SkateIDSA’s 2014-2017 Women’s 50+ Champion on overcoming adversity, being an inspiration, and her humble roots in skateboarding.
Anne Palmer has been a staple competitor in women’s long distance skateboarding for years now. She’s outlasted the best of them at the 24-hour Miami Ultraskate, and duked it out with the rest of them at the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon.
Anne has been an inspiration in distance skateboarding for her family, her friends, and most notably: other women. When asked about what it’s like to go up against a demographic notoriously younger than she is, she says, “I always talk to other women who are competitive longboarders. I like to know what works for them and am always seeking to improve my performance. If we can share our experiences and expertise we will raise the bar for all women and hopefully continue to grow the sport.”
Her actions on and off the course can be altruistic – she enters each year at the 24-hour Ultraskate hosting donations for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It’s been her way of giving back after discovering her own cancer in 2012, and has lead to her return, in full smiles, every year since 2014. Outside of being an all-star mother, cancer survivor, rockstar fundraiser, top-tier skateboarder and well-rounded endurance athlete, she works as an accounts payable analyst for Blue Cross Blue Shield.
There’s no question as to how she maintains her position as an elite women at every Homestead-Miami Ultraskate: it’s in her blood. Looking back at her experience leading up to many top 3 finishes, she says, “In 2014 I participated in my first long distance skateboarding event at the 24 Hour Ultra-Skate. I have been a competitive athlete since I was a kid whether it was swimming, softball or basketball. I played sports in high school and also played college basketball. Now that I am slightly older, I still love competing and participating in running road races, longboarding and skiing.”
Anne dominates the 50+ division for women (as the only competitor!) and is a top contender overall, placing 4th place two years in a row for her age group. When it comes to meeting people who are afraid to pick up the sport, she says, “When people say they can’t skate, I tell them they should try it on a nice, low longboard. I can understand people being apprehensive as the fear of falling is always a concern. The key is to get them to try it in a big, level parking lot without cars around. I think with the proper board, helmet and gloves, and a lot of patience most people could learn to skateboard.”
Anne has proven herself not only as one of the greatest competitors in the entire league, but as an inspiration for people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds to try their hands at something so unique like distance longboarding. So, without further ado, Anne Palmer!
SkateIDSA: What do you look for when planning which events you will make it out to?
AP: When I am deciding which longboard races to enter I look at the location, how much vacation time I will need, and the distance of the race.
SkateIDSA: Do you recommend any specific gear that others may not know about?
AP: I highly recommend sliding gloves for the protection of hands and wrists. I don’t slide, but I do fall occasionally. The sliding gloves have saved me more times than I can count, especially at the Chief Ladiga in 2014.
SkateIDSA: What would you say was the defining moment that made you say, “I’m doing this,” in regards to skateboarding as a whole?
AP: When I was trying to decide if I could compete in my first Ultra-Skate I was riding my board around town. I loved the feeling of just being out and exploring other parts of my town on a longboard. After a few long skates I thought to myself, I can do this. At the time I was not concerned with being competitive, but just being able to skate for 24 hours.
SkateIDSA: Tell us about what it feels like to finish a race.
AP: When I finish a race I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. In the months leading up to a particular race I will consistently train by running, biking and skating. When the race is over, I know I have worked hard the entire time and did not leave anything to chance. While I would love to win every race, I am perfectly satisfied if I have thoroughly trained and competed hard. To me that is the most important aspect of a race.
SkateIDSA: What would you say was your most prideful moment in your skateboarding career?
AP: I was most proud of myself after I finished my first Ultra-Skate in 2014. I had no idea what to expect and had a goal of 100 miles. My son Eric gave me the best advice which was, “don’t stop. You won’t want to get out there again.” The year before I had finished my cancer treatment and couldn’t believe I had just skateboarded for 24 hours. I was thrilled beyond words that I trained, skated and exceeded my goal by finishing with 141 miles.
SkateIDSA: Women have been increasingly putting up records consistent with men. Where do you see women in distance skateboarding in 5 years? 10?
AP: I honestly think the sky is the limit for women in skateboarding. As they fine tune their equipment, learn to push with both legs, learn to pump their performance will definitely improve. It is possible women skaters will continue to exceed 200 miles, which at one time seemed unattainable. The women have also drastically improved their times in the shorter distance races like Adrenalina. If the races remain intriguing and variable then I think more women will continue to race and keep the sport competitive.
SkateIDSA: Would you say anything limits women in distance skateboarding, or is it an equal opportunity sport?
AP: I don’t think there is anything that will limit women in distance skateboarding. With the new athletes joining the sport and pushing the limits it raises the bar for everyone. Honestly if the men see the numbers the women are putting up I think it helps to improve the whole sport. The best thing about longboarding is that we can all learn from each other; whether it is equipment changes, what shoes to wear, cross-training ideas, and nutrition they all help us to get better and keep the sport highly competitive.
Being humble comes with the territory for women in skateboarding. Despite all of her outstanding accomplishments and the name she has made for herself, Anne continues to fight on and be a name for others to refer to when asking themselves if they’ll skate as she does. In all respects, her family, competitors, and SkateIDSA recognize her as a true champion for the sport. When asked how she feels about the title of champion and what it means to her, she says, “A champion is someone who excels at something and whom people want to emulate. A champion doesn’t have to win any races, but the way they conduct themselves during a race and outside of a race sets them apart. People who exhibit good sportsmanship and encourage others are champions too. I feel I am a champion because I have inspired other women to get involved with the sport. Also as a cancer survivor and fighter I know people are inspired because they see someone who can compete while still living through a serious illness.”
SkateIDSA Women’s Spotlight is a short interview series intended to promote and show off women in distance skateboarding; their achievements, backgrounds, and futures within the sport. For more information about how to join SkateIDSA to participate in a future event, head over to the organization’s registration page.