Kim Petersen Interview by Jeff Ament and Jim Murphy

Kim Petersen charges harder than 99% of the skaters out there. She raises the intensity of every session and absolutely punishes pool coping.  Here in Montana, Kim is known as “The “Ambassador”, the rest of you can call her “The Krusher.”


Kim, what’s the first time you rode a skateboard?

My mom had a little wooden banana board and I can remember pushing around on it when I was a kid. That board stuck around and was always a fixture in our toy collection. My sister and I reaped the benefits of growing up in a small town. We ran around outside until the streetlights came on. The banana board, the Green Machine, the roller skates and endless games of kick the can. Life was fun and free and full of reckless abandon.  

Where did you grow up?

Dewitt, Iowa. It’s just west of the Mississippi River.

When did you decide that you really wanted to pursue skateboarding?

It was a progression over time. At first, it was the banana board in the garage. In the late 80’s, we moved to York, Pennsylvania, and I discovered that some kids in my new neighborhood had a backyard mini ramp. They would skate and we’d hang out in their little clubhouse and listen to music. I’d never been exposed to skateboarding culture before. The wheels started turning and I tried launching off a jump ramp in the driveway, The guys laughed and I kinda blew it. I didn’t believe I could get on a skateboard and rip. That confidence was a few years down the road.

Was it only guys skating at that point?

It was just a bunch of cool dudes ripping around. I was 16 and finding my place in a whole new world. I connected with the scene, and felt like I found a part of myself. After high school, I moved to Washington, D.C. and hooked up with some snowboarders and started to ride. It was always the guys and me. In ‘95, I moved to Montana to step it up on the mountain and put myself through college. I started skateboarding around Missoula and learned some basic tranny skills on a 6-foot mini ramp. The truth is, snowboarding gave me the confidence to get on a skateboard and really try. My best friend wanted to learn too, so it was on. Finally, I discovered the idea of girl power. It made learning less scary. Less intimidating.  


Where was that?

It was a shop ramp. It’s not worth the shout-out because the shop owner told me I was lame for trying to learn how to skate and that I’d never get anywhere as a girl. That shop didn’t make it in Missoula, needless to say.  

What was the first board you bought?

I bought a Powell blank. It was a 7.75”. 

What was the first trick you learned?

The first trick I learned after dropping in was a rock to fakie. Pretty standard. I was afraid to grind the coping so I had to do something with my speed. It is also the first trick I learned on vert. It’s hard to believe I was afraid of my favorite thing – the grind! My first rad trick was probably a backside air and any scratch over a box, stair or light. 

How did your skating progress?

I just kept skateboarding as much as possible through my college years. I traveled around and discovered concrete skateparks on a trip over to Seattle. I rolled around at Burnside on a trip to the Oregon Coast. I skated Colorado parks on another trip. Then I did an overseas exchange in New Zealand and skated some really fun parks. When I graduated in ‘99, I was ready to move on. I wanted to skate concrete and explore the Cascades, so I moved to Washington.

What was the first roundwall you skated?

The first one that counts is the Butter Bowl in West Seattle. I lived on Snoqualmie Pass for three years, so I’d make it to Seattle to skate quite a bit. Jessica Starkweather was living at the Bowl house, ripping and raising her daughter, Sophia. She stoked me out because she put the pedal to the metal. Full speed attack mode was the standard and I found the confidence to step on the gas. I had a great crew of ladies to skate with in Seattle. It changed everything. I also have to hand it to the guys who pushed us to charge. Monk, Swim, Jay, Q, Rabbi and the all the West Seattle guys showed us respect for the most part.  

“Skateboarding is like finding your power. When you connect, it’s on and there’s no denying it.”

Did you work at Woodward Skate Camp?

Yes. I was a gymnastics coach during college. Because of my experience, I landed a coaching job at Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania during the summers of 1997-2000. I worked with gymnasts all day and then skated all night. That place is built for progression, so I lapped it up. I worked with guys like Barker Barrett and Ryan Wilburn. They really exemplified what a skate family is all about. Friendship, laughter and good times. The quarry is where I got my education.

