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Another Cinderella Story?

7/17/2009

Paris Rosen is a perfect example of the power of the Internet. It goes like this: A virtually unknown freestyle motocross rider from Minnesota decides to throw a 75-foot front flip into his foam pit. He has someone film it, then he puts the clip on YouTube and spreads the link around various FMX forums like FreestyleMTX.com. Suddenly, a hardcore following of online minions starts to form ... and these kids will stop at nothing to get Paris into Moto X Best Trick at X Games 15. Instead of Paris being the one making all the noise, it was his never-say-die gang of online fans that captured the attention of X Games committee member and ESPN FMX contributor Regis Harrington — even getting Regis to comment on the message boards.

This past Monday, Paris received a call from Paul Taublieb (the head cheese of anything moto at X) asking him if he wanted to be the first alternate for Best Trick. He's not guaranteed a spot to ride, but he's in a much better position than before. I hit up Paris to get the low down on his trick, but more importantly, I just wanted to find out who this front-flippin' Internet star really is. Ladies and Gents, meet Paris Rosen.

Let's get the basics out of the way first. Who is Paris Rosen? What do you do and where are you from?

I'm from Minnesota and I ride dirt bikes. I was born and raised here and then I moved out to Phoenix, Arizona — I've been living there for the last two and a half years or so. As of right now, I'm homeless — pretty much just couch surfing. I'm living with Justin Hoyer right now out in Wisconsin, just trying training for X. I think I might stay with him for a while and then when the weather gets crappy, I'll migrate back down to Phoenix and try to live with someone else down there.

How old are you?

I'm 21 years old, man! [laughs] No, I'm 28, dude. 28 years young!

Oh, you're not that old man. Maybe in the freestyle world, but you're not like Mike Jones or nothing.

[laughs] Yeah, not yet anyway.

So, what's your motocross and FMX background?

Let's see. I got my first bike when I was 19 — it was a clapped out pink CR125 and I got it just because I saw it on X Games and I wanted to go big as hell, you know? If you ask me, freestyle moto guys go bigger than anybody. It's the most dangerous and gnarliest sport.

I was kind of lost up here because there is no freestyle in Wisconsin. There's no Camp Chuck, there's no compounds — there's nothing, dude. So, it took me time to get up and running — I had to build everything on my own. Pretty much all the knowledge I got was off of FreestyleMTX.com and by talking to guys on MySpace. "How do I get my runway to not rut?" I remember I asked Beau Manley on Myspace and he replied "We use carpet out here, dude. Just throw it down, stake it down and go." It was just the little tips that helped me build up a sick compound.

I wanted to be a professional FMX rider from the beginning. I got into it to become a pro. I saw Pastrana, Deegan and all those guys when I was watching X Games and I knew that I wanted that to be me.

--Paris Rosen

I trained and got better and better and started working my way into a couple monster truck shows eventually and I was like, "Sweet, I need to go to Phoenix so I can ride year-round, because I really needed to play some catch-up." I knew I was behind, dude. I had to learn how to use the brake on my dirt bike. I didn't even know how to stop the thing when I was 19-years-old. Then there's guys like Destin Cantrell that are like, "How am I going to do a holy man to rock-solid indy," you know? I was just trying to learn how to use my rear brake, dude! I really had to play catch-up. That's why I really want to get into X Games, you know? I really want to go and just make a name for myself so I can get some sponsors that will just send me money so I can sit at home and practice all day. That's what I really need to catch up with these other guys, you know?

When you first got your dirt bike, was it your main intention to become a professional FMX rider or did it just start off as a hobby and then you realized you may have what it takes?

