WFTDA

Derby Day in Detroit! The Nerd heads to Motor City to catch up with the Detroit Derby Girls

The Grand Prix Madonnas moved into top spot in the league with the win over the Devil's Night Dames. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Grand Prix Madonnas moved into top spot in the league with the win over the Devil’s Night Dames. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The wear and tear of the “American Century” can be seen clearly on the face of Detroit. One of the largest cities in North American, for centuries Detroit has acted as an important strategic, economic and industrial centre—ushering in the automobile era, nurturing transcendent musical forms, and producing extraordinary sports teams that once inspired the nickname “City of Champions.” Of course, the transition into the 21st century has not been an easy one for the Motor City. Famously mired in a bankruptcy and feeling the damaging effects of the decline of the automobile industry, Detroit is struggling to reshape its image in a new millennium.

In recent years there has been a clear attempt to rebrand the city as an entertainment centre, and the downtown core has been somewhat revitalized by the opening of a few new casinos and other tourist-drawing sites, yet wide swathes of the core remain underdeveloped and abandoned.

The Detroit Derby Girls play their games in the historic Masonic Temple.

The Detroit Derby Girls call the historic Masonic Temple home.

Near the intersection of Interstate 75 and Woodward Avenue is one such area. Massive buildings—beautiful beacons of the boom that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century—stand empty; some are simply intricate facades standing sentry over gutted innards and crumbling supports. There are large empty lots—one of which, notably, will be the site of a hockey arena, the new home for the beloved Red Wings. Right now, however, the one shining beacon in the downtrodden area is a massive ornate neo-gothic Masonic Temple, the largest of its kind in the world, built late in the 19th century, and home for the better part of eight years to the Detroit Derby Girls.

DDG kicked off 2014 with the fifth game in its 2013-14 houseleague season featuring a showdown between the defending champion Grand Prix Madonnas and the perennial underdogs, the Devil’s Night Dames. Having come into the league in a 2011 expansion, the Madonnas have essentially been the top team since and heading into the game were riding a 6-game winning streak dating back to last season. The Dames, on the other hand, were mired in a 5-game winless drought and in three previous meetings, had yet to defeat the Madonnas (including a 191-36 drubbing last season).

However, the Dames are a team on the rise and now include a handful of members of Detroit’s WFTDA Division 1 All Start team (currently ranked 28th in the 40-team division). Led by their tireless captain, Murder City Mistress, the Dames roared out of the gates at the opening whistle on Saturday night and seemed to catch the champs off guard with their level of intensity. Having opened the season with a loss to the Pistolwhippers, the Dames had a slightly different look in their matchup with the Madonnas, seeing Doom Shakalaka take on the star and Terror Ettes (who had led the team with a 40% lead percentage in the opener) jump into the pack to bolster the pack offense.

The Grand Prix Madonnas joined the league in 2011 and are the defending league champions.

The Grand Prix Madonnas joined the league in 2011 and are the defending league champions.

The first half was defined by huge shifts in momentum as each team battled through penalty troubles. Led by the astonishing Racer McChaseHer (who played in 73% of her team’s jams in the season opener and neared that number again in this one) and supported in the pack by Spanish Ass’assin, ShamWow and Peaches N. CreamYa, to name a few, the Madonnas ran into early penalty trouble that saw an early lead evaporate. The Dames, led offensively by team leading scorer Feta Sleeze (5.9 points per jam in the season-opening loss) pounced and took the lead midway through the first.

But once the Madonnas were able to ride out their penalty troubles, they roared back themselves with some consistent jamming from Racer and Lily I. Monster in particular, to rebuild a significant lead. Yet the Dames refused to relent and Doom (who started slowly) broke out late in the half, including registering a 20-point jam, to pull the team back within reach, down 104-73 at the break (significantly, the 73 first-half points was already more than the Dames had ever scored in a full game against their opponent). However, disaster struck in the final moments of the half when Murder City Mistress went down a significant injury (the third skater lost to a leg injury in two games for the Dames).

After the highs of such a competitive first half, the Dames never seemed to recover from the loss of their captain. Feta Sleeze (who led the team in scoring with 33 first-half points) took on the “C” in the second and wore it admirably, consistently drawing the unenviable matchup against Racer in the second half (Racer scored her career leading 1700th point in the half). Sufferin’ Sucka Bash stepped up in the pack in the second as well, playing a very strong half for the Dames with the stripe to lead her packs in the absence of Mistress—but despite her strong play, and consistent jamming from the likes of Lost and Found (who had been held to only 7 points in the first half), the Madonnas controlled the action in the second.

Despite the improved play this season, the Devil's Night Dames remain last in the league.

Despite the improved play this season, the Devil’s Night Dames remain last in the league.

Triple threat Rocky Brawlboa did it all for the Madonnas, with bruising pack work alongside some physical jamming, Rocky was all over the track in the second half (and was eventually named the game MVP). Sista Slit’chya followed a similar trajectory of increased level of play in the second, and the depth of pack supplied by Ana Matronique, Mega Bloxx and others was too much for the upstart Dames to handle. Only managing 27 points in a smothering second half, the Devil’s Night Dames couldn’t keep up and the Grand Prix Madonnas jumped back into first place in the DDG standings (2-0), while the Dames, at 0-2, remain on the bottom.

Injuries seem to be conspiring against an inspired and much improved Dames team this season, while the Madonnas (after surprisingly tight 7-point win in the opener against the Pistoffs) are rounding into form.

Although they briefly left the Masonic Temple a few years ago, DDG seems comfortably established in the beautiful old building. It was a packed house on Saturday night, featuring a raucous and appreciative crowd. Among the physical rubble of decline, the Detroit Derby Girls stand as a model of consistency, part of this city’s psychological hope for renewal.

The 2013-14 season is DDG's ninth.

The 2013-14 season is DDG’s ninth.

***A big thanks to the Detroit Derby Girls for having the Nerd as a guest announcer this weekend. A special, and personal, thanks goes to the fantastic announcing crew of AK 40oz, Hi-Death, Big Poppa Razzi, Handle Barbarian, and Mr. Mauler; and also to Rusty Wheeler for the excellent stats work.

When the World Caught Up: Gotham looks (almost) beatable in winning fourth Hydra

Gotham won its fourth WFTDA title, but their opponents stole the show.

Gotham won its fourth WFTDA title, but its opponents stole the show.

Sometimes when you give performers a stage larger than any other that they have ever been on, they wilt under the spotlight. But sometimes they also rise up to meet that grandeur of that stage and give the performance of their life. At this weekend’s WFTDA Championship not one, but two teams were placed under the glaring light of that spotlight and were inspired to give the kinds of performances that will go down in history.

At the 9th Women’s Flattrack Derby Association championship, Gotham Girls Roller Derby, the sport’s greatest team thus far, won its fourth championship and third in a row, continuing an unprecedented run that had up until this weekend been defined by its dominance. Having won more than 40 games in a row over three years, with the final 22 of them having been by more than 100 points, the defending champs entered the weekend seeming very much like a monolith of dominance. And while they maintained their streak and proved—definitively once more—that they are the best there is, it was the opposition that stole the show.

Read Ogden Smash's Gotham vs. B.A.D. recap for Derby News Network (featuring photography by Danforth Johnson)

Read Ogden Smash’s Gotham vs. B.A.D. recap for Derby News Network (featuring photography by Danforth Johnson)

In its first championship, Ohio offered little resistance to Gotham in the quarterfinals (although they narrowly managed to avoid being part of a record-setting defeat with a comparatively strong second half in the 509-64 loss), and while everyone expected the Bay Area Derby Girls to do considerably better, no one in Milwaukee’s US Cellular Arena gave them much of a shot. Down 22-2 after three jams, things seemed to be unfolding as expected for Bay Area: Mighty Gotham once again tightening the noose early. But then something interesting happened: The B.A.D. Girls wouldn’t go away. Only a late 20-point power jam kept Gotham ahead by a significant amount (102-47 at half). The second half was much the same, with Bay Area winning over the hearts of the crowd and keeping pace with their opponents before succumbing to the champs 174-125, which was, impressively, the tightest margin Gotham had won by since June 2012.

The Texas Rollergirls Texacutioners, the grandmothers of our modern game, were apparently watching that semifinal (they’d already handily dispatched Denver in their semifinal 298-129) and must have drawn confidence from it; nonetheless, there were few, if any, who gave the skaters from Austin much of a chance in the final—indeed word around the track was that the B.A.D. vs. Gotham semi had essentially been the championship game. (Bay Area went on to finish third, handling Denver 224-174).

Gotham and Texas have a history that dates back all the way to the first WFTDA championship in 2006, where Texas defeated Gotham 32-16 in a ten-minute round robin seeding-game. Since then, they have met six times in sanctioned bouts with Gotham winning them all by increasingly larger margins culminating in Gotham’s 247 point victory (313-66) just six months ago at ECDX. With similar rosters and not much time between games, who would have expected anything different?

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall's Gotham vs. Texas recap for DNN (featuring the photography of Danforth Johnson)

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall’s Gotham vs. Texas recap for DNN (featuring the photography of Danforth Johnson)

Unlike the Bay Area showdown though, Gotham was unable to even pull ahead early with Texas leading 23-14 after four jams. Indeed, the two teams would trade leads throughout and only a very late 25-3 run over three jams would allow Gotham to pull away and successfully defend its Hydra with a narrow 199-173 win. In the pack, Smarty Pants, Polly Gone and Fifi Nomenon cemented their status as superstars, and while tournament MVP Bloody Mary led the way with the star, it was Hauss the Boss who would be the shocker in the final, pirouetting and leaping her way around Gotham packs and not looking out of place at all on the game’s grandest stage.

