Closing Time

My Olympic moment has come and gone and man, it was incredible! First thing I need to say is THANKS to everyone for the support. See It NowSubaru-Trek pulled out all the stops providing me the fastest bike I have ever ridden and complete rockstar treatment, Homes and Properties USA Cycling was great, London, every volunteer, the friends and family who were at the race screaming, all the people cheering back home, and every single person sending positive vibes my way…it makes a huge difference and having that many people behind me was probably the coolest part of the whole experience.

Lining up on the start line at the Olympics was a completely surreal experience and even though I was suffering like a dog I enjoyed every second of the race. Garage Door Opener Repair TorontoI am happy with how things played out in the race, but like always I am hungry for more. YORKIE PUPPIES I crossed the finish line immediately thinking about Rio 2016.

Now, a photo dump:

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Awesome tour guides during one of my rides through the city.

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As much as I tried to convince myself that it was “just another race” I couldn’t…

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Georgia, Todd, Leah, and I ready to paint a house….or walk in the closing ceremony

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Heading toward the stadium

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In the belly of the beast! Being inside the Olympic stadium during closing ceremonies was unreal.

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Best seat in the house for the show.

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After closing ceremony we hit “Club Bud” for a party of Olympic proportion.  The whole gold medal winning basketball team was there as well as plenty of other big-timers.  Nas was playing, open bar, and it was wild.

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After the bars closed we made it back to the Athlete Village.  This picture is at 5 am and things were definitely not close to winding down.  Olympians can party.

Mind Blown

If I would have known how incredible the Olympics are I would have been way more stressed about making the team.  Everything has blown me away so far!  I don’t know where to begin so I’ll just start dropping in some pictures (that don’t come even close to capturing the awesome-ness).

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The Athlete Village is like a miniature city (or a big city by Montana standards).  I still have no idea how to find my way and spend my time walking around in a perpetual state of confusion and awe.  It’s amazing being surrounded by so many incredible athletes.

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I was greeted with more “Team USA” gear than you could imagine.  I think I tripled my wardrobe.

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The dining hall is impressive.  There are sections with all types of food; from British, to Chinese, to Indian, to Jamaican…and even a huge McDonalds in one corner.

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It’s about an hour bus ride from the village to the mountain bike venue at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.  The buses have been empty and it’s a relaxing ride.

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The course is completely dialed and is riding really well.  It’s so fun I can’t stop doing laps.  There will be some suffering going on out there on Sunday though…

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The security here is completely crazy.  It’s like airport security x 100.  There are very limited staff credentials so I have been high-fiving my Subaru-Trek team staff outside the gates.  Luckily USA Cycling has been taking great care of me.  MattO is working for team Canada and is looking good in his “Oh Canada” attire while Dusty is here cheering on his wife, Georgia Gould.

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Tower bridge is super cool with the rings attached and Oakley did it up right by setting up a mind blowing “safehouse” for their athletes.  It includes a patio overlooking the bridge, 5 star chefs, huge TVs, and of course some awesome custom glasses.

Well that’s about all I’ve got for now.  Dinner time…

Calm before the storm

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I can’t believe it’s already my last day of hanging out at the pre-Olympic camp with Team USA in Germany.  The past week has flown by.  Days have involved leisurely mornings, followed by bike riding, massage, BBQ’s, and making up rules while watching the Olympics in German.  Not necessarily a whole lot to “write home” about, but it’s just what the doctor ordered before heading to the excitement of London and the Olympics.  Starting tomorrow I’m guessing I’ll have a lot more to share.  Until then…

Onward

I managed to get my fill of post-race high mountain pass riding.  The roads around Val d’Isere are unreal.  I have a serious problem with having to see “what’s around the next corner” and ended up riding for a while.  It was awesome. 

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I worked up a solid appetite riding.  Luckily we went straight to dinner with half of the US Olympic team (Georgia Gould and I), USA Cycling staff, and the Subaru-Trek staff.  It was delicious and we definitely topped off our French cheese stores with delicious melted Raclette.  >

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Yesterday we made the drive to Germany and man it was a cool one.  We went over plenty of cool mountains and we even went through the Mont Blanc tunnel.  Impressive.

