Michael Shea competes during the Men's Para Snowboard Cross Standing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on March 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
A few short months ago, Para snowboarding legend Mike Shea announced his retirement from the sport. The two-time Paralympian was one of the “Three Amigos” who swept the podium for the U.S. during the debut of Paralympic snowboarding in 2014.
But the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang was the last time Shea was on the snow.
“I knew that after South Korea I was going to be changing careers,” Shea explained. “I didn’t really want to retire yet, I was going to compete part time.”
Shea, who owns his own woodworking business, had plans to focus more on his work while continuing to train and compete internationally. But all of that changed when he contracted a virus that left him bedridden for weeks.
“We didn’t know what it was, we went to multiple doctors, did test after test,” he said. “To this day, we still don’t know what exactly happened, but I still get very bad fatigue. After two years now of hoping I would get better, it didn’t happen. So I just decided to make the decision to retire.”
Although not an easy decision by any means, Shea admits there was a sense of relief that came with the announcement. After almost a decade of competitions and training, Shea was battling burnout and chronic injuries that made it really difficult to continue to snowboard.
“My mind wanted to continue, it really did,” Shea said. ‘But my body was just not feeling it.”