No man, that's what I wanted to do from the beginning. I got into it to become a pro. I saw Pastrana, Deegan and all those guys when I was watching X Games and I knew that I wanted that to be me. I was just talking to a friend of mine and he saw my front flips online and he was like "I saw this coming dude, you were always insane. Remember dude, you've broken over 60 skateboard decks, man! I always knew you'd be in X Games!" I was always crazy on a skateboard, man. I was always jumping off roofs of buildings, jumping off higher and higher and I wasn't ever worried about getting hurt. I was jumping down sets of 20 stairs — retarded stuff, dude. It wasn't about me getting hurt, it was like "Man, am I going to break my board again?" In dirt biking, you see guys like Mike Cinqmars bounce themselves off rocks and their bike is fine — maybe they bend the pipe, but the bike is fine and they jump back up and do it again. I was like "That's awesome! I want to do that!"

Alright, now what made you jump straight into attempting a 75-foot front flip without learning it at a smaller distance first?

Well, I knew I could get it on a super kicker, but I wasn't interested in that, you know? I knew other dudes were doing it and when you're trying to play catch-up in a progressive sport like FMX, you've got to think ahead of the field you know what I'm saying? Even before I saw Jim DeChamp do it at X Games, I wanted to do it. Then when I saw this guy DeChamp come out doing a front flip at X last year, I was like "No! That's what I wanted to do!" But, I saw what he was doing and I was like "OK, he's hitting the super kicker and he's got this bike that's all geeked out and this and that." I was like "That's not at all what I really wanted to do." So, I just stuck to the plan of nailing the front flip on a 75-foot jump. I figured that maybe one day I could get it good enough so I could teach guys like Adam Jones how to do it. How rad would it be to see guys like him pull it in their run next year? It would be sweet!

How did you start off getting the forward rotation down? Did you start off on a bicycle or a mini bike or what?

[laughs] That's the secret! I can't reveal how I've learned it without dying quite yet! [laughs] There was a big process that I went through to learn it. There are a few key parts of the trick and you need to learn them separately and then put them all together.

How many times do you think you've done it into the foam pit?

Dude, like a million. Like, I'm in the foam pit today — I'll probably do four or five of them and land them perfect, you know? I might work on a couple of front-flip combos too.

What combos are you working on?

It's a bit of a secret, but everyone knows about the no-handed flip and then I'm working on another one too. I know I've got my front flip perfect, so I'll have that. And then I want to have something else, so if I get the opportunity to compete, I'll have a few tricks. If I grease my flip in my first jump and I'm sitting in second or third, I don't play to just have fun, you know? If I'm going to be there, I want to play to win.

So, what did you think when you saw the footage of Charles Pages landing the front flip in France? Were you stoked for him or were you pissed?

I was like "godammit, I want to meet that guy!"

He obviously has a different technique then you do. What do you think about that?

I really want to go to France and meet the guys and talk to them because I think with their knowledge and my knowledge, we could combine what we're doing and make the trick better and even more doable. It would lead to more combos stuff like that. I don't want to go over there right now because we're competitors, but perhaps after the competition, I can have a chance to meet the guys and share secrets and ideas. It would be good for the sport, you know?

You may want to brush up on your French because their English isn't the best. [laughs]

Je parle un peu de français, Ryan. I lived in France for a year when I was young, so I think I'll be good! [laughs]

Nice man! That's more than I got. So, this is kind of a lame question, but can you even do backflips?

Naw dude... [laughs] If you know me, dude, I'm kind of an out-there guy. There's nothing funnier to me than a guy going out there and landing a front flip before he even learns a backflip you know? [laughs] It's funny, dude! It's just comical to me man.

I'm just going to do my thing and huck it, dude. Worst case scenario, I eat s--t and I'm on the highlight real. But, I don't see that happening.

--Paris Rosen

So, why didn't you try to nail the backflip first?