Was Woodward the first place you saw other women skating?

That was where I first saw women skating vert. Jen O’Brien came to camp and did a demo with Bob Burnquist. I skated the wooden bowl with Rebecca, Bob’s sister, and some really nice girls. That session was incredibly inspirational. I always remember campers like Alexis Sablone and Lyn-Z Adams, who were little kids at the time, already ripping beyond most kids their age. Aside from Woodward, I saw photos of women skating in magazines. Punk Planet Magazine did a story on female skaters and it included photos of women boosting airs on vert. I was blown away that girls were doing that. I did airs on my snowboard, but I really didn’t realize that an air on a skateboard was within my reach. Then I saw those photos and I started to believe it was possible!

Who was in the pictures?

It was Jen O’Brien, Cara-Beth Burnside and Jodi McDonald. Team Vans. I can still remember the exact moment I saw those photos. I was standing in a local record store. I was looking for some new vinyl, but what I found was something different – a complete change in my perception. I realized that girls were skating at that level and the photos proved they were out there getting it done. I just didn’t know, and then I did. 

When was the first time you competed in snowboarding?

Late 90s. In Montana, competing in snowboarding was a very low-key thing and there were maybe five girls. I was riding for Burton on a regional level and having a great time. I just wanted to ride. Competing was more of a social thing. We toured around to events and pushed one another. Girls who wanted to pursue a career as a professional snowboarder would move to Bend, Tahoe or Mammoth. In staying true to my path, I moved to a small mountain in Washington. When I moved to Alpental, I was riding every day. I had three fantastic winters where I just progressed on my snowboard and didn’t do one contest. I was skating harder and snowboarding harder, but competing less. Then one day Jodi McDonald came to the Butter Bowl. Jessica Starkweather, Nicole Zuck and I were skating and having a little session, when Jodi rolled up. She was like, “I’m going to Slam City Jam to do this vert contest. You girls are coming. You have to enter. We’re doing this thing.” When Jodi summons you, you say yes!

What year was that?

That was 1999, Slam City Jam. It was my first skate contest ever. Here I was riding with a carload of girls to Vancouver for this contest. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a blast. We showed up, three girls from Washington and Oregon, and we entered the contest and competed against the best women in the world. It was an open door. Jodi gave me tips on backside airs, which I learned during practice session. I may not have wowed the judges, but I walked away from that experience with so much momentum.


I remember reading magazines when I was a kid, when tricks were first starting to happen, and they said those contests were the most important part of the transformation of skateboarding because the competitiveness made everyone want to learn a new trick for the next contest. 

I’ve seen it happen with the girls. I really admire women, like Mimi Knoop, that put in serious time learning new tricks. The bar is being raised for girls and we see the results of that at contests. It can get heated and crazy things start to happen. The best contests make you skate better than ever before. The energy of the sessions and how you  receive it determines so much.

That was a really great thing about the Anaconda contest. All of these people that you’ve skated with a handful of times were all together in one place. 

It’s the best. With all of the new parks in Montana, we have a chance to connect with our neighbors across and around the state.

Was the Butter Bowl the first backyard bowl you skated?

Yes. I graduated to the big bowl and paid some dues there. I skated my first real pools in Seattle as well, a left hand kidney and a square. 

Say you’re stuck at the Black Pearl in the Cayman Islands for the rest of your life. What five albums would you take along?

I’d have to have some skate metal like Metallica’s Kill Em All and Slayer’s Season in the Abyss, and some Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material to punk it up. Perhaps The Ventures Walk, Don’t Run for surf tunes and beach time, and my fave original Boston punk band Thrills. What about Iron Maiden and Deep Purple? Can I make a playlist? 

You skated to Slayer at the Pool Party.

It’s mandatory. 

Who has been inspirational to you? 

My family is totally awesome. My big sister and I grew up rocking in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. From classic rock to metal, we loved to rock and roll. She made me tough and kept me in a steady supply of denim and hairspray. My parents were young and fun and open and accepting of all humans. Our Grandma was one hell of an example. She held it together with eight rowdy children of her own and all of us grandkids running circles around her. She never wavered. She was as steady as they come.