Beyond the shocker of those two games, the 2013 tournament was the best yet, and displayed an incredible growth of the game from a strategic and athletic point of view. Friday’s first-round matchups provided one of the greatest days of derby in tournament history, with an average margin of victory in the 20s. And while the quarterfinals didn’t quite provide the same level of intensity, there were moments of brilliance: for example in the Texas vs. Atlanta quarterfinal there was a jam that began as a tightly knit scrum start that didn’t break apart as it approached and then moved beyond turn one; then turn two. As the amoebic-like mass of bodies churned and grinded its way around the track, the crowd slowly began to clap, then cheer, then stand to applaud the gritty, sticky brilliance of the defensive derby on display: it was flat track roller derby at its very best.

The WFTDA ruleset has taken a lot of criticism, with many saying that the game is too slow, but there was little of those kinds of discussions this weekend, and one can expect that there won’t be many more to come. As slow as the slowest moments in the games were, there were breathtaking bursts of speed—the fastest roller derby ever seen. And this is the beauty of the WFTDA ruleset: that contrast between grinding slowness and blazing speed that can be achieved. And while the rules are still in relative infancy and will continue to evolve (for example, there are still too many no-impact penalties called in the game, and there is still some discomfort over allowing a pack speed of absolute 0), but the quibbles of the recent years seem fairly insignificant after the display of the potential for the game seen this weekend. That Texas vs. Gotham final was as good a game of roller derby that has ever been played, with a level of intensity and excitement worthy of any sport at any level.

And not to be overlooked, the first ever Division 2 final between Santa Cruz and Jet City was just as exciting as its D1 counterpart; a last-jam one-point thriller (195-194 for Jet City) capping off a successful D2 experiment that is providing a massive competitive platform for the next generation of Ohios and Angel Citys and Atlantas—teams that could crack the top of the WFTDA list some day.

As hard as it is to walk away from another season, a brilliant season that saw international teams compete at an increasingly higher level (hello London, welcome to champs, and Melbourne, Toronto, Vancouver welcome to the party), that saw the sport reach new heights of competitive parity–as hard as it is to walk away, we can all take comfort in knowing how strong the future of flat track really is.

**A special thanks (and congrats) to the Brew City Bruisers for hosting such a fantastic tournament.

**All games were boutcast live and will be archived on WFTDA.TV.

Hydra 2013 WFTDA Champs

2013 WFTDA Championships Preview

Hydra 2013 WFTDA ChampsAtlanta Rollergirls (8th) vs. London Rollergirls (13th)

(Friday, 2:00 PM)

Last year’s host Atlanta heads to the 2013 WFTDA Championships on the strength of an 8-1 regular season record; however, their record was padded by wins against lesser-ranked opponents, and they recorded relatively narrow playoff wins over Toronto and Rat City before losing to the B.A.D Girls 233-106 in the Divisional final.

London Rollergirls, the first international team to ever qualify for the championship tournament, amassed a 3-3 record on limited play in the regular season, but it came against top-notch opponents (including Windy City, Rose City and the Oly Rollers). In the playoffs, a narrow win over Rose City followed by a narrow loss to Denver set up a must-win against Montreal, which they handled well, defeating their international rivals by 101 points.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Atlanta_Rollergirls_logoATLANTA:

The pack is led by former Gotham skater, Wild Cherri, a formidable, frightening blocker. But it is a pack that has a lot of depth. Other key Atlanta skaters are Queen Loseyateefa (56% playoff jam percentage: IE, she was on the track for 56% of her team’s jams), Alassin Sane (53%) and Switchblade Siousxie 53%). Siousxie though, is also potentially penalty prone (averaging 5 minutes a game in the playoffs). Siousxie somewhat makes up for this by leading her team with a +49 plus/minus.

Atlanta’s jammer rotation is led by Jammunition, who has already donned the star 40 times in the playoffs. She leads the team with a 60% playoff lead percentage, has scored 199 points and has registered an impressive +127. The rest of the rotation is filled in by Belle of the Brawl (115 points, 39% lead percentage), Merchant of Menace (89, 27%) Bruze Orman (73, 54%) and Hollicidal (69, 48%).

LONDON:

London Brawling, featuring 11 Team England skaters, helped provide a World Cup preview.Despite also being a primary jammer, the incredible Stefanie Mainey is also a key London blocker, appearing in 41% of her team’s jams. Also look out for Raw Heidi (53%), Knickerblocker Glory (62%), Olivia Coupe (59%) and Shaolynn Scarlett (55%). Raw Heidi has the highest blocker Plus minus at +108, followed closely by Scarlett’s +103.

Kamikaze Kitten has been one of the top jammers in the 2013 playoffs, putting up an impressive line of 317 points (6.6 points per jam!), 56% lead percentage, and +166, scoring an incredible 50% of her team’s points so far. While London does have a strong, four-jammer rotation, there is an intense and noticeable drop off in lead percentage among the rest: Rogue Runner (135, 21%, +27), Stefanie Mainey (97, 40%, -2), and Lexi Lightspeed (57, 23%, -27).

*Read the Derby News Network’s preview of Atlanta and London.

OPPONENTS: Texas Rollergirls  (3rd)

(Saturday, 10:00 AM)

The winner will have to face off against perennial powers, Austin’s Texacutioners. Champs at the inaugural event in 2006 and runners up in 2009, Texas Rollergirls have finished in the top four in every tournament except 2010. TXRG cruised past Terminal City and Naptown in the playoffs and held off Philly to win its divisional.

After going 5-3 in the regular season with  losses to Gotham and Bay Area (the top two teams in the league) and a narrow three-point defeat at the hands of Windy City, the sport’s most experienced league once again seems poised to make noise when it matters the most.

TXRG logoSKATERS TO WATCH

Texas takes a balanced approach with its pack, riding a core of Smarty Pants, Polly Gone, Barbara Ambush, Sarah Hippel, and Fifi Nomenon almost equally. Polly, Hippel and Ambush have all run into penalty troubles at some point during these playoffs, but nothing serious as Texas was rarely challenged in their divisional.

While Hippel and Fifi Nomenon are used as depth jammers, Texas has been running a pretty tight three-jammer rotation through the playoffs that has been fairly evenly productive. Olivia Shootin’ John leads the way with 326 points (8.6 PPJ) a 55% lead percentage and an incredible +210.  Watch also for Hauss the Boss (234, 47%, +96), and Bloody Mary (208, 45%, +114).

*Read DNN’s preview of Texas.

Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (10th) vs. Angel City Derby Girls (6th)

(Friday, 4:00 PM)

After winning the WFTDA champs in 2010 and losing in the semis the following year, Rocky Mountain has been on a rebuild since, but it’s been a quick rebuild. 9-2 in the regular season (with wins over Rat City, Kansas City and Denver), Rocky Mountain knocked off Houston and Windy City before running into Gotham in the Divisional final (losing by a respectable 216-99).

Angel City roared up the rankings this season on the strength of an 11-1 record (only loss was to Rat City), although their schedule has been criticized as being a little too soft. After crushing New Hampshire in the opening round, they were upset by Philly in the semis before handling Naptown 222-130 to secure the spot in the Championships.

SKATERS TO WATCH

rocky mountain rollergirls logoROCKY MOUNTAIN:

The key to Rocky’s rebuild is in a pack that used to be filled with skaters like Psycho Babble, Deranged and Amanda Jamitinya. Triple Shot Misto has emerged as an unbelievable presence in the pack (and can jam as well when needed) while Bob Loblaw, a veteran, has grown into a much bigger role. Also expect to see Winona Fighter, Assaultin’ Pepa and May Q Pay on the track a lot.

Rocky’s three-jammer rotation is led by Casstrator (156, 41%, +26), Sweet Mary Pain (147, 60%) and Alpha Q Up (125, 29%). Look for Toxic Taunic in relief, who managed 51 points in limited playoff action on a 47% lead percentage.

ANGEL CITY:Angel_City_Derby_Girls

Angel City has a very balanced approach to its blockers, with the impressive Soledad, Jane Wilkins, Duchess Von Damn, Laci Knight, Krissy Krash and Rachel Rotten all hovering around 50% jam percentage. Big-hitting Soledad and Laci Knight both have had penalty troubles in the playoffs. Rachel Rotten has the highest plus/minus in the playoffs at +109.

Angel City also spreads out their jammers as well, although led by a core of Chica Go Lightning (214, 59%, +110) Mickispeedia (143, 37%), and Cris Dobbins (95, 48%). Look for Ghetto Fabu-lez (70, 80%) and Tyra Shanks (36, 54%) in relief.

*Read DNN’s preview of Rocky Mountain and Angel City.

OPPONENTS: Denver Roller Dolls (4th)

(Saturday, 12:00 PM)

Denver returns to defend its third place finish at last year’s championships. They had an up and down 6-6 regular season that saw them lose twice to cross-town rivals Rocky Mountain, (potentially their quarterfinal opponent). It was a tough schedule though, and prepared them well for the Divisionals where they crushed Cincinnati, had some trouble with London and finally dispatched surprising Ohio 304-134 to win the Division.

Denver LogoSKATERS TO WATCH

Denver’s pack is led by a couple of the best blockers in the game: Tracy Akers and Shaina Serelson who finished the Divisionals with amazing plus/minuses of +396 and +359 respectively. Look for one of these skates to always be on the track. The core is also made of Jessica Rivas and Susie Long, although Rivas has run into some penalty trouble sitting for 14 minutes in the playoffs so far.

With last year’s playoff hero Sandrine Rangeon out of the lineup, Julie Adams (313 points, 68% +215) is back at the front of the rotation. There is a ton of depth though with Stacie Willhelm (229, 50%), Amanda Sharpless (142, 61%) and Krystal Sprouse (117, 38%) rounding out an impressive rotation

*Read DNN’s preview of Denver.

Ohio Rollergirls (21st) vs. Rat City Rollergirls (18th)

(Friday, 6:00 PM)

After tearing up the North Centrals last year and becoming the sweethearts of the WFTDA, in 2013 Ohio took it to the next level and have qualified for champs for the first time. One of the hardest working teams in the sport, Ohio went 15-5 in the regular season before knocking off Arch Rival and upsetting Montreal in Divisionals. They eventually  ran out of steam against Denver (304-134) in a one-sided loss in the finals.

