could result. If the two edges are similar in construction and geometry, then they will both perform similarly, and a surprise loss of control will not be experienced. Therefore, it is recommended that both inner 428 and outer edges 430 have optional inserts or have similar geometry and material. The outer edges 430 as depicted are not optimum and have a large gentle radius and an edge that is not straight and parallel to the inner edges 428.

Referring to Figs. 37,37A, 38, and 38A, the body 402 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a two piece hollow design comprising an upper and lower shell preferably constructed from a reinforced injection molded plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement is preferably a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The two halves preferably have a snap fit design where plastic snap elements permanently lock the two halves together. Once the two halves lock together, they act as an integral closed cell box. Using shear bosses would insure that the two halves would act as a single torque box. This manufacturing method would also be consistent with the other parts. Local stiffeners and internal ribs may be used to internally stiffen the skins of the shells. Local areas of higher stress could be strengthened by an increase in thickness. An alternate method to assemble the halves would be to secure them together with fasteners or screws spaced periodically around the perimeter.

The body 402 could also alternately be constructed as described above, except the snap feature (s) could be replaced with a bond or welding. The body 402 could also alternately be constructed as a one piece foam filled or hollow part having a skin material, such as epoxy-bonded fiberglass, carbon or a

metallic material, such as aluminum, disposed thereover. The skin material could form a bonded assembly with an internal foam core and could be a wet lay up over a foam core to save weight. An alternate means of manufacture would involve some form of resin transfer molding or vacuum assist resin transfer molding of resin into a closed cavity mold with dry preform broad goods over an internal mandrel. A hollow design could also be produced using a rotomolding process.

Referring to Figs. 37,37A, 41,41A, 42, and 42A, a ski mode toe surface 432 and a snowshoe mode toe surface 434 of the body 402 are shaped not to interfere and contact with their corresponding end surfaces 435 of the convertible plug 424. A stop located on the convertible plug 424 will contact the body 402 only in ski mode. This contact will prevent a toe end portion 424b of the convertible plug 424 from digging into the snow surface as the skier leans forward and will prevent a sudden deceleration or loss of control. In snowshoe mode the convertible plug is flipped over and the stop will pass unrestricted through a stop slot 438 in the body 402. This will insure unrestrained fully articulating toe and heel engagement in snowshoe mode. If the ski mode toe surface 432 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 434 and their corresponding end surfaces 435 of the convertible plug 424 are radiused with the center at a pivot axis, a tight fit will insure that the gap is minimized and foreign objects can not easily get wedged or trapped.

As shown in Figs. 44A-44C and 45A-45D, the convertible plug 424 is attached to the body 402 by means of a pivot pin 426. The pivot pin 426 is mounted along a transverse"Y"axis through pivot holes 442 in each of the two outer beams 404 of the body 402 and corresponding pivot holes 444 contained in the convertible plug 424. The convertible plug 424 can be flipped over to change modes without any manipulation of the pivot pin 426. Binding attachment plates 446 are attached or bound to the foot and remains attached to the foot during a conversion to ski mode from snowshoe mode or vice- versa. The foot is rotated so that the toe points to the opposite end of the ski shoe body 402.

Referring to Figures 39,39A, 40, and 40A, the binding attachment plates 446 are adjustable to one of five positions as best shown in Figure 42A. There are three fingers on each side of each binding attachment plate 446. The center finger is a shear pin 448, which engages into one of the pin holes 450 in the convertible plug 424. The fit between the pin hole 450 and the shear pin 448 is tight. The engagement prevents the binding attachment plate 446 from sliding fore or aft or laterally on the convertible plug 424. The other two fingers are binding plate release springs 451. The binding plate release springs 451 have a barb on each end that snaps or springs back and then locks into two pin holes 450 on each side of the shear pin 448. The binding plate release springs 451 are designed to react tension in the vertical direction between the convertible plug 424 and the binding attachment plate 446. The fit between the binding plate release spring 451 and the pin hole 450 is loose enough to allow the larger barb to pass through the pin hole 450. The binding attachment plates 446 can be released from the convertible plug 424 by reaching underneath the convertible plug 424 and inserting the index finger and

thumb into the finger access slot 452 and squeezing the two binding plate release springs 451 together and allowing the barbs to pop back through the pins holes 450.

Referring to Figs. 43 and 43A, the pivot pin 426 is detailed as a quick release pin, although many other types of shear pins would work in this application. A simple pivot pin similar to the one shown for the brake ski 100 would work. A removable pivot pin could be made from a simple spring clip (not shown) and could be slipped through a small hole transverse to the longitudinal axis of the pivot pin or a self locking wing nut could be used. A single removable pivot pin could be placed in any number of multiple pivot hole positions (not shown) located forward and aft of each other along the longitudinal axis of the ski shoe to customize the braking or gripping response. This optional design where there are multiple positions for a single removable pivot pin that passes through the entire convertible plug 424 would be the best arrangement for an initial prototype to investigate overall performance of ski mode and snowshoe mode geometric relationships. This design alternate would require the pivot pin to be repositioned during transition between modes if any location were used other than at the center of the convertible plug 424.

