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  • by Karen Cummings

NH Olympians -- Tyler Palmer '72

Tyler Palmer had three goals for his competitive skiing career. He wanted to be the best in the world; he wanted to make an Olympic team; and he wanted to do well in the Olympics.

"Well, two out of three ain't bad," said the 33-year-old as he relaxed in his Kearsarge home this week. Displayed on his mantel are the two trophies he received for winning the World Cup slaloms at Lauberhorn and Arlberg Kandahar in 1971, achieving his first goal of being the best in the world. "though I wanted to do it as often as possible," Tyler said. "I proved I was the best on those two days."

In 1972, he fulfilled his second goal. Tyler and his younger brother Terry (pictured, left, right and left, photo courtesy New England Ski Museum) were joined by David Currier to form a Mt. Washington Valley triumvirate in the U.S. alpine team that travelled to the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. His ninth place finish in the slalom, the only event in which he competed, did not please Tyler. "The Olympics are a one-shot deal and I wanted to do well in that race more than any other," Tyler said. "I did the best I could on that day, but I definitely felt I had had better days."

The '72 Olympics were the culmination of Tyler's amateur racing career that began when he was five years old. "We skied at Cranmore," he explained, "and in those days, there were a lot of European instructors although when it came to racing, my brother and I were our own best teachers." Tyler, Terry, and David were always in friendly competition. "We never let it rest," said Tyler.

Resting was not something Tyler did. Known as a "bad boy" on the World Cup tour, his reputation preceded him to Japan. Staying out until four a.m. his first night at the Olympic site did not please the team coaches. Tyler was put on curfew and confined to the Olympic Village for his entire stay.

"I was required to train hard every single day for 28 days," he said. All work and no play wasn't Tyler's normal training regimen, which had worked well the previous year leaving him ranked third in the world. "In Sapporo I was totally concerned with skiing and didn't get to savor the Olympics," Tyler said, "but I guess I felt a little stale by the time I raced."

Other misadventures may have interfered with his concentration in his Olympic slalom run. The day before the event, Tyler's competition skis were stolen forcing him to race in his practice skis. In addition, he and Terry had accidentally broken an entire ski lift at a practice hiss, and there were threats that they would be held financially responsible. Wanted to ski a closed trail, the brothers had jumped off an empty lift causing the chair to swing radically until it hit a tower, shearing the gears.

"We were told we had to pay $10,000 to fix the lift," Tyler said. "I reminded them that I once went to Europe with only $20 in my pocket." In order to avoid prosecution, Tyler continued to keep a low profile throughout the Games, even leaving Japan with the New Zealand team wearing one of their team jackets.

After the 1972 Olympics, Tyler joined the World Professional Skiing tour and followed it until 1980. Now [1984] he divides his time between coaching for Holderness School and racing on the Peugeot Pro Tour. "This summer I plan to go into the insurance business with my father and I'll probably continue to race on the weekends," he said. "I still really enjoy racing and I don't mind getting beaten these days."

Tyler can say that because he knows he's accomplished most of what he set out to in his skiing career. "Even though it can be a lot of hard work," he said, "I did what I wanted to do. I know what it's like and I know how much fun it can be. Things got messed up at the Olympics, but I enjoyed myself through it all."

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