One of the game’s original leagues, Seattle’s Rat City returns to champs for the first time since 2008! They went 4-4 in the regular season against top-notch competition, before brushing past Boston the Divisionals and losing to Atlanta in the semifinals. They handled Detroit easily, 254-129, to secure their berth in the tourney.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Ohio logoOHIO:

Ohio is led by two skaters have announced that they will be retiring at the end of the season, Pippi Ripyourstockings and Phoenix Bunz. With an incredibly short bench, look to see a ton of Pippi, Outa My Wayman, Bratislava Bruisers and Loraine Acid (who were all on the track for at least 60% of Ohio’s jams in the playoffs so far).

Phoenix Bunz, one of the game’s best all-around players, was a monster in Divisionals, basically jamming or blocking constantly, recording 211 points and recording a 50% lead percentage. The Smacktivist led the team in scoring with 243 points. Kitty Liquorbottom (72 points, 21%) rounds out the short rotation.

RAT CITY:Rat_City_Rollergirls_logo

Rat City is led by the excellent Carmen Getsome who can (and will) do it all on the track. The pack play is well balanced with only K. Beezy and Shorty Ounce playing 50% of Rat’s jams in the playoffs. Look for Full Nelson, Method of Madness and Rumble Fish as well. Method of Madness and Full Nelson recoded amazing plus/minuses (+127, +125).

While Carmen is often used as a jammer, she is also so effective in the pack that she will probably be used in relief. That leaves a majority of the work to go to Jukestapose (179 points, 47% lead percentage), Luna Negra (167, 50%), and Jalapena Business (75, 48%). Sintripetal Force provides the depth and managed an impressive 142 points in limited playoff action (she scored 110 points on 11 points per jam in the clincher against Detroit).

*Read DNN’s preview of Ohio and Rat City.

OPPONENTS: Gotham Girls Roller Derby  (1st

(Saturday, 2:00 PM)

Either Rat City (returning after a long absence) or Ohio (in their first ever appearance) will be rewarded for their win by having to play the three-time champ Gotham in the quarterfinals. Winners of the past two WFTDA championships, Gotham completed another unbeaten regular season (9-0) but did suffer a loss to MRDA champs, Your Mom’s Roller Derby to remind them what losing feels like (they hadn’t lost a game since the 2010 WFTDA semifinals). They won all of their divisional games by at least 100 points including a record-setting 545-21 victory over Oklahoma City.

Gotham logoSKATERS TO WATCH

Despite playing without perennial strengths Fisti Cuffs and Mick Swagger in Divisionals, the Gotham packs looked unbelievable. Led by Donna Matrix, Anna Bokkocks, OMG WTF, Hela Skelter and the always imposing Sexy Slaydie (who is riding a WFTDA playoff leading plus/minus of +440 so far in the playoffs), there aren’t many holes in these walls.

Led by the best jammer in the game, Bonnie Thunders (367 points, 77% lead percentage and +315 in the playoffs) the Gotham jammer rotation is frighteningly deep: Suzy Hotrod (291, 65%), Vicious Van GoGo (184, 65%), Claire D Way (157, 61%) all bring something different to the line.

*Read DNN’s preview of Gotham.

Philly Rollergirls (14th) vs. Windy City Rollers (9th)

(Friday 8:00 PM)

When Philly and Windy met in June this year, Philly snuck away with a one-point win, meaning that this game is anyone’s to call. Philly had an up-and-down year, despite a 10-3 record. They got it all together for the playoffs though, where they swept aside Kansas City and easily upset Angel City before giving Texas everything they could handle in the Divisional final (253-210).

Windy City rode a 9-2 regular season into the playoffs where they crushed another long-time WFTDA team Madison in the opening round. Despite falling in the semifinals to Rocky Mountain, they held off chief-rivals Minnesota in another nail-biting 160-154 victory to earn their spot.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Philly LogoPHILLY:

Philly has incredible depth in the pack, anchored by a core of Shenita Stretcher and Teflon Donna who have as much experience as nearly anyone in the game. In the playoffs, track time leaders have also included Castro, Persephone, Tarantula, Heavy Flo and Ginger Vitis. The pack can run into penalty troubles though, with Tarantula Persephone, and Shenita Stretcher all picking up over 10 minutes in penalties so far (jammer Devoida Mercy also has 10 minutes).

Philly boasts one of the game’s most impressive jammers in Vanessa Sites (AKA V-Diva), and she was awesome in Divisionals, scoring 328 points on a 57% lead percentage (and finishing with a +188). Devoida Mercy (162, 38%), Clam Jammer (146, 52%), and Antidote (94, 45%) round out the rotation.

WINDY:Windy City Logo

Anchored by the physically imposing Sargentina and Bork Bork Bork, the Windy pack is depth defined: Konichiwow, Moby Nipps, Ruth Enasia, Yvette Yourmaker and Hoosier Mama all put in a lot of track time in Divisionals. Bork Bork Bork finished with a +196 plus/minus, and no Windy blocker has wracked up more than 9 penalty minutes so far in the playoffs.

Prototypical double threat Jackie Daniels (101 points, 52% lead percentage) anchors a deep and talented five-jammer rotation. Ying O’Fire led the team in scoring in Divisionals (215 points) and recorded a 57% lead percentage. Killa Nois (124, 50%), Athena DeCrime (146, 58%), and veteran Varla Vendetta (59, 52%) round out a tough offense. 2012 playoff superstar Sandrine Rangeon has also joined the team: the size and success of her role remains to be seen.

*Read DNN’s preview of Philly and Windy City.

OPPONENTS: B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls (2nd)

(Saturday, 4:00 PM)

Popular thought coming into this season was that if anyone could unseat Gotham, it is the Bay Area Derby Girls. They kicked off 2013 living up to those lofty expectations winning 5 in a row. But then shocking back-to-back losses to Windy City and Denver put all of that into question. While they did follow those defeats with a win over Texas, it wasn’t until an absolutely dominant Divisional playoff where B.A.D looked like themselves again, crushing Victorian, Detroit and Atlanta to earn the first-round bye.

SKATERS TO WATCH:Bay_Area_Derby_Girls_Logo

The names of Demanda Riot and bell RIGHT hooks are enough to inspire fear in any jammer, but this deep B.A.D team also includes transfer Amanda Jamitinya (and former champ with Rocky in 2010), Dolly Rocket, Kristi Yamagotcha, Murderyn Munroe, Sherlock Homeslice and Brawllen Angel. Demanda (+374), bell (+337), and AJ (+336) all recorded monstrously high plus/minuses in Divisionals

If that’s not enough, they have an amazing, four-jammer rotation to match the deep pack. Chantilly Mace has been dominant in the playoffs, scoring 312 points and recording a 71% lead percentage. But that doesn’t mean you can overlook Bricktator (215, 50%), Lulu Lockjaw (194, 55%) or Nock Nock (166, 56%) all with at least a 50% lead percentage.

*Read DNN’s preview of the B.A.D Girls.

DON’T FORGET THE D2 TITLE!

The first ever Division 2 Championship will be settled on Sunday as well, with Sac City and Blue Ridge kicking off Sunday’s action at 12:00 PM in the D2 third place game. At 2:00 PM Jet City and Santa Cruz will contest the first ever D2 Championship.

Finally, Derby News Network also profiled the reffing crew of this year’s championships. Read it here.

*** All games will be boutcast live on WFTDA.TV.***

wftdatvlogo

Toronto Hosts Grand Rapids to Close out 2013 Season: Bruisers host Misfit Militia

This Saturday night, Toronto Roller Derby’s two travel teams will host a double header to close out what has been a remarkable, expectation-busting season. CN Power will welcome rivals Grand Raggidy Roller Girls (Grand Rapids, Michigan), a team they have squared off against on two separate occasions and have yet to beat. The Bay Street Bruisers will also be facing a stiff challenge as they host Alliston’s Misfit Militia, an independent team that has been turning heads with an impressive string of wins that has left its opponents decimated. It will be a challenging, high-paced night of flat track roller derby featuring two explosive bouts to close out the 2013 ToRD season.

CN Power vs.  Grand Raggidy All Stars

The Toronto Grand Raggidy matchup is a slow brewing rivalry that dates back to October 2011. Back in October 2011, things were much different for ToRD. Having just months before finished their WFTDA Apprenticeship, CN Power was embarking on its first ever WFTDA road trip, and they headed to Grand Rapids to kick things off. At the time, their opponents were ranked well above them (they’d just finished 11th in the North Central Region, narrowly missing the 2011 playoffs). At the time, the 148-68 loss was seen as a confidence-boosting performance. Fast forward one year (almost to the day) and CN Power once again rode into Grand Rapids, only this time, after an incredibly successful first WFTDA season, it was Toronto who was higher ranked (13th to 14th). Once again though, the home team controlled almost the entirety of the game, surprising Toronto with the 167-80 victory.

Toronto’s CN Power is hoping that the third time will be a charm.

Both teams had very similar regular season. CN Power finished the 2013 regular season with a 6-6 record in sanctioned play (7-6 overall) to qualify for their first ever WFTDA playoffs (entering their division ranked last—10th—and 39th overall). Grand Raggidy went 3-6 on the regular season (4-6 overall) and also entered their division playoffs ranked 10th, 40th overall in the WFTDA). Once they got to the playoffs though, everything changed.

Read Lex Talionis' recap of Grand Raggidy's win over Bleeding Heartland at the WFTDA playoffs (featuring the photography of Dave Wood)

Read Lex Talionis’ recap of Grand Raggidy’s win over Bleeding Heartland at the WFTDA playoffs (featuring the photography of Dave Wood)

Grand Rapids got clobbered in their opening games of the playoffs, deconstructed in one-sided losses to Wasatch (Salt Lake City) and Rose City (Portland) before managing a narrow upset over Bloomington, Indiana’s, Bleeding Heartland to move up one spot to 9th in their division, but they still slid all the way down to 52nd in the overall rankings.

