Nathalie Richter

Nathalie Richter from Bonn was Germany’s amateur female skateboarding champion in the late 1980s, and thanks to the ‘zine Equal Time, edited by Lynn Kramer, her story isn’t lost! Nathalie began skateboarding in February 1986 and three years later, at age 19 she was riding for Vans, G&S, Venture, Speed Wheels, and Rector.

Nathalie’s feature interview in Equal Time (Vol. 1, Number 2) came out in April 1989, and she shared that “I was happy for the recognition and of course I always wanted to give a good example for other females out there wanting or trying to skate. My role was extra special, because 1 I was from Europe and 2 I was female so that was super rare and made me stand apart. More so than I realized at the time” (2022).

Nathalie was fortunate to be an exchange student in Alabama in the 1985-86 school year and had been oblivious to skateboarding until then. She noted that Alabama was “total rednecky” and so “the only people who were kind of cool were some college people, and they were a bunch of skaters… I just hung out with them because they listened to punk, and I was into punk at that time. They had a backyard ramp, and I always sat on it when we hung out.” But then her new friends had a backyard ramp contest and the girls milling about were completely ignored. She realized, “‘Man, those guys are having a blast!’ I wanted to be with the guys. I wanted to have fun! I didn’t want to be sitting here with all these lame girls” (1989).

That following Christmas, Nathalie received some money, she went up to Northern California, visited a skate shop and ended up with a pink Lance Mountain set-up with Indys. She began practising in her driveway for two months learning how to tick-tack and then was taken to a ditch to skate and make some progress. Once back in Germany, Nathalie met a friend from school who introduced her to the local scene.

Nathalie explained in Equal Time that originally, she only skated street until discovering vert, and while transition skating became her passion, she liked to mix up terrains. Nathalie had competed in over a dozen contests in Germany and the U.S. in both street and vert. She explained, “The first vert contest was last year. It was the German Championships. There were three girls in the girls’ category, and I got second. This year there was only two, unfortunately, only two girls, but I won.” When asked if it was normal in Germany to offer a female category at contests, Nathalie replied, “No. I wrote the organizer a letter before that contest, to make him have a girls category. I really put a lot of effort in it” (1989).

Nathalie met legendary U.S. skater Stephanie Person in Germany and became friends. She shared in 2022 that:

“Stephanie just showed up at my local ramp one day with some guys from Munster. She was actually dating Florian Böhm at the time and, being a great female vert skater, plus being really beautiful and being American, she was instantly super popular on Europe. Stephanie has always loved traveling so she took more than one trip to Europe usually with a male skater friend from the US and they would just meet people locally, amaze everybody with their abilities, flow the locals some rad skateboard stuff and just hang out and be invited to stay with people privately. So when we met, we got along right away. We were both super excited to meet each other because we were such a rare kind at that time.”

Nathalie eventually stayed with Stephanie in California and was inspired by her to seek out support through sponsorship, and began sending out some resumes. Bob Schmelzer of Circle-A insisted on Nathalie being part of his team, even paying for her flight to the U.S. but the situation wasn’t ideal, and they didn’t get along. Fortunately, she met Henry Hester at the Arizona NSA Finals who was working on a girls clothing line for G&S and brought Nathalie onto the team.

The challenge was that, because she was sponsored much earlier than some of the local German guys, there was a lot of jealousy directed towards Nathalie. Fortunately, there were always some supportive people and Nathalie had close male skater friends to watch her back. “I almost had like my personal bodyguards, hahaha. So even though of course there have been times when I was snaked on a big ramp by like a 200 pound guy, the positive experiences have always dominated the negative” (2022).

When asked in Equal Time about how she was treated as a female skater, Nathalie said some guys supported her with a pat on the back, but others totally hated her, which initially made her question if she was wasting her time. At one contest, a German pro skater heckled Nathalie, even after writing two pages in a magazine commending her [Boehm]. To her face, he questioned why she was there suggesting she try the high-jump contest. Nathalie did acknowledge that with fewer female skaters, it made her more unique and possibly easier to stand-out and get sponsored but she still had to manage the mixed reaction from guys.