The convertible plug 424 is free to rotate about the pivot axis. The pin height is set to keep the pivot pin 426 clear of the ground plane when the body 402 is rolled to either side for cutting in ski mode or walking transverse along inclines in snowshoe mode. The pin height is higher for this design to allow the convertible plug 424 geometry to properly match the binding attachment plate 446 geometry. The pivot axis is shown roughly at the middle of the convertible plug 424, so that the convertible plug will rotate and have equal clearance between the end surface 435 and the ski mode toe surface 432 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 434.

Referring now to Figure 43A, each pivot pin 426 is a quick release pin comprising a hollow shaft 458 that carries shear loads and a button 460 that extends inside of the hollow portion of the hollow shaft 458. The button 460 is springloaded and when pushed in allows retaining ball (s) 464 to displace inside the hollow shaft 458. Leverage is gained by placing the index middle fingers behind and around a handle 466 while pushing in the button 460 with the thumb. Once the retaining balls are displaced inside the hollow shaft 458, the pivot pin assembly will slide out of the pivot holes until the optional key 468 contacts edge of the pivot hole 442 in the outer beam 404 on one side of the body 402. The pivot hole 444 in the convertible plug 424 could have an additional groove (not shown) that allows the optional key 468 to pull through the pivot hole only at one alignment angle. The optional key 468 is positioned so that it passes through the groove (not shown) and contacts the edge of the pivot hole 42 in the outer beam 404 on the body 402. This stop position is a safety feature that simply provides for extra pin engagement security and is entirely optional. If the convertible plug 424 needs to be released in order to use the crampon feature separately, the pivot pin handle 466 is rotated to some other angle to align the optional key 468 with a release groove (not shown). in the pivot hole 442 in the outer beam 404 on the body 402.

Therefore, an extra twist is required to fully release the pivot pin 426.

A simpler way to retain the quick release pin 426 without the optional key 468 is to allow and align the retaining balls 464 to snap and lock into back to back chamfers (not shown) on the common faces of the edge of the pivot hole 442 in the outer beam 404 on one side of the body 402 and an outer flange 470 (Figure 42) of the convertible plug 424. Chamfering is much easier to tool than a feature internal to and locked inside a part.. A push of the button 460 would release the ball (s) 464 and the pivot pin would slide out. An optional lanyard (not shown) could be used to retain a loose pin. This lanyard could be an elastic"bungee cord"that pulls itself back into the pin when not used to prevent a possible entanglement or snagging. An alternate design would feature a permanent non-removable pin which would reduce cost.

Referring now to Figure 39,39A, and 40, it can be seen that the binding attachment plate 446, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of two portions, including a straight portion 446a, and the end portion 446b. As best seen in Figure 39A, the straight portion 446a extends along the region of constant width. The end portion extends along the end transition radius to opposite edge of the part. There are two binding attachment plates 446. One of them is attached to the toe of the foot and the other to the heel. If the skier wants to slow down or stop, weight is simply shifted to the binding attachment plate 446 attached on the heel. This binding attachment plate 446 attached to the heel will then will push down into the surface of the snow through the convertible plug 424 and cause the snow to displace downward and to the side. The energy required to displace the snow will cause the skier to slow down and finally stop. In snowshoe mode weight is simply shifted to either of the two binding attachment plates to cause the convertible plug to rotate and engage teeth 472 (Figure 42) for gripping and traction. The width of the binding attachment plate 446 is wider than the foot to allow a full range of motion of the foot in snowshoe mode. The binding attachment plate 446 and either a ski side 424c or snowshoe side 424d of the convertible plug nest together the same way by contact at plug interface surfaces 474 on the binding attachment plate 446.

Referring to Figures 39,39A, 40,40A, the binding attachment plate 446 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic.

Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. Other types of bindings, including various strap arrangements can be mounted a number of ways through strap binding holes 476 as best shown in Figures 39A and 40. A deck 477 (Figure 39) and outer flange 478 of the binding attachment plate 446 can support any number and arrangements of strap holes or additional flanges or other features that would be molded into or would extend above the surface of the deck 477.

Various other types of telemark, cross-country, snowshoe, or Rottefella bindings can be mounted to standard mounting holes and inserts located on the surface of the deck 477. An optional non skid surface 480 feature is shown on the deck surface to keep the foot from sliding around.

Referring now to Figures 41,41A, and 42, it can be seen that the convertible plug 424, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of four portions, including a center portion 424a, end portions 424b, a ski side 424c and a snowshoe side 424d. As best seen in Figure 42, the center portion 424a extends along a region of constant width. The end portion 424b extends along the end transition radius to the end surface 435. As best shown in Figure 41A, the ski side 424c also has a primary ski surface 481 that makes contact with the surface being traversed. In soft snow or powder, the secondary ski surface or"wings"483 will also make contact with the snow surface as described for the body 402. When the skier wants to ski without braking action or restraint, weight is shifted forward, and the binding attachment plate 446 rotates into the a position in which the primary and secondary ski surfaces 481,483, of the convertible plug 424 align themselves with the primary and secondary surfaces 481, 483, of the body 402. In this position, the convertible ski 400 offers very little resistance to sliding.

