Mimi Knoop didn't drop in on a halfpipe until she was 24 years old. "I was a late bloomer," she says. No kidding. But her trajectory to the top followed the same general curve of the vert ramp, and now it's straight up.
With a Real Women's video part in the bag and plans to skate the first ever X Games Women's Skateboard Park event in Barcelona this month, she finds herself in the running for her sixth and seventh career X Games medals. Not that she's counting.
XGames.com: What was your last video part before the Real Women one?
Mimi Knoop: It's funny because I've never really gone and filmed for real before. I had a small part in "Villa Villa Cola," which was a skate video that came out in 2005, but I didn't really film for it. It just so happened that [VVC filmer/producer] Lisa Whitaker showed up when I was skating [and filmed me] and that's what was in the video. So this is the first time I filmed on purpose.
Did you like working on it or did it make you realize why you hadn't done it before?
I loved it. I started filming a year ago or so because there weren't any contests going on at the time and it was hard to stay motivated and keep progressing. So I ended up getting a camera and linking up with this 16-year-old kid who films. It started pushing me way more.
I learned more in the last year than I've learned in the past few years, just from filming. Even if you get a slam it's cool because at least you'll be able to use it for something.
I heard you were a late addition to the series.
Yeah, Lyn-Z [Adams Hawkins Pastrana] had been invited as the transition/vert-type of skater and then she ended up getting pregnant and wasn't able to film enough stuff to get a part together. Coincidentally, I'd already been filming and the stars aligned as I had everything ready to go.
What were the rules for what you could use for a part?
It couldn't be over the 75-second mark and we were told we had to have lifestyle footage along with action. It was pretty tight to fit everything in. I actually had to cut some stuff out.
Were there any gripes about Real Women being a multi-sport thing instead of being all skate, or all snow, because it's hard to judge who is killing it the hardest?
Honestly, it's even hard to compare a street skater and a vert skater, much less a snowboarder and a surfer or whatever. But that being said, I think the important thing is to realize the amazing platform we've been given to showcase female action sports athletes. It's a starting point and it's only going to grow in the future. So even though it's hard to judge I think it's great.
I think the snowboarders might have the advantage because it's easier to do flashy moves.
I agree. I think it's hard to relate to technical skate tricks if you aren't a skater. A huge 540 off a cliff is definitely flashier than a lip trick on a vert ramp. But I have total respect for those girls. I was hyped on everyone's parts.
Did you film at the places you usually skate?
Yeah, I usually skate the Combi and Bucky [Lasek] and Tony [Hawk]'s. I just started skating the DC ramp at the end of last year and then I got hurt.
I was skating the Combi and went to do a boneless through one of the corners in the square and I pulled out too far from the wall. I landed super low and ended up folding my foot and tearing a ligament in my ankle. And I did something to the nerve. I'm still recovering and have no feeling in my foot when I skate.
Has it been improving though?
Yeah, it's getting better but its not good yet. It's going numb after I skate and that's not cool. I feel like it needs a little bit more time, but I don't have time to give it right now.
And now Barcelona is coming up. Would you say you've been training for it?
I've skated only a couple different days with pads since the beginning of the year because I haven't been able to take that impact with my foot. I'm just taking it day by day to see if I can even be where I need to be to participate.
You already have five X Games medals in Vert, any golds?
No golds. All silver and bronze.
Injured or not, you're due for a win.
I never really looked at it like that. Maybe that's my problem. (Laughs) I just want to go and make my tricks.
Do you think you're a better bowl skater or vert skater?
I don't know. It depends on the bowl. But I like skating bowls better because there are more options and you can do different lines -- just straight back and forth gets boring so fast.
Who is the Pedro Barros of women's bowl skating?
There are a couple of girls that are just really exciting to watch. Lizzie Armanto has been out there and competing the last few years and really excelling. Nora Vasconcellos is kind of newer to the scene but is extremely talented. She just won our girl's Combi event this past winter.
Then there's also Alana Smith who is insane. From Phoenix Am to the Mega Ramp, she can do everything. It's a new time for girls' skateboarding; it's going to be awesome for the world to see them.
Vote now for your favorite in the X Games Real Women contest and stay tuned to XGames.com to find out the judges' favorite and fan favorite during X Games Barcelona, taking place May 16-19.