Movie: Shaun Palmer, The Miserable Champion

Promo copy: Shaun Palmer, the Miserable Champion is a shocking portrait of one of the most notorious athletes of all time. Action sports hero Shaun Palmer: 5 sports, 7 times world champion, 6 X-Games gold, 38 elite victories, 117 tour podiums, ESPY 2001 “Action Sports Athlete of the Year.” USA Today asks the question “Is this the world’s greatest athlete?”

It’s taken time and struggle to get this movie made. As soon as the DVD appeared at The Fix Bike Shop, I bought it. Full retail. Gotta support such endeavors.


1) Shaun Palmer is a badass. Most of you know that. He has competed in elite snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobile and motocross. Not to mention punkrockitude.

2) Shaun Palmer is driven to an unhealthy extreme. A) Grew up without his dad. B) Probable hole in the heart. C) Intrinsic drive. D) Physically gifted. E) The brilliance to make great things happen. And we know about the relationship between genius and madness.

3) Shaun Palmer is indeed a genius. The man knows how to dial in a skill then perform it at very high level. While his drinking and madness have been widely publicized, I’d like to see his top secret training footage. Skin suit in his basement, doing intervals in a wind tunnel: guys in lab coats tracking heart rate, cadence, wattage, blood lactate, the whole bit. That’s the secret Palmer: train like a total pro, destroy all comers, make them feel like you don’t give a $—.

4) Shaun Palmer rides with rage and power — laid onto perfect balance and nuanced skill. I have a feeling he might be the best overall pumper of terrain ever. In terms of my teaching method, he operates way high in the skills tree — combining vectors in complex ways and with total impunity. Whenever I find myself sprinting while still drifting through a corner … that’s a Shaun Palmer moment. And it feels rad. (He pulls that move in Mastering Mountain Bike Skills 2nd Edition.)

5) It’s fun to watch Palmer kick ass. It’s sad to see him fail. I wish the movie makers would have gone deeper under the hood. Get Palmer to talk about the real stuff. Teach the rest of us tortured people — who don’t have the world championship Band Aids — how to handle our demons. Maybe he’s not there yet. Maybe he’s still busy kicking ass.

One thing’s for sure: Palmer is tapped into the Grand Unified Theory of Shred. I wonder if he’d talk to me, maybe do a book?

To learn more:

Watch Shaun Palmer, The Miserable Champion on Vimeo

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