Paralympic Snowboarder Mike Schultz: Why I Built My Own Leg [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]
Mike Schultz, the extraordinary Paralympic snowboarder, recently revealed how he got into the sport – and built his own leg for the task – in an exclusive interview with uSports.
The 36-year-old Minnesota native told the story of how and why he built his own prosthetic leg and more just days before he headed to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Back in 2008 I was on top of my game as a professional snow-cross competing with the best in the world, and unfortunately I had an injury in competition, a really bad knee injury that resulted in the amputation of my left leg,” Schultz told uSports exclusively. “I definitely didn’t know what my future was going to hold, I thought my competition days were over but after some time and recovering physically, I realized that I didn’t want to slow down, I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch everybody else, so I decided I wanted to compete again and first on my list was getting back to racing motocross, and in order to do that I had to develop prosthetic equipment to allow me to ride again.”
Schultz, who won a silver medal in banked slalom at the 2017 World Championships, decided the only answer was to develop his own equipment.
“I tried riding with my everyday prosthetic equipment, but it definitely didn’t work because when you’re riding, you need to be able to absorb impact with your legs, and that’s a huge part of how we ride: controlling the machines with your legs and absorbing those bumps and jumps,” he said. “My everyday walking leg would just flop around and wouldn’t help me out at all. I came up with a really cool linkage system that revolved around a Fox mountain bike shock, and worked on the design for about a month. Then I worked on the very first prototype for about a week in the shop, which was about three months after I was injured, and my design worked really well right off the bat.”
More than 100 wounded soldiers, extreme athletes and other amputees are currently using Schultz’s prosthetics after he founded BioAdapt, Inc. in July 2010.
That same year, Schultz became the first person to win a gold medal at the X Games and Winter X Games. His other hobbies include motocross, mountain biking, skiing, horseback riding and working in his shop. Also in 2010, he was inducted into the Athletes with Disabilities Network Hall of Fame in the U.S.
Schultz didn’t start snowboarding until around 2012, after he became an amputee. “They added snowboarding to the Paralympics in Sochi in 2014, and right after that I got a phone call from the U.S. coach, and he said, ‘Hey, what do you think about shooting for the games next time around in 2018?’ and I thought, ‘It’s fun and all, but I live in Minnesota and we don’t have a lot of big mountains to train on or boarder-cross courses, but they talked me into it and I gave it a try for a couple of years and I ended up enjoying it and getting pretty good.”
Schultz also expressed joy in having the chance to participate in the #GetsMeStarted campaign for Olympic and Paralympic athletes competing in the Pyeongchang 2018 Games, working with sponsor Kellogg’s, which has been promoting #GetsMeStarted.
“I’m on the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal box with Tony the Tiger,” said Schultz. “I mean, that’s ‘big time!’