Shaun Palmer was born in South Lake Tahoe, California on November 14, 1968.
From a young age, Shaun maintained a strong interest in all things fast. His mother told People Magazine in 1999 "Whether it was on wheels or on a board, it had to be superfast—he had no fear. I remember once when he was 13, I had grounded him. Well, he jumped out of his second-floor bedroom window, got on his bike and took off. He was like that—always pushing the limits."
While Palmer showed potential in both skiing and baseball, Shaun grew enamored with the still-infant sport of snowboarding. At the age of 12, Shaun built his own snowboard.
In 1995, Palmer took up the sport of mountain biking, spending time around some of the sport's foremost authorities. Just one year later, Shaun began competing in the professional mountain biking circuit. Palmer shocked the mountain biking world by proving to be a more than worthy competitor. Shaun placed seventh in downhill at the second 1996 World Cup event of the year, before finishing second in downhill at the 1996 NORBA Championships, missing the top spot by just .15 seconds . The event drained Palmer so completely that he could hardly speak after placing.
By the end of the biking season, Palmer was number five in the World Cup rankings and seventh in the NORBA National Championship Series . Palmer's debut year landed him a $300,000 annual contract with Mountain Dew Specialized Bicycles team, making Palmer the highest-paid mountain biker in the world.
In the 1999 Mountain biking season, Palmer won the NORBA downhill championship.