ERIC CARTER, SHAUN PALMER AND STEVE PEATThree legends of the sport hang out before the Kaprun World Cup finals way back in 1999…
DIRT ISSUE 131 – JANUARY 2013
Words by Mike Rose. Photo by Mike Rose
So I was kind of new to the whole ‘World Cup photographer’ scene. I’d been travelling round chasing the dream for a year or so trying to capture images for Dirt mag. The guys from Hope had let me travel with them earlier in the year on a massive three and a half week roadtrip that took in Les Gets, Maribor and Nevegal World Cups. I had got to hang out with the top riders, share a beer with them, but I was still very aware that I was surrounded by the good and great of downhill mountainbiking…I was just a minnow.
As the season rolled on I knew that I had to get out to one more round, and the classic venue of Kaprun in Austria was going to hold the finals. The course was new for 1999, starting higher up the mountain and ending by the infamous Baum Bar (great parties and that adze–nail–hammering game). At 4.8 kilometres long, with a drop of 862m and a race time of over six and a half minutes, it was a monster. Compare that to Fort William’s current 2.8km length and 555m drop and you can see that back then tracks were a real challenge. Steve Peat and Nicolas Vouilloz had been battling it out all year. Peat had won two rounds to Vouilloz’s four, and both wanted to do well here at the final round of the season. But it was not to be, the rain descended and the top 12 riders suffered in the mud. Gerwin Peters (remember him) took the win, followed by Johan Engstrom, Markus Klausmann, Jan Lundman and Florent Poussin. Peat would cross the line in 14th place, while Vouilloz finished back in 25th.
But that doesn’t really explain this shot. I would often walk around the pits and just snap away, hoping to catch something of interest, a bit fly–on–the–wall. This shot was only used quite small when it originally ran in the magazine, but looking back on it there’s something special about it for me. These riders were three of the greats of the sport. Eric Carter had been a childhood hero of mine, the Golden Boy of US BMX racing. Next to him was Shaun Palmer…yeah THE Shaun Palmer, the face of the ‘extreme sports generation’. He was a god in many people’s eyes. Then on the right is Steve Peat. Even back in ’99 he was the face of British (if not world) downhill. The phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ was made for him. So there it was. Not an amazing shot, but definitely a moment in time. Three giant characters. Three greats of the sport, happily sharing a quiet laugh and a joke as they hung out in the pits between practice runs 13 years ago.