Referring to Figure 42, the snowshoe side 424d of the convertible plug 424 has an outer flange 470 with teeth 472 formed on the edge. These teeth 472 provide traction and gripping. Although the teeth are best shown in Figure 42 as integral with the rest of the convertible plug material, an optional metal or other material insert could be used in an injected molded part to make the teeth edges more durable and effective. For cost considerations, however, the integral material approach has merit.

The convertible plug 424 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a reinforced plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The outer flange 470, end surface 435, ribs 488, and the thicker longitudinal rib 490 would be used to stiffen the primary ski surface 481 and wings 483.

To prevent snow and ice from accumulating in the cavities of the snowshoe side 424d of the convertible plug 424 or the binding attachment plate 446 and adding unnecessary weight to the device, an optional stiff closed foam insert-material (not shown) could be molded or cut to fit snugly into the open cavities between the ribs and the shell of the convertible plug 424 or the binding attachment plate 446 to provide a light weight inexpensive seal. The foam insert could be glued in place to keep it secure.

Fifth Embodiment-Smooth Bottom Convertible Ski Shoe Figures 46-49C, 52-56, and 57-58B, as well as Figures 59-79, illustrate a fifth embodiment, a smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500, which combines all the benefits of the first, second and third embodiments into a single design. Figures 46-49C illustrate the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 in ski mode configuration. Figures 52-56 illustrate the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 in snowshoe mode configuration. Figures 57-58B illustrate the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 in glide mode configuration. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 is a versatile device that enables a person to travel at the most efficient rate across a wide range of winter landscape. The design of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe has been enhanced to eliminate the underslung lugs as shown in Figures 24 and 25 illustrating the convertible ski shoe of the third embodiment. The smooth bottom

convertible ski shoe 500 may be quickly transformed from a fast downhill ski into an all-terrain snowshoe in seconds.

Referring to Figure 46, to accomplish this transformation, the user reaches down and releases one or more binding plate locks. A binding plate assembly 503 (Figures 69-71) stays attached to the binding and foot as the foot is lifted up. A convertible plug 504 is attached to a body 506 of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 by means of two coaxial pivot pin assemblies 508. A convertible plug assembly 510 is then flipped over or converted. A foot is then reversed in direction and reinserted into an opposite side or snowshoe side 504d of the convertible plug assembly 510 and the ski is transformed into a snowshoe. The binding plate locks 502 are then secured.

Any number of different kinds of standard bindings can be attached to a deck 516 of a binding plate 518. The preferred type of binding would a standard snowboard type, such as the K-2 Clicker step- in standard or high back system. Although, any number of Burton binding systems, telemark, cross- country, short ski, such as Solomon Snow Blade, or ski shoe bindings or crampons, such as Atlas Mountain Tracker, could also be adapted and mounted. The snowboard bindings would be adapted for use with the foot mounted fore and aft like a standard ski, instead of transverse as on a snowboard. The more compliant boots used for snow boarding would offer a good balance between flexibility and rigidity for control. The snowboard bindings can be adjusted to allow the optimum foot angle for pigeon-toed or bow-legged people to align their ski shoes straight. The cross-country and snowshoe bindings would be more difficult to control because of their lack of foot restraint. The short ski bindings are designed for use with regular ski boots, which are very rigid for comfortable walking. Other types of bindings, including various strap arrangements can be mounted a number of ways through strap binding holes not detailed.

As illustrated in Figures 59-64, the body 506 of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of three portions, including a center portion 506a, a snowshoe mode forward portion 506b, and a ski mode forward portion 506c. In snowshoe mode, most of the body length is located behind a pivot axis 520 (Figure 61 A) of the foot.

This insures that the back of the snowshoe, also the ski mode forward portion 506c, falls against the ground so that the snowshoe mode forward portion 506b of the body 506 is lifted up to make it easier to step forward into soft snow. In ski mode, the ski mode forward portion 506c extends out further than the back or snowshoe mode forward portion 506b. This configuration is thus optimized for control while skiing.

The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 can ski in light powder because the body 506 has enough lift surface area to keep a skier floating up. The lift area is comprised of the primary snow contact surfaces 522,523, secondary snow contact surfaces 524,525, and optional additional levels, such as the tertiary snow contact surface 526. The additional drag from the underslung lugs of the convertible ski shoe, as shown in Figures 24 and 25 above, has been eliminated. The smooth bottom convertible ski

shoe 500 is small, light, inexpensive, and compact. It facilitates skiing with speed and confidence while improving safety, even when skiing down tight narrow trails or glade runs between trees, because braking action is available by rotating the binding plate and convertible plug assemblies 503 and 510 about the pivot axis 520 by leaning back on the feet. This braking action, which is illustrated in Figures 50A-50E and 51, can be used for control and steering without using inner edge (s) 528 of the ski shoe by cutting back and forth or snowplowing. It is easier to learn because the skier's reflexes automatically result in braking action without the need to learn new technique. A skier slows down when naturally leaning back on his feet.

