It’s with great sadness that I write this post, it’s taken me a while to get over the shock but last Tuesday, Keith McIntosh died in an avalanche at the annual board test in the Kaunertal, Austria.Â Keith was the coach of the McNab Junior Development team and I knew him from the British Championships.
I didn’t know Keith well, I’d never been part of his team and never done any of the courses that he taught but it was still a shock to hear the news and I still feel an emptiness and to a certain extent a feeling of being cheated.Â Cheated out of the chance to get to know him better, to ride with him properly and to learn from him as the kids he coached have learnt from him.
Over the course of 4 British Championships he’s supported me with smiles and kind words, encouragement and to a certain extent gentle bullying when I was wussing out on hitting a kicker when the kids he coached were sailing over it.Â This year in Laax, The Boyf and I were stoked to have the opportunity to ride with Keith & the kids, he took us off into the powder and we had a great time, smiles all round and lots of fun had by everyone.Â Over the course of the week he commented on how I had improved with the coaching I was getting from one of the local instructors and I was so pleased when he left a message on the SCUK forum a few weeks ago in response to a conversation I was involved in about coaching to say that it had obviously worked for me.
The Boyf and I last saw Keith at the Coop petrol station in Laax as he picked up Sam Rogers to drive her back to Chamonix for a photo shoot.Â We said goodbye with the usual promise to see each other next year.Â Now there will be no next year and it saddens me that I won’t be able to show Keith that I believed him when he said I could hit the big kicker next year, I will however hit it, because not to do so would be to fail his memory.
Reading the tributes that have been left on the Facebook group I set up it’s evident that The Boyf and I weren’t the only ones to have been influenced by just a tiny amount of time in Keith’s company, there are so many people who only knew him in passing, or did a one week course with him that hold him responsible for an improvement in their riding or just have one memory of a fun day shredding with him.Â then there are those whose loss is even greater, his wife Mel & son Arren, the kids that he’s coached over the years, who he’s put himself out for to ensure they get the best chances in competition and riding and those who worked with him.Â Everyone feels a huge sense of loss and I really believe that the UK snowboarding scene has lost a great man and a great influencer.
What’s important is that as a community we don’t forget Keith and that we allow his young son Arren to know what a great man he was, how he helped us all to love snowboarding a little bit more.Â I hope that posts like this, the Facebook group and those that other people have written will help Arren & Mel in the future by showing how well thought of Keith was.Â Our loss was not as great as theirs, but I know that forever more British snowboarders will be shredding in memory of Keith McIntosh, be it shredding powder or dialing a new trick he’ll be with us spurring us on.
Goodbye Keith you’ll be missed!
For those of you that wish to contribute to Arren’s Trust Fund the details for that and for Keith’s crematorium service can be found here.