Stuart John Starry of Waller, Texas, recently received U.S. Patent 8,235,423 for “Integrated Pole-to-Ski Coupling Arrangement.”
Texas Business Patent of the Day: A Texas man has devised a way to handle your ski poles and skis less awkwardly.
Stuart John Starry of Waller, Texas, recently received U.S. Patent 8,235,423 for “Integrated Pole-to-Ski Coupling Arrangement.”
Starry applied for the patent more than three years ago on March 11, 2009.
Starry’s invention relates to snow skiing, specifically to a system of attaching skis and poles together for convenient carriage, according to the patent documents.
A difficult task for a snow skier is any trip on foot with skis and poles in hand, particularly when a skier is tired. Snow skis are heavy, awkwardly shaped, long, and have sharp edges. Skis do not have handles. Skiers often must carry two skis in one hand and at the same time carrying two ski poles in the other hand when their hands are covered by bulky ski gloves. Most skiers take time to arrange the running surfaces, or "bases," of the skis together and may attempt to use the "interlocking" ski brakes to hold skis together in order to hoist the skis over their shoulder and carry them while walking in heavy, stiff ski boots. It is often difficult to hold both skis and poles when attempting to insert the tail of the skis into the vertical racks found at lodges, on gondolas and buses.
Skis and ski poles are usually hand carried in situations that may be classified by distance into four categories. The first is a short haul. This haul can measure from just a few meters to possibly fifty meters long. A common short haul trip is from the house, hotel, or car to the ski bus stop, or from the base of the slope to a gondola or lift. It can be from the ski bus to the vertical ski racks next to the lodge or the center of the ski village. Various short hauls between rental shops, bars, restaurants or retailers are also common with today's modern ski villages. The second carrying situation is an intermediate haul, which often involves transport between a car, condominium, hotel, restaurant or other location to the base of the slope where the lift and gondola are located. This intermediate haul is often performed while wearing ski boots, but if more comfortable walking shoes are donned, ski boots may also need to be carried.
The remaining two situations are the long haul, which may arise in the context of cross country and extreme skiing, and the travel by conveyance, wherein the skis are transported over long distances on airplanes, on boats, or in cars. In long haul cases, the time it takes to place the skis in an over-the-shoulder bag, holster, or other apparatus may be justified; for travel by conveyance, large bag enclosures, tubes and automobile racks are more practical for travel from one's home to a remote ski resort hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Many adequate systems are known in the art that are practical for long haul and travel by conveyance. However, prior art devices which focus on short and intermediate haul situations often require significant time to employ. Most attempts to solve the ski carriage problem have used non-integrated separate devices which are cumbersome, bulky and take significant time to attach. This is because much of the prior art has focused on the long and intermediate hauls, such as up a mountain, or from a parked automobile to the ski village, in which case some bulk and a moderate amount of time spent attaching the device to the skis and poles may be acceptable to some skiers. Many current solutions bind the skis together in order to attach the poles, limiting the flexibility of the device to situations which demand the skis be bound together. Thus, the skis cannot be kept apart for handling by a child or petite person or for use with an automobile rooftop racks. Now, with this invention such efforts in time and placement are not needed for short and intermediated hauls.
Prior art fails in solving six basic needs presented by the short and intermediate hauls: (1) the need for speedy attachment; (2) the need for a convenient handle; (3) the need for rigid control in handling; (4) the need to keep the back end of the skis clear for vertical rack insertion; (5) the need for versatility, such as keeping the skis apart for use in automobile racks; and (6) the need to eliminate separately carried items, which must be stored or can be lost. While some devices meet some of these needs, none of the currently available methods meet all six needs simultaneously.
Most prior art for the hand carriage of skis and poles falls into five categories: (1) bags or tubes which totally enclose both skis and both poles; (2) holsters which usually incorporate belts or over-the-shoulder straps along with a securing or hooking device; (3) straps which act to hold the skis together and sometimes act as a handle; (4) clamps or totes which hold the skis and poles together and sometimes act as a handle, and (5) integrated devices and features which use the existing qualities of the skis and poles and/or attach devices to the skis and/or poles so as to eliminate the need to carry separate items.
While previous inventions fulfill respective, particular objectives and requirements, they do not describe an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement that meets all six of the following needs simultaneously: (1) the need for speedy attachment; (3) the need for rigid control in handling; (4) the need to keep the back end of the skis clear for rack insertion; (5) the versatility to get underway without taking time to couple the skis together; and (6) the need to eliminate separately carried items which must be stored or can be lost. In addition to unique results, the methodology of the present invention is also unique. No prior art has sought to use a quick contact engagement and a quick release to hold and separate the skis and poles. No prior art has sought a separate handle for each of the skis so they may be carried immediately. No prior art seeks to position the poles in the forward part of the ski, leaving the entire tail of the ski unencumbered for insertion into modern ski racks. Prior art continues to attempt to solve problems presented by the long and intermediate haul situations, but does not focus on the recently emerging proliferation of short haul situations cause by increased industry use of gondolas and buses as well as more elaborate ski village designs. Therefore, a need exists for an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement that can be used for the speedy and convenient carriage of poles and skis in short and intermediate haul situations. In this regard, the present invention substantially fulfills these needs. In this respect, the integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in doing so provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of speedy and convenient carriage of poles and skis.