CN Power, on the other hand, tore through their division, notching major upsets over Sacred City (Sacramento) (215-90) and Boston, (204-198) while falling narrowly to mighty Atlanta (219-171) and then tumbling in an international showdown against Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby (208-124) to finish a surprising 6th in their division and also leap up to 32nd overall in the WFTDA.

While these two teams have been neck and neck over the past two seasons, it would seem after this year’s impressive playoffs, that Toronto has pulled ahead. The team, and the league supporting it, has rounded into a finely tuned competitive machine, currently competing at the top of its game. CN Power has home track advantage to show just that.

Read Beck Wise's Atlanta vs. Toronto game recap for DNN (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Read Beck Wise’s Atlanta vs. Toronto game recap for DNN (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

PLAYOFF PERFORMERS: By The Numbers

Taking a look at the stats from the recently completed WFTDA playoffs can tell us a lot about what to expect.

Both Toronto and Grand Rapids have a fairly set four-jammer rotation, and while both have capable back ups outside of this foursome, expect to see similar rotations as those seen in the playoffs. Ultra Fox and Lucy Morals each played 26% of her team’s jams in the playoffs, followed closely behind by Shotgun Shell (21%) and Mona Vaydid (13%) (Xtreme Tac was the most used reserve jammer). Ultra Fox was a handful in the playoffs, registering an impressive 61% lead percentage despite the two lopsided losses. She also led the team in scoring with 114 points (3.5 points per jam) and was the only jammer to record a plus/minus less than -100 (-23). Lucy Morals was second in scoring with 93 points (2.8 PPJ). Mona Vaydid registered a 44% lead percentage.

Toronto’s four-jammer rotation was led by Bambi and Bala Reina who both had impressive playoffs. Although she’s had some trouble against Grand Rapids in the past, Bambi was extraordinary in Divisionals and is primed to exact some revenge. She jammed in 28% of CN Power’s jams, scoring 258 points (5.5 PPJ), recorded a 49% lead percentage and finished at +131. Bala wasn’t quite as consistent, but also scored over 200 points (202 on 5.3 PPJ) and recorded a 45% lead percentage.  Dusty (126 PTS, 3.8 PPJ, 33% lead percentage) and Motorhead Molly (59, 1.69, 37%) round out the rotation.

In the pack, Grand Raggidy played with a much longer bench during the playoffs with five skaters skating over 40% of their team’s jams and eight skating at least 33% of their team’s jams. Bette Mangler and Ringo Deathstarr led the way in terms of track time followed closely by Garden Ho and Lindsay Blowhan.

Toronto rode Nasher the Smasher more than any other blocker (and maybe played more than any skater in the tournament), as she appeared in a truly remarkable 80% of CN Power’s jams during the playoffs and finished at +29 (this despite registering a -105 plus/minus in the loss to Victorian). Bruiseberry Pie (57%) and Dyna Hurtcha (55%) also put in a lot of track time, and Renny Rumble (49%) and Jubilee (46%) were not far behind. Jubilee finished the tournament with an outstanding +104 to easily lead the team.

One number to watch out for is the number of penalties, particularly to the top blockers. Grand Rapids had three skaters register at least a .20 PMJ (penalty minutes per jam): Nnegratron (.26), Garden Ho (.21) and Freakn’C (.20). Similarly, Dyna Hurtcha (.26) Bruiseberry Pie (.21) and Jubilee (.19) also ran into some penalty trouble. Keeping these key blockers on the track will be essential for each team.

The Bruisers and Misfit Militia last faced off in 2012 at the RDAC Eastern Canadian Championships. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

The Bruisers and Misfit Militia last faced off in 2012 at the RDAC Eastern Canadian Championships. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Bay Street Bruisers vs. Misfit Militia

The only previous meeting between ToRD’s Bay Street Bruisers and the Misfit Militia was a thrilling, come from behind 10-point win (140-130) for the Bruisers in the semifinals of the 2012 RDAC Eastern Canadian Championship in Guelph last summer. It’s been quite a journey for both teams since then.

Currently 8-1 this season, the Bruisers have continued to build off of the success from 2012. They have risen into the Top 10 in Rollergirl.ca’s Canadian Rankings, and have proven to be the top B-level travel team in the nation. Their lone loss this season was to an incredibly talented Slaughter Daughters team from Rideau Valley, stacked full with their league’s top players. Despite being overmatched individually in that game, the Bruisers stayed with their opponents, losing by only 20 points. Since then, the’ve won three in a row including victories over Tri-City champs the TKOs and Montreal’s Sexpos. They currently sit at 8th in the Canadian rankings.

It’s been an interesting year for Misfit Militia. Separating from their home league in Alliston, the Militia have been destroying their opposition since being reborn as an independent team in June. During the five-game winning streak, they have absolutely dominated their opponents, winning by an average of 371 points while outscoring their opposition 2109-255. This has seen them tear up the rankings to 6th overall, where they currently sit.

Both teams would love to end their seasons strong. For the Misfit Militia this game provides an opportunity to ensure and secure their impressive ranking among the best in Canada (they also sit 8th in the Canadian Power Rankings), while for the Bruisers, this game presents an opportunity for the B-team to climb even higher that they already sit. The winners will need to be at their utmost best.

**For those outside of the province, the game will be boutcast live by the ToRD.TV crew in partnership with Canuck Derby TV. Local audiences should stay tuned to Rogers TV for rebroadcasts of the double header.

Canuck Derby TV logo

Terminal City Climbs Three Spots in Second WFTDA Divisional Playoff

Texas, Philly and Angel City are heading to Milwaukee.

Texas, Philly and Angel City are heading to Milwaukee.

The second Canadian and third international team in WFTDA playoff history, acquitted itself well this weekend in Richmond, Virginia, at the second Divisional tournament in the WFTDA 2013 Big Five season. Scoring an upset in their Friday night opener to book a bout against the historic Texas Rollergirls in the quarter finals (one of their stated goals of the weekend), Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars went 1 – 1 in the consolation round to jump three spots, finishing 7th in the Division.

Read the blow-by-blow recap by Ogden Smash on Derby News Network (featuring the photography of Jennifer M. Ramos)

Read the blow-by-blow recap of Terminal City vs. Tampa by Ogden Smash on Derby News Network. (Featuring the photography of Jennifer M. Ramos)

Terminal City laid its cards on the table on the opening jam of their first game, using their vaunted star-pass strategy to ensure no more than a four-point pick up for Tampa, who took the first lead of the game. Unfazed, Terminal City quickly jumped back in front, gaining a lead that they would not relent, yet they would never really be able to put away a scrappy Tampa team either as they would be virtually tied in second half scoring, with Terminal City holding on for the 180-154 upset. Vancouver stuck with a strict lineup all weekend, using a four-jammer rotation of Kim Janna, Evada Peron, Bobbi Barbarich and luludemon. The consistency and variety of their jammers allowed them to provide a varied offense that kept defenses guessing.

While they were clearly overmatched against Texas, they nonetheless put in an outstanding effort and found significant success offensively, able to score 125 points against the perennial powerhouses and founders of the modern, flat track version of the sport. While Terminal City’s lines were fairly consistent on the weekend (and the bench kept fairly short), pack penalties—particularly against Texas—kept things varied. Pivots Buffy Sainte Fury, Scarlett Bloodbath and Kim Mackenzie were excellent all weekend: always hyper aware of what was shaping up and quick to grab the star when necessary. They also got very consistent pack work from Lisa Suggitt, Jocelyn Ingram, Flower Plow’her and Megan Griffith.

Read the blow-by-blow recap by Justice Feelgood Marshall for Derby News Network.

Read the blow-by-blow recap of Terminal City vs. Jacksonville by Justice Feelgood Marshall for Derby News Network.

The first consolation round showdown with Jacksonville was a fast-paced and fairly even bout that Jacksonville took control of early. Despite playing their cleanest game of the weekend, Terminal City could not catch Jacksonville after they took an early lead. Trading jams back and forth throughout and staying relatively clean, the teams put on a show that concluded as one of the best games of the weekend, with Jacksonville winning narrowly 162-127.

And finally, after a slow start against New Hampshire in the 7th place game, Terminal City turned it around to dominate. The jammers had a rough go at it in the early going, facing tough New Hampshire defensive walls. Both luludemon and Kim Janna had tough times penetrating, while Evada was able to juke around the strong formations. Eventually, Terminal City was able to capitalize on New Hampshire mistakes and began to draw penalties (and were dominant on power jams). Fantastically played back-to-back power jams late in the 1st period (the second of which featured luludemon scoring 29 points while Suggitt, Plow’her, Scarlett Bloodbath and Ash Richardson decimated the New Hampshire pack by dominating pack definition and sending all four opposing blockers to the box), put the game away (they’d run away with a 250-154 win).

Read the blow-by-blow recap of Terminal City vs. New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

Read the blow-by-blow recap of Terminal City vs. New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

While their consistent pack work was huge in their success, the varied offense was key to their game. Each of the four primary jammers had moments to excel, and each had moments when her particular skill set shone. For example, luludemon, who struggled against Texas and even Tampa, was dominant against New Hampshire (76 points) and Jacksonville (58). While Evada Peron found her jukey style better suited against the impenetrable TXRG defense (she led with 41 points) and Tampa (where she dominated with 83 points, a +76 jammer plus/minus, and a 90% lead percentage). The powerful Barbarich and athletic Janna, despite never leading the team in scoring, may have provided the most consistent performances of the weekend, with both managing above 30% lead percentages against Texas, and Janna scoring 50 points on a 60% lead percentage in the opener against Tampa, and Barbarich providing an outstanding well-rounded performance against New Hampshire in the placement clincher (72 points on 80% lead percentage).

