Foxcatcher

Mark Schultz: ‘Foxcatcher’ greater than Olympics

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Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestling gold medalist, said the film “Foxcatcher,” based on the murder of his Olympic champion brother, is “the greatest thing that has happened in my life.”

“Easily the greatest,” Schultz said last month, according to MMAMania.com. “Even greater than the Olympics.”

Why does it beat a gold medal?

“I got Channing Tatum playing me, and Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo [also in the cast], and Bennett Miller [the director],” Schultz answered in a phone interview. “I got this A-list cast, and it’s like thank God all the pain and suffering I went through, all the destruction that occurred in my life didn’t go for nothing.”

Schultz and older brother Dave Schultz won Olympic freestyle wrestling titles at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. As depicted in the film, they both later joined paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John du Pont‘s Foxcatcher gym in Pennsylvania.

Du Pont shot and killed Dave Schultz on Jan. 26, 1996. At the time, Mark Schultz was no longer at Foxcatcher and coaching at Brigham Young University in Utah.

The film “Foxcatcher” opened in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. It stars Carell as du Pont, Ruffalo as Dave Schultz and Tatum as Mark Schultz and has received Academy Awards buzz. Carell, in particular.

Schultz confirmed he cried each of the first three times he saw the movie. Why?

“Watching my brother get murdered,” he said, matter-of-factly.

In previous interviews, Schultz said that years ago a draft of his memoir, which he originally gave to younger wrestlers, eventually made it into the hands of director Bennett Miller. Miller was then coming off making the 2005 film “Capote,” for which he was nominated for Best Director.

“[Miller] read one paragraph and said, ‘This is the story I’ve been looking for for the last six years,'” Schultz said in a radio interview.

To which Schultz later responded, “What paragraph was that?” (Miller couldn’t remember by the time Schultz was able to ask him)

Bennett took on the film. Schultz, an associate producer, said being on set in Pittsburgh was painful — so much that he walked off the set at one point, and he said he doesn’t like parts of the film — but the experience also proved cathartic.

“The training that the actors had to go through, and the going back into my past and dredging up all that horrible stuff, and the actors really wanted to get it right,” he said, according to FoxSports.com. “They wanted to get to the truth, and they did get to the truth.”

Schultz spent additional time with Tatum in Montreal and New York. Tatum had already played the role of a fighter in the 2009 film “Fighting.”

source: Getty Images
Mark Schultz (left) and Channing Tatum at the Cannes Film Festival in May. (Getty Images)

“[Tatum] already looks like me, kind of, better looking,” Schultz said in the radio interview. “He’s a great MMA fighter.”

Schultz said the first time he saw Carell dressed as du Pont on set, it was like seeing a ghost.

“My personal feelings was I actually thought it was du Pont for a split second,” Schultz said, according to FoxSports.com. “I thought he had been resurrected from the dead because he looked so much like him. He walked and talked exactly like him.”

Schultz even had a cameo in the film, as the official weighing Tatum at the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, when in real life he had to cut 12 pounds in 90 minutes to make weight.

Schultz distanced himself from USA Wrestling in previous interviews. He said he used to scream at the organization’s former executive director, in the 1980s, for its inability to assist him financially while training. He went to Foxcatcher because du Pont offered him money. Du Pont became a USA Wrestling sponsor, and reportedly gave more than $3 million to the national governing body.

“I don’t have any animosity towards [USA Wrestling],” Schultz says now. “They do what they do. I do what I do.”

USA Wrestling supports the film.

“Going into the movie, I was a little apprehensive and worried, so to speak, in terms of how accurately the story would have been told and what reflection the movie would have on wrestling and USA Wrestling as well,” said USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender, who knew du Pont and was the organization’s national events director two decades ago. “I was relieved, from an authenticity standpoint, and from a fair representation.”

Tiger Woods’ ranking drop brings up Olympic question

Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Kimmie Meissner, Casey entering skating Hall of Fame

Meryl Davis, Charlie White
AP
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — As they enter the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Meryl Davis and Charlie White ponder just who they are joining in receiving one of the highest honors in their sport.

“One of the things that makes it so special is we are friends with and respect so much so many previous people who have gone into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said before the induction ceremony Saturday. “Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamguchi, Brian Boitano — people we look up to and now we are in their company.”

As are 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner and the late Kathy Casey, one of American figure skating’s most successful coaches.