Starry’s invention provides an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement and overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages and drawbacks of the prior art. The general purpose of the present invention, is to provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which has all the advantages of the prior art mentioned heretofore and many novel features that result in an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by the prior art, either alone or in any combination thereof.
The present invention is an integrated pole-to-ski coupling arrangement that provides coupling formations on a ski pole and ski that releasably connect the pole and ski to create a unitary ski-pole combination that leaves the rear tail of the ski clear and unencumbered. A pole coupling formation may be placed on either the shaft or the grip of the pole. The number, shape, size, and orientation of the coupling formations ensure rapid attachment and a rigid connection. The invention may employ pole coupling formations to be attached to existing poles, either on the shaft or on both the grip and the shaft, and the pole formations may be shaped to use the contours of bindings known in the art as ski coupling formations, or such ski coupling formations may optionally be attached directly to the skis or to the bindings. Optionally, the invention may include poles and bindings that have complementary coupling arrangements. A variety of complementary coupling arrangements may be employed.
The present invention allows a skier that has stepped out of skis to simply place the poles over the skis and snap the poles onto the skis with a quick downward press. Each pole is quickly attached to each ski and acts as a convenient handle. After the quick coupling, the skier may simply pick up the skis by the poles and go. Because of the rigidity of the connection and its forward orientation on the ski, a skier may handle the skis in a variety of convenient ways. First, one ski may be carried in each hand, balanced at the location of the newly created handle between the bindings. Second, the skier can grab both newly created handles in one hand, as the rigid handles created by the invention allow for holding both skis in one hand, even when the skis are not coupled together. Third, the skier may optionally couple the skis together via interlocking ski brakes or other methods such as bands or straps. After the interlocking is complete, the result is a single unit which can be carried in one hand like a guitar case. Fourth, he may carry the skis vertically. This is because the top portion of a pole is coupled to the top of a ski near or on the heel piece of the bindings and the shaft of a pole is coupled to the top of a ski near or on the toe piece of the binding, such that the pole is parallel to the ski top and extends forward with its tip at or near the tip of the ski. This unique arrangement leaves the entirety of the ski tail clean for insertion into vertical ski racks. The skier may simply grip the pole at any position forward of the toe piece, lifting the ski in a vertical orientation and drop it into a rack.
Also, the invention makes it possible to more effectively market ski poles and/or skis by creating an impressive display with the poles attached to the skis at the retail location.
The present invention is faster and more flexible than the prior art, and solves the problem of quickly removing skis at the end of a ski run and transporting the skis to a rack on a gondola. The arrangement provides for two separate rigid pole-ski units. There is no need to interlock the skis together or put them over the shoulder. Grip is firm, balanced and comfortable: the poles, serving as a handles, are firmly affixed to each ski. The poles are parallel to the skis; moreover, the ski pole does not extend into the tail of the ski, leaving it clean for insertion into most modern racks. Much of the pole is over the top of the ski at a balance point between the ski bindings for easy horizontal carriage. But the bulk of the pole is over the top of the forward length of the ski, extending to the tip to create a long, rigid handle, so the skis may be handled in a vertical position by grabbing the poles nearer the tip using the poles as handles. The connection is so rigid that the poles may be used to twirl the ski like a baton without loss of the connection. This allows for quick insertion of both skis and poles into the rack of a moving gondola car, allowing a skier to easily board. In the absence of a gondola car with a rack, the skis may be interlocked and set down, or handled with a single hand. Also, even without interlocking the units, they may be stood vertically gripping both poles with a single hand, freeing the other hand for an onboard stabilizing bar. This scenario is equally applicable to buses.
Another advantage of the present invention is to allow ski poles to serve as handles for vertically pulling the skis out of a rack, such as that of a moving gondola at the top of a ski run. Disengagement of the pole-to-ski connection is accomplished with a quick jerk on the pole or, in alternate embodiments, with the touch of a small release lever.
The present invention further allows controlled handing during the process of interlocking the brakes, providing a stiff handle opposite each interlocking brake. The present invention allows for the continued refinement and improvement of interlocking ski brake mechanisms or the development of other means of quickly coupling the skis in a base-to-base orientation, and will enhance the ease by which such devices may be used.
Further objectives of this invention provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which assembles and disassembles quickly with a minimum amount of effort on the part of the skier, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which presents a convenient and versatile handle, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement whose handles are rigidly connected to the skis for stability and ease of placement during carriage, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which leaves the tail portion of the ski unencumbered and free of attachments for ease of insertion into ski racks, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which does not require that the skis be bundled or placed together as part of the system, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which does not require any items to be carried separate and apart from the skis and poles themselves, provide an integrated pole-to-ski quick coupling arrangement which enhances the commercial display and sale of skis and poles by allowing them to be displayed with the system in use, and provide a new and improved method of assembling skis and poles for convenient carriage.