Karen Schirm

Karen Schirm of Bremen, Germany was a street skater in the early 2000s and needs acknowledgment as one of the few female skaters-of-colour at that time, especially in Europe. While there was only one interview I could find of her by Chrissie Stegt, she briefly mentioned that if offered a free trip anywhere in the world, she would go to the Philippines, back to her roots. She also appreciated that skateboarding gave her freedom and independence.

A fellow skater from Bremen on Instagram named Linda said that Karen was “probably one of the first really good female German skateboarders after Steffi Weiss.” She recalled skating with Karen and heading to Hamburg for all girl’s skate sessions.

Karen was sponsored by 88 Footwear (launched by Kris Markovich), Attitude Skateshop in Bremen, and Cool Girls Skateboards. Cool Girl Skateboards was initiated by Sabine Schenk and Frank Davern in 2004. Schenk appears to be based out of Munich, Germany with Frank representing California. The company described itself as the “first skateboard label with a punk edge for girls only,” and they embraced the “girls kick ass” mantra of the era. They hosted a website with interviews, skate park reviews, upcoming events and a variety of features like “Ask a Pro” with vert legend, Holly Lyons.

Karen appeared in a few contest results, such as the Münster Championship where she placed 3rd in 2004 behind Sophie Poppe and Kim Wibbelt, and ahead of Julia Brückler and Candy Jacobs. The following year she placed 8th in Münster and then won the 2005 Attitude Summer Jam in Bremen at her local park. There was a 2005 magazine called Sportgarten that acknowledged her skill at the contest, but unfortunately filled its pages only with male skaters.

Karen could throw down tricks like pressure flips, frontside flips, boardslides, and noseslides, which were impressive for the times. She was also a bit older than most of the competitive crew, being 23 in 2005. Her favourite spot to skate was the indoor park in Eindhoven, Netherlands called Area 51, which is still in operation. Anyone remember Karen and have more to share?

Photos: Chrissie Stegt

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