Boardercross Interview: Shaun Palmer

What were the best and worst boardercross events of 1998/99 and why?

The best were the Swatch World BX at Bear Mt. because the course was challenging and fun (and I won!), the X-games because it was my 3peat! and the TV exposure is great for not only me, but for our sport. The Swatch World BX finals in Laax, Switzerland because it’s a great course and party, and the turn out of people is awesome. The absolute best for me was the World Championships in Val Di Sole, Italy because it was the first time BX was granted World Championship status and I am now the first ever World Champ in BX. The worst BX was not the worst because of anything but my

performance or attitude. I can’t say there was one particular bad event.

What makes a good boardercross racer?

Most everyone at the top level has similar physical ability, but the big difference is mental advantages and the starts.

How much of boardercross is luck?

Luck plays out if you don’t get a good start. There is more luck involved in BX than the other disciplines, but just look at the top ten at each race and you will find a lot of the same names every time, so I don’t think it’s as much luck as some people will say.

Why has boardercross become popular?

It’s the best because there are five other guys and you and the first guy across the finish line wins. Simple, exciting to watch, and there is a lot more mental strategy than people would understand. It is such a great thing to watch on TV compared to the other snowboard events, and live it’s really cool to watch. People can relate to the event: First guy down wins. There are a lot of crashes and great head to head battles!

What is the difference between boardercross and the other forms of snowboard competition?

I guess the terrain and format are the biggest differences.

How do you train for racing boardercross?

Actually, I just freeride once or twice and I’m good to go!

Give some tips on riding the following: berms/banks, jumps, whoops.

You have to know where to find the speed through the berm and really pump and squeeze out every bit of speed you can. You can win a BX just by finding the right speed through the turns. Jumps have to be judged properly in order to hit them with the right amount of speed. If you go too fast sometimes you can land in the flats and lose all the speed and if you come up short … well it could be disaster! In the whoops, you have to know how to suck up the bump and push down on the backside of the whoop. The whoops are another place where races can be won or lost.

What is the key to a good start?

Pull hard! Timing the gate drop is key as well.

When did you first compete in boardercross?

I don’t remember the year, but it was up at Blackcomb.

Should boardercross be in the Olympics?

Isn’t it already in the 2002 Games? If not, they are just gonna have the same old events. They need to bring in something new. BX is the best discipline for the Olympics! It adds a new level of excitement to the Games!

Who will win the tour (Swatch and ISF) in 1999/00?

I don’t know who’s going to win the tour.

What injuries have you suffered while racing boardercross?


What is the main thing that people (the public) don't understand about boardercross?

That it’s really fun to do and not as dangerous as it looks. And you don’t have to be a racer to win a BX race!

What makes a good boardercross course?

A lot of variety. A good mix of berms, jumps, whoops and at least one element that is unique to that course. The jumps and whoops have to be built right or people can get hurt. Too many courses are built with “Let’s make it huge” in mind,, and that can become dangerous.

What is the difference between riders who win and the ones who don't, what are the winners doing differently as far as the way they ride?

They do the little things like get a good start. The good guys know that they can always be in the race even if they did not get a good start. The good racers use their heads and they don’t panic. The good racers know where to look for speed and where to make a check turn so they don’t hit an obstacle too fast.

Why do you race boardercross instead of doing some other type of snowboard competition?

Because I don’t want to spend a lot of time practicing in the pipe just to be judged by someone who may or may not like me. Boardercross is the best! First guy down wins! No judges, no time clocks, just you, the course and the five other guys! True Grit!