US 20030070322 A1
A sports boot having an upper, a wear sole and an intermediate sole that has a heel zone with a lateral side, a medial side and a rear side surrounding a central padding. The boot also has a heel bracket with a lateral belt applied against the lateral side, a medial belt applied against the medial side, a rear belt applied against the rear side, a lateral anchoring, a medial anchoring, and retaining arrangement connecting the lateral and medial anchoring at a substantially constant distance one from the other. Furthermore, with the plane of the wear sole as a plane of reference, the elevation of the rear belt is substantially the same as the elevation of the lateral belt and of the medial belt. The retaining arrangement connecting the lateral and medial anchoring can be a strap made from the same material as the heel bracket and integrally formed therewith, or even horizontal tongues that are sandwiched between the intermediate sole and the wear sole at the moment of assembly.
1. A sports boot comprising:
a wear sole;
an intermediate sole that has a heel zone with a lateral side, a medial side and a rear side surrounding a central padding;
a heel bracket with a lateral belt applied against said lateral side, a medial belt applied against said medial side, a rear belt applied against said rear side, a lateral anchoring, a medial anchoring, and retaining arrangement connecting the lateral and medial anchoring at a substantially constant distance one from the other.
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 This application is based upon French Patent Application No. 01.13472, filed Oct. 12, 2001, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference thereto in its entirety, and the priority of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. §119.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The invention relates to sports boots and more particularly to boots adapted for skateboarding.
 2. Description of Background and Relevant Information
 In the field of sports boots manufacturing, it is known to provide shock-absorbing means for the heel in order to limit the harmful effects of the shocks felt by the foot and indirectly by all the joints of the user. It is also known that increasing the shock-absorbing capacities of a boot generally occurs at the detriment of boot stability.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,205,681 discloses the construction of an intermediate sole or cup that ensures stability during running while maintaining shock-absorbing capabilities for the boot. To this end, a relatively rigid blade is embedded in the rear portion of the intermediate sole. While this construction is satisfactory for absorbing small shocks, for example, shocks generated by the contact of the heel with the ground when running, it is largely ill-adapted for more violent shocks. Indeed, when subjected to a very strong shock or when landing a jump of several meters, the shock-absorbing capacities of the soft and elastic material of the intermediate sole, as well as those of the undulated blade, are exceeded, and the athlete no longer has access to any shock absorption. It is said then that the boot “bottoms.” Bottoming can be dangerous for the athlete because the energy from the shock must be absorbed by the user's joints.
 An object of the invention is to provide a sports boot with heightened shock absorption capacities, but which nonetheless maintains excellent stability.
 This object of the invention is achieved by the presence of a heel bracket placed along the periphery of the intermediate sole in the heel zone. The heel bracket enables any changes in the flow of the material(s) constituting the intermediate sole to be controlled.
 More specifically, this object of the invention is achieved by providing a sports boot having:
 an upper;
 a wear sole;
 an intermediate sole, which has a heel zone with a lateral side, a medial side and a rear side enclosing a central padding.
 The boot according to the invention has a heel bracket with a lateral belt applied against the lateral side, a medial belt applied against the medial side, a rear belt applied against the rear side, a lateral anchoring, a medial anchoring, and a retaining arrangement connecting the lateral and the medial anchoring at a substantially constant distance one from the other.
 In a preferred embodiment, the bracket has a lateral belt, a medial belt, and a rear belt that are applied against the lateral, medial, and rear sides, respectively, of the intermediate sole.
 Preferably, the bracket also has a lateral anchoring, a medial anchoring, and means for retaining the lateral and medial anchorings at a substantially constant distance one from the other.
 In one embodiment of the invention, this retaining arrangement is a strap made from the same material as the bracket and connects the lateral and medial anchorings together.
 In another embodiment of the invention, this retaining arrangement is provided simply in that the lateral and medial anchorings are horizontal tabs that, after assembly, are glued between the wear sole and the intermediate sole.
 In a first preferred embodiment of the invention, the medial, lateral, and rear belts are equidistant from the wear sole. In other words, when using the plane of the wear sole as the plane of reference, the elevation of the rear belt is substantially the same as the elevation of the lateral belt and of the medial belt.
 In a second preferred embodiment of the invention, the elevation of the rear belt is substantially the same as the highest elevation of the lateral belt and of the medial belt.