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And of course you can’t drive through Italy without a cappuccino stop. 

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USA Cycling have outdone themselves with our accommodations in Kirchzarten.  It is awesome here.  More on that later.  It’s riding time now. 

But I will leave you with a picture of Dusty (Georgia’s husband and Subaru-Trek team mechanic) and his new friends.

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Val d’Is-OUCH

Well, yesterday’s race in Val d’Isere didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped.  I actually felt pretty decent and had a good start but I made a few mistakes out there.  Mistake one involved getting overzealous on the long climb on lap 2.  I didn’t realize I had gone over my limit until I went into the descent and noticed I was cross-eyed.  Rookie move.  I had trouble navigating the rain-slicked descent with double-vision and I managed to lay it down pretty good.  I got back up but the lights were out for a while.  Eventually I started to come back to life and began to move forward again.  Things were going pretty well until I managed to fall down again on the last lap.  I twisted my bars and it took a bit to get them straightened.  I ended up losing close to 15 hard-fought spots.  A bit frustrating, but that’s racing. 

Race Highlights:

  • My new Trek Superfly SL.  The bike was rad!  Super light, extremely responsive, and possibly most note-able was the comfort of the ride.  Like riding a couch…with jet-engines of course.
  • The international debut of my National Champion jersey.  It’s loud, yes, but man did it get me a lot of extra cheers on the course.  The best part was when  a large group of French fans started singing “Born in the USA”, heavily accented of course. 
  • The amazing support of the Subaru-Trek team staff and sponsors.  These guys are always great but they have gone WAY above-and-beyond lately with all sorts of special goodies to get us as dialed as possible in the lead-up to the Olympics.  I can definitely say that I had a cooler bike and better support than anyone else out there.  It’s an honor to be a part of such a rad team!
  • Teammate Emily Batty crushing it with a 4th place in the Women’s race!  She has had an amazing season and finished 6th overall in the World Cup.  It looks like she will be primed for London!

With two weeks until London it’s time to get back to business.  On tap today is to explore the incredible mountain passes around here that have been calling my name all week…and to get-fit while doing it.

Olympic Tune-Up

I’m hanging out on the porch of our team chalet in Val d’Isere, France waiting to race World Cup Finals this afternoon.  This weekend is a perfect opportunity for a final test before lining up in London in 2 weeks.  Plus, it turns out that Val d’Isere is a pretty rad place!

Since I arrived on Wednesday I have been staying busy setting up all of the awesome new Olympic gear that my team had waiting for me.  Emily Batty (my teammate and member of the Canadian Olympic Team) and I are debuting a new frame from Trek for the Olympics and today’s race will be the first real test.  It feels absolutely amazing and is as light as a feather.  My bike in a size XL weighs in at 18.2 pounds!  The team mechanics and sponsors have pulled out all the stops on the build and there are a bunch of rad “USA” details as well as some really cool custom pieces.  In case you can’t tell, I’m excited!

Well I better get back to getting in the zone for the race. If my legs feel half as good as my bike good things could happen.

More soon…

Sam

Schultz ready for wild ride at Olympics

Here is Missoulian reporter Nick Lockridge’s story on Sam Schultz that appears in Sunday’s paper:

Sam Schultz is humble, hip and a total badass on a mountain bike.

He’s super outgoing around kids, swears like a sailor around his buddies and treats everyone else – sportswriters included – with the kind of politeness normally reserved for grandmothers.

Schultz is also a culinary whiz, a dance floor tenderfoot and a natural-born, swoopy-haired, freckle-faced competitor.

He’s traveled to places such as New Zealand, Chile and South Africa, and yet he still talks about his public school upbringing.

Sam Schultz is everything that’s cool about Missoula.

Soon, though, he’ll be representing more than just his hometown.

That’s right, “Uncle Sam” is reppin’ America.

****

Western Montanans have been hearing more and more about Schultz these days, even though he’s in his eighth year as a professional mountain bike racer.

