Minnesota native Mike Schultz, known as "Monster Mike," won two medals – a gold and a silver – in his Paralympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. He got his start in the sport while working on prosthetics for fellow adaptive athletes. A snowmobiling crash in December 2008 resulted in an above-the-knee amputation of his left leg. Less than two years later, he founded his own prosthetics company, born out of tinkering around his garage during recovery. After success at both the X Games and Winter X Games, Schultz sought new challenges at the Paralympics.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to multiple athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the snow or ice. Here’s what we found out about Schultz:
Mike Schultz, Snowboarding
Events: Snowboard Cross and Banked Slalom (SB-LL1)
Birthplace: Litchfield, Minn.
Hometown: Kimball, Minn.
Residence: St. Cloud, Minn.
Past Games: 2018
|Snowboard Cross SB-LL1||🥇 (Video)|
|Banked Slalom SB-LL1||🥈|
Family & Upbringing
Tell us about your family.
"My wife is Sara and our daughter Lauren, born in 2013. We live on a small horse ranch with six horses: Chief, Comanche, Ranger, Cane, Raven and Taz. House cat named Silver, named after my first X Games silver medal. My dad's name is Scott and mom is Carrie – they are not together."
Where does your family come from?
"I have roots in Germany from a couple generations ago, but my grandparents are American."
How influential were your parents in your athletic aspirations?
"Although my dad wasn't a fan of me getting into racing motocross when I first started at age 15, he quickly came around and then supported me after he saw how committed I was. My mom took me to my first BMX race when I was 13 and continued to cheer me on from the beginning and support however she could. I had a late start to competition compared to most."
Do you have children?
"Sara and I have a 7-year-old daughter. It definitely complicates my training and reduces the 'free-time' for sure! But this last couple seasons have become a lot more fun as she is able to spend time with me while training on my home hill and in my home gym. She likes to be my coach and take notes and run the stop watch. She plays a roll in my program. She has become a great gymnast over the last couple years and looks up to Simone Biles. She hasn't competed yet but I'm sure she will be soon."
Do you have another job?
"I founded and am the CEO at my company BioDapt, Inc., which is a lower limb prosthetic manufacturer. I build not only my own competition equipment but also build equipment for the majority of the Paralympic snowboarders, even my direct competitors. The toughest part about my entire program is trying to be the most productive I can with both business and as an athlete. The Games year is by far the toughest with work, training, competition, promotional/sponsor obligations… it's a nonstop grind!"
Do you have any pets?
"Six horses and a house cat." (see above)
Top spots in your hometown?
"My hometown is really small, population 690, so not many options, but I do recommend Triple R Grill & Bar and our hometown ski hill Powder Ridge has a great restaurant. I recommend northern Minnesota for some great camping. We spend a ton of time trail riding our horses at different campgrounds around the state."
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
"I wouldn't say it played a major roll in where I am today but they definitely gave me great support leading into and during the 2018 Games. I have my own designated day in Kimball – Aug. 27. Growing up in a small town can be a positive or a negative depending on your perspective. It has limitations but it's also being close with your community."
Where else have you lived?
"Our family is all based in my area. Sara and I lived in Brainerd, Minnesota, for 10 years which is an awesome location surrounded by lakes and trails."
Lifestyle & Training
Typical training day?
- "7 a.m. … breakfast
- 7:40 a.m. … bring Lauren to school
- 8:15 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. … build legs and work at BioDapt
- 3-6 p.m. +/- … training in my gym or on snow training at Powder Ridge (gates, park and course)
- 6:30 p.m. … dinner
- 7:30-9 p.m. … work on equipment or family time"
How much time to you train and sleep?
"Training fluctuates a lot with all my different obligations at work and home throughout the year, but right now through the Games I will spend anywhere from one and a half to four hours focused on physical and mental training and working on my equipment. I am constantly testing and developing my prosthetic equipment. This year, I have some big, unique plans to help me prepare and train for the 2022 Games. I am creating my own training environment that I have control over. It's going to be 'Changing the Game' for me."
What's your favorite workout?
"That's a tough one. In the gym, a full body circuit cross training. Motocross on hill, a mock race day with timing."
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
"Not sure I can choose a specific one but would likely be a type of interval cardio training where I rotate through rowing, biking and elliptical."
Surprising things regarding training for the Paralympics?
"I think that would be the depth of different things I train for; most people think I lift weights in the gym, do some spinning on the bike and then ride snowboard. But the reality is that it's so much more complex than that. For example, in the gym, my training topics are balance, fine-tuning muscle control, strength, power and endurance. My mental topics are sport focus, race craft, meditation and visualization.
"There is an enormous amount of time and effort spent during training that I put into equipment calibration and development. I have to design, prototype and manufacture everything I use to compete on as far as my prosthetic equipment I don't just purchase my legs like everyone else does."
Any out-of-the-ordinary or experimental training?
"I do a lot of data tracking with timing, GPS and video to help me create baselines that I can progress from."
Experience during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Our team was in Norway at a World Cup event. It was canceled after our first of two competitions and we hightailed it home and did a two-week quarantine from my family which was really hard after being gone for two weeks prior. The only training it really affected was our team camps and competitions. My standard training program while at home was not affected since I have my own gym and our ski hill stayed open this season. I just had to make my base camp in my van instead of in the chalet."
Have you ever been seriously injured?
"I had my leg amputated in December 2008. Yes, it took a lot! I had to build myself a new leg to get me back in action."
