Jared Shumate, Stephen Schumann still hungry after making Olympic dreams a reality
The Parkites reflect on their experiences in Beijing
For Park City Nordic combined athlete Jared Shumate, walking as part of Team USA at the opening ceremony in Beijing was when it finally set in that he was at the Olympics. After years of training, spending the season looking forward to the Games and making it through COVID-19 protocol, it all felt real for the first time.
“It’s kinda surreal to walk out with the entire U.S. team, walk into this huge stadium under the Olympic rings with someone waving the flag in front of you,” he said in an interview three weeks after the close of the Beijing Games. “Like that’s something I think every kid watches on TV, myself included. I’ve probably watched every opening ceremony since I can remember, so to actually be there walking and be a part of it, that was super cool.”
Shumate and fellow Parkite Stephen Schumann were both part of a five-man Nordic combined contingent that competed in China for the U.S. Both made their Olympic dreams a reality in their early 20s. Shumate and Schumann are just a year apart in age and are closer with each other than their other American teammates by virtue of growing up together.
“Same coaches, we’ve known each other for too long, so it’s pretty cool,” Schumann said. “It’s pretty cool, it just reminds you that anything can happen and if you set your mind to it, anything can happen.”
Shumate felt that his best performances of the season came in Beijing. He finished 19th in the individual normal hill/10-kilometer competition and then moved up to 17th in the large hill event. Shumate was the highest-finishing American in the latter, giving him some bragging rights.
“It’s always nice to beat your teammates, that’s maybe subconsciously a goal,” Shumate said. “But I definitely didn’t go into that hoping to be the best American, I just wanted to be happy with what I produced. At the end of that competition, I was happy with what I did.”
Shumate also helped the U.S. finish sixth in the team competition. He was the Americans’ second-best jumper, and then his cross-country skiing time of 12:53.1 helped move them into sixth by the end of the event.
Schumann only competed in the normal hill event and finished 25th. He struggled on the ski jumping hill, but Schumann put together the eighth-fastest race time to move up eight spots.
“Competing and just being there and putting my best foot forward was awesome,” Schumann said. “I did have one of my better results this year. … I was happy with the end result that I had and walking through the opening ceremony and all the stuff that comes along with being at the Olympics.”
Shumate got his start in Nordic combined by participating in the Youth Sports Alliance’s Get Out & Play program. Schumann, on the other hand, saw ski jumpers training at the Utah Olympic Park one day with his dad and convinced his parents to let him try it. Schumann even wrote a book about learning to ski jump when he was 8 called “How the Skunk Learned to Jump.” Schumann hasn’t mentioned plans to write a follow-up book about accomplishing his childhood Olympic dreams, but both are focused on heading back to the Games in 2026.
“Bigger goals, hopefully we both go back in 2026 and be fighting for medals,” Schumann said.
“I think I decided after I crossed the finish line at our last event that I want to be fighting for a medal in 2026,” Shumate added. “Going to finish this season out and then refocus and give it another four years of effort because it’s going to be a lot of work to make that happen, but I’m excited to do that.”
Both athletes were back in Park City over the weekend for two Continental Cup events at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow. Shumate had his best finish in the Continental Cup this season with a fourth-place finish on Sunday after coming in sixth the day before. Schumann also had his best Continental Cup result with a seventh-place finish on Sunday and an 11th-place finish on Saturday.
For Shumate, another highlight of this season was scoring his first World Cup points with two top-30 placements to qualify him for Beijing in the first place. Schumann also made a few World Cup starts this season. As the two head toward the end of a memorable season, they know that there’s still work to do.
“Scoring World Cup points was a goal for a really long time, happy to do it,” Shumate said. “Certainly not easy, as I learned last weekend because I went back to World Cup and was out of the points and disappointed again. Motivating to know that I can be in the World Cup top 30, so I’m looking to be more consistent with that next season.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.