In June, the 26-year-old was one of two men selected to the United States’ Olympic Cycling Team in the mountain bike discipline. Schultz will be competing in the Summer Games in London on Aug. 12. He’s the first mountain biker from Montana to be named an Olympian.

“I’m super fired up,” said Schultz, who’s been training, competing and relaxing in Missoula for the last two weeks. “It’s definitely, already, been one of the coolest experiences of my life and it’s going to be pretty amazing getting over there and just seeing what it’s all about.”

Just making the Olympics is the high point in many athletes’ careers, but Schultz is trying to keep a level head about the whole thing.

“I still have a bunch more races to do,” said Schultz, who ticked off a World Cup event in France, a pre-Olympic camp in Germany and several post-Olympic races that he has left on his schedule. “Then I’m going to hang up the bike for a little bit and hang out.”

“That’s the thing I respect the most about Sam. Yeah, he has this ridiculous work ethic, but he also has to be enjoying himself and having fun while he’s out there. It’s nice to see that balance,” says fellow bike lover and longtime friend Owen Gue. “That’s why he’s an inspiration to myself and others who know Sam personally. He’s not afraid to get down to business and train for a race, I mean that’s his priority, but when it’s time to let loose and clock out for a bit, he can do that. … Don’t get me wrong, he’ll make it hurt like hell when he’s out there training, but he also knows how to enjoy it. He gets the big picture. And he gets it better than most people. That’s what makes him a better athlete.”

Schultz knows he isn’t favored to win the mountain biking event at the Olympics. To steal a pun, he’s just looking forward to the ride.

Gue, on the other hand, admits he gets goosebumps when he thinks about what could happen in London, or to be exact 35 miles east in Hadleigh Essex, which is where the mountain bike course is set up.

“We’ve seen the progression in Sam for awhile, but it’s the Olympics, man. That’s never a guaranteed spot. People fight like dogs to get there,” Gue says. “When I think about Sam going to London and racing for the U.S., that’s pretty dang crazy. I think about way back in the day when we were 16- and 17-year-olds riding up in the Rattlesnake. It’s cool to see one of your best friends going to race in the Olympics. Not many people can say that.”

****

The road to the Olympics is an uphill climb, but never is that more true than in mountain biking, which also offers its share of spills.

Schultz knows that all too well. He can’t remember the last time he didn’t have at least a little trace of road rash somewhere on his body.

“It’s probably been since I was 13,” says Schultz, before pausing. “Maybe less than 13. I don’t know. I fall down a lot. But I usually get back up.”

Take last week, when the 2004 Hellgate High School grad overcame a balky shoulder to win the Missoula XC at Marshall Mountain, which is the second-to-last ride on the Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour. That victory, on home soil, bumped Schultz up to No. 2 in the tour standings with just one more race to go. The Pro XCT finale is Aug. 18 at Mt. Morris, Wis. A championship there would mean another first for Schultz.

“From London to Wisconsin,” he laughed. “You know, just keepin’ it real.”

Last week, while soaking up a steady diet of backyard barbecues, trips to the doctor and pushy media requests, Schultz proudly displayed his newest title.

He won the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championship in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 7 and received an aptly-themed “Stars and Bars” racing jersey. Schultz wore it during last Saturday’s win at the Missoula XC.

“Just call me Uncle Sam,” he told a friend.

Schultz first started riding mountain bikes when he was about 10, he tried his first organized race at 13 and by 18, not long after graduating from high school, he was living in Colorado and riding professionally. Once there, he dominated regional events before moving up to the national- and international-caliber races.

Among his other notable accomplishments, Schultz was the U-23 national cross country champ back in 2006 and he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Cycling long team for the 2008 Beijing Games. Schultz also has several top 20 finishes on the World Cup circuit, including his best showing ever – 10th place – at an event in Windham, N.Y. last month. Schultz believes that’s primed him for a good showing in London.

“It feels pretty good to be able to ride real similar to the lead guys’ pace at the World Cup,” Schultz said. “I felt great there and that definitely boosts the confidence. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and, you know, keep getting faster here…we have a little under a month before the (Olympics), so I have a little bit of time to put some training into action.”

