Friday, August 10, 2012

Seven things to know before Sam Schultz's Sunday Olympic race

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Sunday marks the last day of the London Olympics and, at least for local fans, the Games' biggest event. Missoula native Sam Schultz competes in the mountain bike race that morning at 6:30, and it'll be carried live by MSNBC. Here are seven things you should know before it starts:

1. Sports Illustrated predicts Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) to take gold, Nino Schurter (Switzerland) to win silver, and Julien Absalon (France) for the bronze. The magazine adds that Kulhavy had several teeth knocked out by a pickup truck during a 2011 accident.

Sam en route to winning the 2012 Missoula XC
  • Chad Harder
  • Sam en route to winning the 2012 Missoula XC
2. Sam is unfazed and optimistic about his chances. As he told Singletrack.com:
“I think anything is possible. I know I’m coming in as an underdog. But it’s unreal how much support I’ve had going into it, and I feel like the form is right where it needs to be, and I’m riding as well as I ever have.”

3. There are reports that USA Cycling will pay a $100,000 bonus to any rider who wins gold, so there's some extra motivation for Sam.

4. Sam’s new bike from Trek, the Superfly SL Ultimate, weighs just 18.19 lbs. That’s less than a tire — or this batch of lettuce.

5. The course is located at Hadleigh Farm in the Essex countryside. It’s going to be a bit different from the Hammer Nutrition Missoula XC at Marshall Mountain. From USA Cycling: The 550-acre site features beautiful grassland and woodland, with individual gradients measuring 70 meters from top to bottom. Although cross-country mountain bike competitions are typically held in wooded areas, the 4.7-kilometer course at Hadleigh Farm is situated on an open hillside. Each lap offers a total of 172 meters of elevation change, along with plenty of demanding climbs and descents that will challenge the competitors.”

6. How'd Sam get this far? There's been plenty written about him. Here's a 2010 feature from Montana Headwall that details his early training and rise to the elite level. A snippet:

He first entered a race at age 13, and the experience hooked both Sam and his older brother, Andy. The two competed in semi-professional regional events throughout high school, with Andy usually winning.

"When we first started racing I was beating Sam purely because of the two-year age difference," says Andy. "Then, near my senior year of high school, Sam got a little more serious, trained all through the winter on a stationary rider and, not only did he start beating me, he started beating local pros from Washington, Idaho and Montana. That was kind of an eye opener. At that point it definitely wasn't cool to have my little brother beating me."

7. The race will be carried live Sunday on MSNBC starting at 6:30 a.m.

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