Nathalie was also inspired by Cara-Beth Burnside! “You know when I first saw Cara Beth, I had never seen a girl skate like that before. It made me see that that’s possible—that more than that’s going to be possible. I had to see it” (1989). Nathalie knew the value of witnessing and skating with other women. Starting out, the guys were so far ahead of her. “I would never go, ‘Okay, what they can do, I can do.’ It’s like that when you see another girl rip.” Nathalie had heard of British skater, Sue Hazel but because she never witnessed her skating, she couldn’t picture it. Cara-Beth performing inverts on coping, 360 rocks, sweepers, and more, helped Nathalie understand what was possible!

Nathalie felt that she had to negotiate her identity as a female skater. “You have to deal with guys, and you really want to skate, and there’s only guys there. You also need your girl friends, but there’s no girl friends that skate. But you need both… You have like two different lives.” Back in 1989, Nathalie believed that the scene was evolving. “Girls should just become a natural point of every skate scene; neither harassed, nor glorified. That’s how I feel it should be. Just skate what you like: street, freestyle, vert, or whatever. Hang in there, and don’t quit when you break your leg or something. It will pay off 10 million times.”

When she returned to Germany, Nathalie chose the city of Munster to go to university primarily because “Titus Skates were based there and there was a big indoor halfpipe where I could go skate. The thing is though, that about three weeks before I returned home from California, I tore all my ligaments and when I had come back to Germany, everything went down the drain pretty quickly” (2022).

Nathalie’s sponsors only distributed in Hamburg, three hours away, through someone she didn’t know. The crew in Munster were strangers, and she was still in recovery from her injuries. “There was a lot of jealousy towards me when the locals realized I was fully sponsored and I wasn’t even really able to skate the ramp properly at that point. Also, it was 1989 and vert skating was just kind of going down, so most times when I showed up, there was hardly anybody in that dirty and odd hall and it just could not compared to my experiences at Mike McGill’s skate park in Del Mar etc. This made me quit about three months after I had returned, also because I fell in love with a guy who had nothing to do with skateboarding at all.”

The caption above is loosely translated as “I forget I’m a girl. I see myself more as an individual, but when I come to the ramp the others always see me as a girl.”

Nathalie noted that while she didn’t skate for a lengthy period (closer to 3 and a half years) skateboarding motivated her to practice hard and take the slams, which only motivated her more. “I am super grateful for many of the experiences I was able to make. Grateful of all the people who supported me, of the first companies who were willing to sponsor me, for the local friends who invited me to the first contests, for the people who opened their hearts and their houses to me. They were always great people around me who had my best interests at heart. That I am grateful but not really proud of anything, but I am very touched when people recognize that I might have been a factor in female skateboarding in the 80s” (2022). And the 1980s was a completely different scene than today without social media, the Olympics, and personal trainers!

Nathalie reflected on the 1980s, and even with the highs and lows of skateboarding injury, and the intensity of the scene that involved drugs and craziness that several individuals suffered from, it was still an important part of her youth – “it never really leaves you.” Nathalie now works in TV Journalism, has two daughters, and is based out of Zurich, Switzerland. She also has an amazing skateboarding sticker collection from the 1980s as shared on Instagram via Vintage Skateboard Stickers, which has reconnected her with skaters from that era!

Thanks for sharing more of your story with me, Nathalie!

Photos: George Medlock, Flofoto


  • Boehm, Florian. “Richter.” Monster Skateboard Magazin. 1988 [?].
  • Kramer, Lynn. “Nathalie Richter: German amateur champion.” Equal Time (Vol. 1, No. 2). April 1989: pp. 6-8.
  • Personal interview with Nathalie Richter. October 17, 2022.

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