It was an impressive WFTDA playoff debut for Terminal City, a performance that will propel them even higher up the rankings than they have already climbed this season (these games count toward next season’s rankings, and because they are playoff games, have a greater weight). If they hadn’t already made a names for themselves, Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars certainly have now.

**Catch all the games archived at WFTDA.TV.

**Read full game recaps on the Derby News Network.

WFTDA Playoff Recap: Montreal bows out; London heads to champs

Denver, Ohio and London are the first teams to qualify for the 2013 WFTDA Championship tournament.

Denver, Ohio and London are the first teams to qualify for the 2013 WFTDA Championship tournament.

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block came into the opening weekend of the 2013 WFTDA playoffs with high hopes and the high seeding to match. Under the WFTDA’s new playoff seeding system, the Divisional groupings had teams much more evenly distributed than ever before, seeing traditional powerhouses like Rose City (5th) and scrappy upstarts like Wasatch (7th) given challenging seedings. It was made clear early on that Denver was the cream of this crop, while last year’s fan favourites Ohio finally put it all together to advance to the Championship tournament. Montreal, on the other hand, struggled throughout, never seeming to get it all together for a complete game, finishing fourth after a loss to their playoff rivals, London, who became the first international team to qualify for the WFTDA Championship tournament.

Gaining a bye to the quarterfinals, Montreal opened against a Wasatch team that had been forced to play a qualifying game earlier in the day (a one-sided win over Grand Raggidy). Facing a history of three-straight Friday losses in the playoffs, Montreal hoped to turn things around against the team from Salt Lake City. However, it was Wasatch who stormed out of the gates and had Montreal scrambling for almost the entire first half. Multiple early jammer penalties to Mel E Juana and Lil Mama (which would become a huge problem during the tournament) had Montreal in a deep hole early. However, it was uncharacteristically loose packs that were truly the Skids undoing. Although the trio of Jess Bandit, Surgical Strike  (often joined by vet Rae Volver) provided the most consistent pack of the night for the Skids, for the most part, Wasatch’s relentless blockers easily won the pack battles.

Read Lex Talkionis' complete Wasatch v. Montreal recap on Derby News Network (featuring the photography of Bob Dunnell and Dave Wood)

Read Lex Talionis’ complete Wasatch vs. Montreal recap on Derby News Network (featuring the photography of Bob Dunnell-pictured-and Dave Wood)

Nonetheless, the experienced and playoff-hardened Montreal skaters held it together in the second half and once they had a lead (they took their second and final lead with 14 minutes remaining in the half), were able to maintain it and hold off a weakening Wasatch attack. The 188-159 victory propelled Montreal into the final four, guaranteeing the Skids their highest finish in a tournament, and giving them two shots at a Championship berth.

Unfortunately, it was a similar story against Ohio in the second game. Inconsistent jamming and loose pack work (there were some awkward formation decisions, especially on power kills) gave Ohio the early lead, one they would not relinquish throughout. Heavy penalty troubles kept Montreal packs small and inconsistent, leaving the Skids unable to stick with any sort of consistent lines. The jamming was inconsistent as well, with Mel E Juana following strong jams with penalty-filled ones, a more conservative Greta Bobo struggling to pick up leads, and even the indefatigable Iron Wench committing a handful of penalties.

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall's full game recap on DNN (featuring photography by Dave Wood-pictured-and Bob Dunnell)

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall’s full Ohio vs. Montreal recap on DNN (featuring photography by Dave Wood-pictured-and Bob Dunnell)

Ohio, on the other hand, came into the tournament more prepared than they ever have been before. Last year, the skaters from Columbus seemed burned out by the time they reached Regionals, and with a lighter regular-season load in 2013, they were fresher and sharper than ever and controlled Montreal completely in the first half.

While Montreal tightened things up in the second, they were unable to complete the comeback. At about the midway point of the second, they were within striking distance and playing their best derby of the game, but they couldn’t draw Ohio into the kind of mistakes they needed to. Also uncharacteristically, Montreal seemed resigned to the loss over the last five or six minutes (despite finally getting leads consistently and being within the 40-50 point range) letting the clock run down and leaving two timeouts and an official review on the board, perhaps saving themselves for what they knew would be a tough, third-place bout.

The third place game marked the third straight season that Montreal and London would meet in the WFTDA playoffs (add to that an Anarchy in the UK showdown, and this matchup counts as London’s biggest rivalry), but it would not have the drama of the others. London was clearly playing the best derby of the team’s history on the weekend, having the wherewithal to withstand Rose City’s relentless push and defeat them in the quarterfinals, but also to stick with Denver (defending WFTDA third-place team, and a valid contender this season) in their semi-final.

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall's full game recap on DNN (featuring the photography of Dave Wood).

Read Justice Feelgood Marshall’s full London vs. Montreal recap on DNN (featuring the photography of Dave Wood).

Montreal’s Skids certainly played their best game of the weekend in the third-place bout, but they trailed virtually the whole game, and despite a few pushbacks, were never able to get within 80 points in the second half, untimely jammer penalties once again their undoing (although to the jammers’ credit, they were often drawn due to depleted packs). The win meant that London has become the first international team to qualify for the WFTDA Championship tournament joining Ohio and Denver from this Division (Denver took down Ohio in the final). Montreal’s fourth place finish, was their best ever at a playoff tournament as well. And it was fitting that the most experienced international playoff teams played in that deciding bout, a matchup that seemed almost destined to happen.

Although Montreal is out, for the first time ever, Canada can keep cheering at the WFTDA playoffs! Next weekend, in the second Divisional tournament, Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars will be heading to Richmond, Virginia, where they will open the tournament against Tampa Roller Derby at 12:00 PM on Friday.

Read the Nerd’s full Canadian-Content preview here.

*All of the games were boutcast live on WFTDA.TV. Watch the archives here.

* Read the blow-by-blow recaps of each game on Derby News Network.

2013 WFTDA Playoff Preview: Can Con Edition!

The 2013 WFTDA Playoffs will feature five international teams, including three from Canada.

The 2013 WFTDA playoffs will feature five international teams, including three from Canada.

On September 24, 2010, in White Plains, New York, Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block would make history, becoming the first non-American team to play in the WFTDA playoffs, setting off the international era of flat track roller derby. That year Montreal entered the Eastern Regionals ranked 6th, setting up an opening quarterfinal showdown against their long-time (but friendly) rivals, the Boston Massacre. The Skids would lose the game and finish 7th in the Regional tournament. The event, boutcast on Derby News Network and watched widely in Canada, inspired a growth of competitive derby in this country and abroad that continues to this day.

Four years later and Montreal has qualified for its fourth consecutive WFTDA playoff. But this year they are not alone, joined by Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars and Toronto’s CN Power as Canadian representatives. And the influence of that game stretches even further beyond the borders of the great white north, with the Canuck contingent representing just the tip of the international iceberg. London Rollergirls London Brawling are back for their third stint in the playoffs, and this year sees Australia’s first team, Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby All Stars, joining the fray.

Fittingly, Montreal will lead the way this Big Five season, being the first Canadian team in action this coming weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The new divisional system means that old regional rivalries have been thrown out the window, leaving teams squaring off based on a purely competitive basis. Montreal roared up the rankings in 2013 to end the regular season at a historic high 8th in the WFTDA, giving them a second seed in their divisional playoff. The favourable seeding allows them a bye straight into the quarterfinals, where they will await the winners of a Wasatch (Salt Lake City) vs. Grand Raggidy (Grand Rapids) qualifying round showdown (Friday, September 6 at 6:00 PM eastern).

2013 will be Montreal's fourth straight trip to the WFTDA playoffs.

2013 will be Montreal’s fourth straight trip to the WFTDA playoffs.

Montreal head coach Ewan Wotarmy was on that historic New Skids team. Since retired from on-track play, she has taken over coaching this season, a season that has seen Montreal reach new highs in terms of rankings. While the high seeding surpassed their goals, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

“We had set a very achievable goal of making 12th place earlier in the season,” Ewan explains, “but I had been giving the team point differential goals for our games based on us being an 8th place team.” As usual, the team came on strong early, kicking things off with impressive victories over Tri-City, Maine, Chicago Outfit, and Boston before a narrow loss to powerhouse Windy City.

The early-season form got Ewan thinking: “I had a feeling, based on some of those early games, that we could make second seed.” Following the rankings and keeping up on the new system became key in planning: “The new ranking system makes it a bit easier to understand where you stand in relation to other teams…Athletes are inherently goal driven – having a clear, specific goal (like getting 87% of the total points scored) rather than more vague goals (‘doing better than team X, who played this team in April’) is huge in helping the team focus.”

From the very beginning, Montreal has been known for its endurance and fitness, but this year, after three season of coming up just short in the playoffs, the team has taken things to a new level. “The team has been very focused this year, and working hard,” Ewan says. “They are fitter than ever and incredibly focused on making Championships.” On the track, she says that one of the biggest positive changes for the team has been with discipline and taking fewer penalties: “All of our players have really made strides in this area. Having more players on the track is a huge advantage for any team.”

For Terminal City and Toronto, the situation is much different. After a few years of steady, under-the-radar growth—including making big impressions in 2012— both Toronto and Terminal City put in late-season runs to just sneak into the Division 1 playoffs for the first time. Ranked 10th in each of their divisionals, the teams will have to play a qualifying round game to kick off the tournament. Terminal City opens against Tampa Roller Derby (Friday, September 13th at 12:00 PM eastern) while Toronto will open things up against Sacred City (Sacramento)  (Friday, September 27th, 10:00 PM pacific).

2013 TCRG All-Stars

This will be Terminal City’s debut in the WFTDA playoffs.

Despite the tough draw, each team was more than happy for the opportunity.

“We were ecstatic,” says Terminal City’s Coach Mack the Mouth of his team’s reaction to making the playoffs. “Everyone keeps a close eye on Derbytron, DNN, and Flat Track Stats to try to figure out where we are going to land (in WFTDA).  We were very confident that would make top 40, but actually seeing it was a whole other level of excitement.”

