Mike Shea reacts after he competes at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 16, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Mike Shea, one of the “Three Amigos” who swept the podium in men’s snowboardcross when the sport made its Paralympic debut in 2014, has announced his retirement.
“I never really had a chance to officially retire from my sport so here it goes,” the Castaic, California, native, began in a heartfelt announcement posted to Facebook Thursday.
An avid snowboarder growing up, Shea got into Para snowboarding in 2010, eight years after losing his left leg below the knee in a wakeboarding accident. Alongside fellow Americans Keith Gabel and Evan Strong, he quickly emerged as a power in the burgeoning sport.
Shea and the “Three Amigos” broke through in the biggest way in 2014. That February Shea clinched the IPC World Cup overall title, with Strong second and Gabel fourth. Then, a month later at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, they swept the podium with Strong taking gold, Shea silver and Gabel bronze.
“Right before the medal ceremony, we got to sit in the green room and kind of soak it all in, and we just kind of looked at each other over and over again and we couldn’t believe it,” Shea recalled to TeamUSA.org later that year.
Shea went on to further success, winning a world title the next year in banked slalom, and then finishing just off the podium at the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018, taking fourth in banked slalom and fifth in snowboardcross.
Since then, Shea has been busy with his carpentry business, he wrote in his retirement message.
“One day my life was filled with red carpets, international travel, world class ski resorts and state of the art training facilities,” he wrote. “The next day I was in work boots and a hot workshop trying to plan out my future and my career.”
Shea, now 37, said he hoped to oneway return to competition. Citing work, health problems and chronic injuries, he never got the chance. This week, he decided to finally make it official: his competitive career is done
“I had such a hard time letting go and because of that I felt like I never had the chance to officially say farewell,” he wrote. “Retiring from sport can be a humbling experience to say the least. Every athlete likes to think that they’ve left behind a legacy and I often questioned whether or not I did. Especially when you see how quickly sport moves on without you. The truth is that legacies don’t live on in sport, they live on in the individuals you interact with along the way. It took me a while to understand that.
“Goodbye to a chapter in my life that filled me with so much joy. Being a Paralympian taught me how to push my body and mind beyond its limit, it taught me how to fail with dignity and succeed with pride but most importantly thank you for showing me the world. The biggest gift that sport gave me was the opportunity to understand and respect different cultures and ideologies around the globe. It’s literally transformed how I see people. Last but not least thank you to the most important sponsors who were by my side throughout my career. I couldn’t have done it without you.”