GATE FOR SKI SPORTS WITH INDICATOR MEANS FOR INDICATING THE POSITION OF ITS PANEL

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

A gate for ski sports indicates and traces the path to be followed by a skier on a ski slope and has two poles to be driven into the snow pack and a panel joining the poles at their upper portions. An indicator associated with the poles indicates a predetermined height of the panel relative to the snow pack thereby allowing correct height-positioning of the panel. The indicator may be a white or colored band, text, a band combined with text, or other forms and be at various locations to indicate the predetermined height of the top and bottom edges or both edges of the panel. This facilitates easy and correct height-positioning of the panel particularly according to applicable regulations and standards, to thereby considerably reduce the risk of dangerous and disastrous collisions of the skier against the gate.

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Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to alpine ski sports and more particularly relates to a gate consisting of two poles joined together at their upper portions by a panel, for tracing the path to be followed by skiers on a ski slope, which has certain useful and significant improvements relative to prior art and currently used ski gates.

BACKGROUND ART

Panels are used in alpine ski, for joining two poles, usually hinged poles or posts, to form a gate which indicates where athletes are required to pass at given locations of the ski slope.

Typically, these panels are used in “giant slalom”, “super-G” and “downhill” races.

Nevertheless, such gates may lead to serious problems for skiers if they are not regularly overcome, but are unexpectedly impacted by them.

Particularly, a rather frequent and typical accident occurs when the arm of the athlete or the athlete him/herself accidentally passes between the two poles of the gate, and the panel suddenly becomes an obstacle to the race of the skier.

In these circumstances, as the skier impacts the panel, he/she might easily incur even very serious injury.

Therefore, the behavior of the panel, and particularly the system and arrangements for coupling the panel to the two poles in the snow pack are very important.

For this reason, international specifications were issued by the FIS (International Ski Federation), indicating the geometric and functional features of these panels, in view of preventing harmful consequences for the skier in case of impact there against.

The latest release of these specifications, which was issued in the Spring of 2010, increased the values and safety requirements of these panels.

In practice, while release resistance requirements in case of normal passage of the skier were maintained unchanged, the release force was greatly reduced in case of collision.

The FIS also imposed that the panels:

    • must have a size of 50 cm (height)×70 cm (base);
    • must be placed on the poles at 30 cm from the top of the pole, i.e., since the regulation height of the poles above the snow is 180 cm, at 100 cm from snow level.

Furthermore, the system for coupling the panels to the poles should be able to hold the panel coupled to the poles during normal passage of the skiers, and to cause release thereof in case of collision.

According to the Federation, the above configuration provides the best guarantee for the safety of skiers.

According to these specifications, the Federation conducts tests on the panels produced by manufacturers and grants homologation and authorization for use in FIS races.

Nevertheless, it should be unfortunately noted that, in normal use, the prescriptions imposed by the Federation are frequently not met.

For example, the photograph of FIG. 4A shows an example of incorrect use of a panel, with the panel placed in a very low position, slightly above the snow pack, not at the regulation height relative to the snow pack, whereas the photograph of FIG. 4B shows a correct use, complying with FIS specifications, with the panel placed at the regulation height.

Particularly, the picture of FIG. 4A was taken at a World Cup ski race, a kind of event in which the greatest compliance to FIS specifications and the most careful supervision by FIS safety delegates should be ensured.

Even more frequently, panels are mounted in that incorrect position in less important races and during training sessions.

As a matter of fact, panels may be incorrectly positioned, i.e. as shown in FIG. 4A due to a variety of reasons such as: habits, superficiality, convenience, unawareness of regulations, etc.

Therefore, it will be appreciated that, in case of a collision in which the skier impacts the panel due to incorrect height-positioning thereof relative to the snow pack, the panel-pole system of the gate would not behave and react as prescribed by FIS specifications, and a very high injury probability would result for the skier.

Furthermore, in these circumstances serious legal consequences would result for those who set the racing or training track without complying with FIS safety specifications and for officers who had to supervise its compliance.

Therefore, in view of obviating the above-described current problems and drawbacks, the Applicant SPM spa had the idea of associating the poles of the ski gate with an indicator of the correct regulation height at which the gate panel must be positioned relative to the snow pack.

Thus, due to this useful arrangement, which was conceived and proposed by the Applicant, the probability that the panel might be placed in a non-compliant position, and hence that the skier might incur a collision that might have serious consequences on his/her health, in the event that he/she should unexpectedly and accidentally pass between the gate poles and impact the panel, may be minimized.

Furthermore, with this arrangement proposed by the Applicant, no one might pretend not to know or remember regulatory requirements, because the persons that mount the gate on the ski slope are clearly warned and instructed about the height at which the panel should be positioned to comply with the regulations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, the main object of the present invention is to conceive and provide a novel alpine ski gate which, in the current context in which regulations are often neglected and not met, will facilitate and promote correct height-positioning of the gate panel relative to the surface of the ski slope, to comply with the prescribed standards and regulations, and thereby provide higher safety, namely in ski races, i.e. reduce the risk of disastrous impacts and collisions of the skier against the gate panel, when the latter is not positioned at the regulation height.