 The invention also has the features that are described herebelow in the description of the attached drawings, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a lateral view of a boot according to a first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the heel bracket;
FIGS. 3a, 3 b, and 3 c are transverse cross-sections of the sole of FIG. 1 subject to pressure at various amplitudes;
FIG. 4 is a lateral view of a boot according to a second embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the boot shown in FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 shows an oblique cross-section along the plane VI-VI of FIG. 7a of a boot according to the second embodiment of the invention;
FIGS. 7a and 7 b show the behavior of the heel bracket of a boot according to the second embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternative intermediate sole of the boot according to the second embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 4.
FIG. 1 shows a view of a boot according to a first embodiment of the invention. The boot 1 has an upper 2 glued to the intermediate sole 3. The sole can be mounted in any known way, through assembly on a form, strobel mounting, etc. The intermediate sole is made from one or several materials selected for their shock-absorbing properties.
 A wear sole 4 is glued under the intermediate sole. A heel bracket 5 contains the heel zone of the intermediate sole.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the heel bracket 5 isolated from the rest of the boot. It has a medial belt 8 applied against the medial side 10 of the intermediate sole. A lateral belt 7 is applied on the lateral side 11 of the intermediate sole. The lateral 7 and medial 8 belts are connected by means of a rear belt 6 which is applied against the rear side 12 of the intermediate sole. If the plane of the wear sole is used as the plane of reference, one can see that the elevation of the lateral, medial and rear belts is substantially the same. At their extremities opposite the rear belt, the medial and lateral belts are extended by a medial leg 16 and a lateral leg 17, respectively, that are substantially vertical and end in a medial anchoring and a lateral anchoring, respectively. These anchorings are connected together by a strap 15 such that they are kept at a substantially constant distance one from the other.
FIGS. 3a, 3 b, and 3 c show three partial cross-sectional views of the boot described in FIG. 1. These three views show only the boot sole, the latter furthermore having an insert 9 made from a material that is more flexible than the intermediate sole. These three cross-sections are taken along the plane III of FIG. 1 which is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the sole and cuts the latter at the center of the heel. In the heel zone, this insert has a truncated shape, the axis of which passes through the center of the heel.
 In FIG. 3a, the single arrow represents the weight of a user at rest. When subjected to a pressure of this order, the sole is only slightly deformed and the heel bracket barely has to function.
FIG. 3b shows the state of the sole when walking, the double arrow corresponding to the pressure felt by the sole at each impact of the heel. In these circumstances, the energy is mainly absorbed by the insert, as well as by the substantial deformation of the intermediate sole. Given that the insert rests in a funnel-shaped cavity with a through hole, or opening, at the bottom, the more flexible material of the insert can flow freely towards the bottom. Once all possible flow of the material has ended the sides of the intermediate sole begin to get deformed.
 Finally, FIG. 3c shows the hooping effect of the heel bracket on the sides of the intermediate sole which occurs when landing a jump of very high amplitude. As seen, the intermediate sole becomes deformed, but is contained by the tensioned heel. Thus, the lateral stability of the sole is guaranteed since the risk of the sole shifting from one side to another is greatly reduced.
 Since the shock-absorbing material of the intermediate sole is contained by the heel bracket, or retainer, it pushes back the “bottoming” limit thereof. Thus, if one compares the behavior of the sole according to the invention with that of a traditional sole that is constituted of the same shock-absorbing materials and that consequently offers substantially similar comfort, one can perceive a distinct difference while landing jumps. For example, when skateboarding, the jumps sometimes have amplitudes of several meters and the landing is absorbed neither by the board, nor by the surface on which this activity occurs, which very often is concrete or asphalt. FIG. 3c shows the behavior of the sole according to the invention when landing a high amplitude jump while skateboarding.
 The retention of the intermediate sole by the heel bracket also has a stabilizing effect when landing a jump on a sloping surface. This is particularly the case for “half-pipe” skateboarding.
FIG. 4 shows a lateral view of a boot according to a second embodiment of the invention. In a similar manner, the boot has an upper 2, an intermediate sole 3 and a wear sole 4. The heel bracket 5 has an upper belt 18 and a lower portion 19. The upper belt is constituted of lateral and medial belts connected together by a rear belt. The lower portion 19 is applied against the base of the intermediate sole and is connected to the upper belt on the lateral and medial sides, respectively, by a lateral 17, and a medial 16 leg, respectively.
