GM Sam Shankland has been the hero of Team USA and one of the biggest stories of the Tromsø Olympiad as a whole. Not only did he achieve the best result on Board 5 (alternate) to date, his FIDE performance rating after the penultimate round places him third in the entire competition, behind only elite Grandmasters Veselin Topalov and Yu Yangyi!
One surprising factoid from this interview is that "Shanky" participated in his first chess tournament shortly before his 12th birthday. Indeed, I remember him sporting a 1600 rating at his first National Open ten summers ago. These days, the average 8 or 9 year old chess player seems to sport a 1600 rating. Sam worked hard at chess (5000 standard games on ICC within 15 months) and reached master in less than 2.5 years! Unfortunately, 2200 would not impress Vishy Anand, who famously said "nowadays, when you're not a Grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it!"
In the interview, Shankland speaks highly of both the Berkeley Chess School and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Good luck to Sam and the rest of Team USA at the final round of the Olympiad on Thursday at 2AM Pacific time. Note that Wednesday is a rest day.