Schultz is quick to point out that his U.S. teammate Todd Wells is a serious threat to medal in London. Wells was second to Schultz at the national championships on July 7 and fourth at the most recent World Cup event in New York. He’s also been to the Olympics twice before, although Wells never placed.

“He hasn’t had the greatest races at the Olympics. He’s had great seasons leading up to them before, and then it’s just kind of not been what he’s been hoping for at the Olympics,” Schultz said. “I think he’s gotten things dialed in and he’s ready to pull one together for this year, hopefully.”

****

Schultz likes his chances in what will be his Olympic debut for a couple of reasons.

For starters, he pre-rode the course not long after it was completed last spring. Schultz was in England for a World Cup event and was one of several riders who was invited to the course the day after their race. Schultz recalls being surprised by its appearance.

“It was almost too clean,” he says. “They had just cut it and everything was just perfectly manicured. It looked like … It was a little bit too much. It didn’t look like a mountain bike trail necessarily. It looked more like a sidewalk, but with obviously some gnarly stuff in it. It’s going to be a good race, though, it just looks a little bit different than what we’re used to. … the idea was to let it grow in a little bit; let it get a little bit more natural. I think by the time we get over there, by mid-August for the race, it’s going to be in good shape.”

It’s reminiscent of the Olympic kayak slalom course that was built for the Beijing Olympics four years ago. Instead of a natural river bed, the course was a concrete canal.

“People that are into mountain biking are going to see this course and be like ‘This is lame,’ you know, but I can assure everyone that it rides like a mountain bike course and it’s definitely tricky and it’ll keep us on our toes,” Schultz said. “And the best mountain biker is going to win there. They did a good job of designing it. It’s gonna be sweet.”

Schultz also likes his chances in London because in an Olympic year the mountain biking season gets longer.

“Things start a little bit earlier than normal,” he says, “which just extends the season. So, it’s been going on for quite awhile now, which definitely makes it a little bit more taxing on a lot of the guys.”

Some countries give out their Olympic bids earlier in the year and that forces some riders to come out flying at the beginning of the World Cup season, which is the standard for the sport to select its Olympians.

“That definitely takes a toll on guys later in the year, both mentally and physically,” Schultz said. “That could be a blessing in disguise for me, you know, because I came on a little bit later. The last few weeks I feel like things have really started to click. I think that could be good for me.”

Perhaps the only downside is that mountain biking is one of the last events at the Olympics.

“I still think the crowds are going to be pretty dang big. I’ve been on the hunt for tickets for friends and family that are coming over and there’s no tickets to be found, so I think it’ll be a decent-sized crowd,” Schultz says. “The one bummer about it is that it runs up pretty close to the closing ceremonies, and we’re missing the opening ceremonies. But I think we’re going to get right onto a shuttle after the race and go try to hit the closing ceremonies. It sounds like we’ll be able to make it so I’m pretty psyched about that.”

Schultz is also pumped that his parents Bill and Cindy and brother Andy, who also rides professionally, will be in attendance. They won’t be the only folks from the Garden City though.

“It’s pretty amazing how many people from Missoula are like, ‘Hey, I booked a flight. I’m going over to cheer you on,’” Schultz said. “That’s super cool.”

****

Gue can’t make it to London, but says he’ll watch it on TV with friends. The event is supposed to be carried live on Aug. 12 on MSNBC.

Gue and Schultz didn’t go to the same high school, but that’s about the time they first met.

“We met through the riding community in Missoula, which isn’t huge, but it’s a great riding community,” Gue said, “and when there’s another young punk out there riding bikes you kind of go, ‘Whoa, who’s that? That’s cool’ – you know, what he’s doing – so you kinda of latch onto those people.”

Gue was a year ahead of Schultz in school, but he remembers the youngster making an impression.

“You could tell that he was a good guy, a super fun person. And when you’re in high school you’re around a lot of different people and some kids can put on a front, or even have an ego, Sam never had any of that.”

Gue, 27, has always been more into road biking than mountain biking, but never felt intimidated when riding with Schultz.