Did you get to see her a lot growing up?

I was over there every Saturday. My dad and his brothers liked to sit around her big table, play cards and drink PBR. My uncles were classic, and still are. I was raised by a band of brothers who liked fast cars, rock n’ roll and fast pitch softball. My Grandma just let everyone be themselves and never judged. You knew you belonged.

“Here is this crazy concrete landscape that they can make their own – a place outside of the home – a place for friends and fun new dynamics. So much potential right there. To those girls I say “Yes, you can do this.” Not only that, they can rule it too.”

You’ve skated all over, so you’ve seen some skate spots. There have to be a few of those that float to the top. If you could replicate skate spots and have them built in your backyard, what would they be?

I’m going to aim high. I’d have some Carlsbad ditches that waterfall into an Orcas Island bridge to loveseat, a Reedsport wall with stamped tile onto a Mark Scott bank of death, an over-vert pocket like Whitefish and Klamath Falls, and the Bologna full pipe. That elbow full pipe is the best thing I’ve skated so far.

It shoots you right out of there.

Yeah. It’s the most unique feeling.

So there’s nothing in California?

I’d love a pool with a big shallow end, like the Strawberry, and a deep end with a light-death combo.


Since the Missoula skatepark opened in 2006, who have you been skating with?

I skated with Adam the Viking for years. He was my number one skate bud that I could count on to sesh anytime anywhere. We skated with Jeff Ament and other local rippers like Keenan, Herb and the BOM shop crew. Over the years, I had a crew of older guys to go to the park with and then it dwindled, so I’d skate with the kids. The ripping next gen would be Ray Hertz and the GOAT crew. 

Describe the MoBASH park in Missoula.

It’s a Grindline park. It has a cradle and a big open park flow bowl, but it’s more angular. It has two shovelheads, one deep and one shallow with a loveseat. There is a left hand kidney with a box in the deep and stairs in the shallow. The tranny is  elliptical and it has some flat, but it rides fast and grinds loud. 

Were you in on what was going on with getting that park built? 

The Missoula Skatepark Association worked on fundraising for that park for six years. Jeff Ament came in with a donation and so did a lot of other people and the park got built. I moved back during the last year of fundraising and saw the whole process of the park being built. I was skating it every step of the way, so I got a lot of first lines, testing it out. Someone’s gotta do it.

What were some of the ups and downs to getting that park done?

Well, the relationship between the city and the MSA took time to develop. There were a lot of meetings and the trust was built over time. I came in at the end of it, but that’s the history I know from being on the MSA board now. It was a major commitment for them, so hats off to Ross Peterson, Chris Bacon and Andy Kemmis for representing the skateboarder’s voice, and showing the city that they were organized, professional and had the dedication to see it through.


What kind of fundraising was done for the park?

So much. An online campaign, an annual skateboard art auction, and lots of collaboration with local businesses. You’d go into the burrito spot or coffee shop, and there’d be red skatepark badges lining the walls. You could buy one for $1, scratch your name on it or some funny message then slap it on the wall. They were everywhere. A partnership with Big Sky Brewing and their concert series was a big one, too. Slinging beers for a cut of the profit. There were lots of partnerships ongoing for years. Jeff was there from the beginning, but the final push was the namesake of the park, which is the MoBASH Skatepark.            Purchasing the name of the park was a really big donation that sealed the deal. 

How many concrete skateparks were in Montana at that point?

We had Whitefish, Kalispell, Anaconda and then Missoula. 

What was the town’s reaction after all that work? 

Every new thing has hurdles, but people were excited. The park was established as a skateboard only park, so the bikers were bummed. There were a few fights – bikers vs. skateboarders mostly. The city backed up the skatepark with an ordinance for no bikes, so the cops would ticket bikers. Aside from that, the park was well-received. Tony Hawk’s Mystery Skatepark Tour came through for the grand opening and that was a huge deal. They had to shut down Little League games for the day because nobody showed up. Alex Chalmers was here flying around with Tony and Bam Margera clicked around the street course. Andrew Reynolds wowed the masses. He sealed his name on our park with his infamous “Reynolds gap”.