In ski mode, the convertible plug assembly 510 would normally be prevented from rotating forward or toe down about the pivot axis 520. This would prevent excessive and possibly uncontrolled deceleration. There are several redundant features that prevent toe down rotation in ski mode. Although only one is required for safety, several different options are detailed here. The first is a pair of hard stops 530 and 531 on the convertible plug 504 and body 506 respectfully that contact each other at a negative pitch angle [532-NOT SHOWN] limit. The second is to install a plug rotation limiter pin 534 in one of a plurality of stop holes 536 (Figures 62B and 63A-63B), which may include a fixed stop hole, a slotted stop hole, and a store stop hole, position in the body 506. When the plug rotation limiter pin 534 is installed in a fixed stop hole 536 position, the convertible plug assembly 510 cannot rotate about the pivot axis 520. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 engages into a stop hole 540 of the convertible plug 504. This setting also prevents braking action, but may be a preferred setting for some skiers who want the response of a traditional short ski.

If the plug rotation limiter pin 534 is installed in a slotted stop hole 536, a limited range of pitch angle motion is allowed. This setting would be useful to allow braking but prevent excessive negative pitch rotation and possible loss of control of the ski shoe and serve as a redundant toe down positive pitch angle stop. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 engages into a ski mode stop slot 542 of the convertible plug 504. The ski mode stop slot 542 is not shown to fully penetrate the convertible plug 504 so that rigidity is not compromised. This limited heel down pitch angle 532 motion also has a benefit during falls and can help prevent or minimize injuries, including ACL injuries. Ski boots are being developed that provide this extra degree of motion, but providing for it in the ski itself is novel. This approach can be used in the brake ski of the first embodiment and extended to longer ski versions.

Another ski mode would be to place the plug rotation limiter pin 534 in a store stop hole 536 position. In this position, the convertible plug assembly 510 is free to rotate in the heel down pitch angle until back of the user's boot contacts an aperture tube 546 on the body 506. This extra pitch angle motion may be useful in steep narrow powder runs where the skier can stand comfortably upright and maintain a controlled descent without cutting and accelerating abruptly. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 does not engage the convertible plug 504 when inserted into the store stop hole 536. In any of the three positions for the plug rotation limiter pin 534, a handle 548 is secured by snapping it into a pin clip 550.

The convertible plug assembly 510 can also be set to provide some controlled degree of toe down pitch angle rotation before hitting a stop in ski mode. This can be used for an optional glide mode, as illustrated in Figures 57,58A, and 58B, where a binding is used that releases the heel similar to cross- country skis. The toe would pivot slightly forward to allow a grabber feature or shovel to dig in slightly and give the cross-country skier a toe hold with which to push off. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 may be quickly transformed from a fast, downhill ski into a glide ski for flat, gradual up or down slopes in seconds. To accomplish this transformation, the user reaches down and releases the binding plate lock (s) and removes or backs out the plug rotation limiter pin 534 by popping the handle 548 out of the pin clip 550. The binding plate assembly 503 stays attached to the binding and foot as the foot is lifted up. The convertible plug assembly 510 is then flipped over or converted with teeth 552 down in the snowshoe mode position (Figures 50-56). The foot is reinserted in the same direction with a toe portion 518b of the binding plate 518 pointed toward the ski mode forward portion 506c into the opposite side or snowshoe side 504d of the convertible plug assembly 504 and the ski is transformed into a glide ski. The binding plate lock (s) are then secured. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 is then reengaged into the glide stop slot 554 and the handle 548 is returned to the pin clip 534. The glide stop slot 554 is designed to allow some degree of toe down pivot motion about the pivot axis 520 so that the forward teeth 552 can dig into and grip the snow. The glider typically pushes off with the lagging foot, so the toe naturally pushes down on the toe portion 518b of the binding plate 518. Pressure is put on the heel portion 518c of the binding plate 518 by the leading or gliding foot. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 is engaged through the slotted stop hole 536 on the body 506 and into the glide stop slot 554 that prevents the convertible plug assembly 510 from rotating at a positive pivot angle. The teeth remain retracted above a ground plane 555 (Figures 55A and 55B) and allow drag free gliding.