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

Particular embodiments of the alpine ski gate are further defined in the dependent claims.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

As more clearly shown herein below, the novel gate of the present invention, which is designed for use in alpine ski, particularly in giant slalom, super-G and downhill races provides many considerable advantages, as partially mentioned above, and by way of example the following advantages:

    • a considerable reduction of the risk of disastrous impacts and collisions of the skier against the panel of the gate, which might also have serious consequences on his/her health;
    • reduced consequences and in any case very limited injury, if the skier accidentally passes between the gate poles and impacts and removes the panel;
    • guaranteed compliance with official regulations concerning height-positioning of the panel relative to the snow pack;
    • improved visibility to indicate the path to be followed by the skier on the ski slope;
    • highly practical use;
    • actually no cost for implementation of the improvements as defined by the present invention in a prior art gate.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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:

FIG. 1 shows an alpine ski gate of the present invention according to a first embodiment, having indicator means for indicating the correct regulation height position of the gate panel relative to the snow pack;

FIG. 1A shows an enlarged detail view of an area, defined by a circle in FIG. 1, which comprises the indicator means for indicating the correct regulation height position of the gate panel relative to the snow pack;

FIG. 2 shows an alpine ski gate of the present invention according to a second embodiment, having indicator means for indicating the correct regulation height position of the gate panel relative to the snow pack;

FIG. 2A shows an enlarged detail view of the indicator means for indicating the height position of the panel, in the alpine ski gate of FIG. 2;

FIG. 3 shows an alpine ski gate of the present invention according to a third embodiment, having indicator means for indicating the correct regulation height position of the gate panel relative to the snow pack; and

FIGS. 4A and 4B are photographic pictures respectively showing an incorrect use and a correct use, i.e. complying with regulations, of a gate with a panel, as is typically used for alpine ski races.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE ALPINE SKI GATE ACCORDING TO THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings, an alpine ski gate according to the present invention, which is designed to be placed along a ski slope to show and indicate the path and passage that the skier is required to follow, particularly in a giant, super-G or downhill competition, is generally referenced 10.

More in detail, the gate 10 consists of two poles or posts, referenced 11a and 11b, typically having a tubular structure, which are designed to be driven down into the snow pack MN of the ski slope, and a panel 12, which joins the two poles 11a and 11b at their upper portions.

Conveniently, the two poles 11a and 11b have appropriate means, e.g. in the form of projecting wings 13, at their bottom tips, 11a′ and 11b′ respectively, that are designed to be driven into the snow, which have the purpose of allowing firm and stable fixation of the two poles 11a and 11b driven into the thickness of the snow of the ski slope.

The two poles 11a and 11b of the gate 10 usually comply with regulatory specifications and particularly, according to such regulations, have such a length that, when they are anchored in the snow path MN, they have an above-snow height of 180 cm, as shown in FIG. 1.

The pole 12 has substantially known features, and generally has a rectangular shape and is fixed at its two lateral ends to the two poles 11a and 11b, e.g. by means of two sleeves in which the two poles 11a and 11b are received.

The panel 12 that joins the two poles 11a and 11b at their upper portions also has a size complying with regulatory specifications, with regulatory specifications, and particularly the rectangular shape of the panel 12 has a width or base A of 70 cm and a height B of 50 cm, also as shown in FIG. 1.

According to a feature of the present invention, the gate 10 comprises special indicator means, generally referenced 15, which are associated with at least one of the poles 11a and 11b, wherein these indicator means 15 are designed and conceived to indicate a predetermined height of the panel 12 relative to the snow pack MN of the ski slope, particularly as prescribed by official standards and regulations, to facilitate and allow correct height-positioning of the panel 12 of the gate 10 when the latter is used, i.e. anchored in the snow path MN.

One exemplary embodiment of the gate 10 according to the invention, having the indicator means 15, is shown in FIG. 1, in which the indicator means 15, particularly consisting of a white band 15a with text mentioning FIS regulations as shown in FIG. 1A, are formed and placed at the upper portion of each of the poles 11a and 11b, at a distance H1 of 30 cm from their respective ends.

The indicator means 15 associated with the poles 11a and 11b may assume and be formed in a variety of forms, still within the inventive concept and basic principle of the present invention, e.g. in the following forms:

    • a simple white or colored band;
    • text, such as the English text “FIS recommended panel level” or some other text having a similar meaning, or
    • a band combined with text, like that of the above example.

Furthermore, the indication provided by the indicator means 15 may be materially formed on the tube that forms the pole 11a or 11b in various manners, such as:

    • silk-screen printing or the like;
    • adhesive application; or
    • direct engraving of text on the tube; or
    • other methods and techniques.

