FLEXIBLE COLORED POLE FOR ALPINE SKI RACING

- S.P.M. S.p.A.

A flexible slalom ski course pole has a fixed base to be driven into the snow and a flexible post extending above the snow. The base and post are connected by an intermediate hinge located a short distance above the snow so the post can bend relative the base and later move back into its initial vertical position, when impacted by a skier during a race. The hinge is associated with a protective sleeve which is provided in addition to or as a part of the hinge, and is disposed around the post adjacent the snow. The sleeve and post have first and second colors which are distinct so their contrast allows the skier to easily recognize the pole and the point it is inserted in the snow, and the gate judges to accurately appreciate proper passage of the skier around the pole.

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Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally concerns the field of alpine ski sports and more particularly relates to a flexible hinged pole, which is designed for use in alpine ski racing or competitions, and typically in the so-called slalom racing.

BACKGROUND ART

Hinged and flexible slalom poles have been used for years in alpine ski racing and competitions, such poles being installed at various locations along the ski slope, both to indicate the proper path that the skier is required to follow on the ski slope during the race, and to warn the gate judge when the skier does not follow the path defined by these poles, and hence makes an error.

Each of these poles essentially consists of a tube or similar element, which extends from the snow to a height of about 180-200 cm, a base which is driven and inserted into the snow pack and a connecting joint or hinge for connection of these two parts.

With this type of construction of the pole, the skiers may directly impact the tube during the race.

The hinge that connects the base in the snow with the tube extending out of the snow allows the tube to be struck down and return to its original position without causing any particular hindrance to the skier.

The tubes of these flexible poles that are currently used for alpine ski competitions are usually red or blue.

A connecting sleeve, also known as sheath or cuff, is typically used to connect the tube to the hinge, and is placed at the bottom of the tube.

Particularly, according to the embodiment of the pole, the sleeve may either only act as a protection or reinforcement for the part of the pole that is mostly exposed to the passage of and impacts by skiers, or be a part of the hinge.

Also, the sleeve may be integrally fixed to the tube or be free to rotate therearound.

In currently available flexible poles, these sleeves are usually black, but some are also red or blue, like the tubes upon which they are installed.

For more complete information, the pictures of FIGS. 4A and 4B show a conventional prior art hinged pole, referenced P, in its use on a ski slope, referenced PS, during a slalom race, in which the sleeve, the flexible upper tube and the hinge of this traditional pole P are referenced CAN, T and SN respectively.

As mentioned above, the color of the sleeve CAN in this conventional pole P is the same as the color of the tube T, whereby the colors of these two parts are designated by the same reference COL in FIGS. 4A and 4B.

In alpine ski racing, particularly slalom racing, in which these conventional poles are used, the need is strongly felt of both informing the skier as effectively as possible of the predetermined path to be followed during the race, and of allowing the gate judge to positively and accurately check whether the skier follows the predetermined path or not, i.e. in the latter case, whether he/she makes an error.

Now, as acknowledged by the skiers and the judges of these races, the above needs cannot be deemed to be completely fulfilled, at least under any condition that may occur during a ski race.

Indeed, skiers often complain that these poles do not indicate with adequate clarity and effectiveness the path to be followed during the race, and on the other hand the gate judges are often uncertain about whether the skier has followed the right path during the race or has made an error or, as usually said, “has missed a gate”.

This problem is further exacerbated, especially for gate judges, by the increasing ability of skiers of passing near the pole, and by the rounded shape of modern ski tips,

In these situations, the gate judge may find it difficult to ascertain whether the skier has properly turned around the pole or has passed above it or even on the wrong side.

Also, due to the high speed of skiers and their need to pass as close as possible to the bottom of the pole for the race path to be as short as possible, it is very important that the skier can easily see the exact location in which the pole is inserted in the snow pack of the ski slope.

Otherwise, i.e. if the skier cannot easily and readily see the exact point in which the pole is secured in the snow, he may often straddle the pole, and may thus easily fall and become injured.

