Adaptive athlete is a dual threat at Winter X Games | AspenTimes.com

Adaptive athlete is a dual threat at Winter X Games

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Mike Schultz, a Winter X Games standout in snowmobile events, is adding snowboarding to adaptive repertoire for the 2015 program in Aspen.
Courtesy photo |

Mike Schultz, at 33, is older than the majority of Winter X Games athletes.

But, at 33, “Monster Mike” is the smiling face of a new generation of Winter X as the 2015 games take off this week at Buttermilk.

Schultz, the veteran snowmobiler from St. Cloud, Minnesota, is a two-sport Winter X Games athlete this year in the ever-growing arena of adaptive competition.

He will ride his snow machine in his main event, Snowmobile Snocross Adaptive.

He’ll also ride his snowboard in Snowboard X Adaptive, a boardercross contest that is but one of the record number of adaptive events scheduled for the 2015 Winter X Games in Aspen.

“I’ve been working more on the snowboard,” Schultz said of his training program. “Snowmobiling, … that’s my sport. I’m comfortable on … my snowmobile. So, I’ve been snowboarding. Doing a lot of core work and some upper-body work for the snowmobile.”

A six-time X Games gold medalist (winter and summer, in motocross), Schultz is an amputee above the knee after suffering a snowmobile accident in 2008.

He returned to snowmobile competition seven months after the injury. And the adaptive athlete never looked back.

“Boardercross is super fun,” said Schultz, who will take the starting line in qualifying runs at 11 a.m. today on the Snowboard X course at Buttermilk. “It’s really challenging.”

Finals in Snowboard X Adaptive for 2015 are scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Schultz said that for years he was used to having handlebars to control his machine in competition.

“But snowboarding, … it’s all in the feet,” said Schultz, who is a member of the U.S. Snowboard Para Team.

Schultz, who has been featured on television, is known in the adaptive world as the creator of the innovative “moto knee” and “versa foot” prosthetic joints for action-sports athletes and disabled veterans.

He developed the prosthetics and established a company to produce them, BioDapt Inc., while continuing to compete as an athlete.

“In 2012, I was invited to the X Games boardercross when it was an exhibition sport,” Schultz said, adding that he’s excited the side-by-side racing form has been granted medal status this year.

The Minnesota native first came to Aspen in 2002 as a semi-professional snowmobile racer.

“I’ve been coming back ever since,” said Schultz, who won X Games gold in Adaptive Snowmobile Snocross in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

“The X Games made my athletic career better, and they made my business better, as well,” said Schultz, who pioneered the special action prosthetics to withstand the shocks and movements of sport. “I’ve been so fortunate to be part of the X Games, part of the television for the X Games. I caught a lot of attention (because of his prosthetics).”

This year he’ll be part of the largest field of adaptive athletes in the 14-year history of the X Games in Aspen.

“We are proud to showcase 19 competitions at X Games Aspen, which will include more medaled adaptive disciplines than ever before,” said Tim Reed, ESPN X Games senior director.

Schultz said the international exposure of Winter X is invaluable, in adaptive sports and snowmobiling in particular.

“The X Games is the biggest snowmobiling event in the world,” Schultz said. “It really showcases our sport well. They build these amazing courses for a good race, a good show. The X Games are the focal point of our season.”

dstrode@aspentimes.com


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