Noah Elliott and Keith Gabel Claim Breakthrough World Titles In Snowboardcross

By Brianna Tammaro | March 31, 2019, 2:19 p.m. (ET)

Keith Gabel competes in banked slalom competition at the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland on March 27.Keith Gabel competes in banked slalom competition at the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland on March 27.

  • Noah Elliott and Keith Gabel capture first snowboardcross world titles on Saturday
  • Elliott and Zach Miller secure bronze in inaugural snowboardcross team event to culminate world championship competition on Sunday
  • Team USA closes 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland with seven medals, including three golds
     
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Noah Elliott (St. Charles, Missouri) and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) stood at the top of the podium at the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland for the first time this weekend, relishing in their journeys that took them from two very different paths to the same common goal.  
 
Elliott, 21, put the finishing touches on his impressive world championship debut this weekend with his first world title and a bronze medal in the snowboardcross team event alongside U.S. teammate Zach Miller (Denver, Colorado) to add to his banked slalom silver in the men’s LL1 class on Wednesday.  Success continues to follow Elliott, who won gold at the Paralympic Winter Games just one year after joining the U.S. team and three years after having his left leg amputated above the knee from bone cancer. His world title on Saturday solidified his place as one of the world’s best snowboarders.
 
For Gabel, 34, the journey was filled with patience and persistence. Considered one of the early pioneers of Para snowboarding in the U.S. after an industrial accident resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee in 2005, Gabel achieved a long-awaited goal of winning his first world title. Though he’s won two Paralympic medals – silver and bronze – he had never finished above fourth place at a world championships in the men’s LL2 class in over eight years. 
 
The final two days of snowboardcross competition also awarded individual medals to Miller and Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minnesota), who won his first world title on Wednesday in the men’s LL1 class. Miller, a newcomer to the U.S. team, won two bronze medals in the men’s LL2 class in his world championship debut with third place finishes in snowboardcross and the snowboardcross team event. Schultz closed his world championship campaign with two medals: gold in banked slalom and bronze in snowboardcross. 
 
After three days of competition, Team USA closed the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships with seven medals (three golds, one silver, three bronzes). The U.S. will have a short turnaround before culminating its season next week at the World Para Snowboard World Cup Finals in Klövsjö, Sweden from April 4-8.
 
Quotes
Keith Gabel
“Words cannot describe how pumped I am to win my first world championship title. I’ve been doing this a long time now, this has been a huge goal of mine from the very beginning, and in all reality I’m even more pumped to bring home the title in my favorite discipline. There’s no way I would have been able to do it without my support group back home. My wife Heather has been in my corner since day one. She’s been super patient, loving and always supportive of my decisions throughout this journey. My family and friends have always encouraged me to chase my dreams and give it my all. I’m so grateful to have them standing behind me at every turn and I can’t thank them enough.”
 
“The course was a little challenging. It was super fast in sections and you really had to ride smart. There were a lot of crashes early on between training [Friday] and today [Saturday] so they delayed the race to make some last-minute changes. With only 20 minutes to prepare, I was able to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand. That’s something I’ve been working on for a very long time. My hats off to the resort and the entire course crew for working around the clock to give us a world championship-worthy course and venue. I couldn’t be more thankful for their efforts.”
 
Noah Elliott
“I am so stoked on my performance on Saturday. It was insane. Falling during qualifying, I was very amped up and ready to perform and ride the best I could the rest of the day. Going into each heat, that was my only thought and feeling towards the competition, which was to ride my line and do the best I could. Next thing you know, I end up in my last heat and I’m thrilled as I look over to my competitor, thinking to myself ‘I’ve made it; this is the last one’. Giving it my all and crossing the finish line with the win and title of world champion was indescribable. It’s been life-changing, and I know it’s going to help drive me and fuel my fire more for future competitions and continuing to better myself in the sport.” 
 
Zach Miller
“The men’s LL2 class is a super competitive division so to be walking away from these world champs here in Finland is crazy to me. This has been my strongest year so far. Coming into this competition, I had six world cup medals so to leave this world championship with another two medals for the United States feels incredible. I’m on top of the world right now.”
 
“The team event was an insane amount of fun. I saw them do the team event for the able-bodied world championships in Spain this season and was so excited when I heard the news that we would be contesting it on the Para side. I teamed up with Noah Elliott and was immediately psyched for the event. Noah’s a really strong rider and to be teamed up with him felt amazing and was really exciting. We were confident we had a shot at the podium and we rode really well to bring home a medal.”
 
“This world championships has been one for the books. It was a great event for myself personally as well as collectively for Team USA. We’ve had a really strong showing. I’m really excited to be a part of it and to contribute to the medal count. I’m already looking forward to the next one in two years. It’ll be a fun rest of the season heading into world cup finals. I’m excited to end the season strong and hopefully win another medal for the overall standings. It’s been a great season and world champs was the highlight of the year.”
 
Results
Full results from the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland can be found here. 
 
U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding Team Medal Count: 7
Gold: 3 – Mike Schultz (banked slalom), Noah Elliott (snowboardcross), Keith Gabel (snowboardcross)
Silver: 1 – Noah Elliott (banked slalom)
Bronze: 3 – Mike Schultz (snowboardcross), Zach Miller (snowboardcross), Noah Elliott and Zach Miller (snowboardcross team event)
 
Looking Forward
The U.S. will return next week for the final competition of the season, the World Para Snowboard World Cup Finals in Klövsjö, Sweden from April 4-8. For event and behind-the-scenes coverage, follow U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.