Finally, another problem arises from the fact that, during training periods, many teams train simultaneously on the same ski slope, whereby each team sets its training course near the one of another time, until the slope becomes a jungle of courses and poles, in which one course can be hardly distinguished from the other.

In these circumstances, some teams batten down the hatches and avoid this confusion among courses by identifying their poles, i.e. by painting certain parts of them or applying identification adhesives.

Nevertheless, these expedients only partially solve the problem and still involve certain drawbacks, e.g. they may cause pole embrittlement due to the chemicals that are used to identify them, and in any case these expedients often turn out to be inadequately effective, therefore a better and more adequate solution to the problem is required.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, the main object of the present invention is to provide a novel flexible hinged pole for use in alpine ski racing, typically slalom racing, that can address the above mentioned needs and provide an improved and more effective solution to the various problems, also mentioned above, that still exist in these particular alpine ski races, and particularly allows on the one hand the racing skier to more easily recognize the correct path to be followed and, on the other hand the gate judge to more easily and accurately ascertain whether the skier has followed the right path or not.

These objects may be deemed to be completely fulfilled by the alpine ski racing pole having the features as defined in the independent claim 1.

Particular embodiments of the novel alpine ski racing pole are further defined in the dependent claims.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

As more clearly shown hereinbelow, the novel flexible hinged pole of the present invention, which is designed for use in ski, particularly slalom, races and competitions, provides many considerable advantages, as partially mentioned above, and by way of example the following advantages:

more effective assessment of regular and correct passage of the skier around the pole by gate judges;

improved visibility of the pole both for the skier and for gate judges, particularly in case of fog and/or difficult and critical weather conditions;

immediate perception of the pole bottom in the snow pack by the racing skier, around which bottom the skier is required to turn to avoid errors;

possibility of easily distinguishing one course from another.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will clearly and apparently result from the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof, which is given by way of non-limiting example with reference to the annexed drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1A, 1B and 1C are photographic images of a flexible colored hinged pole of the present invention, which have been taken during test activities for simulating a slalom alpine ski race on a ski slope;

FIGS. 2A, 2B and 2C are further photographic images that show individually and in greater detail certain flexible colored hinged poles like the one of FIG. 1, according to the invention;

FIG. 3 is a photographic image that shows a plurality of flexible colored hinged poles according to the present invention; and

FIGS. 4A and 4B are photographic images that show a conventional pole of the prior art, in its use on a ski slope;

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE COLORED POLE FOR SKI SLOPES ACCORDING TO THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings, a flexible hinged pole according to the present invention and particularly adapted for use on a ski slope during a slalom alpine ski race is generally designated by numeral 10.

The photographic images of FIGS. 1A-1C show the flexible hinged pole 10 in its actual use on the ski slope, during such race.

As is known and shown by these images, the pole 10 is driven with other identical poles into the snow pack, referenced MN, of the ski slope, referenced PS, to set the correct path or course that a skier SC is required to follow during the race, along the ski slope PS.

In more detail, the pole 10 includes:

a lower fixed part or fixed base, referenced 11, which is designed to be plunged and driven into the snow of the snow pack MN of the ski slope PS; and

an upper flexible part or upper flexible pole or post, referenced 12, which vertically extends above the snow pack MN, when the base is plunged in the snow,

wherein the fixed base 11 and the upper flexible post 12 are connected by an intermediate joint or hinge, referenced 13 and located above the snow pack MN, which is designed to allow the upper post 12 extending above the snow pack MN to bend relative to the fixed base 11 in the snow, and to later move back to the initial vertical position, when impacted by the skier SC during the race.

The outer surface of the base 11 may have a ridge 11a helically extending along the axial length of the base 11, wherein this helical ridge 11a has the purpose of allowing easier insertion of the pole 10 into the snow pack MN, by appropriate rotation of the pole 10.

The hinge 13 is further associated with a sleeve 14, which is coaxially disposed around the upper flexible post 12 in the lower bottom area, adjacent to the snow pack MN.

