Planet Interview: Kim Perkins
Kim Perkins: First Geek, Then Chain-Smoker, Then a2a Champion
There are many great stories in inline skating. Kim Perkins is one of them.
The ultimate late-bloomer, Perkins was a chain-smoking magazine editor when she discovered inline racing at the age 33.
She was talented, but untrained.
She did well in a few local races, but almost quit after a humiliating defeat at a professional race in Florida, in which she was dropped at the starting line.
Then she hit the jackpot. Skate great Eddy Matzger invited her to train with him in California after she attended one of his workshops.
At first, she couldn't keep up with Matzger and his training partner, Dan Burger, as they slogged up and down the Berkeley Hills.
But after months of grueling effort (she would describe it as "pain"), she learned to skate with the boys -- and in the process, transformed herself into one of the top female ultra-distance skaters in the world.
During the next three years, she won the 87-mile Athens to Atlanta Road Skate three times and finished first in a number of other distance events, including the Disney Inline Marathon and the Texas Road Rash.
Then, last month, she announced that she was retiring from racing, at age 38.
Perkins' story is another skater's epic that would make a great movie. But until Hollywood discovers it, here's the Planet Interview:
(And thanks, Kim!)
Robert: You seem to be a natural athlete. But I understand that you were not athletic as a child. Is that true?
Kim: Yes. I was a complete geek.
I grew up in an intellectual-artistic family that had no interest in sports. Before I entered school, I had never thrown a ball of any kind.
When I was very young, my parents liked to go skiing and would take me along. But no one wanted to hang back and mind me, so they taught me to go down some insanely steep runs.
So there I am, a little three year old with 18-inch skis bombing downhills. And they said, "No, you have to learn how to carve." And I said, "Why? That just slows you down!" So I think I got a taste for speed early on. But then they stopped skiing.
And in school, because I didn't know how to throw a ball, they put me in the "you are uncoordinated and you have no ability" category, and so I never learned.
And that really formed a lot of my attitude toward sports. I didn't like jocks; I didn't like hanging out with athletes; and I didn't want to have anything to do with it.
Kim Perkins Retires From Racing (the Planet story)
Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson
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