Photo: Matthias Keller

The best view comes after the hardest climb.

Matthias Keller, Head of Technical Application at CHIRON, is convinced: To be successful, you need a positive attitude, a strong team by your side and the willingness to do more. And that's also how he approaches his sporting career as a snowboarder on the German paralympic A-squad.

Mr Keller, you completed your apprenticeship as an industrial mechanic in equipment and precision engineering in 1998 and have been Technical Application Manager since 2019. You have also been a para snowboarder since 2017. Are there any similarities between being a manager and being a snowboarder?

Certainly, there are a lot: It is always good to keep a clear head – whether in your everyday job, at the World Cup or when touring. I always take a considered approach and examine the facts carefully. I think that this is the only way of making sound and correct decisions. Anything else, whether on my own in the outdoors or as a manager with responsibility for my team, would be rather negligent.

How would you describe your role as a manager? What do you consider to be particularly important and who do you take your inspiration from?

Loyalty, treating one another fairly and having an excellent team spirit. That's the example my former manager set every day, and that's what I'm trying to continue. I also see myself as a "guide", steering everything and everyone in the right direction, so that we achieve success. I also find it important for each person to identify with his or her tasks and to approach new challenges with a positive attitude.

Your motto is "The best view comes after the hardest climb." Can you explain this in more detail?

Well, I had a serious motorcycle accident and had to have my lower leg amputated. Dealing with this was and is a big challenge and changed a lot of things for me. But now I know what you can achieve if you follow your goals consistently. And that also motivates me as a manager. I don't see difficulties, just new opportunities.

One of these possibilities outside of CHIRON has been snowboarding in the German Paralympic team. What are your sporting aims? 

Competition is strong, and with some countries investing a lot of money, the majority of athletes are professionals. Team Germany was only formed after the last Paralympics. Our budget is very small and all our athletes and assistants are in employment, so we only take part in individual races. But we still want to be at the front of the field, perhaps achieving a place in the top 10. And of course we all want to go to Beijing for the Paralympics 2022.

Para Snowboard

Matthias Keller starts in the Lower Limb 2 class in two disciplines: Snowboard-cross (SBX) and banked slalom.

In SBX, each athlete first descends on their own against the clock, then, from the last sixteen onward, it is head to head. The course includes racing and freestyle elements. In the banked slalom, the snowboarders descend slopes with gradients of up to 35 percent on a course prepared with steep turns. All participants compete twice against the clock, the quickest run counting.

How do you juggle training, a job and your private life? It sounds like a sport in itself!

I prioritize and focus on the essential. Everyday work is intensive, for sure, but sport is a perfect balance for me. I see every task facing me as a chance to improve.

What motivates you other than your sporty approach?

Life itself is the greatest motivation. There are so many beautiful moments that I have worked towards again after the amputation. For example, the feeling of standing on top of a mountain – indescribable! The climb may be tough, but it is always worth it. Every day has the potential to be a good day. In sport, at home and at work.

For more information on the German Para Snowboard Team:

https://www.teamdeutschland-paralympics.de/de/athleten.html

Matthias Keller in competition mode at the World Cup. Image: Luc Percival Photography
Matthias Keller in competition mode at the World Cup. Image: Luc Percival Photography

Career summary

1998    Completed training as an Industrial Mechanic at CHIRON as best in the year

2001    Employee in Manufacturing

2003    National service with the German Red Cross

2004    Application Engineer in Applications at CHIRON

2008    Application Engineering Team Leader

2015    Application Engineering Manager

2019    Application Manager