More in detail, the sleeve 14 may be part of the structure of the intermediate hinge 13, thereby connecting the fixed base 11 and the flexible post 12.

Otherwise, the sleeve 15 may alternatively be provided in addition to the hinge 13, as shown for instance in the drawings, and be only designed to protect the hinge 13.

In this case, the sleeve 13 may be fixed to and integrated with the post 12 or left free to rotate therearound.

In accordance with the most peculiar feature of the present invention, the sleeve 14 associated with the hinge 13 and the flexible post 12 extending above the snow pack MN have a first color, referenced C1, and a second color, referenced C2, respectively, which are chromatically distinct, such that, typically during a slalom race, also due to the contrast between such first and such second colors, it can attract the attention of the skier and a gate judge, thereby allowing the skier to readily and clearly appreciate the presence and position of the pole on the snow pack of the ski slope and the gate judge to appreciate and ascertain the position of the skier relative to the pole.

There may be a variety of pairs of colors C1 and C2 characterizing the pole 10, with the common feature that, due to the vividness of the two selected colors and the contrast generated by their side-by-side arrangement in the area of the hinge 13, they both allow the racing skier SC to easily and readily recognize the bottom area of the flexible post 12, adjacent to the snow pack MN, and allow gate judges to appreciate and positively ascertain the position of the skier and its skis as he/she passes through this area.

The photographic pictures of FIGS. 2A-2C show certain embodiments, referenced 10′, 10″ and 10″′, of the colored pole 10 of the invention, in which the pairs of colors of the sleeve 14 and the flexible post 12 respectively, identifying these examples 10′, 10″ and 10″′ are referenced C1′-C2′, C1″-C2″, C1″′-C2″′.

Furthermore, for more complete information, the photographic image of FIG. 3 shows a multiplicity of colored poles according to the invention, referenced 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, . . . 10-n, each exhibiting a given pair of chromatically distinct colors for the sleeve 14 and the flexible post 12, in which these different pairs of colors are referenced (C1-C2)1, (C1-C2)2, (C1-C2)3, . . . (C1-C2)n.

In short, these pairs of colors are such that, due to the chromatic contrast and the vividness of the two colors of which they are made, they attract the attention of a skier during a race and of a gate judge, to allow the skier to readily and clearly appreciate the presence and position of the pole on the snow pack of the ski slope and the gate judge to appreciate and ascertain the position of the skier relative to the pole.

Furthermore, these pairs of colors that characterize the pole 10 of the present invention, create chromatic contrasts both between the sleeve 14 placed at the bottom of the flexible post 12, and the portion of the flexible post 12 that vertically extends above the sleeve 14 and with the color of the ski, which always has a black background, to allow the gate judge to more effectively and accurately ascertain proper passage of the skier SC around the pole 10.

Also, the colors C1 and C2 of the sleeve 14 and the upper flexible post 12 may either fall in the class of “natural colors” or be of fluorescent or phosphorescent, or more generally luminescent type, for considerably improved visibility of the area of the pole 10 adjacent to the snow pack, under critical weather or low-light conditions.

For more complete and accurate information, the following table suggests a series of pairs of colors C1 and C2 identifying the colored pole 10 for ski slopes of the present invention.

Color pair C1 (sleeve color) C2 (flexible pole color) (C1-C2) 1 Red Blue (C1-C2) 2 Green Blue (C1-C2) 3 Green Red (C1-C2) 4 Orange Blue (C1-C2) 5 Yellow Red (C1-C2) 6 Light blue Blue (C1-C2) 7 Light blue Red (C1-C2) 8 Orange Blue (C1-C2) 9 Orange Red (C1-C2) 10 Fluorescent orange Blue (C1-C2) 11 Fluorescent orange Red (C1-C2) 12 Yellow Blue (C1-C2) 13 Fluorescent yellow Blue (C1-C2) 14 Fluorescent yellow Red (C1-C2) 15 Fluorescent green Red (C1-C2) 16 Pink Blue (C1-C2) 17 Brown Blue (C1-C2) 16 Brown Red

Of course, the above table shall be deemed to have a purely indicative value, and further pairs of colors C1 and C2 shall be deemed to be contemplated in the present invention and within its scope.

