Sam Schultz has already transitioned from top junior racer,
to up and comer, to top tier US pro racer. This season the Subaru/Trek racer is
looking to take the next step in his career by making the US Olympic team, and
though he’s a bit of a dark horse, Schultz is ready to give it his
all and challenge the likes of Wells, Craig, Bishop, and his own teammate JHK
to earn a coveted spot in London.
Schultz recently took a few minutes to talk to
MTBRacenews.com about what he’s been doing to make his Olympic dream come true,
what it’s like to have a brother in the pro ranks, and what he listens to while
MTBRacenews.com: What were you up to this off-season? Did you get
to do any good powder skiing in Montana?
Sam Schultz: This past off-season was great. After adhering to a fairly structured
lifestyle throughout the season (training plan, race schedule, etc.) it is
always great to switch into laid-back mode for a few months and fit in as much
unstructured adventure as possible. It started off great with a spur of the moment trip to climb the Grand
Teton straight from Marathon Nationals in September. I did a bunch of other hikes and a few backpacking
trips. I bought myself a Trek
Remedy trail bike so that I could embark upon plenty of flat-pedal "soul” rides
and managed to stay reasonably fit without feeling like I was training. Mother nature was not quite as generous
with the powder this year so I didn't get as much skiing as I would like. Luckily, during a block of the never
ending in-between fall/winter season I got to spend 10 days in Maui riding my
bike which was unreal. When I got
back I fit in a few good days of skiing before migrating south at the end of
MTBRacenews.com: How has racing in March changed your preparation
for this season?
Sam Schultz: My preparation has been slightly different this
year. I got a solid block of
riding in early December in Maui, I braved a little more December slush riding
in Montana than I normally would, and I made it to Tucson, AZ at the end of
December with more fitness than I normally have. The plan was to hit it pretty hard through the winter in an
effort to be going well for the early races but not everything always goes
exactly as planned. Some ill-timed
"old man back” issues flared up in February and I was hobbled up for a little
bit. Luckily I was referred to a
great doctor, John Ball, in Phoenix and after a couple of rocky weeks I'm
feeling much better and back on the program. I'm a little behind where I planned to be but I think that
things will work out just fine and who knows, it could be for the best. All things considered I'm really
psyched with how things are going right now and I'm fired up to head to South
Africa for the first World Cup.
MTBRacenews.com: What are your big goals for 2012?
Sam Schultz: My big goal for this season is the Olympics. I would love to put together the ride
of my life on the biggest stage in international sport. Obviously, to make that happen, I need
to start by making the Olympic team. So right now that's my focus. The selection is based on the first 4 World Cups so I'm hoping to come
out with guns blazing. Other high
priority races include the Missoula XC because it's a rad hometown race and
National Championships because it would be sweet to earn that jersey.
MTBRacenews.com: Do spend more time on the road bike or the
mountain while training?
Sam Schultz: In the winter I spend more time on my road bike
just to get a bunch of volume and consistency in. Once the racing season starts I switch over to mostly MTB
riding, especially when I get back to Montana because the trails are too good
not to ride.
MTBRacenews.com: What is it like to have a brother who’s also a pro
mountain bike racer? Do you and Andy train together a lot? Do you help motivate
Sam Schultz: It's super cool having a brother who is a fellow
pro mountain bike racer. Andy and
I tend to be mostly lone wolves
when we're training so we don't ride together a whole lot but it is nice to
have a brother who understands exactly what it is like to be a professional
racer.. We definitely help to
motivate each other and bounce ideas off of each other. Plus it's great having him at the
MTBRacenews.com: How did you first get into mountain biking?
am Schultz: Andy and I started out exploring the trails around
our house on our clunky mountain bikes and had a lot of fun doing it. My Uncle was really into mountain
biking at the time and he lined up some nicer bikes to ride one time when we
visited him and I thought it was the best thing ever. I blew all of my savings on a sweet bike when I was 13 and
shortly after that my Uncle talked me into trying a race. After my first one I was hooked.
MTBRacenews.com: Do you listen to music while you train? If you do,
what are you listening to most these days?
Sam Schultz: I don't know if I would be able to ride without
music these days. I have a wide
variety of tunes that I usually leave on shuffle so I never know what I'm going
to get. Lucky for me, one of our
team sponsors is Westone music and they make the best earphones in the
business. Whether it's the trashy
hip-hop that I got from teammate Russell Finsterwald, classic rock, or acoustic
jams; it all sounds dang good.
MTBRacenews.com: It seems like more and more pro racers are jumping
on the 29er bandwagon these days. What do you see as driving that trend?
Sam Schultz: It certainly helps that more races are being won
on 29ers. I think that gives
people the confidence to try them and it seems like almost everyone that tries
one with an open mind loves it. It
also helps that technology is advancing so that more bike companies have a
reasonable 29 inch bike option with a decent enough selection of tires. That has been the great thing about
riding Trek's Gary Fisher collection bikes. Those guys have been making 29ers longer than anyone and
their bikes are amazing.
MTBRacenews.com: What’s one race you’ve never done that you’d like
to participate in someday?
Sam Schultz: I would really like to do a stage race like the
Trans Alp race. I always see
pictures of those races and it looks unreal.
MTBRacenews.com: What’s the most rewarding part about racing your
Sam Schultz: Getting to do what I
love every single day.
MTBRacenews.com: When did you decide to grow a mustache? Will it be
making an appearance again at the first World Cup in South Africa?
Sam Schultz: It all started when I managed to talk the guys on
our team (including staff) into growing mustaches between World Cup finals and
World Championships. We were the best
looking team on the circuit that weekend. I ended up keeping mine after the race and went to a BBQ with a bunch of
friends in Montana when I got home. Somehow by the end of the evening a bet including about 10 of my friends
formed. The last man standing with
a mustache wins. I'm going for the
win. And yes, you can expect to
see it in South Africa.
MTBRacenews.com: If you could go pro in a sport other than mountain
biking, what would it be and why?
Sam Schultz: I've always dreamed of being a professional big
mountain skier. Not that I have
even 1% of the skill to back it up, but if I was good enough it would be
sweet. It just seems like such a
different lifestyle than XC mountain bike racing and I love skiing.