Quick Chat – Julian Schmidt
Good job last weekend over in Houston finishing with a podium on Sunday.
How did your weekend go in general?
Thank you! I needed some laps to find my rhythm again after a long winter in Germany without racing for a few months. But that’s exactly what we came for – to get back into the racing routines and race a lot of laps against the best in the world and be ready for the European season afterwards. First day, I made some mistakes in my Quarter and got put over the last turn being in 4th for a warm welcome to the USA haha. On Day two, I made a mistake in my semi and got 5th. And ended the day with a 2nd in the B Main. On Sunday, I finally felt more like myself and rode more consistently. I won my Semi, got first lane pick and got a close 2nd in the main to finish the weekend, which was pretty good.
I was really impressed with all of the German Elite riders while watching the live feed. Looks like you guys have put in a good winter and are looking to step things up for 2023?
Yeah, I think having a Supercross track in Germany since the end of 2018 finally shows. I feel like we made a big step last year already. Having a Euro Cup in Stuttgart at the beginning of last season helped a ton. Three of us Elites podiumed there. We continued with our best World Cup results ever with some semis and finals. It’s good that we have three guys with the potential for World Cup finals at the moment. When one of us get a good result, the others immediately know they can achieve the same and get even hungrier because everybody wants to be the best.
Who’s on the National Team for 2023?
Since it’s Olympic qualifying now and the federation’s budget for BMX isn’t too big we will have four guys on the World Cup Team. The three top scorers for Olympic points plus one more as a reserve. Philip Schaub, Stefan Heil, Liam Webster, and myself. And there’s some younger guys on the National Team who will focus more on Euro Cups and some U23 World Cups etc.
How does the National Team work? Do you guys all travel and train together? Who are the coaches? Maybe not everyone knows who’s in the background helping you guys out?
Pretty much everybody on the National Team is living and training in Stuttgart at the National Training Center. The top four guys all have their individual Coaches and Training Programs though. For the World Cups, we will travel as a National Team with Florian Ludewig the National Coach, a Physio, and a Mechanic. For Euro Cups, we can travel with the Coach of the National Training Center in Stuttgart and get help with Hotel and travel expenses.
What’s the goal for you for 2023? I’m thinking long-term, Paris 2024?
Yes, long term of course the goal is to qualify for Paris and get a medal there. But until then there’s a lot of big races I want to do well at. The goal is to take the next step this year and execute my capabilities in each race to make as many finals and podiums as possible.
How is BMX in Germany these days? Is the sport still growing?
Numbers wise the sport in Germany is still pretty small to be honest. Unfortunately, it’s even gotten smaller during my time in the sport but I think on the Elite Level it’s getting better with having a full-on Supercross track to train on and more spots in the High-performance Athletes program from the German Army. So more Athletes can be Professionals and focus on the sport nowadays compared to the last Olympic cycles.
Give us a little background on your own history, from getting into BMX, your Amateur career and moving into Elite?
I started BMX when I was 6 years old in 2001 in Erlangen, Germany. In my amateur years, I only raced on the national level for a long time while trying some Euro Rounds here and there that weren’t too far away. I always won or got 2nd in Germany but always got smoked at the Euro Cups. Probably because I raced flats in Germany until I was around 14 and at Euro Rounds everybody used clips haha. After having no chance at all as a 14 year old in Klatovy, I remember coming home and wanting to race clips and do more than just club practice 2-3 times a week.
I started going to the gym and doing sprints and my friend’s Dad from our club took me with them to the South of France every school holiday to train with PH Sauze there. In Boys 16 I then raced the whole Euro Cup series for the first time and made a lot of finals. In Junior, I won some Euro Cups, got 3rd in the series, and made the final at the Worlds in Birmingham (went for the pass to win and failed, 7th).
I started pretty well into my first year as an Elite but then I ruptured my Achilles tendon in an accident right before my first elite Worlds. Some bad rehab, bad advice on when and how to get back into racing and just being young and dumb snowballed into a lot of back-to-back injuries in the first couple of elite years.
In 2016 I finally felt like I could start my Elite career with having the first injury-free season again. I made some Euro Cup finals there and went to the Olympics in Rio as a Reserve Athlete. Unfortunately, I had to get surgery on my hip after the Olympics to get rid of some ongoing problems. The Rehab after that pretty much took a whole another season away. End of 2017 I started training with Kurt Pickard who helped me by having some guidance and smart training programs to get my career back on track. I needed some years of consistent training to close the gap to the Elites and make up for the lost time during the injuries. The Year 2020 without any races helped me with that as well. I could train consistently and get a bit closer to the World’s best.
Now I am 28 and still feel like I am just getting started haha. I am happy that I never gave up and happy with where I am at now and hopefully have some great years still ahead.
Who were some of the German riders you looked up to as a kid?
Max Ganser, I grew up riding with him in my home club; he and his parents played a big role in my development. Maik Baier, he was on the Free Agent World Team as a Junior and I remember watching him at the NBL Christmas Classics on Transit Race
Any shout-outs and thanks?
Thanks to my parents for always supporting me over the years. And thanks to you, Dale, for this Interview.