The conversion into snowshoe mode is then accomplished simply by removing or backing out the plug rotation limiter pin 534 by popping the handle 548 out of the pin clip 550. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 can then be stowed in a neutral position by inserting it into the optional store stop hole 536. In this position, the convertible plug assembly 510 is free to rotate in the toe down or heel down pitch angle until the back or front of the user's boot contacts the aperture tube 546 on the body 506 (Figures 55A and 55B). This extra pitch angle motion is especially helpful on descent where the skier can stand, walk, or run comfortably upright. Other snowshoe designs allow toe down pitch angle motion already, but the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 allows full foot motion about the pivot axis 520. The plug rotation limiter pin 534 does not engage the convertible plug 504 when inserted into the store stop hole 536. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 becomes a fully articulating snowshoe and the user can walk or run up or down steep slopes at any angle with comfort. A conventional snowshoe forces the foot into a zero roll angle with respect to a sloping ground plane 555. This is especially uncomfortable if the user is not climbing or descending directly up or down a slope but is traversing at an off angle. The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 can freely roll at an angle that allows the user to stand, walk, or

run in a comfortable upright position. Therefore, the user maintains maximum control and grip in any slope angle.

An optional feature of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 allows the teeth 552 to be adjusted into several different pin heights. Although a production design would not require the multiple heights, the optimal pin height can be determined during testing. To change the height of the convertible plug assembly 510 and binding plate assembly 503, the pivot pin assemblies 508 are partially backed out of pivot holes 560. Pivot pins 562 are mounted along a transverse"Y"axis through pivot holes 560 in each of two beams 564 of the body 506 and corresponding primary pivot holes 566 contained in the convertible plug 504.

Referring to Figure 77, this is accomplished by prying each clip keeper 568 over the top of the beam 564. A clip 569 is then rotated about a clip pivot 570 until it lies along an approximate horizontal plane that is parallel to the ground plane 555. This motion will cause the attached clip to rotate about a clip retention pin 571 and pull the pivot pin 562 partially out of the pivot hole 560. A pivot pin slot 572 provides clearance between the clip 569 and pivot pin 562. The pivot pin 562 backs out of the primary pivot hole 566, but remains engaged in a pivot hole slot 573. The convertible plug assembly 510 is now free to lower with respect to the body 506 until the pivot pin 562 is aligned with a secondary pivot hole 574. The clip 569 is then rotated as the clip pivot 570 is pushed into a clip pivot slot 575 on the body 506. This prying action forces the pivot pin 562 to engage the secondary pivot hole 574. The clip keeper 568 is then forced into locked position over the beam 566. The biting action of the teeth 552 is now more aggressive. The convertible plug 504 must be returned to the original primary position to properly align the primary snow contact surface 522 of the body 506 with the primary ski surface 523 of the convertible plug 504 when going back into ski mode.

If very tight conditions are encountered such as climbing among snow covered rocks, the combined binding plate/convertible plug assemblies 503,510, function as crampons and can be released and used as separate devices by pulling the clip 569 out further to withdraw the pivot pin from the pivot hole slot 573.

It is to be understood that the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 shown in Fig. 46 is but one of a pair of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoes of the fifth embodiment, the other of that same pair being identical thereto.

As best illustrated in Figure 59, the body 506 further includes a snowshoe mode forward pocket 506d and a ski mode forward pocket 506e, which are recesses that stiffen and lighten the body by closing out the aperture tube 546 and perimeter tube 576. The center portion 506a extends along a cutout or aperture 577 region. The outer beams 564 are contained in the narrow center portion 506a around the aperture 577. The outer beams 564 are proportioned to transition the bending, shear and twist loads from the snowshoe mode forward portion 506b to the ski mode forward portion 506c. The snowshoe mode forward portion 506b that forms the transition to a forwardmost snowshoe point 578, is curved upward

and is styled with an optional bear claw arch 579 pattern. The ski mode forward portion 506c that transitions to a forwardmost ski point 580, is curved upward and insures that the body 506 stays on top of the snow surface and rides smoothly over small obstacles or choppy ice and snow. The shape of the various portions can be changed and styled in various ways without changing or sacrificing the basic function of the convertible ski shoe 500. The design can also be made to function without the perimeter tube 576 or aperture tube 546.

The smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 has two primary modes of operation. Figure 48 shows the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 assembled in a ski mode. Figure 56 shows the same parts rearranged and reconfigured into a snowshoe mode. In addition, there are four secondary ski modes, including glide ski, fixed ski, ski with brake stop, and ski without brake stop. Additionally, there are two secondary snowshoe modes, which are with flush teeth and with protruding teeth, as previously described. The binding plate assembly 503 is attached or bound to the foot and remains attached to the foot during a conversion to ski mode from snowshoe mode or vice-versa. The toe portion 518b of the binding attachment plate is mounted in the same direction as the toe of the foot. The toe portion 518b of the binding plate is inserted in the convertible plug assembly 510 pointed in the direction of the ski mode forward portion 506c of the body 506 for all of the primary and secondary ski modes. The toe portion 518b of the binding plate 518 is inserted in the convertible plug assembly 510 pointed in the direction of the snowshoe mode forward portion 506b of the body 506 for all of the primary and secondary snowshoe modes.

