March 24, 2014
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games wrapped up recently, and Team USA earned a combined total of 28 medals – two of which belong to 18-year-old Stephanie Jallen.
The Harding Pa., native is an alumna of the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, where she developed as a ski-racer.
Jallen, who earned two bronze medals — one for the Super-G standing, and one for the women’s super combined — credits the center’s staff for providing her with the support she needed to learn to ski independently, “even if it meant an instructor skiing next to Jallen so she could have someone to lean on when making those once-challenging turns,” according to TeamUSA.org
Along with Jallen, another of the center’s alumni competed at this year’s Paralympic Games. Topton, Pa. native Tyler Carter, 20, who competed in the men’s giant slalom event, attended the center when he was 8 years old, according to his Team USA profile.
Local Paralympic dreams don’t end with Jallen and Carter, though. And the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports is making sure of that.
The multi-sport charity, headquartered in Boathouse Row, has partnered with EFE Labs, a Horsham, Pa.-based contract manufacturer of electromechanical devices, so that others with disabilities can have the opportunity to reach their Paralympic dreams.
The two local companies have done so by working together in order to update their inventory of older models of what is called a monoski, which consists of a molded seat mounted on a single ski. It allows the disabled to ski independently.
Rather than traditional ski poles, monoskiers use devices called outriggers, which resemble forearm crutches, but rather than having a bumper on the end, short skis are attached.
The problem with the center’s monoskis — in this case, the Grove model — was the outdated technology.
“The old style of equipment did not allow putting modern skis on them,” said Peter Clayton, ski instructor and board member of the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports. “After I retired and sold the business to EFE Labs, it occurred to me that they had the capabilities to design equipment to modify the old monoskis and allow to use modern snow skis.”
With the updated Grove models, modern skis now fit on a ski boot-type fitting, allowing the center to utilize their four monoskis, which for a while, had laid unused in the center’s storage area.
Why not just buy new monoskis? Due to the limited market, monoskis are expensive pieces of equipment. Most monoski manufacturers don’t mass manufacture, Clayton said, so the community that buys this type of equipment is limited.
“They cost between $5,000 to $10,000,” said Clayton, “so it’s not something a disabled person would buy for themselves so they use our equipment until they become proficient enough in the sport.”
Secondly, there was nothing wrong with the older models – they were just outdated.
“Groves are still very much in demand. People hold onto them and look for them. They’re coveted equipment,” said Kip Anthony, president of EFE Labs. “They’re built out of titanium and other high-grade material so they don’t wear out that quickly.”
Although the Grove models are not the same models used by Jallen and Carter in the Paralympics, Clayton sees them as more of a starting point for students, who would be able to progress to more high-end models as their skills develop from a recreational basis to a more competitive one.
It’s also a way for students to have a sense of community.
“Most of our students don’t race in monoskis, they do it for recreation. It provides wonderful activity level for fitness, strength and helps in day-to-day lives,” said Clayton. “The strongest benefit, apart from exercise, is the fact that individuals with disabilities can spend time with people with similar disabilities. There is a social network for them.”
Although both companies were able to update the Grove monoskis, Anthony said there was always room for more improvement, indicating that minor adjustments to the lower the center of gravity may be in the future.
“It’s something you take seriously. People come back and you want to make sure you take care of them and do a good job,” Anthony said. “It’s not designing a new super-computer but it’s not a simple task either.”
About EFE Laboratories
With over 50 years of industrial and manufacturing experience, EFE is an established, solutions-based contract manufacturer. By collaborating with customers across diverse markets in pursuit of superior product design, development, and manufacturing services, EFE brings extraordinary expertise to its customers. We do this by relying on an industry-leading commitment to quality evidenced by our UL, ISO, IPC, and other certifications. From startups to the Fortune 500, EFE has proven its ability to deliver measurable value to organizations of any size. For more information about the company, please visit their website: http://www.efelabs.com/