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ABSTRACT

A snowboard tether for supporting a snowboard during a chair-lift ride and permitting the user to harness his or her back foot to the snowboard during the course of the chair-lift ride. A fastener attached to the snowboard allows the user to connect a strap to the fastener prior to sitting upon the chair-lift. The user may then attach the strap to the chair-lift, causing the strap to support the rear of the snowboard and permitting the user to exert downward force with his or her foot upon the rear binding of the snowboard. The fastener incorporates a storage container.

Inventor: John Schepers

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


This invention relates to the sport of snowboarding. More specifically, the invention relates to a snowboard tether for supporting the snowboard during a chair-lift ride and permitting the user to harness his or her back foot to the snowboard during the course of the chair-lift ride.

Winter sports facilities are witnessing a dramatic increase in participation in the sport of snowboarding. A snowboard is a surfboard-like runner that includes a substantially flat board with a slippery bottom surface. Unlike a surfboard, on a snowboard the user attaches his or her feet to bindings that are affixed to the upper surface of the board.

Snowboards are typically used at winter sports facilities, like ski resorts, that have traditionally catered to skiers. The most prevalent mechanism for transporting the skiers or snowboarders to a high elevation at the resorts is a chair-lift. This mechanism, originally designed for skiers, typically involves a succession of bench seats suspended from a cable and pulley system that transports the benches from a bottom point to an elevated point and back again. At the bottom point, the skiers wait in turn to use the chair-lift mechanism. As each bench reaches the bottom point and turns around the pulley to advance up to the elevated point, the bench is positioned relatively close to the ground, enabling a skier to sit onto the bench. When the bench reaches the skiers, the skiers sit upon the bench, which is then whisked up to the elevated point by the cable and pulley system. At the elevated point, the mechanism is designed such that the skiers' skis make contact with the ground and they can alight from the bench by standing up and pushing away.

To use the chair-lift, a snowboarder must detach his or her back foot in order to position himself or herself in front of an advancing bench. The bottom point of the chair-lift is typically a flat surface requiring manual force to propel oneself In some cases, the bottom point can involve icy portions or inclines upon which a snowboarder needs to maintain a fixed position, for instance, while positioned in front of an advancing bench. In these circumstances, the snowboarder also needs a foot in contact with the ground to prevent the snowboard from sliding out of position.

Accordingly, a snowboarder must mount the chair-lift with only the front foot attached to the bindings on the snowboard and with the back foot dangling free. Because snowboards can weigh a substantial amount, considerable downward force is experienced by the front leg of the snowboarder. This weight causes stress and fatigue that reduces the snowboarder's endurance and ability to fully enjoy the sport.

Furthermore, at the elevated point of the chair-lift, the snowboarder must alight from the bench with only one foot attached to the snowboard. This necessitates the re-harnessing of the back foot to the binding before the snowboarder can resume snowboarding. This not only wastes time, but can cause congestion at the elevated point of the chair-lift as a number of snowboarders must stop their forward movement to re-harness their back feet. Congestion can lead to frustrations and collisions.

These problems could be alleviated by permitting a snowboarder to re-harness his or her back foot to the snowboard during the course of the chair-lift ride. Currently, a snowboarder is unable to re-harness his or her back foot because the center of gravity of the snowboard is between the front and back bindings on the snowboard. When the snowboarder's front foot is the only attachment point, the weight of the snowboard exerts a torsional force on the front foot forcing the rear portion of the snowboard downwards. To harness the back foot, a snowboarder is required to apply substantial force through his or her back foot onto the rear binding of the snowboard. Without additional support for the rear portion of the snowboard, the snowboard cannot absorb that substantial force.

If the snowboarder were to attempt to provide the necessary support to the rear of the snowboard manually by grasping the rear portion with one hand, there exists a substantial danger that the snowboarder would fall forward off the chair lift. Almost all chair lifts incorporate a safety bar which can be manually rotated from a position directly in front of the snowboarders on the bench to a position above the snowboarders' heads. When in front of the snowboarders, the safety bar prevents the snowboarders from accidentally falling forward off the chair during the ride. However, the safety bar also prevents the snowboarders from leaning forward to grasp the rear portion of their snowboards.

A number of leash or tether devices have been developed over the years in connection with snowboards for the purpose of securing the snowboard to the user in the event they become separated during a fall. These devices have typically involved a leash attached to the snowboard and around the front leg of the user. The front leg serves as the leashing point in these devices because the front leg remains in the binding, whereas the back leg must be released from time to time to permit propulsion over flat ground. These devices are designed for use while riding the snowboard, necessitating an arrangement of the leash secure to the user's leg so as to prevent the leash cord from becoming entangled in tree branches or other protrusions during use of the snowboard.

These devices are inappropriate for use in supporting the snowboard to permit re-harnessing of the back foot because the leash or tether in these devices is attached at or near the front binding and does not prevent the torsional force exerted upon the front foot by the weight of the snowboard or the applied force of the back foot. Moreover, because the leash is intended for use while riding the snowboard, it must be tightly secured to the front leg of the snowboarder with a minimum of slack so as to prevent tangling or snagging of objects. Such an arrangement does not allow for translation of torsional forces through the leash to the chair-lift.

A number of these devices also involve an excessive number of components, rendering them expensive, cumbersome, unattractive and difficult to operate under winter conditions.

In order to permit a snowboarder to easily insert his or her back foot into the rear binding during a chair-lift ride, a device is needed that provides support for the rear portion of the snowboard such that the snowboarder is permitted to exert downward force upon the rear binding. Moreover, the device should provide support for the weight of the snowboard during the remainder of the chair-lift ride.

Such a device needs to be easily manipulated by a user wearing bulky handwear, such as thick mittens, and with a minimum of bending or effort. The device should be inexpensive and easy to assemble and attach to existing snowboards. The device needs to have a minimum number of parts, be easily operable and be easily carried when not in use. It also needs to be designed such that the snowboard retains its operating flexibility.

It would be advantageous if such a device could incorporate other useful functions. Space for mounting items on a snowboard is limited, so it is important to maximize the functions that can be incorporated into a single mounted piece. In particular, it would be useful if the device could also act as a carrying strap for the snowboard, as carrying a snowboard can be awkward and cumbersome. Carrying multiple snowboards is much easier if each snowboard has a carrying strap.

It would also be useful if the device could provide storage for items that a snowboarder would like to carry with him or her. When solid bulky items are carried in the snowboarder's clothing, they can cause injury when the snowboarder falls upon them. Therefore, it would be advantageous if the mounting piece incorporated a storage element.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


The prevent invention provides a snowboard tether that supports the rear of the snowboard during the course of a chair-lift ride so as to enable a snowboarder to re-harness his or her back to the snowboard and to provide support for the weight of the board during the ride. Additionally, it operates as a carrying strap and provides storage for personal belongings.

The present invention comprises a fastener affixed to the upper face of the rear portion of the snowboard and a strap. The strap comprises a length of material with manually releasable attachment devices affixed to either end. One of the manually releasable attachment devices is for connection to the fastener and the other manually releasable attachment device is for securing the strap to the chair lift. Through the strap, the chair-lift then supports the rear of the snowboard allowing the snowboarder to exert downward force upon the rear binding with his or her back foot.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.