[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
A COUPLE MINUTES WITH SLATER:
Kelly Slater has locked up his ninth world title, but before heading back to Hawaii for the Eddie and the winter season, he's traveling around the country in support of his new book, an autobiography in pictures called For The Love. We caught up with him for a couple minute.
MAG.COM: If you could stay healthy and motivated, how long do you think you could seriously compete for a title? At 40 or 50?
The furthest anyone has surfed professionally and been actually active on tour was 41. And that was Mark Occilhupo who actually retired this year. Last year was his last on tour, and he was the oldest guy by like five years. He wasn't that competitive in the end. I feel like people are pushing the boundaries of ages in different sports all the time. When Kareem Abdul Jabbar was 41 and still dominating it was unheard of for someone to even be in the league at that age. Now you got Randy Couture fighting in the UFC at 45 against the biggest guy in the world, Brock Lesnar. Granted he didn't win, but he was right there in the fight, and outweighed by 55 pounds. I'm 36, but when i joined the Tour I thought that surfers retired at 30. There wasn't even a guy that was 30 on tour when I turned pro.
Some of surfing's biggest pioneers—Greg Noll and Jerry Lopez—fell off the map after they retired. Do you ever see yourself leaving and living somewhere away from the ocean, maybe taking a break from surfing for five or 10 years?
I'll probably never go five or 10 years in my life without surfing, unless something drastic happens health-wise. I could never imagine being away from the ocean. Jerry Lopez lives up in the mountains in Oregon, snowboards most of the year. But he still goes on surf trips, and makes his way back to Hawaii. Greg Noll I'm not that sure about. I think he's just eating well and in a forest fishing somewhere. I do see him a few times a year, but I've never seen him surf once in my life, and he's one of the biggest names in surfing.
There were rumors that Quicksilver was going to give you a $10 million bonus if you won 10. Is there any truth to that, and does that effect your decicion at all?
I can tell you definitely that it's not true. At this point, I'm just negotiating with them for a new contract. At this stage in my career, the money alone is not a motivation. But I wouldn't mind 10 million or even a couple of million. Not many people get to win nine or 10 world championships. It's kind of getting up there. I saw Lance Armstrong about a month ago and I kind of called him out. He said, "Yeah, I'm coming out of retirement." I'm like, "Yeah, you got some work to do buddy." But he's the kind of guy who will do something just because someone tells him he can't.
Even Tyler Evans' T-shirts are tougher than yours. Last week, we spied the Supercross tough guy working out in a swank gym in Los Angeles. We decided to approach with caution to find out what was up with Evans' public display of Hart hating. "He's a punk," Evans says of his former friend and moto-slash- reality-show star Carey Hart. "As a business man, he's a pretty smart guy," Evans says. "But as a person, he's a little b*tch." Evans wasn't in the mood to elaborate, but last year he signed on to ride Supermoto with Hart's Rock Star Energy sponsored team. Evans is no longer on the team. We're guessing that has something to do with it. —Chris Palmer
THE NEW SUPERMEN
The action sports world lost another rider to paralysis last week when Kiwi motocross champ Katherine Pramm crashed during a training ride in West Auckland, New Zealand, breaking her back in three places. Pramm is the latest in a long string of athletes injured over the past two-and-a-half years, beginning with motocross star Ernesto Fonseca, who was paralyzed in a training ride in March 2006. On March 4, 2007, Doug Henry, who has competed at both the summer (SuperMoto) and winter (SnoCross) X Games, crashed while racing SuperMoto during Daytona Bike Week and was paralyzed from the waist down. On June 22, 2007, BMX legend Stephen Murray crashed during BMX Dirt finals of the Baltimore Dew Tour and crushed three cervical vertebrae (watch this tribute). Mountain Bike national champ Tara Llanes was paralyzed on September 1, 2007 at the final race of the King of Mountain series in Beaver Creek, Colo. And just two months ago, on September 20, SnoCross legend Blair Morgan severed his spinal cord in a crash while practicing for a supercross race in Montreal.
All these injuries have brought both much sadness and much-needed attention to the lack of insurance provided for action sports athletes, and the lack of funding for spinal cord research. When Christopher Reeve passed away in March 2006 (the same month Fonseca was injured), the lost their face man. And the cause lost its Superman.
Now, with athletes like Fonseca, Murray and Ricky James—Mike Metzger's young cousin who was paralyzed from the waist down in a race four years ago but completed the Kona Ironman in a wheelchair last month—spinal cord research has several spokesmen who are raising awareness and money in hopes of one day walking, and racing, again. —Alyssa Roenigk.