Vancouver’s top team kicked off 2013 with two ultra-tight games against Jet City (Everett Washington) (a one-point win) and Santa Cruz (a two-point loss) before reeling off three straight wins over Sac City, Treasure Valley and Silicon Valley. But Mack sees their progress this season as more than just a single-season story. “We had such a strong year last year, climbing the west rankings from 53rd to 12th,” he explains of their astonishing leap in 2012. “Our work habits, discipline and fitness commitments paid off, so it wasn’t difficult to cultivate that energy around the team for this year. We knew we could build off of that momentum and move to the next level.”

Toronto also had a strong start to the season, with one-sided wins against Killamazoo and Fort Wayne, before encouraging losses to high-ranked Naptown and Ohio. CN Power Co-Captain Dusty says the team was “elated” at the news of their spot in the playoffs. Bench Coach Reverend Ramirez says that the team simply “got things right” in 2013. “We said ‘let’s go for broke’ (this season) and play teams like Windy City and Naptown—all the high level teams we could.”

CN Power just slipped into their first Division 1 playoffs.

CN Power just slipped into their first Division 1 playoffs.

CN Power Bench Manager Sonic Doom points out that while learning from those tough experiences was important, the confidence gained was just as valuable: “What we needed to do was learn that we are capable of competing against those high level teams. While we still haven’t earned that major result, we’ve had moments where we’ve competed.” Specifically, he points to the second half of the game against Naptwon where the Indianapolis powerhouse only outscored Toronto by 12 points as a particular turning point.

None of the teams has really changed too much in terms of their training heading into the playoffs, as they all point out that it was increased training over the course of the year that allowed them to achieve their goals. Instead, each team has been refining their games and fitness levels.

“We are really drilling the areas that have been challenges for us this season,” Ewan says of Montreal’s practices. “All of the players are watching a lot of derby and visualizing their individual roll in our collective success this fall.”

Mack says that the focus of their practices has changed, “I do run more scrimmage/game type scenarios as opposed to drills. Creating as many game type situations has always been the direction I like to take.”

Similarly, Toronto’s amount and intensity of practices has been at an all-time high for all of 2013 so not much has changed in that regard. One major addition has been adding an off-skates practice at a gym where the players can focus on fitness as a team. But again, the management team cites the increased level of their opposition as the best preparation. “We took some lessons from the Skids, who got their asses kicked by a lot of high-level teams (early in their WFTDA careers),” says Ramirez: “You’re not going to go very far if you just keep beating low-level teams.”

Dusty adds that one of the most important changes for Toronto was trust. “I think this year the team has finally become a team who has learned to trust eachother, and trust our coaches and captains and the decisions we have to make for the team.”

Montreal cam up just short of Windy City in March, their first loss of the 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal cam up just short against Windy City in March, their first loss of the 2013 season. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Also, the teams are focusing inwards on sharpening their own games, without worrying too much about their opponents. “That being said, odds would be better for us if we were to play Grand Raggidy, given that they are currently lower ranked and have not played any top 25 teams this year,” Ewan says, pointing out that Wasatch has been playing tougher teams later in their schedule. “Either way, the Skids are going into the game with the intent of controlling it from the first jam until the last.”

“By chance, I got to watch Tampa play at ECDX versus Boston and Windy City, then again at Rollercon versus Sin City,” Mack says of Terminal City’s first round opponents. “They match up well with us; fit, smart, high track awareness team. We are excited to play them.”

CN Power has watched some video of Sacred City says Dusty and Ramirez. “They are a great defensive team,” Dusty points out. “They have big, but agile girls, which is a huge strength to have in derby. We have been working a lot on our offense for that game specifically.”

Just as Montreal’s appearance in the playoffs in 2010 had such a profound effect on the sport in this country, having three teams play in the Division 1 playoffs (not to mention Tri-City’s success in their D-2 tournament) will have an extraordinary impact as well; one that will be felt from coast to coast.

“It’s going to bring the national game to new levels,” says Ewan Wotarmy who also happens to be Team Canada’s head coach. “It’s great that the are teams in very different locations across the country, so the learning can easily be shared in scrimmage and in more formal bouts across Canada…As the sport continues to get more competitive, we will likely be better able to attract experienced athletes to the sport. Given the number of young Canadian women who, like myself, grew up on skates…we could have an international advantage in that, but we have to show these athletes that they have a competitive future in this sport.”

Terminal City went 2-1 at the 2013 Wild West Showdown in March. (Photo by Bob Ayers)

Terminal City went 2-1 at the 2013 Wild West Showdown in March. (Photo by Bob Ayers)

Mack the Mouth is also part of Team Canada’s coaching staff and also sees how this success could impact our national team directly: “It will make the Team Canada try-outs explode with skaters. It will help push more Canadian teams to apply for their WFTDA apprenticeship. And lets not forget Tri-City and Rideau Valley; I expect both of those teams to be pushing for Division 1 spots in 2014.”

Toronto’s Sonic Doom agrees that Canada’s impact on WFTDA is just beginning. “I expect the number of Canadian teams in the playoffs to triple next year,” he explains. While agreeing with Mack’s selections, he adds Hammer City to the list as a Division 2 team.

One of the biggest changes this season is that Canadian teams have somewhat lost that element of surprise. Montreal, in particular, is no longer seen as an underdog with many expecting them to advance to Championships this season. “I feel that we are still punching above our weight (literally and figuratively),” Ewan points out. “We certainly have an advantage going into the tournament, given that we are seeded second, but all the teams at these tournaments are really fantastic! This has been a year of many upsets in the WFTDA.” And they do have a tough bracket, joined by WFTDA stalwarts Denver and Rose City, but also Arch Rival, Ohio and their playoff rivals London.

Toronto narrowly lost to Ohio at the 2013 Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto narrowly lost to Ohio at the 2013 Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Sonic Doom points out that while Toronto is new to the playoffs, they do have significant tournament experience, “We’re not unfamiliar with tournament play. We’ve done well at Brewhaha and ECDX and we host the Quad City Chaos every year (since 2010).”

What it all boils down to for these teams is hard work: It took hard work to get to this point and it’s going to take hard work to advance.

“We are seeing this as an opportunity, and opportunities don’t make themselves,” explains Ewan Wotarmy. “We have to rise to the occasion and shine that weekend. That’s not going to just happen on its own – but it will happen when we stay focused, play clean and work hard. I have faith in my team to do just that.”

Dusty is also brimming with an excited confidence at Toronto’s chances. “I know we just squeaked in there in the last quarter, and we all know we are coming in at the bottom, but we have something to prove, and we have nothing to lose, and those kinds of teams can be the most dangerous.”

*For a game-by-game preview, check out Derby News Network.

PLAYOFF PRIMER:

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the BlockMontreal Roller Derby: The New Skids on the Block

Season Record: 10-4

WFTDA Ranking: 8th (2nd in their Divisional tournament)

First Game: VS. TBD (Wasatch or Grand Raggidy): Friday, September 6 at 6:00 PM eastern

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Jess Bandit, Smack Daddy, Bone Machine, Lil Mama. Jammers: Iron Wench, Georgia W. Tush.

Skaters to Watch: Blocker: Surgical Strike. Jammer: Greta Bobo

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Terminal City All StarsTerminal City Roller Girls: Terminal City All Stars

Season Record: 5-4 (in WFTDA play, 8-4 overall)

WFTDA Ranking: 38th (10th in their Divisional)

First Game: VS. Tampa Roller Derby: Friday, September 13th at 12:00 PM eastern

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Kim Mackenzie (AKA: 8Mean Wheeler), Lisa Suggit (Rollergirl). Jammers: luludemon, Bobbi Barbarich (Beretta Lynch), Kim Janna.

Skaters to Watch: Blockers: Flow’erPlower, Scarlett Bloodbath, Jocelyn Ingram. Jammer: Evada Peron.

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

CN Power LogoToronto Roller Derby: CN Power

Season Record: 6-6 (in WFTDA play, 7-6 overall)

WFTDA Ranking: 39th (10th in their Divisional)

First Game: VS. Sacred City: Friday, September 27th, 10:00 AM pacific

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Nasher the Smasher, Dyna Hurtcha, Tara Part. Jammers: Dusty, Bambi.

Skaters to watch: Blockers: Bruiseberry Pie, Betty Bomber. Jammers: Kookie Doe, Bala Reina.

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Off the Beaten Track: Pain Eyre

Talking Derby Cover (Black Moss Press)

“Roller derby is not a pretty sport.”

-from Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Black Moss Press, 2013)

Since the rebirth of modern roller derby in 2003, the sport has been slowly jamming its way into mainstream culture, fighting a constant battle—it sometimes seems—against stigma and preconceptions, the most notable of which, is that roller derby is a staged, sexy throwback to the sports entertainment version that prevailed in the 70s and 80s.

Of course, those in the know are well aware that for every game-day polished, crisply uniformed skater who takes the track, hours of blood, sweat and tears have been shed to get there.

Pain Eyre helped found the Border City Brawlers in 2010. (Skater Photo)

Pain Eyre (AKA: Kate Hargreaves) helped found the Border City Brawlers in 2010. (Skater Photo)

In her book Talking Derby (Black Moss Press, spring 2013), Border City Brawler skater Pain Eyre (AKA: Kate Hargreaves) takes great pains to present flat track roller derby in all its smelly, oozing, gut-wrenching reality. Most importantly, in its raw, honest glimpse behind the scenes, Hargreaves presents roller derby as a highly competitive, deeply challenging sport. It’s an approach that created a book that has garnered attention within the roller derby community (Scald Eagle, Bonnie D. Stroir, Luludemon, and Greorgia W. Tush all contributed blurbs), but outside of that community as well, especially within the literary community of which Pain is a part.