FIG. 5 represents an exploded perspective view of the boot shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the intermediate sole has two half-soles, the lower half-sole 20 having, in the heel zone, a cavity 21 that has substantially the shape of an inverted cone, at the bottom of which an opening 22 extending through the cavity is provided, and the upper half-sole having a dome that is extended by a stud, the assembly having a shape complementary to that of the cavity.
 The lower half-sole 20 (or cup) has a lower surface that comes into contact with the wear sole 4 and a higher surface that comes into contact with the upper intermediate half-sole 23. The periphery of the cup 20 is constituted of substantially vertical edges. In its front portion, the lower surface of the cup 20 has a plurality of lower protuberances. These lower protuberances have a cylindrical shape and project downwardly from the cup 20. They are arranged evenly over the entire front portion of the lower surface of the cup 20. The arrangement of the lower protuberances is set along a pattern, the first direction of which is substantially oriented along the longitudinal axis of the boot. The second direction of the pattern makes an angle of 60° to 80° with the first direction. The lower protuberances have a cylindrical shape with a diameter of between 4 and 6 millimeters (mm) and project at a distance of between 1.5 and 3 mm. The distance between two neighboring lower protuberances is between 1 mm and 5 mm. This distance is preferably equal to approximately 2 mm.
 The higher surface of the cup 20 is bordered along its periphery by the edge. It has a depression in the entire front zone, this depression corresponding to the front zone of the lower surface of the cup 20 where the lower protuberances are arranged. Thus, in the area of this depression, the cup 20 has its smallets thickness, except for the height of the protuberances.
 In the area of the heel, the higher surface has a cavity that has substantially the shape of an inverted cone at the bottom of which a through hole is provided that traverses the cup 20, the cup 20 having in its heel portion a thickness that is substantially greater than in its front portion, and the higher surface thereof also having an inclined portion that connects the depression to the cavity 21.
 The upper intermediate half-sole 23 has a lower surface and an upper surface. The lower surface is complementary to the higher surface of the cup 20. Thus, in the front portion, a projecting block is arranged that takes on the shape of the depression.
 The heel portion has a dome oriented downwardly that is extended at its end by a stud. In its front portion, the upper surface has a recessed zone whose peripheral contour corresponds to the projecting block present on the lower surface.
 A plurality of upper protuberances project upwardly from the bottom of this recessed zone. These upper protuberances are arranged in a pattern, one direction of which corresponds substantially to the longitudinal axis of the boot, whereas the other direction makes an angle of between 60° and 80° with the first direction. The upper protuberances have a cylindrical shape whose diameter is between 4 mm and 6 mm. Their height is not uniform along the entire area of the upper surface. In the central zone, i.e., in a zone that is in the proximity of the longitudinal axis, the protuberances have a height of between 2 and 4 mm. However, in the peripheral zones, the height of the protuberances is between 4 and 6 mm.
 Once the two half-soles are assembled together, each upper protuberance is substantially vertically aligned with a lower protuberance. One thus obtains a structure that unites shock absorption with the transmission of sensations, the shock absorption being obtained by the compression of discrete elements constituted by stacking an upper protuberance on a lower protuberance, whereas the transmission of sensations is particularly encouraged by the fact that these discrete elements are relatively independent of one another. Indeed, the overall structure of the intermediate sole behaves, at least in its front portion, as though it were a juxtaposition of discrete elements connected to each other by a thin central core.
 In order to optimize the shock-absorbing properties, different materials will be selected for the two intermediate half-soles. Preferably, the material of the lower half-sole is not as soft as that of the upper half-sole.
 One can also envision obtaining the entire front portion of the intermediate sole from a single block. This alternative of the second embodiment of the invention is specifically shown in FIG. 8.
 The latter shows an intermediate sole 3 whose upper intermediate half-sole 23 is reduced to the rear portion, whereas the upper protuberances are provided directly on the lower half-sole. Such an arrangement makes it difficult to use different materials for the upper and lower protuberances. However, the cost of production is reduced when the same material is used.