Referring to Figures 61A-61E, the primary snow contact surface 522 of the body 506 makes contact with the surface being traversed. In soft snow or powder, the secondary snow contact surface 524 and tertiary snow contact surface 526 will also make contact with the snow surface. The overall body 506 can be proportioned to have sufficient area to keep the device floating up in soft snow or deep powder while in ski mode or providing sufficient area to prevent sinking in snowshoe mode. The combination of primary snow contact surface 522, secondary snow contact surface 524, and tertiary snow contact surface 526 will allow a short ski design to act similarly to a long ski. Current narrow short ski designs are not functional in deep powder conditions because of a lack of sufficient lift surface area.

Since the secondary snow contact surface 524 is offset from the primary snow contact surface 522, both surfaces can be nearly flat and parallel with respect to the surface being traversed, while allowing the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe to freely roll from side to side at a roll. The relationship between the primary snow contact surface 522 and tertiary snow contact surface 526 is similar. The tertiary snow contact surface 526 is an optional styling element that nicely blends the bear claw arches 579 into the lines of the ski shoe. In

snowshoe mode, the primary snow contact surface 522 will sink into soft snow first. The cathedral shaped profile of the secondary snow contact surface 524 and tertiary snow contact surface 526 and the teeth 552 will then provide lateral stability. The secondary snow contact surface 524 and tertiary snow contact surface 526 will provide enough extra support to keep the user from sinking. The secondary snow contact surface 524 and tertiary snow contact surface 526 are almost parallel with the ground and will tend not to wedge into the snow as a result.

Referring to Figure 46, the body 506 is connected to the convertible plug 504 with two coaxial pivot pin assemblies 508. Rolling motion is imparted by the foot through the pivot pins 562 and into the body 506. This rolling motion causes either of the inner edges 528 to dig into the snow for directional control similar to existing short or long ski designs.

The roll angle is sufficient to allow this rolling motion to occur without interference from the secondary snow contact surface 524 or tertiary snow contact surface 526. In case of extreme rolling due to a fall or extreme slopes, an outside edge 584 can cause the corresponding inner edge 528 to lift off the snow surface. The inner edges 528 are simply sharp corners of the parent material of the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe body 506. Molded in metal inserts could be used to improve the cutting action of the edges if more control is desired especially on ice. However, if extreme roll conditions are experienced and the outside edges 584 cause the inner edges 583 to pry off of the surface, a loss of control could result. If the two edges are similar in construction and geometry, then they will both perform similarly, and a surprise loss of control will not be experienced.

In view of the foregoing, it is recommended that both inner edges 528 and outer edges 584 have optional inserts or have similar geometry and material. The outer edges 584 have been designed to keep them straight and parallel to the inner edges 528 for maintaining a similar or improved edging response for maximum safety. The outer edges 584 are actually slightly sharper to increase the edging force and provide an extra degree of control in the case of an excessive roll angle. Optional intermediate edges 585 (Figure 64) and 586 (Figure 75) are primary a styling feature and do not serve to significantly change the edging response. If the inner and outer edges. 528 and 584 are improved with optional inserts, there would not be a requirement to do the same for the intermediate edges 585 and 586. Referring to Figures 77 and 78, the clip 569 stows in a clip recess 587 to make a beam outer surface 588 flush and straight. This insures that contact of the left hand smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 with the other does not entangle with and tends to straighten the two relative to each other to avoid crossed skis.

The body 506 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a two piece hollow design. The shells are preferably made from a tough injection molded plastic, such as a polycarbonate acrylic blend, which has a pleasant translucent look. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. An alternate construction would be of long or short fiber reinforcement for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The two halves preferably have a snap fit design where plastic snap elements would permanently lock the two halves together. Once the two halves lock together, they function as an integral closed cell box. Shear bosses ensure that the two halves function as a unit. This manufacturing method would also be consistent with the other parts.

Local stiffeners and internal ribs (not shown) are used to internally stiffen the skins of the shells. Local areas of higher stress could be strengthened by an increase in thickness. An alternate method to assemble the halves would be to secure them together with fasteners or screws spaced periodically around the perimeter.

The body 506 could alternately be constructed as described above, with the snap features replaced with a bond or welding. The body 506 may alternately be constructed as a one piece foam filled or hollow part. The skin material could be made from epoxy-bonded fiberglass, carbon, or a metallic material, such as aluminum. The skins can form a bonded assembly with an internal foam core. The skins can be a wet lay up over a foam core to save weight. An alternate means of manufacture would be to use some form of resin transfer molding or vacuum assist resin transfer molding of resin into a closed cavity mold with dry preform broad goods over an internal mandrel. A hollow design could also be produced using a rotomolding process or a reaction injection molding process.