While most books about roller derby have been in some way instructive or explanatory (even Talking Derby includes a glossary), Pain Eyre’s collection dives straight into the action, giving readers an honest, almost autobiographical portrayal of the sport and its competitors.

Urged on by an acquaintance—Ladytron—who had the idea of starting a roller derby league in Windsor, Ontario, Pain Eyre got swept up in the derby revolution in August 2010.  Hooligal, at the time a skater with the nearby Detroit Derby Girls but with roots in Hammer City, helped Pain and Ladytron and the other interested skaters in Windsor get things started, including providing important early coaching of the league. Aside from Hooligal (who now plays in Montreal), none of the skaters had derby backgrounds. Pain Eyre had virtually no skating experience.

“There was a bit of a learning curve,” she admits, noting that her last team sport experience had been soccer when she was 13-14 years old. “But it motivated me…it gives me motivation to exercise.” Like so many involved in this sport, Pain had little sporting background but was nonetheless overwhelmingly drawn to derby. By 2010, the sport was booming in Southern Ontario and Michigan State. Windsor, teetering on the border of both regions, was a prime location to start a roller derby league.

But it was also post-2009, after flat track roller derby’s Great Leap Forward, and roller derby was rapidly moving away from simply being a lifestyle sub-culture and into being a highly competitive sport.

Pain Eyre in action with the Border City Brawlers All Stars. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

Pain Eyre in action with the Border City Brawlers All Stars. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

“I’m lucky that I came into it at a time when the level of competition started rising rapidly, and I came into it knowing what it demanded,” she says of the atmosphere surrounding derby when she started. “Hooligal was a great coach right off of the bat, letting us know that if you weren’t willing to work, maybe it wasn’t the sport for you.”

With her background in the literary community, her base as a writer and her newly forming identity as a roller derby skater, it seemed inevitable that a book—or some form of literary endeavor—would accompany the transition.

At the same time that Pain Eyre discovered roller derby, Kate Hargreaves was just beginning her graduate degree at the University of Windsor. As part of her graduate assistantship, she was working for the literary journal, The Windsor Review, doing layout and design and other editorial duties. The managing editor of the journal, Marty Gervais, noticed that Kate was always coming in to the offices covered in bruises. Eventually curiosity got the better of him and he enquired about them. Intrigued by the sport, he encouraged Kate to start journaling about her experiences.

Those initial scribbles would form the basis of what would become Talking Derby.

The book is fascinating in its structure. As series of short stories (or more accurately “vignettes”) that traces the story of a skater through a series of practices, games and tryouts interwoven with intriguing pieces—sometimes just lists—that read like poetry (no surprise that in her writing life Kate is primarily a poet). While the book is seemingly episodic, there is a discernible arc, and with its focus on Pain herself, is almost autobiographical.

“I thought it would end up being a lot different from my poetry and it did end up becoming a lot different,” she says, admitting that there was no sense of what the final shape of the text would be going into it, and also that she’d never written short fiction. “It ended up coming out of those journals and being shaped through the writing and editing process into the form it took…I wanted it to function as a whole, but I also wanted it to be something that someone could pick up, open and read a few pages at a time.”

The opening story of the book begins in a practice space during a team scrimmage:

“Stale air weighs down the warehouse. 50 feet above our heads,

the grid of fans struggles to manufacture a breeze. A zebra skates

over the door, grabs the iron handle and lurches backward to roll

it open along metal tracks. The sun stretches his shadow across

the dusty concrete, toe stoppers to helmet, as he stands between

warehouse and daylight.”

Pain Eyre must juggle her life as a skater with her busy life in the literary community. (Photo by Jodi Green)

Pain Eyre must juggle her life as a skater with her busy life in the literary community. (Photo by Jodi Green)

It’s an opening that is pleasantly universal in its tone (for insiders anyway), but one that would seem a surreal entry point for an outsider. And during that scene, a few outsiders do stumble into the practice space and start taking pictures, asking, at one point, what it is they are watching. Right from its opening, the book rides that fine balance of speaking to insiders as well as outsiders.

Those early, personal, and visceral journalistic vignettes would shape not only the structure of the book, but the focus of it as well. “I wanted to give a five-senses experience about roller derby: what it feels like to get hit, what it smells like to walk into a dressing room….and talk about how derby impacts that sense. It’s so chaotic out there on the track; you’ve got hits and smells coming at you at the same time.”

The book is relentless in its physicality and despite the raw violence, almost sensuous in its description of the toll that the game can have on the body: bodily fluids spurt, bruises bloom. This is a celebration, sure, but also very much a reality check for those who question the voracity of the game.  “One of the things that I wanted to get across was the actual physical experience of the sport and how difficult it can be,” she admits. And it is something that is clear throughout:

“A split lip. A bloody nose. A goose egg. An elbow to the ear.

Marker smears under the chin. Numbers smudge from arms

to cheeks. I’ve been hit in the face more times than I can count

on my wheels. I’ve tracked bruises tie-dying knees, butt, arms,

legs, hips. Black and purple, fading yellow to green. Bruises I

don’t remember receiving. Bruises that pang every time that flesh

meets chair.”

“It’s one of my preoccupations,” she admits, about the fascination she has with the body and its functions. She has a second book coming out in the spring, a book of poetry tentatively called Leak that shares many of the preoccupations of this book. Pain Eyre does admit that roller derby gave this preoccupation a boost and even became an inspiration:  “There would be bruises turning up (in my poetry) and aches and pains and bloody noses…it gave me a lot of material for sure.”

Writing Talking Derby was somewhat of a throwback for Pain, who actually made a hard shift from prose (even journalistic prose) to poetry only when she began taking creative writing at university. “You can never predict I suppose, even as adamant as I was that poetry was stupid,” she says with a laugh. She explains that it was only after being exposed to a lot of the innovative writing going on in the University of Windsor writing department that she saw the potential for poetry: “I realized that it didn’t have to be what I thought poetry was, and (I discovered) that poetry can be expressive in a wide variety of ways.” She sites Canadian poet (and innovative prose writer) Jenny Sampirisi as an influence, but also Susan Holbrook and Nicole Markotic who also helped introduce her to key poets in her reading life.

Pain Eyre’s breaking through of those preconceived notions of what poetry was mirrors the experience that many outsiders have with roller derby: They come in assuming one thing, only to discover an unexpected depth.

“I wanted to reflect the real sporting nature of derby,” she explains in regards to what she hopes outsiders will take from the book. “People who don’t know about derby will immediately assume that it’s not a real sport or that there is no athletic value to it.” Dealing with these preconceptions is a clear presence in the book, laid bare in one of the more traditionally poetic segments of the text:

faq

So you play roller derby?

do you punch each other in the face?

or wrestle?

on the track?

in the mud?

in jello?

I hear you don’t wear pants

just cute little uniforms like lingerie football

is that true?

While the text does speak to outsiders, it is very much written from an insider’s point of view. Right from the very first Windsor-based book launch, Pain Eyre wasn’t sure how people were going to receive the book. But the reception has been positive and supportive, garnering a number of reviews and interviews, including on CBC radio. “When you get literary people who may not be derby people reading about it, that’s kind of neat,” she says of the positive reception she’s received from the literary community.

Pain Eyre skaters with both the All Stars and also the Hiram Stalkers, a house league team. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

Pain Eyre skaters with both the All Stars (seen here playing Sudbury’s Sister Slag) and the Hiram Stalkers, a house league team. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

As everyone in the derby community knows, managing a derby-life balance can be challenging. Through her first three years of skating, Pain Eyre has grappled with this head on: “It’s sometimes tough. You realize that you’ve had three nights of practice and a game and two days of cross training and there’s a board meeting on Thursday and people are asking you where you have been.”

She used to be involved in a poetry night called TOAST in Windsor, and it used to be on the same night as practice: “I’d have to run out of derby, put on my backpack and jump on my bike; bike to the venue and throw my gear under a table and then jump up on stage and read poetry,” she says of trying to do it all. She’s also knows the toll that being involved in two all-consuming past times can be. “It’s difficult for my friends who are not part of the roller derby community…and that’s something that has been difficult, but I try to balance it.”

She remains deeply embedded in both communities. She remains a key member of the Border City Brawlers where she is immersed in a serious, competitive league nearing completion of a WFTDA Apprenticeship (she plays on the travel team in addition to one of the house league teams), but she remains deeply involved in the literary community as well, both through her writing and through her job as Production and Marketing Assistant for Biblioasis, a literary publisher in Windsor. She has clear goals for both. She’s currently finishing up the manuscript that will become her second book (and first collection of poetry), but also helping Border City navigate its second competitive season.

She is optimistic about the future of the sport (“I’m a little bit terrified about the juniors coming up, to be honest,” she says half jokingly), but also about her league and its travel team, who despite being on a bit of a losing streak this season, is playing better competition and improving all the time.

The book, which kind of has two endings, ends with a note of similar optimism. The second last vignette, “Take a Knee” traces the final game of a season and ends with skaters pulling up the track:

“Skates and helmets off, hair lank and wet, we knee pad clatter

across the floor, scratching at tape and rope. Tug. Collecting stray

programs from empty stands. Black shirts and blue, ripping the

last scraps of derby off the floor.”

It’s a beautiful final image of the track, physical and tangible. But the book adds one more vignette, a description of two snapshots: one of Pain Eyre at her first practice—awkward and uninitiated—and then another from two years later:

“Bigger knee pads. Stronger helmets. Uniforms and strategies.

But we still fall hard.”

The books ends with that dose of thudding reality: “we still fall hard.” For a text that has been so focused on the physicality of derby—of the barely controlled chaos that pushes play and punishes the body—it seems a fitting conclusion.