What is the Reynolds gap? 

It’s actually not a gap. It’s a big drop. He ollied or kickflipped from the platform to flat. Now it’s a rite of passage for kids that come up skating street in our park to ollie or kickflip that. 

After that demo, what was the town vibe?

It was all thumbs up. Actually, I became known as the “Krusher” in Missoula that day. Mimi Knoop and Cara-Beth Burnside were out for that event, so we skated in the demo. Mimi went up to Jason Ellis, who was announcing, and said, “That’s the Krusher. She’s the local ripper.” He blew it up on the mic and, to this day, people say, “You’re that Krusher girl.” I actually acquired that nickname in Cali when I had an epic collision where I took another guy down. I don’t know if I’m proud of that, but I’ll take the nickname “Krusher” any day. It’s really just about crushing the coping, right?

You were teaching at the time too, right?

I was doing Outdoor Education before I went into teaching in a classroom. When I moved back to Missoula, I found an elementary school that was independent and connected to the outdoors. I had a really rich experience during my seven years there. I was able to do my best work – balancing academics with time outside in nature and being active. I took my students to the skatepark, on bike rides, and lots of hikes. Over time, I shifted to another awesome independent school where I’m teaching now. Sussex School is the best!

Do your students know that you’re a skateboarder?

They know I skateboard and I weave it in. I gauge their interest. Some years there is a high interest and I invite them to bring their skateboards and we skate around campus at recess. From year to year, the interest in skateboarding varies. I definitely encourage it. Last year was amazing because all of the girls in my class wanted to skateboard, and just one of the boys. That was a surprising twist.

That’s cool. Over the years, there has been an explosion of girls skateboarding and the parents seem cool with it too. Have you noticed that evolution?

Yes. In the last two years here in Missoula, we have noticed more of a female presence. Before that, I was often the only female skateboarder. Now we have Girls on Shred, an organization that hosts free skateboarding clinics and events around Western Montana. This has really been a boost. Parents are seeing it as an option for their girls to skateboard and that’s really cool. The progression is evident. I’m thinking, in five years, there’s going to be a real presence. 

Parents are always asking me why more girls don’t skate. How do you explain why more girls don’t skateboard? Do you think it’s a boys club thing or is it society in general and how they view women?

I’m sure it’s all of those things, but I agree with you that it’s changing. Now I see girls of all ages. They’re finding the strength to try skateboarding, which can be scary at the beginning. I feel a power building. Here in Montana, I’m often the first girl that kids have ever seen riding a skateboard. Sometimes I’m the first person they’ve ever seen ripping and I’m also a girl so I think that is sending a really powerful message. Break down those perceptions.

What was it like for you in the beginning when it was just a few women skating?

It’s always rad to skate with great people. If you’re skateboarding with friends, it doesn’t matter. Skateboarders are the best.

Who are the skateboarders that inspired you when you came on the scene?

Jessica Starkweather and Nicole Zuck were the first girls to push me and our sessions were like fire. Northwest rip riders for life. Cara-Beth, Jodi McDonald and Jen O got me pumped to skate vert. I went from seeing them in photos to skating with them on the regular a few years later. Mimi Knoop was a huge pot-stirrer, always pushing me to skate hard and laugh even harder. Cressey Rice inspires me to keep it real and just charge. John Cardiel and power skaters like Monk and Red have inspired me to go faster and grind louder.  

Nice. After the Missoula park was built, were you involved with getting more skateparks built? 