“He was a competitive cyclist, but as a person he was super easy to be around. Super friendly,” Gue says. “Which, to his credit, he still has that.”

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tuesday, July 24- Depart Center of the Universe (aka Missoula), travel to France via Geneva, Switzerland
  •  Saturday, July 28- Race World Cup Finals in Val d’Isere, France
  • Monday, July 30- Travel to Kirchzarten, Germany for pre-Olympic training camp with USA Cycling
  • Monday, August 6- Travel to London and check in at Athlete Village
  • Sunday, August 12- Men’s Olympic MTB Race
  • Wednesday, August 15- Depart London and head to Wisconsin for ProXCT finals

Schultz named to Olympic mountain biking team

By BOB MESEROLL

Missoulian sports editor

Missoula has an Olympian for the 2012 London Games.

Sam Schultz was named to the Olympic mountain biking team by USA Cycling, the organization announced Friday.

“I’m psyched,” Schultz said from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will compete in a Pro Series race on Saturday. “I don’t know quite what to think yet. It doesn’t seem real just yet, but I’m super psyched and pumped to see what I can do at the Olympics.”

Schultz, 26, is the first Missoula native to represent the U.S. in the Olympics since freestyle aerials skier Eric Bergoust competed in the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

Schultz and Todd Wells of Durango, Colo., both received discretionary nods and will make up the two-person men’s squad.

“It came down to coach’s discretion because none of us met the qualification standards, but it was heavily based on the first four World Cups this year and going back to the past year of international performance at World Cup-level fields,” Schultz said.

Schultz has been pursuing his Olympic dream since graduating from Hellgate High School.

“Oh, man, pinch me,” Sam’s father Bill said. “He left home, I think it was the day of his last class in high school in his senior year, to move to the Olympic Training Center (in Colorado Springs). He had that invite. He didn’t even stick around for graduation because he was so anxious to get going. It’s quite a journey.

“I’m proud of him.”

Schultz has competed in four World Cup events this season. He placed 42nd in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in March; 37th in Houffalize, Belgium, in April; 20th in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, in May; and 34th in La Bresse, France, also in May.

“It’s been going well,” Schultz said. “I’ve been happy.”

Schultz said Swiss riders have been dominating the World Cup races so far this season.

“They’re super strong,” he said. “The reigning Olympic gold medalist the last two Olympics is a French guy, Julien Absalon, and he’s still riding super fast, so he’s right up there on the list. But the Swiss have been pretty unreal. They only get three spots (in the Olympics), but they’ve been placing five or six guys in the top 10 of most of the World Cups this year, so they’ll be strong.”

***

Schultz won’t compete until the final day of the London Games on Sunday, Aug. 12. Racing begins at 6:30 a.m. MDT that day on a course at Hadleigh Farm in Essex, 35 miles east of London.

“I rode the course last year,” said Schultz, who will compete in another World Cup race in France a couple of weeks before the Olympics. “We had an opportunity to go to a World Cup in England. We got a preview of the Olympic course.

“It’s a little weird; it’s pretty manmade, so it looks a little weird but it rides super well. There are a couple of technical rock-garden sections and a lot of climbs. I think the course suits me pretty well, so I’m excited.”

So are his parents Bill and Cindy, as well as brother Andy.

“We’ve been shopping and we’re ready to pull the trigger now,” Bill Schultz said of purchasing airfare. “We’re kind of hoping USA Cycling has some (event tickets) for family members; otherwise, we’ll have to get on that Olympic website and navigate that some more.”

Georgia Gould of Fort Collins, Colo., earned the only automatic nomination and will be joined on the women’s squad by Lea Davison of Jericho, Vt.

Wells is a three-time Olympian, while Schultz boasts the top American World Cup average finish in 2012.

“We have a strong team going to London with a solid combination of experience, leadership and young talented athletes who are all capable of standout performances,” said USA Cycling vice president of athletics Jim Miller. “Each member of the team is deserving, we’re proud to welcome them as a part of Team USA and look forward to a promising Olympic Games.”

Sports editor Bob Meseroll can be reached at 523-5265 or at sportsdesk@missoulian.com.