Also, the indicator means 15 may be formed in various locations along the axial extent of the poles 11a and 11b, to indicate the predetermined correct position of the panel 12 relative the snow pack MN, on either pole or on both poles.

For example, FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 show three possible embodiments of the gate 10 of the invention, referenced 10-1, 10-2 and 10-3 respectively.

Particularly, as mentioned above, FIGS. 1 and 1A show a first embodiment of the gate 10 of the invention, in which the indicator means 15, in the form of a white band 15a, are placed at the upper portions of both poles 11a and 11b, at a distance H1 of 30 cm from the top of each of the poles 11a and 11b, to thereby indicate the correct height position of the top edge 12′ of the panel 12 relative to the snow pack MN.

On the other hand, FIGS. 2 and 2A show a second embodiment of the gate 10 of the invention, in which the indicator means 15, also in the form of a white band 15a, are placed, on both poles 11a and lib, at a distance H2 of 100 cm from the areas of both poles 11a and 11b which are designed to be driven into the snow pack MN, to thereby indicate the correct height position of the bottom edge 12″ of the panel 12 relative to the snow pack MN.

Finally, FIG. 3 shows a third embodiment 10-3 of the gate 10 of the invention, in which the indicator means 15, also in the form of a white band 15a, are placed, on both poles 11a and 11b, at a distance H1 of 30 cm from the top of each of the poles 11a and 11b and at a distance H2 of 100 cm from the areas of both poles 11a and 11b which are designed to be driven into the snow pack MN, to thereby indicate the correct height position of both the top edge 12′ and the bottom edge 12″ of the panel 12 relative to the snow pack MN.

Usefully, the gate 10 of the invention, in its various embodiments, may further comprise indicator means for indicating the correct plunging depth P of the two poles 11a and 11b in the thickness of the snow, wherein such indicator means may consist of projecting rings 16 formed around the tube of each pole 11a and 11b, at their respective bottom tips 11a′ and 11b′.

It shall be readily appreciated from the above description that the present invention entirely fulfills its intended purposes and particularly provides a novel and useful ski gate which, in addition to indicating the path that a skier is required to follow in a ski slope, typically but without limitation in a ski sports competition, also facilitates and allows correct height-positioning of the gate panel relative to the snow pack of the ski slope, as prescribed by regulations, to thereby considerably reduce the risk of disastrous collisions and impacts of the skier against the gate, as a result of incorrect and non-compliant height-positioning of the panel, which might not only stop his/her race, but also have serious consequences on his/her health.

It will be further appreciated that, in addition to enabling correct positioning of the ski gate panel, at its right height, the indicator means can be used to confirm that the panel has not moved from its correct and compliant position with time.

Claims

1. A gate for ski sports, for tracing the path to be followed by a skier in a ski slope, particularly in giant, super-G or downhill competitions, comprising:

two poles which are designed to be driven into the snow pack of the ski slope; and
a panel which joins the two poles at their upper portions, and
indicator means, associated with at least one of said poles,
wherein said indicator means are designed to indicate a predetermined height of said panel relative to the snow pack of the ski slope, and to thereby facilitate and allow correct height-positioning of the panel of the gate, particularly according to applicable regulations, when the gate is anchored in the snow pack.

2. The ski gate as claimed in claim 1, wherein said indicator means are provided at different locations along the axial extent of the two poles of the gate, particularly to indicate the correct height position of the top edge of the panel and/or the bottom edge of the panel relative to the snow pack.

3. The ski gate as claimed in claim 1, wherein said indicator means can be provided in various forms along the axial extent of the two poles and particularly in the form of a simple white or colored strip or band, text, or a band combined with text.

4. The ski gate as claimed in claim 1, wherein said indicator means can be formed using various technologies and methods along the axial extent of the two poles and particularly by silk-screen printing, adhesive application, direct engraving of text on the tube that forms the pole, or the like.

5. The ski gate as claimed in claim 1, further comprising indicator means associated with the bottom tips of the two poles of the gate, for indicating the plunging depth at which the two poles must be driven into the snow pack.

6. The ski gate as claimed in claim 1, wherein both the panel and the two poles comply with the applicable standards and regulations, and particularly the panel has a rectangular shape with a height of 50 cm and a base of 70 cm, and the two poles have an above-snow height of 180 cm.

7. A method for tracing the path to be followed by a skier in a ski slope, particularly in giant, super-G or downhill competitions, the method comprising using the gate for ski sports according to claim 1.

Patent History

Publication number: 20160023089
Type: Application
Filed: Jul 20, 2015
Publication Date: Jan 28, 2016
Applicant: S.P.M. S.P.A. (Brissago (VA))
Inventor: Giovanni BERUTTI (Germignaga (VA))
Application Number: 14/803,596

Classifications

International Classification: A63C 19/06 (20060101);