Referring to Figures 63,70B, and 71B, a ski mode toe surface 589 of the body 506 and a snowshoe mode toe surface 590 are shaped not to interfere and contact with corresponding end interface surfaces 591 of the convertible plug 504. The ski mode toe surface 589 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 590 with their corresponding end interface surfaces 591 of the convertible plug 504 are radiused with the center at the pivot axis 520, a tight fit will insure that the gap is minimized and foreign objects can not easily get wedged or trapped.

Referring to Figures 77 and 78, the pivot pin assembly 508 is detailed as a solid pin, although many other types of shear pins would work including a quick release pit pin in this application. A simple spring clip (not shown) could be slipped through a small hole transverse to the longitudinal axis of the pivot pin or a self-locking wing nut could be used to retain the pin. A removable pivot pin could be placed in any number of multiple pivot hole positions (not shown) located forward and aft of each other along the longitudinal axis of the ski shoe to customize the braking or gripping response.

The convertible plug 504 is free to rotate about the pivot axis 520. The pin height is set to keep the pivot pin assembly 508 clear of the surface being traversed when the body 506 is rolled to either side for cutting in ski mode or walking transverse along inclines in snowshoe mode. The pivot axis 520 is shown roughly at the middle of the convertible plug 504, so that the convertible plug will rotate and have equal clearance between the end interface surface 591 and the ski mode toe surface 589 and the snowshoe mode toe surface 590.

An optional lanyard (not shown) could be used to retain a loose pivot pin assembly 508 or plug rotation limiter pin 534. This lanyard could be an elastic"bungee cord"that pulls itself back into the pin when not used to prevent a possible entanglement or snagging.

Referring to Figures 66 and 74, the binding attachment plate 518, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of three portions, including a center portion 518a, the toe portion 518b, and a heel portion 518c. The center portion 518a extends along the region of constant width. The toe portion extends along the end transition radius to the front tip, and the heel portion 518b extends along an end transition radius to the rear tip.

If the skier wants to slow down or stop, weight is simply shifted to the heel portion 518b of the binding attachment plate 518. The heel portion 518b then will push down into the surface of the snow through the convertible plug assembly 504 and cause the snow to displace downward and to the side. The energy required to displace the snow will cause the skier to slow down and finally stop. In snowshoe mode weight is simply shifted to either the toe portion 518b or heel portion 518c to cause the convertible plug to rotate and engage the teeth 552 for gripping and traction. The width of the binding attachment plate 518 is wider than the foot to allow a full range of motion of the foot in snowshoe mode. The binding attachment plate 518 and either a ski side 504c or a snowshoe side 504d of the convertible plug 504 nest together the same way by contact at plug interface surfaces 592 on the binding attachment plate 518.

The binding attachment plate 518 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a toughened or reinforced plastic.

Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. Although the binding attachment plate 518 is designed as a solid thick plate, once the bindings are selected, binding attach bosses 593a and holes 593b can be located in which to mount the bindings. Local stiffeners, an outer flange 594a, ribs 594b, or boss support flanges 594c could be located like designs in previous embodiments to lighten the part and would be used to stiffen the skins of the outer shell 594d and deck 516.

The binding attachment plate 518 works in conjunction with the convertible plug 504 to form an effective closed box structure. A closed box structure is naturally the most efficient section for maximum torsional stiffness. Optional binding attach bosses and binding attach holes are not shown, but could be detailed in the deck to receive standard style bindings.

The deck and optional outer of the binding attachment plate 518 can support any number and arrangements of strap holes or additional flanges or other features that would be molded into or would extend above the surface of the deck. Various other types of ski, telemark, cross- country, snowshoe, or Rottefella bindings can be mounted to standard mounting holes and inserts located on the surface of the deck. An optional non-skid surface 595 feature not shown on the deck surface would help keep the foot from sliding around.

Referring to Figs. 80-87. The binding plate assembly 503 is comprised of several other features that form a locking mechanism with the convertible plug assembly 510.

Although details of the locking assembly are shown, any number of alternate lock details could be substituted to do the same job. A plug attach stud 596a is shown integral with the binding attachment plate 518. This plug attach stud may be more suited to a separate metal piece to insure reliability. To minimize the stresses between the plug attach stud 596a and the deck 516, a generous plug attach stud fillet 596b is required. A lock 596c is assembled by slipping the sleeve 596d on the plug attach stud 596a. The flare 596e covers up the fillet 596b and prevents adequate periodic inspection for safety. The optional upper oblong shear block 596f has a sleeve hole 596g that is then slipped over the sleeve 596d of the lock 596c.

The upper oblong shear block 596f is installed such that a key 596h engages into an anti- rotation keyway 596i on the binding attachment plate 518. This upper oblong shear block 596f serves to reduce bending in the plug attach stud 596a by transferring shear between the surface 596j and the fillet 596b and an inner hole surface 596k.

