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Athletic Trainer to US Paralympic Ski Team

Ellen Payne assisting Paralympic athletes.

Ellen Payne, assistant professor of athletic training in Moravian College’s Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, traveled to Spain in March to serve as athletic trainer for the United States Olympic Committee's Paralympic Alpine Ski Team at the World Cup races. The extraordinary athletes she worked with included one born with spina bifida and a visually impaired skier who raced the slopes following a guide—“super impressive,” says Payne.

Payne’s role was to work with athletes on the mountain helping them prepare for their races, evaluate any acute injuries, and provide treatment and rehabilitation for new injuries as well as chronic conditions. The job requires expertise in athletic training and skiing. “The race course is basically a sheet of ice, and you have to be able to respond to an injury that happens on the course. I can get down anything,” says Payne, who has worked ski patrol for 15 years, the last 7 at Montage Mountain in Scranton.

“I love skiing and athletic training, and this combines them both,” says Payne. The opportunity to work with the US Paralympic Alpine Ski Team was interesting, exciting, and delivered an experience that Payne uses to enrich her classroom here at Moravian . “I teach a course in pathophysiology in which we talk about special populations,” says Payne. “Now I have practical experience working with those special populations, and can bring those real stories into the classroom. It helps engage the students in the lesson and bring their learning to life. It shows them that the population for athletic training is so varied; you can get clinical experience working in high schools and colleges but here is another area of practice.”

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