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 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.”
“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.”
The preceding article was reprinted from the Helena Independent Record