Davis and White, along with training partners and friends Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, were at the forefront of bringing ice dance to previously unreachable heights for Americans. Once the abyss of the sport, Americans now tend to populate podiums in international competitions.

In 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Davis and White followed Belbin and Agosto four years earlier as silver medalists. At the Sochi Games in 2014, they edged Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 champions, for the gold.

Davis and White won every U.S. title from 2009-14, plus two world crowns.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

But Davis and White were — and are — about so much more than their on-ice performances. He now coaches and she has been instrumental in the startup and development of Figure Skating in Detroit, an offshoot of the inner city Figure Skating in Harlem program that has been a rousing success in New York City.

“When we were young skaters and took the lay of the land of the sport,” White said, “we thought about becoming leaders of the sport. We recognized we would have a role as we were ascending and we felt it was a real responsibility. Be thoughtful and considerate with anyone you deal with. We tried to let our skating do the talking as competitors, but we wanted the way we conducted ourselves off the ice to be professional and helpful to the sport.

“We have felt the responsibility because of everything skating has given to us to give back responsibly and, in the end, to always be grateful.”

Meissner, still one of the few American women to master the triple Axel, also is one of those rare athletes to be a champion on all level. She won novice, junior and senior U.S. titles.

Her performance at age 16 at Calgary worlds soon after finishing sixth at the Turin Olympics as the youngest U.S. athlete not only was a highlight of her career but of any world championships.

“I was ready for that moment,” said Meissner, who also coaches and is in school to become a physician’s assistant. “I had been practicing that way pretty much before the Olympics. It was nerves at the Olympics and I was happy to salvage what I did.

“At worlds, I was not shocked at all that I skated clean at a time when it really needs to happen.”

Casey, who died in September, spent more than 50 years in the sport. She helped advance the biomechanical studies of jumps and was expert at helping skaters correct technical aspects of their performances. In 2005, she was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Science Coach of the Year.

The official U.S. coach at three Olympics, Casey coached two-time U.S. champion Scott Davis (1993-94). She was the Professional Skaters Association president from 1989 to 1994, was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008.

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MORE: Nathan Chen leads men’s short program, followed by world team battle

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Nathan Chen leads U.S. Figure Skating Championships, followed by world team battle

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Nathan Chen broke his own U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program scoring record, hitting two quadruple jumps en route to a whopping 13.14-point lead on Saturday.

Chen, trying to become the first man to win four straight national titles since Brian Boitano in 1988, tallied 114.13 points. Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, is in second after beating Chen in artistic marks but lacking a quad. Andrew Torgashev is the surprise third-place skater going into Sunday’s free skate.

Chen hit a quad flip, triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination in Greensboro, N.C., on limited practice due to a recent flu.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Chen, a Yale sophomore, said on NBC. “This was probably the least prepared I’ve been, but I really made good use of the last week, the week that I was able to actually start getting training in.”

Nationals continue later Saturday with the pairs’ free skate and the free dance, live on NBC Sports. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

How substantial is Chen’s lead? No other skater, pair or dance couple has led a U.S. Championships by double digits after a short program since the Code of Points was instituted in 2006. Chen has now done it three times in the last four years.

Chen, undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, is all but assured to lead the three-man world championships team. Who will join him is what will be determined Sunday.

Brown is in strong position to go to a fourth world championships in Montreal in March. He was clean on his three jumping passes, though the only man in the top five without a quad. Brown is the second-ranked U.S. man overall this season, coming back from a late August concussion when his Uber ran a red light, T-boned another car, then swung sideways and hit the car a second time.

“The season has been such a struggle,” Brown said. “To work through each setback and to be able to put up a performance like that, that I’ve worked so hard to do, that’s where the emotion came from.”

Torgashev, who won the 2015 U.S. junior title at age 13, made his case with a clean short featuring a quad toe. Torgashev’s best senior nationals finish in three starts was seventh last year. He is the son of two world junior medalists from the Soviet Union.

Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, has twice finished second to Chen at nationals. He was strong on Saturday considering his turbulent season, placing fourth with a quad Salchow.

Zhou attempted to match Chen last fall by balancing Ivy League classes with training. It didn’t work, and he went the entire autumn without committed skating. He decided to take a break from Brown University and move to Toronto to train under a new coach, Lee Barkell.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Adam Rippon takes pleasure in new role — coaching U.S. silver medalist

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.