Next, a middle oblong lock block 597a is fitted over the sleeve 596d of the lock 596c through a sleeve hole 597a'. Optional anti-rotation flats 597b are aligned with the anti- rotation flats 5961 on the sleeve 596d of the lock 596c. These parts could be alternately pinned or bonded into place. The middle oblong lock block 597a is released by rotating a lock handle 597c from a distal lock keeper 597d position to the mesial lock keeper 597e position. The design could also be set up to release in the distal lock keeper 597d position if desired for clearance or other reasons. The lock is retained at the mesial lock keeper 597e or distal lock keeper 597d by a spring retention element 597f. The spring retention element 597f is detailed to the bifurcated neck 597g with a relief radius 597h to prevent high local stresses and cracking. The middle oblong lock block 597a is actuated with a large leverage from an offset of an arm 597i offset. An arm kink 597j is designed for a tight fit along the

edge chamfer 597k. The lock is located in the lock arm recess 5971 and can swing from lock stop edge 597m to lock stop edge 597m. This lock configuration is called a hidden lock, because the lock is contained in a lock arm recess 5971 under the binding attachment plate 518. In the distal lock position, the middle oblong lock block 597a is turned 90 degrees out of alignment with the oblong hole 597o in the lock plug 597p and a lock slot 597q in the convertible plug 504. The binding attachment plate 518, therefore, cannot pull up away from the convertible plug assembly 510, as an upper contact surface 597v of the middle oblong lock block 597a interferes with the contact surface 231 on the lock plug 597p or a locking contact surface 597t on the binding attachment plate 518. The middle oblong lock block 597a transfers compression between upper and lower contact surfaces 597r, 597u.

A lower oblong cap block 598a is then assembled by aligning a stud receiver hole 598b on the sleeve 596b. Anti-rotation flats 598c and 598d are aligned and an optional lower block retainer pin 598e is inserted through the retainer pin holes 598f and 598g. The lower oblong cap block 598a could also be bonded in place. A guide chamfer of the lower oblong cap block 598a aids in aligning and guiding the binding plate assembly 503 with the oblong hole 597o into the lock plug 597b or the lock slot 597q in the convertible plug 504. A contact surface 598h transmits compression into the lower contact surface 597u.

Referring to Figures 69A-71C and 74-76, the convertible plug 504, while unitary in construction, may be thought of as being comprised of four portions, including a center portion 504a, an end portion 504b, a ski side 504c, and a snowshoe side 504d. The center portion 504a extends along the region of constant width. The end portion 504b extends along the end transition radius to the end interface surface 599. The ski side 504c also has a primary ski surface 523 that makes contact with the ground plane 555. In soft snow or powder, the secondary ski surface 525 will also make contact with the snow surface as described for the body 506. When the skier wants to ski without braking action or restraint, weight is shifted forward, and the binding attachment plate 518 rotates into the a position in which the primary ski surface 523 and secondary ski surface 525 of the convertible plug 504 align themselves with the primary 522 and secondary surfaces 524 of the body 506. In this position, the smooth bottom convertible ski shoe 500 offers very little resistance to sliding.

The snowshoe side 504d of the convertible plug 504 has an outer shell 599a with teeth 552 formed on the edge. These teeth 552 provide traction and gripping. Although the teeth are integral with the rest of the convertible plug material, an optional metal or other material insert could be used in an injected molded part to make the teeth edges more durable and effective. For cost considerations, however, the integral material approach has merit

The convertible plug 504 can be constructed a number of ways, the preferred one being a one piece injection molding made from a toughened or reinforced plastic. Injection molded parts minimize the touch labor required to set up each part. The reinforcement could be a longer fiber variety for maximum strength, stiffness, and damage tolerance at minimal weight. The outer shell 599a, end interface surface 599, lateral ribs 599b, and the pivot hole rib 599c would be used to stiffen the primary ski surface 523 and secondary ski surface 525. The pivot hole rib 599c could be better integrated into the lug tooth pad-up 599d to stiffen bending loads. The lateral ribs 599b and diagonal ribs 599e could be simplified if the binding attachment plate 518 worked in conjunction with the convertible plug 504 to form an effective closed box structure.

The convertible plug assembly 510 includes a lock plug 597p (Figure 72) that is necessary in order to injection mold the part without a washout mandrel or a trapped cavity.

The lock plug ears 599g help to align the part in the barrels 599h. The lock plug 597p can be aligned properly and bonded into barrels 599h and lands 599i of a faying surface 2599j to the convertible plug 504. The lock plug 597p can also be optionally secured into the barrel 599h by installing a retention pin into the retention pin holes 599k and 5991. The optional metal pivot pin doubler 599m (Figure 73) is used as a safely device during tests to insure the pivot pin 562 does not break out of the convertible plug 504.

To prevent snow and ice from accumulating in the cavities of the snowshoe side 504d of the convertible plug 504, an optional stiff closed foam insert material (not shown) could be molded or cut to fit snugly into the open cavities between the ribs and the shell of the convertible plug 504 or the binding attachment plate 518 to provide a light weight inexpensive seal. The foam insert could be glued in place to keep it secure.

It is understood that several modifications, changes and substitutions are intended in the foregoing disclosure and in some instances some features of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the invention.