Any nutrition plan? (e.g., calories, meals)
"Nothing too crazy, just try to keep a balanced diet and increase proteins when I have a heavier load."
"Chocolate chip cookies."
Reflection & Paralympics
Earliest memory of playing sport?
"I was probably 10 years old when I saw snowboarding the first time at my ski hill. I remember the Burton AIR boards and the Sorel boots. It was crazy. My dedication as an athlete started when I was 15 and that was all based on motocross, which led to snowmobile racing.
"I loved head-to-head competition, I loved flying around a course, and the best feeling was when I could achieve my best lap or race after working so hard. All of this transferred into snowboarding when I realized I could be a competitive Paralympic snowboarder. I didn't start snowboarding until after my amputation."
Earliest memory of watching Olympics or Paralympics?
"I was around 6 years old and I remember watching the Summer Olympics. What stood out to me was how emotional the athletes were that won gold. I wondered why it was so important and then obviously learned why as I got older. I thought it would be so cool to be one of those athletes representing Team USA but I was never really into any of the sports until I started snowboarding."
Specific breakthrough moment?
"After my first World Cup in November 2014 I realized I could have a shot at it. I had only started snowboarding a few seasons before that. It was a fast learning curve!"
What would you change about your sport?
"I wish we had more events like [giant slalom] or dual GS which would open the door for more athletes to become part of it."
Who is your coach?
"Alex Tuttle, he has been with our team since 2019. It's good, he's pretty low-key which is OK with me."
Who do you socialize with most within your sport?
"I'd say I'm the closest with Keith Gabel."
Most interesting teammate?
"Well that's a loaded question. They are all interesting in their own way! Every one of them has a unique thing about their personality, some are annoying and some are enjoyable to be around."
"My two biggest rivals are teammate Noah Elliott and Chris Vos from Netherlands. I am friends with both and also build legs and adaptive equipment for both of them. So no matter what our interaction is on the race course, I still have to be professional toward them."
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
"Yes, I communicate with them on a monthly basis. It has made a positive difference with the way I evaluate and process the challenges in front of me."
Big obstacle that you've overcome?
"The most challenging was my life-changing amputation while I was at the peak of my professional snowmobile racing career. My goal since then was to make something good happen from something bad."
Biggest fear when competing?
"That would be sustaining another head injury."
Olympic/Paralympic role model?
"David Wise because he is a rad, grounded person who's able to have a long successful career while having kids. He's had some tough seasons and injuries but is able to come back even stronger."
Summer Olympic buddy?
"I'm a big fan of Mikaela Shiffrin. I've briefly met her twice."
Greatest influence within/outside sport?
"I would have to say that I'm grateful to all the adaptive snowboarders that help make the push to get snowboarding into the Sochi Games. I know it took a lot of effort."
Advice you'd give a young athlete?
"Learn how to enjoy the challenge of getting better!"
Best part of living in the Paralympic Village?
"Everyone worked incredibly hard and was so excited to be there which creates an awesome environment."
Where do you keep your medals?
"I have a trophy case set up in my gym. It makes for great motivation on those tough days."
Play any other sports?
"Motocross and snowbike racing, they both help with my race craft and physical readiness."
Which Summer Olympic/Paralympic event would you like to try?
"Bike racing on the oval track (velodrome)."
Any pre-competition rituals?
"Not so much rituals, but I do have a consistent routine in the start gate."
"Lauren always packs 'Lucky Bear' in my luggage when I leave for a big competition."
How did you discover adaptive sport?
"I learned of them through the Extremity Games in 2009, which connected me with Adaptive Action Sports. They helped get adaptive motocross into the X Games. Then, Amy Purdy and Dan Gale talked me into snowboarding."
Tell us about your impairment.
"Left leg, above-knee amputee caused by a severe knee injury."
Passions & Personality
Any teams/athletes that you are a fan of?
"Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Wild."
Do you have a nickname?
"Monster Mike – I earned this when racing snocross back in 2004 because of my aggressive riding style."
How do you unwind after a competition?
"I talk with my family and when I get home I spend time with my horses."
Do you have any hidden talents?
"I like to draw."
Do you collect anything?
"Yes, I collect horses. Lol!"
Do you support any charities or nonprofits?
"Wiggle Your Toes – they help new and active amputees acquire prosthetic equipment. St. Jude Children's Hospital."
What would you do if you weren't an athlete?
"Other than running my business, I would be traveling around camping and riding with our horses."
Do you have any fears or pet peeves?
"Lots of pet peeves from annoying people."
What is on your bucket list?
"Skydiving, horse camping in the Rockies."
Personal motto/inspirational quote?
"Work hard, play harder. Choose what you want to do and make it happen."
Woman that inspires you?
"My daughter Lauren, she motivates me to be an even better person and role model."
"Motocross, mountain biking, horseback riding and firearms."
"I can't decide on just one."
Music of choice while training?
"'Thunderstruck' by AC/DC; 'Hall of Fame' by The Script; 'Whatever It Takes' by Imagine Dragons; 'This Is How We Roll' by Florida Georgia Line; and ''Till I Collapse' by Eminem."
"Casual; jeans, t-shirt, flannel."
Five must-have items in your gym bag?
"iPod ear buds, HR monitor, equipment, shoes and towel."
If you could hear from one celeb, who would it be?
"Dwayne Johnson, 'The Rock,' he's currently one of my favorite movie stars, he's one tough dude!"
NBC Olympics Research contributed