It's kinda my way of proving a point and just kind of being weird. That's one aspect. And the other is just the catch-up thing, you know? I can't wait for August, because if everything goes well at X, I'll have a little bit of money in the bank, and all I'm going to do on August and September is have fun learning new tricks again. I'm going to start flipping — I want to play catch-up. I want to learn all the flip tricks and all that stuff man. I can't wait, it's going to be so fun! I've been doing the same right-side-up tricks for so long, and just trying to pay the bills by going around and doing shows — I haven't had time to get into the pit and really learn all that stuff. So, hopefully I can drum up some sponsors and continue to play the catch-up game, you know?

The latest news is that you are now the first alternate for Best Trick. So that means if anyone gets hurt or backs out, you'll be in the competition. How did that happen?

It was pretty cool. I got a call from Paul Taublieb this Monday morning and he was like "Hey what's up, this is what the deal is, are you cool with that? It's the typical thing. You have to find a way out to Los Angeles, pay for gas, hotel, food, all this and that." and I was like, "No problem dude, let's do this." I have a good support group around me here, so I'm not too worried about it. And then I got the official email the day after — I'm going to print it up and frame it dude. [laughs] The letter that I've been waiting 10 years for, right here! It's pretty weird man, you always wonder, "What's it going to be like man? What are they going to do? Are they going to show up in a limo and roll down the red carpet and be like 'You are in X Games!'" [laughs] Nope, they just send you this email, but it's still pretty cool. [laughs]

So, how are you going to attack practice once you get out to L.A.?

What I'm going to do is just call a few friends once I get out there and hit the foam pit on Friday morning. I'll probably just need to do a few jumps because right now, I'm so dialed, I just need to take it to dirt. So, I'll do it a few times in the pit just to reassure my confidence and everything and I'm just going to go into practice and huck it. You know, I might take one or two practice jumps just to loosen up and feel out the setup. And after that, I'll just do my thing — I'll go huck it, dude. Worst case scenario, I eat s--t and I'm on the highlight real. But, I don't see that happening.

So, the first time you'll ever do the 75-foot front flip to dirt will be during X Games Best Trick practice?

Yup. It'll be badass, man! I guarantee I'll be over my two wheels, so it's just a matter of landing it right. I'm a strong guy, so I'm not too worried about holding onto my bike or even washing out and taking a digger cause I know I'll be alright.

Will you be taking your own bike or are you going to get one in L.A.?

Yeah, I'm kind of trying to figure that out right now. My bike's a complete turd and I've been jumping around doing rodeos, monster truck shows and biker rallies on my freaking '03 CR250 for the last four years now, dude. It's so turded out and money is so tight now, so I need to figure out if I can talk to a shop and get a loaner bike. I'm trying to figure it all out today — it's kind of a big issue I'm dealing with. I haven't done my top end in like a year and a half now, dude! [laughs] I'm serious, dude — I'm terrified! We got this ramp-to-ramp show coming up in Ohio and I'm like afraid, dude! [laughs]

I gotta keep working bro. You see, I don't have huge paying sponsors, I ain't got crap and I gotta keep working so I can pay bills. I've got a show on the 17th in Ohio, and then I have a show the following Saturday at a bar called the T Bar in Wisconsin. And then the next Sunday I have a show at a bar called the Caboose in Minneapolis. After that, I'll head home and everything should be packed and then I'll take off for Los Angeles.

Wow.

I know, but I gotta keep working man! Because if I eat s--t right away at X, I don't have any money put away and I still got bills to pay.

You know, it's not going to be more of the same, Leyba. It's going to be something different that's going to be the next new thing you know? People don't understand that. People see the people that are hot right now and they try to copy them and act like them and I'm like, "act like yourself bro, because you know what? If you keep acting like the people that are it right now — they're not going to be it anymore." It's going to be the guy that people look at and think, "that guy's and idiot" — he's going to be the coolest new thing, you know? And that's with me dude — I've always been myself. I named my company something totally stupid, because that's just how I am. You know, look at my online hooligans — they think I'm cool as s--t and they want to go to battle for me. Just be yourself and if it's meant to be then it's meant to be, and if it's not then it's not, you know?