Team USA, Mike Shea win first overall world cup title for snowboarding

By Jamie M. Blanchard | Feb. 13, 2014, 10:30 a.m. (ET)
Mike Shea
While helping Team USA to a sizable victory in the overall standings of the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing Para-Snowboard World Cup circuit, Mike Shea also clinched the men's lower limb impairment trophy in La Molina, Spain.

Mike Shea is a part of the history books, again.

On Wednesday at the world cup finals in La Molina, Spain, he claimed the first ever overall title for the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing Para-Snowboard World Cup circuit. Shea also helped the United States to the first-ever nations cup, with the United States finishing 21,605 points ahead of the Netherlands.

Shea finished fourth in both races at the final but won four gold medals and one silver medal in the previous world cups, securing him the overall title. He finished first with 5,800 points while teammate Evan Strong, who won a gold and silver in La Molina, placed second for the season with 5,000 points and Keith Gabel, who won two bronze medals this week, was fourth with 3,200.

“Every now and then I have to pinch myself in order to confirm that I am not dreaming,” said Shea, a below the knee amputee due to a wakeboarding accident. “That happened again this Wednesday in La Molina, Spain, for the world cup finals. Being presented with the crystal globe for the world cup overall title was something that in will never forget. It helps to build a great deal of confidence going into Sochi. I couldn't have done it without the help from my family, our coaching staff and the entire U.S. Olympic Committee. I know we're getting close to Sochi because I am starting to have dreams about it in my sleep. Only three more weeks.”

Shea, a member of the first-ever U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding National Team and a nominee for the inaugural U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding Team, headlines a strong American squad that will compete March 14 in the debut snowboard cross competition at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Men and women with lower limb impairments will race separately for the first-ever gold, silver and bronze medals for snowboarding, which is a part of the alpine skiing program.

Heidi Jo Duce was the runner-up in the women’s lower limb impairment classification, finishing with 4,000 points to Netherland’s Bibian Mentel-Spee, who went undefeated in the seven races for 7,000 points. Amy Purdy finished fourth with 3,9000 and Nicole Roundy took fifth with 3,410.

In the men’s upper limb impairment classification, which will not be contested in Sochi, Marc Dervaes finished just 100 points shy of the overall title.