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Nino Schurter – a mountain bike pro lifts a curse

You hardly ever see his face. And even if you do, you can’t recognise him under all the dirt and sweat. His helmet, which features his sponsor, and his legs are his most powerful tools. He’s not just any mountain bike pro – he’s fought as hard as nobody else for each and every one of his victories.

The mighty rainbow jersey worn by the reigning world champion usually doesn’t stay clean for more than a few seconds. Schurter gives it his all from the very beginning. He doesn’t go easy on his equipment, he demands everything from his bike and he pushes his body to the limit. Swiss Champion, World Champion and Olympic Champion: He’s won every title there is to win in the world of mountain biking. But getting there has been a hard-fought battle.

Nip and tuck: Schurter fighting for every little bit.

Skill comes with practice

He won his first major title at the age of 16: Nino became Swiss Mountain Bike Champion in the category «cadets». Two years later he repeated his victory in the Junior Championship; in the following years, 2005 to 2008, he did the same with the Espoirs, the U23 athletes. In 2003, he won the silver medal at the World Championship, one year later he won gold. In 2005, he completed his set of medals at the World Championship by winning the bronze medal. In 2006, he became European Champion, overall World Cup winner and World Champion.

Nino competing at Cape Epic, a multi-day mountain bike race in South Africa.

The curse of the Olympics

Schurter won the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Even though it was the first time he attended the Olympics and Schurter wasn’t one of the top seeds, this medal wasn’t a complete surprise. He belonged to the extended group of favourites – his performance and victories in his junior days hadn’t passed unnoticed. Satisfied, but also ambitious and gutsy, Nino Schurter stated after his third place in Beijing: «I’m aiming for gold in London 2012!" – as it turned out later, he was willing to do anything it took to make this happen.

He didn’t quite make his goal in London – Schurter came second.

A never-ending story in three acts

In the four years between the Beijing Olympics and the Olympic Games in London, Schurter dedicated everything to his goal of winning the gold medal. His preparation was meticulous, leaving nothing to chance. Every competition he entered was planned, prepared and executed with London in mind. Schurter minimised risks, skipped races and even changed his diet to guarantee best possible preparation. But this doesn’t mean he didn’t win anything in this time: 7 World Cup titles, World Champion 2009 and 2012 and Swiss Champions 2010 and 2012.

Tour de Suisse 2014: Schurter went to any lengths to win the Olympics.

Those darned five rings

Despite all the preparation, his plan failed. Schurter was overtaken by Jaroslav Kulhavý 200 metres from the finish line. The Czech snatched the long-awaited and hard-earned gold medal from under his nose. Kulhavý hadn’t been considered one of the favourites and Schurter had everything under control during the entire race – but he underestimated the Czech’s strength shortly before the finish line. Schurter ended up winning silver. «Only» silver. He couldn’t keep back his tears. A stranger had come and turned his plans upside down in a split second. The world collapsed on him. He hadn’t been able to give his best performance, to show his strengths, his fast start, his perfect downhill cycling and his mental presence. Everything was ready for the great victory... only Schurters wasn’t.

Devastated, his dream shattered and another four years of waiting time: Schurter at the 2012 Olympics.

Hunt for glory

To Schurter, this second place felt like losing the competition. He’d waited four years for that big moment and when it arrived, the medal was snatched from under his nose. And his next chance to win gold was four years away again. But Nino Schurter is one of the most determined athletes on this planet, not only when it comes to mountain biking. All good things come in threes, he thought to himself and decided to go through the same exertions, preparations and efforts again in order to finally win gold in Rio 2016. He didn't hesitate for a second, didn't take any time off and directed his focus right back on his dream. Schurter and his team planned in even more detail, implemented learnings from the first two experiments and worked with extra high intensity. Schurter even took up road racing and took part in the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse with Orica-Greenedge in 2014.

Better late than never

Schurter launched #huntforglory, his own series of webisodes – videos that show how he prepared for the Olympic Games in Rio. His website reads: «It’s not only about how Nino prepares for the biggest goal of his career, the golden medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but even more about shredding trails, travelling around the world, and all the fun that mountain biking brings». Once again, Schurter left nothing to chance and this time around, let his fans accompany him on his adventure. Fully aware of the potential to backfire, Schurter worked harder and more than ever. He didn’t consider it a risk that expectations and pressure would once again rise to immeasurable heights. He considered it an opportunity and a tremendous motivation boost. This time, it all worked out. Nino Schurter won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Finally: Nino as new Olympic Champion after winning the cross-country cycling mountain bike race.

Happiness on and off the bike

Schurter wouldn't be Schurter if he’d relaxed after winning the Olympics. He went on to win all the races he took part in in 2017, including the legendary «Cape Epic», his fifth overall victory in the Mountain Bike World Cup, the World Champion title in singles, as well as his first title in Cross Country Relay. When times get tough, the modest biker can count on the support and encouragement from his wife and their daughter. I wonder if he’s thinking about ending his career as a mountain bike pro. Possibly. But he also knows that he’s currently in the form of his life. And two-time Olympic Champion doesn't sound bad, does it?

Proud dad and happy family man: Nino Schurter is also an ambitious dad.

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Raphael Knecht, Zurich

  • Teamleader Heimdall
When I'm not stuffing my face with sweets, you'll catch me running around in the gym hall. I’m a passionate floorball player and coach. On rainy days, I tinker with my homebuilt PCs, robots or other gadgets. Music was my first love, cooking is my second: I’m a real foodie and love trying out new recipes. I also enjoy travelling to exotic places, tackling hilly terrain on my road bike and criss-crossing the country on my cross-country skis.

1 Comment

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User sftmval

Olympiade bezeichnet den Zeitraum zwischen zwei olympischen Spielen ;)