Schultz goes for sixth gold in adaptive snocross
Minnesota’s Mike Schultz grew up tinkering with things in the shop. As an adult, those skills became extra valuable when he set out to build himself a new leg.
“I was always messing around with fabrication and had several jobs as I grew up related to metal fabrication,” Schultz told The Aspen Times in a phone interview last week. “Originally, I designed the knee to get myself back in action.”
Schultz’s story is well known in the snowmobile world. One of the best snocross racers on the planet, his life was turned upside down in December 2008 when he lost control of his machine during a race. He was bucked off the snowmobile, a compound fracture in his left leg leading to it being amputated just above the knee.
Only a few months later, Schultz was back looking to again make a name for himself on the course.
“As we were in the hospital and I learned amputation was the only real way to move forward, for a while there I thought my competition days were over,” Schultz said. “Then I realized I wanted to keep doing this. That was part of the challenge that motivated me to get back into shape and really challenge myself to get back on the snowmobile.”
Schultz, now 35, will return to the Winter X Games in Aspen this week, where he will compete in Thursday’s snowmobile snocross adaptive competition at Buttermilk. He already holds the X Games record for most adaptive gold medals, which includes his Moto X medals from the Summer X Games.
Schultz is the reigning snocross adaptive champion, and will be looking for his sixth gold in the event this week. He also won X Games gold in adaptive snocross in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
“X Games is always the highlight of my season,” Schultz said. “It’s always great to see good competition. I feel really confident in my own program. As long as we don’t have any major problems, I feel real confident that I can win again this year.”
After his injury in 2008, Schultz began working on his own prosthetic. This led to the creation of BioDapt in 2010, his company that creates performance prosthetics and adaptive equipment, including the Moto Knee and Versa Foot.
“A business around sports prosthetics sounded pretty good,” Schultz said. “After going to some adaptive competitions and meeting other adaptive athletes, it was pretty apparent to me that these guys could utilize this equipment that I was starting to create.”
If this wasn’t enough, Schultz also picked up adaptive snowboarding. He admits to having wake boarded a bit before his injury, but didn’t get into snowboarding until after he had lost his leg.
Now, he is in his third season with the U.S. Paralympic snowboarding team, with his eyes firmly set on the 2018 Olympics in Korea.
“I’ve been able to do a lot of snowboard training right now over the last couple of weeks here in my hometown,” Schultz said. “They built a boardercoss course for us to train on, which has been extremely valuable.”
Schultz will go for his sixth gold in adaptive snocross beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday at Buttermilk. Admission is free for spectators. The races also can been watched at XGames.com.
When asked if he is receiving any insider information on the terrain, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — the boyfriend of Edwards’ own Mikaela Shiffrin — chuckled and replied, “You probably think so, but I actually I don’t.”