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Keith Gabel of the United States of America competes in the Snowboard Cross Adaptive Standing Men

Keith Gabel

Alpine Skiing | Snowboard
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Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
SB-LL2

Further personal information

Family
Wife Heather, son John Paul [2019]
Residence
Aspen, CO, USA
Occupation
Athlete, Business Owner, Public Speaker
Languages
English

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began skiing at age 12 at Deer Valley in Park City, UT, United States of America, and switched to snowboard in 2000. "My dad put me in skiing the day he picked me up from the airport when I went to live with him. I switched to snowboarding because it looked like so much fun. I never touched my skis again except to sell them." He started training for competitive Para snowboard in 2010.
Why this sport?
He had been a keen snowboarder before his accident, and was determined to stay in the sport. "The first thing I asked my doctor when we had the conversation about amputation was, 'How long until I can snowboard again?' I was back on my board three months after my amputation. I'm a much better snowboarder than I was before I lost my leg."
Name of coach
Mike Jennings [national], USA; Alex Tuttle, [national], USA; Ryan Poulin [national], USA; Mark Kelly, [national], USA; Cameron Fule, [national], USA; Jessica Smith [national], USA

International debut

Year
2011
Competing for
United States
Tournament
World Cup
Location
Orcières, FRA

General interest

Nicknames
Grizzly ["I got this nickname because I was told that if you get out in front of me it's like a grizzly bear is chasing you down the mountain."] (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022)
Hobbies
Snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, cliff diving, skeet and trap shooting, skateboarding, mowing the lawn, jiu jitsu. (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, silver in LL2 snowboardcross at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and gold in the LL2 snowboardcross at the 2019 World Championships in Pyha, Finland. (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022)
Most influential person in career
His wife and son. (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022)
Hero / Idol
His father, and US snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice. (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022; Athlete, 10 Feb 2018)
Injuries
He tore a groin muscle and separated his shoulder at the end of the 2012/13 season and spent the following off-season in recovery. (keithgabel.com, 02 May 2012)

He broke several ribs in February 2012. (keithgabel.com, 02 May 2012)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"If you want to go big, don't think little." (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022)
Awards and honours
In 2014 he was presented with a History-Maker Award by the state of Utah in the United States of America. (Athlete, 10 Feb 2018)
Famous relatives
His wife Heather Gabel [nee Short] has worked as a gymnastics coach at Red Brick Center in Aspen, CO, United States of America. (rfweeklyjournal.com, 23 Jan 2020; Heather Roqueza Gabel Facebook profile, 20 Jul 2019)
Ambitions
To win gold at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. (aspentimes.com, 01 Mar 2022)
Impairment
In 2005 an industrial accident resulted in his foot being crushed by more than 2000 pounds of hydraulic pressure for over 15 minutes. Following four blood transfusions, a blood clot in his left lung and multiple operations, his left leg was amputated below the knee. "If you would've told me, that first day [after losing his leg] would turn into me winning the X Games [in 2015], me going to Sochi [in 2014] and competing in the Paralympics, I would've probably laughed in your face. Losing my leg was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. But it was also one of the best. You would never know how strong you are, what you're capable of until you're put through that circumstance. The quality of my life is better in all respects." (Vita Brevis Films YouTube channel, 07 Mar 2016; Athlete, 20 Nov 2013)
Other information
COMPLETING THE SET
He is competing at his third edition of the Paralympic Winter Games at Beijing in 2022. Having won bronze in snowboardcross at the 2014 Games in Sochi and silver four years later in Pyeongchang, he is looking for gold in 2022 to complete the set. "I wasn't 100% sure I would go for a third [Games], and the stars aligned, and I was able to continue to compete. I've been really fortunate to make this a career and have the backing that I've had and the support from my family and loved ones. In Beijing, my goal is gold. I want the gold. I'm hungry, I'm ready for it, I've trained my butt off. This is 12 years in the making for me." (aspentimes.com, 01 Mar 2022)

FRIEND DEDICATION
He dedicated his two titles at the 2021 World Cup Finals in Colere, Italy, to Dutch Para alpine skier Bibian Mentel-Spee, who died in the days leading up to the competition. "Losing Bibian was really tough for me. We grew close over the years and I consider her and [her husband] Edwin two of my dearest friends. To me it almost felt like she was waiting for us all to be together to finally let go and [in] some ways having everyone together made it a little easier. Before the race started, I went and took a few minutes by myself and just said a little prayer to her, thanking her for her tireless efforts for our sport and asked her to look over all the riders and keep us safe. I'd like to dedicate my win to her as I personally know how hard she worked for the athletes. My goal is to continue that legacy and advocate for the athletes and the sport as a whole. I want to help this thing we call Para snowboarding be around long after I'm gone." (insidethegames.biz, 02 Apr 2021)

TATTOO
He has a tattoo on his right leg of a band of stitches that makes it look as if his leg has been cut off and sewn back on. "Ironically, I actually got this tattoo a few years before I lost my other leg. My amputation is about an inch lower than the placement of the tattoo but on my left leg. The meaning of this tattoo is that it doesn't matter what happens to me, you could cut my leg off and I'll still bounce back. I guess the universe wanted me to put my money where my mouth was." (teamusa.org, 14 Jun 2013)

OCCUPATION
He has worked as a programme manager for the Semper Fi Fund, a non-profit organisation that offers assistance and rehabilitation programmes to wounded US combat veterans. Prior to his accident, he operated heavy machinery for an oil and gas drilling and exploration company headquartered in Denison, TX, United States of America. (LinkedIn profile, 01 Jan 2020; Vita Brevis Films YouTube channel, 07 Mar 2016)

CHARITY WORK
He has served as an ambassador for Team for Tomorrow, a community outreach programme in the United States of America. "I love doing this kind of stuff because I'm a product of community outreach programmes. When I lived with my mother in Oregon, we were super poor. We ate at soup kitchens, we were in and out of homeless shelters. I even stood in line with my mother for days on end during Christmas time for [US Marine Corps charity programme] Toys for Tots just so my siblings could get a decent present. So to be able to give back to the community is an honour for me." (highfivesfoundation.org, 29 Jan 2015; athletego.com, 09 Oct 2013)

BUSINESS
He and his wife Heather opened a coffee shop named Coffee Connections in Aspen, CO, United States of America. They have dreamt of owning a coffee shop after they both met at one and Heather had a background in the industry. "It's like a dream come true. Everybody makes a connection through coffee at some point. Coffee is what brings everybody together. I was fortunate enough to meet my wife through coffee.” (Athlete, 05 Mar 2022; aspentimes.com, 14 Ju

Results

Unit Date Rank
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Para Snowboard Cross Standing Final Round 2014-03-14 3
2015 IPCAS Para Snowboard World Championships La Molina (La Molina, Spain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Race 1 2015-02-24 7
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Race 1 2015-02-28 4
2017 IPC Snowboard World Championships Big White, CAN (Big White, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Race 1 2017-02-04 10
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Race 1 2017-02-07 10
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Final 2018-03-12 2
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Final 2018-03-16 6
Pyha 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships (Pyha, Finland)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Race 1 2019-03-27 8
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Race 1 2019-03-30 1