Mike Schultz Wins First Banked Slalom World Title In Pyha

By Brianna Tammaro | March 27, 2019, 12:24 p.m. (ET)

Mike Schultz stands atop the podium with his fellow snowboarders at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Mike Schultz earned his first world title in banked slalom in Pyha, Finland, as his teammate Noah Elliott won a silver medal in his first world championship competition.  

  • Mike Schultz captures career-first world title in banked slalom at the World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland.
  • Noah Elliott wins silver medal in his world championship debut.
  • Team USA collects two medals heading into Saturday’s snowboardcross competition.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Paralympic champion Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minnesota) added the only missing title from his already impressive resume today: world champion. The two-time Paralympic medalist, who won Paralympic gold in snowboardcross in PyeongChang, captured his first world title in banked slalom at the World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha, Finland. Schultz led a 1-2 podium finish alongside U.S. teammate Noah Elliott (St. Charles, Missouri) in the men’s LL1 class.


In Pyha, Schultz edged Elliott by just over half a second to take the crown. Elliott, the Paralympic champion in the event, won silver in his world championship debut after coming onto the Para snowboarding scene in 2017. The U.S. teammates prevented a three-peat for Dutch rider Chris Vos, who has won the last two banked slaloms at the 2015 and 2017 world championships and took bronze today.


Schultz won his first world championship medal in this event two years ago and since then, has had a rapid trajectory with the U.S. team. His accolades include two Paralympic medals, world cup season title crystal globes and leading the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony as the flag bearer for the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.


In addition to two medals, Team USA had four top-10 finishes in banked slalom today. Brittani Coury (Durango, Colorado) nearly made the podium with a fourth place result in the women’s LL2 class while Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah), Zach Miller (Denver, Colorado) and Joe Pleban (Fredericksburg, Virginia) finished eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the men’s LL2 division.


Team USA will return in two days to compete in snowboardcross on Saturday, March 30.


QUOTES

Mike Schultz

“I still had one more goal after winning Paralympic gold and silver last year and that was to win at world championships. I came up a little short a few years ago and this year, my focus was on world championships here in Pyha, Finland. It's been an amazing day of competition and I’m so pumped to bring home gold for Team USA once again. It feels so good to be world champion. I like the sound of that, actually.”


“Today was an exciting day of racing. We had some dynamic weather that kind of threw a monkey wrench into the program. After the first run, I was in second place behind my teammate Noah by just a few tenths of a second. I knew I had to do something special on run two, which can be a challenge with the weather conditions. We had 30-plus mile-per-hour winds, snow and flight-light conditions so it was definitely hard to go faster in the second run. However, I knew there was room for improvement in a couple of the corners and features so I was able to dial it in and hit my lines and come out with a really good second run, bumping me into the lead. It feels pretty incredible to earn that title of world champion in banked slalom.”


“I have to give a huge shoutout to Pyha resort as well as my coaches, staff and teammates. Time and time again, Pyha comes out with these incredible, fun and good-flowing courses that we get to race on. All of the athletes are super pumped about it. Also, a huge thank you to all of the fans at home who are following our results online and through social media. It’s much appreciated.”


Noah Elliott

“I’m feeling great. Today was my first world championship competition and I was super excited to bring home a silver. I really feel like the course pushed my riding a little bit. I had a blast and it was so cool to be able to take home a medal at my first-ever world championships, especially being alongside one of my teammates and bringing home two medals for U.S. team. I’m excited to regroup and have a day off to get ready for the next competition, snowboardcross, on Saturday. I’m stoked!”


U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding Team Medal Count: 2

Gold: 1 – Mike Schultz (banked slalom)

Silver: 1 – Noah Elliott (banked slalom)


LOOKING FORWARD

Team USA will return after a day off and training with snowboardcross races on Saturday, March 30. Competition will conclude Sunday, March 31, with a new race, the snowboardcross team event.


FOLLOW ALONG

Follow U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding at the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For live results, visit the IPC website.