 The heel bracket 5 has a medial belt 8, a rear belt 6 and a lateral belt 7 having a substantially horizontal orientation. The bracket 5 further has a lower portion 12 that is also horizontal. The lateral and medial belts are connected to the lower portion by lateral 17 and medial 16 legs, respectively. The lateral leg and the medial leg, respectively, are located facing the center of the heel. Lastly, the heel bracket has a lateral anchoring 14 and a medial anchoring 13. When the intermediate sole, the bracket and the wear sole are assembled, retaining arrangement are provided so as to maintain the lateral anchoring and the medial anchoring at a substantially constant distance one from the other.
 The lateral anchoring 14 is constituted of a horizontal tongue. In a symmetrical manner, the medial anchoring 13 is constituted by a horizontal tongue.
 After the sole is assembled, these tongues are sandwiched between the lower half-sole 20 and the wear sole 4, thus ensuring that they are kept at a constant distance one from the other. The lateral 17 and medial 16 legs are located facing the opening 22 of the lower half-sole 20. The opening 22 is in the zone where the impacts are the most substantial, i.e., under the center of the heel. The lower portion 19 of the bracket becomes pressed against the side of the intermediate sole, near the wear sole 4, whereas the lateral, medial and rear belts are pressed against the top of the side, and against the base of the upper. To further improve the attachment of the heel bracket to the rest of the boot, the lower portion 10 can be partially covered by the edge of the wear sole, this covering being accompanied by gluing. Given that the heel bracket is constituted of a lower portion surrounding the base of the intermediate sole and a higher portion constituted of lateral, medial and rear belts, these two portions meet in the area of the lateral and medial anchorings, the heel bracket is deformed like a clamp when subject to a vertical force, i.e., the rear belt is brought closer to the lower portion, more so than the medial and lateral belts. This clamp-type behavior is represented in FIGS. 7a and 7 b. In FIG. 7a, a new weak force does not cause the bracket to deform. But as soon as the pressure is more substantial, the latter becomes deformed, mainly along a specific path, namely, the rear portion of the belt is brought closer to the lower portion.
 As this occurs, the heel bracket guides and directs the deformation of the sole. This effect is particularly noteworthy while walking, at the moment of the heel impact in that, regardless of the lateral shifting of the angle of impact, the heel bracket will impose a symmetrical lateral/medial deformation of the sole. The clamp-type behavior is particularly improved in that the material of the heel bracket 5 is more rigid than that of the intermediate sole 3.
 When landing high-amplitude jumps, the more flexible material of the upper half-sole is mainly funneled downwardly, and not towards the lateral and medial sides of the sole. This type of funneling is made possible by the shape of the cone and the opening of the cavity provided in the lower half-sole, and by the presence of vertical legs that prevent the lower half-sole from being crushed. If the surface on which the athlete lands his jump is not horizontal, the heel bracket prevents the sole from deforming through shearing on the sides, due to the lateral 7 and medial 8 belts, as well as on the rear, due to the rear belt 6.
 As seen in FIG. 4, the bracket 5 is not only applied to the sides of the intermediate sole but also to the base of the upper. Thus, in addition to its role of retaining the intermediate sole, the heel bracket also ensures that the base of the upper is laterally maintained. Also, when landing a jump on sloping surfaces, this arrangement prevents the shearing of the upper with respect to the intermediate sole.
 The cross-section of FIG. 6 is achieved when the sole is subjected to a very high pressure, such as, for example, when landing a high-amplitude jump. When the pressure reaches a certain amplitude, the lateral and medial legs are deformed by buckling in towards the sole, thus accentuating the retention phenomenon due to the presence of the bracket itself. The materials necessary for obtaining the sole of the invention are all of the materials currently used in the field of sports boots, particularly EVA for the intermediate sole. As for the heel bracket, numerous materials can be selected on the condition that they are less extensible than the materials of the intermediate sole. As a matter of fact, the hooping phenomenon of the intermediate sole by the heel bracket requires the materials to behave differently during extension. However, it is not always necessary to use a rigid material.
 The invention is not limited to the two embodiments described herein by way of example, and it also relates to other equivalent embodiments in which a heel bracket contains the shock-absorbing material of the intermediate sole.
3 Intermediate sole
4 Wear sole
5 Heel bracket
6 Rear belt
7 Lateral belt
8 Medial belt
10 Lateral side
11 Medial side
12 Rear side
13 Medial anchoring
14 Lateral anchoring
16 Medial leg
17 Lateral leg
18 Upper belt
19 Lower portion
20 Lower half-sole
22 Opening through the cavity
23 Upper half-sole
26 Upper protuberance
27 Lower protuberance