**Talking Derby is available in bookstores or online. You can also engage with the book on Facebook or on Twitter.

**The Border City Brawlers All Stars take on the Hammer City Eh! Team in Hamilton on August 17th.

Word on the Track: Busy Weekend for Canada’s WFTDA Teams; New Canadian Apprentice Leagues Announced

Montreal's Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City's Hoosier Mama, in Montreal's only loss in 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal’s Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City’s Hoosier Mama in Montreal’s only loss of 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

BUSY WEEKEND FOR CANADA’S WFTDA TEAMS

Two of Canada’s top three WFTDA teams are in action this weekend, but enter their games as underdogs, while the steadily rebuilding Thunder duel with an Eh! Team that is showing signs of finally turning the corner back into the competitive stream in a busy weekend of WFTDA action as teams tussle for position in the Division One and Two playoffs.

Coming off of a surprisingly hard-fought victory over regional rivals, CN Power, Montreal’s 17th ranked New Skids on the Block (currently 6-1 in 2013) are heading on their first California road trip to take on Bay Area and Santa Cruz this weekend. First up, the Skids are in tough against B.A.D.’s All Stars in Oakland. Currently ranked 4th in the WFTDA, Bay Area is 2-0 in 2013 including a hard fought, widely watched 29-point victory over Rose City (175-146). On Sunday Montreal will take on 62nd ranked Santa Cruz in what should be a significantly easier bout. Santa Cruz has been busy this season, compiling a 6-1 record in sanctioned play, but the highest ranked opponent they’ve defeated is the 29th ranked (and quickly tumbling) Arizona Roller Derby.

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

49th ranked CN Power is on the road this weekend as well, heading to Ohio to take on 38th ranked Cincinnati in a critical showdown. Toronto’s CN Power, with a 3-5 record, has been somewhat inconsistent as of late (great victories or performances against Ohio Roller Girls, Queen City and Killamazoo are buffered by surprise losses to Rideau Valley and Grand Raggidy), but they are coming off of their best performance of the season against the New Skids on the Block in Montreal (a 210-121 loss) and will need the same sort of effort against Cincinnati this weekend. Cincinnati, who is holding on to one of the last Division One playoff spots) has burst put of the gates so far in 2013, compiling a 6-2 record, and they do have two common opponents with Toronto, the results of which point to a tight game this weekend: Cincinnati lost to Naptown by 147 points, while Toronto lost by 143; Cincinnati defeated Killamazoo by 109 points, while Toronto defeated Killamazoo by 94 points. It should be a great showdown, and will be streamed live online here.

Finally, the 133rd ranked Hammer City hosts 50th ranked Tri-City in a southern Ontario showdown that has the potential to shake things up considerably. The Eh! Team, once Canada’s top team, has been struggling to find its footing in the WFTDA. After starting the season 0-3, they recently picked up their first win of 2013, a 258-129 victory over Circle City. After surging up the WFTDA rankings over the past two season, the Thunder are also rebuilding in 2013 after some off-season transfers and retirements, and are 0-2 on the season suffering big losses to Montreal and Killamazoo.

wftdatvlogoWFTDA.TV RELEASES 2013 SCHEDULE

WFTDA.TV has released its complete 2013 schedule and it begins this weekend with the Texas vs. Rocky Mountain showdown live from Denver. While some of the highlights include London’s game against Rose City in Portland (on June 5th as part of London’s West Coast roadtrip) and the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, WFTDA.TV has also announced that it will be covering both Division 2 playoff rounds.

While the majority of the broadcasts will be free (including the Division 2 playoffs), the same pay per view pay scale from 2012 will be in place for the Division 1 playoffs ($12 for the “regionals” and $20 for the championships or $50 for all five tournaments). There was some controversy around the pay per view model in 2013, but given the scope and quality of the broadcasts, it seems a small price to pay to watch the best roller derby the sport has to offer.

MUDDY RIVER, FOG CITY AMONG NEW WFTDA APPRENTICE LEAGUESMuddy River Logo

And finally, a slightly belated congratulations is in order for Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers and the Fog City Rollers out of Saint John who have officially begun their WFTDA apprenticeship.

The WFTDA recently released the names of its new batch of apprentice leagues and along with the Canadian and American teams named, the list also included teams from Argentina, Australia, England, Sweden, and Germany. Muddy River and Fog City have been leading the wave of Atlantic Canadian roller derby and finished 1-2 in last year’s RDAC Atlantic Championships. They both competed in the RDAC Championships in Edmonton this year as well.

** You can watch the Cincinnati vs. Toronto showdown here.

Word on the Track: Montreal Downs Boston, Saskatoon wins RDAC Champs, WFTDA Releases Rankings

MONTREAL TAKES TWO ON WEEKEND ROADTRIP

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

New Skids on the Block (MTLRD) 17th 188 vs. Boston Massacre (BDD) 21st 117

New Skids (MTLRD) 17th 333 vs. Port Authorities (Maine RD) 60th 38

Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block played its second game of the season on Saturday, scoring an important 71-point victory against the Boston Massacre, in what was the first bout of the season for the Boston Derby Dames travel team. It was the fourth win in a row for Montreal over their long-time rivals since February 2011. Previous to that win, the Massacre had defeated the Skids in three straight dating back to 2009.

But believe it or not, Montreal and Boston’s rivalry dates back even further. The Derby Dames B-travel team, the Boston B Party, has been playing Montreal teams (house league and travel) since 2008. This past Saturday, Les Sexpos defeated the B Party 211-148. The last time these two particular teams met was in 2011, a one-point victory by Boston.

On Sunday, the Skids hit up Maine Roller Derby’s Port Authority for a sanctioned hangover matchup. Montreal won it handily, 333 to 38. It was the second WFTDA sanctioned meeting between the two teams, and the first since a 79-point Montreal victory victory in May 2011. Maine, which had consistently been an East Region “bubble playoff team” (they finished 11th in the region last season), now find themselves buried deep in WFTDA’s Division Two (60th overall).

SASKATOON DEFEATS REGINA IN ALL-SASKATCHEWAN RDAC CHAMPIONSHIP

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

Saskatoon Roller Derby defeated their cross-province rivals, Pile O’ Bones Derby Club, 245 to 188, in an all-Saskatchewan final at this weekend’s Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) championship in Edmonton, Alberta. Played in the stunning Ica Palace at the West Edmonton Mall and broadcast expertly (in awesome high def) by AMJ Productions and Canuck Derby TV, the tournament didn’t quite live up to its billing as a national championship, but was nonetheless a great showcase of the flat track game featuring teams from disparate regions of Canada.

It was an excellent opportunity especially for the Saskatchewan finalists, who have largely remained out of the eye of the larger Canadian derby community due to their comparative lack of inter-regional play. And they were strong, clearly dominating a tournament that suffered for excitement in the opening round for a lack of parity but brought closer, more competitive games on Sunday.

With western champions Terminal City, eastern champs Toronto Roller Derby (Bay Street Bruisers) and eastern runners-up Forest City absent from the tournament, expectations fell to West Kootenay and E-Ville. Ranked 6th and 11th in Canada respectively, they were the top ranked Canadian teams left in the tournament. But Pile O’ Bones Derby Club’s Sugar Skulls (Regina) and Saskatoon Roller Derby’s The Mindfox (who’d been ranked 12th and 13th respectively), proved that they belong in the discussion of the top travel teams in Canada. Saskatoon’s Mind Fox, especially, were well ahead of the competition, winning their games by an average of about 107 points (and even in the close, 57-point championship game, the result never seemed in doubt as they led 169-77 at half).

While the Atlantic Canadian teams from Moncton and Saint John, New Brunswick, finished at the bottom of the pack, they entered the final tournament ranked 20th and 28th in Canada, so actually performed above expectations. Moncton defended their Atlantic Championship when they defeated Fog City in a back-and-forth placement game that was closer than the final score indicated. Also, strong individual performances and great strategic thought—if not executed perfectly yet—from both teams, proved that even only three years into existence, Atlantic Canadian roller derby is on an upward rise. Kootenay Kannibelles and E-Ville Dead both seem to be rebuilding, especially West Kootenay after a considerable roster shakeup last year, and played below expectations established after impressive 2012 seasons.

RDAC Championship Final Standings

1.mindfoxlogo The Mindfox (Saskatoon Roller Derby) (Defeated Sugar Skulls 245-188 in the final)

2.Sugar Skulls Derby LOGO Sugar Skulls (Pile O’ Bones Derby Club)

3.Evile Dead LogoE-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)(Defeated Kootenay Kannibelles 164-158 in 3rd place game)

4. kannibelles LogoKootenay Kannibelles (West Kootenay Roller Derby)

5. Lumbersmacks LogoLumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers) (defeated Shipyard Sirens 238-187 in 5th place game)

6. Shipyard Sirens LogoShipyard Sirens (Fog City Rollers)

** All games are archived on Canuck Derby TV.**

WFTDA logoWFTDA RELEASES FIRST DIVISIONAL POWER RANKING

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) released its first rankings since shifting to a numerical-based divisional ranking system for 2013. Under the current ranking system, teams have the opportunity to earn their way into Division One (top 40) by July to qualify for the Division One Payoffs. The next twenty teams will play in two Division Two playoff tournaments (locations recently announced). The Division Two finals will also take place on the same weekend as the Division One Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

As of today, Montreal (17th) and Vancouver’s Terminal City (39th) are both in Division One, while Toronto (49th), Tri-City (50th), and Rideau Valley (71st) are firmly placed into Division Two. Hammer City, Canada’s other full-WFTDA team, is in Division Three (133rd  overall).

All Division One teams make the playoffs, but in Division Two only the top twenty teams make it, which means that while Toronto and Tri-City are in solid positions, Rideau Valley Vixens have some work to do to move up the ten spots to nab a playoff spot. Both Toronto and Rideau Valley will be playing in this weekend’s Quad City Chaos, a good opportunity to advance their positions.

CANADIAN POWER RANKINGS ANNOUNCED

Just in case you missed it, last week it was announced on The Derby Nerd that The Nerd will be joined by Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder and Andi Struction in producing Canada’s first National Power Ranking. Read all about it here.

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