Mark Schultz: ‘Foxcatcher’ greater than Olympics

Foxcatcher
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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.”

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In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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