It will be appreciated from the above description that the present invention completely fulfills its intended objects, and particularly suggests a novel and useful flexible and colored hinged pole for alpine ski racing, that affords substantially increased visibility, both for the racing skier and for the judges that have to judge the performance of the skier during the race.

It will be particularly appreciated that the colored sleeve, that creates a contrast with the rest of the tube, assists identification of the point in which the tube is secured in the snow.

Also, it will be appreciated that the colored sleeve allows the gate judge to accurately ascertain the passage of the skier around the pole, due to the chromatic contrast between the sleeve at the bottom of the pole and the usually black background of the ski of the skier.

Also, if the sleeve has fluorescent colors its visibility will be greatly increased, such that, even under critical, low-visibility conditions, it will be easily recognized by the skier, and will allow gate judges to properly ascertain the passage of the skier, as confirmed by extensive texts on prototypes of the flexible colored pole of the present invention.

Claims

1. A colored flexible hinged pole (10, 10′, 10″, 10″′; 10-1; 10-2; 10-3... 10-n) particularly for slalom alpine ski racing, comprising:

a lower fixed part or fixed base (11), which is designed to be plunged and driven into the snow pack (MN) of the ski slope (PS); and
an upper flexible part or upper flexible pole or post (12), which vertically extends above the snow pack (MN), said lower fixed base (11) and said upper flexible post (12) being connected by an intermediate hinge (13), which is located adjacent and above the snow pack, for allowing the flexible post (12) that extends above the snow pack to bend relative to the fixed base (11) in the snow pack, and to later move back to the initial vertical position, when impacted by a skier, said hinge (13) being associated with a sleeve (14), which is disposed around the flexible post (12) in the corresponding bottom area, adjacent to the snow pack, wherein said sleeve (14) and said flexible post (12) have first (C1) and second (C2) chromatically distinct colors, such that, also due to the chromatic contrast between said first (C1) and said second (C2) colors, the skier (SC) is allowed to easily and readily appreciate the position of the bottom of the flexible pole (10, 12) on the snow pack of the ski slope, and the gate judge is allowed to appreciate and accurately ascertain the passage of the skier (SC), and his/her skis, around said pole (10, 12).

2. The colored flexible hinged pole (10) as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sleeve (14) is part of the structure of said hinge (13), thereby connecting together said fixed base (11) and said flexible post (12), or is provided in addition to the hinge (13) and is only designed to protect it.

3. The colored flexible hinged pole as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one of said first color and said second color is a vivid, well-visible color, particularly yellow, red, blue, orange, light blue, green, yellow or brown.

4. The colored flexible hinged pole as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first color (C1) and said second color (C2) define a color pair ((C1-C2)1, (C1-C2)2, (C1-C2)3, (C1-C2)4,..., (C1-C2)n) that can be selected from a group comprising the following color pairs: red-blue, green-blue, green-red, light blue-blue, light blue-red, orange-blue, orange-red, yellow-blue, yellow-red, brown-blue, brown-red.

5. The colored flexible hinged pole as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one (C1, C2) of said first color and said second color is a fluorescent or phosphorescent color or has similar properties.

6. The colored flexible hinged pole as claimed in claim 1, wherein an appreciable chromatic contrast exists between said first color and said second color.

7. A set of colored flexible hinged and colored poles (10-1, 10-2,... 10-n), each as claimed in claim 1, for use in slalom alpine ski racing.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140056641
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 15, 2013
Publication Date: Feb 27, 2014
Applicant: S.P.M. S.p.A. (Brissago (VA))
Inventor: Mauro Giorla (Domodossola (VB))
Application Number: 13/967,992

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Yielding (404/10)
International Classification: A63C 19/06 (20060101);