Monday, February 04, 2008

Shawn Palmer...

If you want to check out his web page look no further:)

Penthouse Magazine Feature Story
(USA Edition)
February 2002

Who's Shaun Palmer?
This Tattoed Punk may be the World's Best Athlete

by Kristen Ulmer

According to USA Today, People, and just about any extreme-sports sponsor, equipment manufacturer or athlete you ask, Shaun Palmer is arguably the greatest athlete in the world. (He's not shy about making the claim himself, for that matter.) Michael Jordan? A one-trick wonder. Tiger Woods? A pansy-boy swinging a littie metal stick. Palmer is world class in at least four different sports, all of which could put him in traction or a box six feet under if he screws up. The man is also capable of mastering another five sports within the next year if he wants- making him an icon among those who prefer their sports perilous. As Nick Heil, senior editor of Outside magazine, puts it, "Palmer is the most astounding example of someone who has mastered all types of gravity sports. Which is why kids think he's the bomb."

Today, Palmer ponders: 'Do I want to try and qualify for the Olympics in half-pipe snowboarding?" (Mount Hood Ski Resort is scrambling at this very moment to build him two of his own personal half-pipes so he can train.) 'Or do I want to make another go at motocross?".

Why is Shaun Palmer the greatest athlete in the world? Let us count the sports.

SNOWBOARDING: Raised in snowy South Lake Tahoe by his maternal grandmother and his mother, who worked in the nearby casinos, it was natural that Palmer would start with a winter sport. Barely a teen, and only two years after learning to snowboard, Palmer turned pro. Then in 1986 he quit the 11th grade to ride fuII-time. "At 17 years old I had a choice to fly to Europe on a plane and ride powder-and make money doing it-or go to normal high school. That was easy."

Over the years he became five-time world champion in racing and half-pipe events. Today he owns his own board and gear company (Palmer) and is the subject of a snowboarding video game by Activision. Until two years ago he was also three-time consecutive gold-medal winner of the X-Games boardercross (a motocross-style event for snowboarders). "I don't know why they bother to show Up. They just humiliate themselves," he said once in a TV interview, intending to be funny. But Shaun doesn't look so funny; he looks pissed off, so the comment only snarled up the other riders, who wanted to kick his ass. But, as Palmer insists, "if you don't know you're going to win in the gate, you're already beat."

MOUNTAIN BIKING: In 1996 Shaun decided to take Up downhill mountain biking. Starting as a no-name, within a year he'd won several national races and missed being world downhill champion by 15-hundredths of a second, the equivalent of two fingers in a five-minute race. "All I had to do was wear spandex to win, but instead I wore a baggy motocross outfit, because I thought spandex was stupid." The morning before, on a lark, he had borrowed a friend's slalom bike, qualified for the slalom race, and by that evening had become world slalom champion instead mortifying in one unplanned attempt the other racers who had devoted their lives to the sport.

Specialized, a top bike manufacturer, gave him one of the largest contracts the downhill bike industry had ever seen (around a million bucks for three years). Then, as best friend and world-class skier Brad Holmes recounts, "he just quit. I don't think he liked the sport very much. And since he's left, I honestly think mountain biking has died. I think he has that
kind of influence."

SKIING: Three years ago Palmer decided to take up skiing, a sport he had mastered as a kid. Competing in the '99 X-Games skiercross against Olympic gold medalists and world champions, he won the first two heats and lost in the finals only because his ski tip snagged carpet in the starting gate. The other skiers claimed he was jUst lucky in the early heats,
and shrugged him off.

They may as well have lit a fuse in Shaun's ass. The next season he trained a few extra days and won both the X Games and the Gravity Games by 40-foot leads, embarrassing and shocking the ski world. "Then I quit. I beat the best skiers in the world twice in one year. That was enough. I iike to walk away from a sport on top."

MOTOCROSS: His favorite. "It's the real deal. YOU can't fake nothing. YOU gotta be badass or you're done. It's so physical to hold on to a 250cc bike for two 35-minute motos. That shit hurts" In 1998, after racing professionally since age 18, Shaun qualified for the sport's top event, supercross. "In the final lap, tears were running through my goggles. It was the proudest moment of my life. Afterwards I went out to the parking lot, got drunk, stuck my bike against a pole, and held it wide open until the back tire melted off the wheel." Honda signed him this past year as a Factory Team rider, but "then I trained three months, just to get hurt in the depressing second turn of the first race, where I got tangled in a ten-guy pileup and drilled into a chain-link fence. I screwed up three fingers."

Extreme athletes must possess the same talent and dedication of any Olympian or Sports Illustrated cover jock. But they must also possess dead-on focus, because a compound fracture or death is just one inch to the left or right. Picture Tiger Woods golfing in a hurricane, with a gun cocked at his head and another at his knee. He misses par, someone pulls the trigger. That's what extreme sports feel like, which makes Shaun's talent, focus, and ability to win all the more surreal.

"Shaun and [fellow motocross rider] Jeremy McGrath are mentally the strongest people I know," says sponsor Troy Lee of Troy Lee designs (makers of safety equipment for motor sports). "If they say they're going to win, they do. But with Shaun, he does it with every sport. Not just one. I don't think anyone in their lifetime will accomplish what he's accomplished, ever."

The bad news is, these aren't mainstream sports with mainstream audiences. 'The world doesn't understand what I've done," Palmer says. "Only the people who know how hard each specific sport is, in each industry, know how good I am. Because I've competed against them."

Skier Brad Holmes agrees: '.America is too lazy to know about Shaun Palmer. Going to a stadium is much more convenient than hiking up a hill. These aren't easy-access McDonald's drive-through sports."

Shaun's life has been dramatically changed by the Games. Raised a dirty little kid riding around on a pieced together BMX bike, today he owns a full-size bus painted in checkers, scallops, and flames to promote his high-profile snowboard company. He bought a $100,000 Porsche and sandpapered the shiny new paint job down to flat black. He has owned more than 30 Cadillacs in his life, and his tattoos reflect this. Depictions of hood ornaments and the word Cadillac run over his body like skin rot, and a big black PALMER iS chiseled across his six-pack abs.



Anonymous said...

Ah....I'd still give the nod to Tiger Woods as a better athlete for dominating one of the most difficult sports to dominate. Can Shaun hit a little white ball that just sits there fewer than the world's best to score over $70 million per year in prize money and endorsements? '-]

Squirrel said...

What ever mate...the point is Shawn has dominated MORE then one sport:)


the mostly reverend said...

anonymous claims that golf is one of the most difficult sports to dominate?
golf is a sport?
golf is something you do when you don't have the balls to participate in a REAL sport. golf is a pasttime, a leisure activity.

it's gotta be tough to be dominant in a "sport" where one of the best is a fat cigarette smoking loose cannon. as if "big endorsement" = "legitimate sport."

i agree with squirrel: "whatever."

Anonymous said...

Golfers aren't atheletes. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I thought anonymous was on to something... "But if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key."

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bus Shawn! The awesome artwork by Troy Lee still lives on!