Once Missoula was built, the Missoula Skatepark Association had established itself as a successful nonprofit and wanted to keep the energy going. It renamed itself the Montana Skatepark Association and set its sights on getting more parks built in Montana. That’s when I became a board member. Word got out that MSA could help you get your park, so fundraising continued. Through different affiliates and grants, the MSA has continued to meet matches with cities and help to get parks established. At this point, the MSA has given over a million dollars to Montana skateparks. The folks that worked their butts off to get the Missoula park continue to give time and energy to the cause. Jeff Ament and donations from the Vitology foundation have been monumental as well. In some cases, Jeff helps get the ball rolling fast, and then we make sure that MSA can come in with a dollar amount to take it another step further. Recently, we have put our funds toward the street features to ensure there is a little something for everyone. We look to see how we can work together. The summation is a partnership between the city, Jeff Ament, Montana Skatepark Association and whomever gets the bid to build a park. Dreamland, Grindline and Evergreen Skateparks, we are so grateful for your work! Every park has something to offer. I love diversity, so let’s keep that going.

You’ve got a pro model on Montana Pool Service, so what are the stats on that?

It’s an 8.5. The MPS board was one of those things that Jeff and I talked about, and then a few years went by. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was honored to be one of three locals in the series. Now I have a board with a killer graphic by Bobby Draws Skullz. Jeff gave Bobby some information about me and it was left to his interpretation. What we ended up with was perfect. I’m a professional wrestler with bat wings jumping off the ropes – queen of the ring. I couldn’t be more stoked. 

What move are you executing?

It looks like maybe a Flying Eagle, if there is such a thing.

“I see myself continuing on with Girls on Shred events, building that community up by hosting rad events and bringing everyone out. I really want to grow that because it’s special. I not only want that for myself but, for all the girls that are skating.”

Sick! Let’s talk about Girls on Shred. When did that start?

Girls on Shred was already established as a snowboarding event for girls and women. It took place once or twice a year. It was started by a lovely woman named Danielle Barrow who passed it on to its current director, Samantha Veysey Gibbons of Board of Missoula. Sam has really grown the organization and is a master at turning things to gold. Together, we decided to expand and try a Girls on Shred skate event. I hosted the clinic and helped teach the kids and she organized the logistics, seeking donors, taking care of raffles and keeping it all together. That started it all and we are now heading into our 4th year. We average about five events a year. They are all free and open to female and non-binary skateboarders.

Explain to people the term non-binary. 

Thanks for asking. I am still learning too. With help and advice from a local organization called             Empower Montana, using the term non-binary acts as an umbrella for a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine. We could say, “Free Female Skateboard Clinic” and assume that transgender women or people using they/them/theirs pronouns would know that they are welcome, but that’s just an assumption. Using the non-binary term opens that door. By saying female and non-binary, we’re hoping to reach out to anyone that might question whether they could be a part of Girls on Shred because of their gender identity. It’s not as simple as just being a girl – it’s about the margins – the people who are hesitant to get out there on a crowded day. We’ve got you. I’ve been you. Let me clear the park out for you so you can walk away from this less scared, less intimidated and braver than you were before. 

When you host these skateboarding events, are you seeing an evolution of the kids’ talents? Are the kids ripping?

Yes, for sure. It’s still early days for Girls on Shred in Montana. What I am seeing and hoping for is longevity and kids sticking with it. Skateboarding is like finding your power. When you connect, it’s on and there’s no denying it. For me, it’s all about the ones that fall in love with skateboarding and keep at it. That is where the ripping really begins, and we are starting to see that for sure. 

During winter, is bringing the girls over to snowboarding a natural sideways move? 

Yes. I never wanted to snowboard year round, so I picked up skateboarding. Surprisingly enough, the next year I snowboarded I was so much stronger and I went out of the gate ripping. Then I went back to skateboarding and I felt like I was skating better. They feed off each other. You use a lot of the same muscles and you stay strong. 

You used to teach gymnastics at Camp Woodward and now skateboarding is going to the Olympics. Is there a different mindset between girls that are gymnasts and girls that are skateboarders?

The courage factor is similar. The stakes are high in both, but the structure of gymnastics is set up for rigor and training. The scaffolding of skill acquisition is precise and formulated. Skateboarding is an expression. It is creative and self-determined. Progression can happen outside of the constraints of a tight system. Skateboarding doesn’t need the Olympics, nor does it really fit in with the classic training model. But here we are and kids are shifting into that training mindset getting ready for the big games. Since there is no turning back now, it’s up to the kids to keep honoring the past as they blaze the future. Never forget where it all began. Make that statement and hold true.

