Monday, 17 August 2009
Palmer in Are - ten years on
It all seems a bit strange to me but that man Shaun Palmer has suddenly re-appeared in my life. Not only has the man that changed downhill mountain biking come back to the race scene after a long layoff but it is ten years next month when he came within a whisker of winning the World Championships at the Worlds in Are Sweden. Then in the July issue of Dirt magazine, Rich Cunynghame rated the shot above as his favourite ever! Back in 1999 myself and Mal Fearon were shooting for MBi (Mountain Biker International). Mal had gone up the hill to catch the action whilst I preferred to stay in the arena, close to the hotseat (A battered old ski chairlift) to get all the atmosphere and reaction shots. Unfortunately, I was unsighted of the finish line or else I may have got the entire sequence of Palmer's crash when he was up on the clock and about to take the hot seat and possible win. He must have been flying though because his momentum carried him up to the line itself, albeit on the ground. A man made ramp and mud-covered kerb put paid to his rainbow jersey aspirations.
I was on a 300mm 2.8 lens which was perfect for the sequence. Anything shorter and I would have been struggling. But first I had to get over my inital shock and not just take the camera away from face and become a spectator. I actually shot more frames then you see in the slideshow but they are very similar so this is a better edit. I included one of Palms singing autographs after the event, showing what a pro he is under the strutting! So, in frame two we have Palmer on the deck on his back - in the left corner veteran mtb photog Tom Moran in the purple MBPA vest-before slowly getting up to his feet, then sitting back down to survey the damage and how much tattoo ink he may have left on the tarmac. Then he is with his coach, former Tour de France pro Gert Jan Theunisse. I knew I had a great clutch of shots in the bag and in fact MBi ran the entire sequence across a double page spread. But I am more amazed at the continuing interest. The resort of Are is holding exhibition from what was a brilliant championship and fellow Swedish photog Mattias Fredriksson (who just won the CRankworx photo challenge) asked me to supply the images to be included. So click through to the slideshow and enjoy a tiny slice of mtb history!