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AVSC adaptive snowboarder appreciates support

AVSC staff report
Mike Shea, left, on the podium with teammates Evan Strong and Keith Gabel.at the Sochi Paralympics.
Courtesy photo |

Mike Shea

AVSC Adaptive snowboard cross athlete — Mike Shea, a native of Castaic, California, began snowboarding as a teenager, learning at Mountain High Resort, located outside of Los Angeles.

“My dad took me for my birthday in the early spring of 1998, and I’ve been snowboarding ever since,” Shea said.

In 2002, Shea was involved in a terrible boating accident, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg.

Through unwavering focus and determination, he rediscovered his passion for snowboarding.

“It wasn’t until after my accident that I really got back into it competitively,” Shea said.

The four-year U.S. national team member and Paralympic silver medalist, humbly recalls his experience at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic games.

“Getting the silver medal isn’t necessarily my fondest memory, it’s being on the podium next to my two teammates; Keith Gabel and Evan Strong,” said Shea.

Nicknamed the “Three Amigos,” Shea, Gabel and Strong are internationally known for sweeping the Paralympic snowboard cross podium in 2014.

“We travel the world together, we train together, we’ve even lived together. It’s awesome to go into a snowboard competition knowing that you have your teammates competing with you. When you train with some of the top athletes in the world, it pushes you to a whole new level of competitiveness,” Shea said.

He attributes a lot of their success to training with each other on a regular basis under the leadership of Miah Wheeler, the head snowboard coach for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

“Mike is one of the most consistent Paralympic snowboarders in the world. He is a true technician and his attention to detail is apparent in his ongoing development,” Wheeler said. “Previous to professional snowboarding, Mike was a high-end woodworker; this precision translates over to his technique and tactics.”

When it comes to inspiration, Shea looks to family, friends and happiness.

“It’s pretty simple as long as you are doing something that makes you happy,” Shea said. “The turning point in my life was when I got clean and sober,” crediting snowboarding and woodworking as a huge part of his recovery process.

Shea is passionate about opportunities for those living with a physical disability to become more involved with snowboarding – particularly in snowboard cross.

“As we continue to pave the way through adaptive sports, it gives new athletes a chance to live the lifestyle, which is awesome,” Shea said. “I’ve seen how much this sport has done for me and my life. It’s helped me so much, and I hope that future generations can have that same opportunity”.

HIGHLIGHTS

The IPC National Championships took place last weekend at Buttermilk.

Laurie Stephens dominated the field taking first place in all five races.

Kevin Burton, along with guide Chris Tatsuno, came away with four gold medals in the visually impaired category, while Andrew Kurka earned gold in the men’s super-G sitting race Sunday.

AVSC had a good showing in Breckenridge at the Rocky Mountain Division Freestyle Series with three days of competition and seven athletes competing.

Colby Lee was the most consistent with two sixth-place finishes in moguls.

He won dual moguls Monday.

“This is Colby’s first win competing in the Rocky Mountain Division,” said Garth Hager, AVSC mogul head coach. “Next week ,Colby competes in his first NorAm in Park City, Utah.”


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