In Montana, are more kids skating or has the popularity dropped?

I was a little worried a few years ago, but it seems like it’s coming back. The next gens have a DIY project that’s been super successful. 100% Goat crew. These are the kids I was skating with 10 years ago. Now they are men building this DIY park and they’ve done some amazing work. One day they are kids and the next thing you know they grow up and make the skate scene better.

What do you have planned next?

I’m in grad school getting a graduate degree in Arts Education, as well as teaching full time and helping with Girls on Shred. Hopefully, our fundraising efforts can make it possible to host more rural clinics throughout the state. We are officially a nonprofit now so the sky is the limit.

When you do a Girls on Shred event, how many Native American girls show up?

More on the rez than off, but that makes sense. I know there are native girls skating in Browning, Box Elder and Wolf Point. These rural parks seem to produce more girls. I haven’t seen much of a presence over here on the Flathead yet. 

Last year you did an event at Box Elder on the Rocky Boy Reservation. Was that a Girls on Shred event?

Yes. I did a Girls on Shred event for the community and everyone was welcome. We brought boards and helmets and pads and I hosted a clinic for all the kids. We spent most of the day sweeping out the bowl because it was covered in dirt and mud. It ended up being about showing what you have to do to keep your skatepark clean. Maybe no four wheelers in the bowl after a rainstorm, kids. They all pitched in and helped, then the MPS boards came out and we got to skate. 

Nice. When you go to a reservation and throw Girls on Shred events, how do the Native people treat you?

I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. There is trust in the connection through skateboarding. You’re bringing something and you’re willing to make that connection. At Box Elder, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was on as soon as I got out of the car. The kids were swarming and there was an organizer on site. It felt really good. Human to human, we are coming together to help each other and figure out how to use the skatepark and make it awesome for the kids. I am learning and they are learning. It feels like we’re making a connection over a common good and that prevails over anything negative every time. 

You’re a teacher, so that’s a bonus when it comes to teaching kids and socializing through skateboarding. In my experience on the reservations, girls are more reluctant than boys to try skateboarding, but once you get them into it, they light up. All of a sudden, they’re like, “Wow. I can do this!” At the last reservation I went to, more girls were coming up to me and saying, “Teach me. I want to learn.” When you do these Girls on Shred events, here’s a woman skateboarding and the girls can see you carve it up at the skatepark.

Yeah. The girls are jumping in for sure, more and more. It’s rewarding to follow up Jeff’s work at reservation parks. We share an understanding that all of the kids could benefit from seeing a grown woman using the park, discovering lines and just being a skateboarder. Any opportunity to connect with those kids who might question whether skateboarding is for them is good. They should grab a skateboard and give it a try if they want. No rules about who should do that. Here is this crazy concrete landscape that they can make their own – a place outside of the home – a place for friends and fun new dynamics. So much potential right there. To those girls I say “Yes, you can do this.” Not only that, they can rule it too.

What is your duty now for the future? 

I see myself continuing on with Girls on Shred events – building that community up by hosting rad events and bringing everyone out. I really want to grow that because it’s special. I not only want that for myself but, for all the girls that are skating. We all know a good crew is a good crew. It doesn’t have to be one gender. Any woman will tell you, though. There is something so right about having a session with your ladies. It is something so powerful. I would never have tried so hard if it weren’t for the ripping ladies that pushed me to the next level. But you know what? It was the guys, too. How rad is that? Skate family is forever. Duty now for the future? Pass it on.

Do you have anybody you want to thank?

Shout out to you, Murf. Thanks for coming out to Wolf Point and supporting the kids.Thanks to Board of Missoula, our local shop 30 years running, JA and Montana Pool Service, Girls on Shred, and The Montana Skatepark Association. Thanks to my  awesome team, Kurt and Mila. Thanks to everybody that wants to catch a grind on their Montana skate trip. The parks keep coming and so should you.  

That’s so cool. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to skateboarding. Keep powering forward, Krusher. 

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about it. It gives me motivation to get out there and keep it going. 


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