U.S. Paralympic Snowboarder Is New Ottobock Ambassador

Ottobock Ambassador 

Just in time for the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia: Ottobock has added Keith Gabel, a champion snowboarder, to its roster of ambassadors.

In its news announcement, Ottobock said Gabel would "serve as a role model for young athletes with disabilities, working with Ottobock to promote the importance of an active lifestyle and showcasing the technology that he uses in daily life and to compete in the high-performance sport of snowboarding."

Gabel, 28, was injured in 2005 in an industrial accident and eventually had his left leg amputated below the knee. An avid athlete, Gabel had taken up snowboarding years before the accident and, according to his Team USA biography, began snowboarding again just months after his surgery. He discovered para snowboarding during the 2010-11 season and began training at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah.

Gabel, from Ogden, Utah, goes to Sochi as a member of the United States' first-ever para snowboarding team. The sport is making its Paralympic debut this year.

Para snowboarding has two classifications. The World Snowboard Federation says the Standing class is typically for "Riders with physical impairments, e.g., amputation, incomplete spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy." The Sitting class is for "Riders with physical impairments, e.g., complete paraplegia, bilateral lower extremity amputation." A classification for visually impaired athletes is in the works, the organization says.

Gabel, who also counts hiking, wakeboarding, rock climbing and cliff diving among his passions, is a gold medalist in the X Games para snowboard class and a seven-time World Cup medalist. His future goals include bringing home a medal from Sochi... and being the first para snowboarder to land a double backflip on snow.

"Keith's myriad of activities and the feedback he can give us regarding the performance of the Ottobock products he uses will greatly contribute to how we reach and support people with limb loss around the world," said Karen Lundquist, Ottobock director of communications for North America. "We're also very excited to support the new-to-the-Paralympics sport of snowboarding in which he excels and which we believe will result in a whole new viewing audience for parasports."

The Paralympic Games take place March 7-16. Follow your favorite athletes' accomplishments at sochi2014.com/en/paralympic.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.