Sochi 2014 silver medallist Mike Shea had an impressive 2014-15 season after beating his Paralympic champion teammate Evan Strong in snowboard-cross and banked slalom at two IPC Snowboard World Cups.
The US rider is no stranger to success, but in recent seasons it is Strong who has been in control.
However, since the sport added banked slalom as a discipline and changed the format of snowboard-cross to include a head-to-head format, it is Shea who has been in the driving seat.
He won the very first World Cup titles in banked slalom and head-to-head, sharing history with Strong who won the very first Paralympic gold.
Their friendly rivalry includes Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Keith Gabel, where the trio have nicknamed themselves the ‘Three Amigos’.
Shea was injured in a wakeboarding accident in 2002, losing his left leg after a rope became wrapped around his ankle. He had already tried snowboarding prior to his accident, and driven by his interest in skateboarding, decided to move to Colorado full-time to focus on his career in 2010.
He is also involved as a coach at the National Sports Centre for the Disabled, passing his experience as a top-level athlete onto the next generation.
At the 2015 IPC Para Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain, Shea carried his form into the banked slalom, winning gold ahead of Evan Strong.
In 2017 that title was taken by Finland's Matti-Suur Hamari, another one of Shea's competitors.
With the men's SB-LL2 one the the most unpredictable in Para sport, any one of the current field could spring a surprise at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
He announced his retirement from the sport in September 2020. "I had such a hard time letting go and because of that I felt like I never had the chance to officially say farewell. 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." (insidethegames.biz, 05 Sep 2020)
He has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction issues during his life. "In the years leading up to my accident from about the age of 15, I battled alcohol and drug addiction. I was on a path of self destruction, abandoning the family and friends who cared most about me. During the recovery from my amputation, my addiction progressed and manifested with the opiates prescribed for the pain. You can't get very far trying to hide a thing like that, but at some point, I decided it was time to ask for help. I went to rehab a few times before it worked. Addiction was harder for me to overcome than my amputation. Treatment changed my life. I'm now sober and work every day to live a life full of compassion and without fear or regret." (mikesheausa.com, 27 Nov 2017)
In March 2013 he returned a positive urine sample for buprenorphine at an International Paralympic Committee [IPC] sanctioned competition in Sochi, Russian Federation. He was given a one-month suspension. (paralympic.org, 2014; keirradnedge.com, 10 May 2013)
|Men's Para Snowboard Cross Standing||Final Round||2014-03-14||2|
|Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2||Race 1||2015-02-24||5|
|Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2||Race 1||2015-02-28||1|
|Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2||Race 1||2017-02-04||3|
|Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2||Race 1||2017-02-07||7|
|Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2||Final||2018-03-12||5|
|Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2||Final||2018-03-16||4|