Month: June 2011

Chicks Overwhelm Gores to take the 2011 ToRD Championship

The Chicks Ahoy! won their second ToRD championship and first since 2008.(Photo by Greg Russell)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 46 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 111

After twelve consecutive victories spanning two years and back-to-back championships, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls fell in dramatic fashion at the 2011 Battle for the Boot against a determined Chicks Ahoy! team that put together one of the marquee performances in the team’s history on the way to a convincing 65 point victory and their first ToRD championship since 2008 (and second overall). For the remaining Chicks from that team, this win was an emotional return to the top, for the majority, however, this was their first taste of ultimate victory; but for all, it was a fitting bit of revenge, and a surprising turnaround from last year’s final when the Gores won the boot in a similar fashion.

The Chicks didn't change much from their dominant semifinal win, including the jammer rotation (Dyna Hurtcha with the star). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Expectations for a fast-paced, tight bout were met early on as each team jockeyed for position from the opening whistle. Aside from a few small roster changes (veteran Dolly Destructo and rookie Red Light Roxy replaced Snapp’n Cooter and Bala Reina), the Chicks didn’t change anything from the semifinal bout against the Death Track Dolls. They kept together similar lines and blocker pairs in the pack, while sticking with the Candy Crossbones-Dyna Hurtcha-Kookie Doe jammer rotation that had served them so well all season long. The Gores, on the other hand, were coming into this one off of a long competitive layoff (after wrapping up first place and earning a bye directly to the final) and it showed in the first half. Narrowing down their jammer rotation to Bambi and Dust Bunny, the two star jammers were taking a beating from the Chicks blockers (Marmighty and Mega Bouche once again were a force at the back of the pack) and pivot Brim Stone was eventually thrown into the mix to see if she could have any success against the Chicks’ packs.

The Chicks asserted their pack dominance early on. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The relentless pack control of the Chicks very quickly began to take its toll on the Gores whose packs looked stretched and overwhelmed early on, often forced into one-on-one battles that were routinely being won by the Chicks. About midway through the half, with the score tight and remarkably low, the momentum began to noticeably swing toward the Chicks. The frustration was evident on the Gores’ bench, as they found themselves in the unusual position of having a game slipping away from them. For a long stretch near the end of the first half the Gores simply could not get anything going and barely registered a point in the final fifteen minutes of the period as the Chicks threatened to run away with it, taking a 65-14 lead into the dressing room at half.

The Gores have faced some adversity on their recent run of dominance: a blown first half against the Death Track Dolls in 2010, and during the 2011 regular season this same Chicks team had the Gores on the ropes after the first half as well (albeit not in quite the same way). On both of those occasions the Gores were able to adjust quickly, make minor changes to strategy or lineups, and eventually run away with the victories. But as smart and adaptable a team as this Gores group is, the Chicks were simply rolling in this one, and were playing with a focused determination and a unified sense of purpose that was impossible to shake.

After being neutralized in the first half, Bambi faught back in the second. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

But to their credit, the Gores did not lay back and allow the Chicks an easy path to victory. After being smothered defensively in the first half, Bambi, ToRD’s regular season leading scorer, finally got her game going in the second, and rookie Lulu Cthulhu was also brought in to add a more physical component to the jamming corps. But the Chicks held the course, refusing to be thrown off the game that they had refined so well throughout the 2011 season. One major aspect of that refinement was their much-discussed discipline (in a surprising turnaround, the Chicks were the least penalized team in the league in 2011), and that showed in the championship game. A remarkably controlled second half saw the Chicks stay (for the most part) out of the box while it was the Gores’ blockers who were paraded to the box giving pack advantages to a Chicks team that was already having its way five on five (there were no power jams awarded in the bout–a testament to the talented jammers).

Veteran pivot Rebel Rock-It and second-year star Marmighty won their first ever ToRD championship. (Photo by Greg Russell)

While as a whole the pack work was nearly seamless, there were some strong individual performances: Rebel Rock-It and Tara Part continue to impress with their on-track intelligence and leadership, while Nasher the Smasher continued to be a one-woman wall. But from the rookies (Red Light Roxy, Kookie Doe) to the vets (Robber Blind, Hoff, Furious Georgia and Humdinger) the Chicks lineup played remarkably well buying into, and steadfastly remaining in their roles throughout the bout, and although the Gores were able to make a game of it by slightly more than doubling their score in the second half, injuries to key blockers Foxy Sinatra and Aston Martini depleted a pack that was sorely overmatched to begin with and the Chicks were able to run out of the clock in the end, sailing away with the 111-46 victory to be named the Battle of the Boot winners and, deservingly, the 2011 Toronto Roller Derby Champions.

Chicks Ahoy!: 2011 ToRD Champions (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

That draws to a conclusion another successful ToRD season. While there are changes to come in the off season, roller derby will continue to be played (keep an eye out for an increasingly full CN Power schedule as the team begins competition in WFTDA’s North Central Region, and watch out for a new crop of farm-team D-VAS who will begin their process of development as they lead up to the end-of-year draft). The Gores will undoubtedly return next year more focused and reinvigorated (it was a loss to the Chicks that sparked this latest winning streak), but the Chicks built this increasingly successful team around a solid core of well-selected rookies and a cagey group of veterans who certainly look prepared and capable of tracking a team that can defend the championship in 2012. But for now, and the months ahead, there is ample time for quiet reflection on what they have just accomplished.

***NOTE: Immediately after the game, five-year vet. G-Force announced her retirement from competitive level roller derby. G has certainly been a force of good for not only the Chicks, but ToRD as a whole, and so it is with great joy that we learn that she will remain with the league in a mentoring role. Congratulations on a career well played!

***If you missed this extraordinary bout, no need to fear! It will be broadcast on Rogers TV on Saturday, July 2nd, 2010 at 6:00 PM. ToRD will be organizing a viewing party at Ciros at 1316 Bloor St. West (on the corner of Bloor and Lansdowne).

***Already missing flat track roller derby?! ToRD will be teaming with Toronto Pride once again to present the 3rd annual Clam Slam, an all-queer all-star game featuring skaters from some of the top leagues in North America. Last year’s bout was a fast-paced, high scoring bout and this year’s looks like it will be no different. Clam Slam 2011 is coming up on Thursday, June 30th. Doors at 6:30. Tickets available online or at a number of vendors in Toronto.

Battle for the Boot 5: A preview of ToRD’s 2011 Championship

This will be the fourth time in five years these two teams battle for the boot.

#2Chicks Ahoy! vs. #1 Gore-Gore Rollergirls

It is the defining rivalry of ToRD’s early history. They are the only two teams to earn the coveted Boot as league champions, and when the Chicks Ahoy! face off against the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls on Saturday for the second year in a row and the fourth time in five years, the most compelling chapter may be written. The Gores are on a remarkable 12-bout winning streak dating back to the 2008 championship when the Chicks defeated them in what many consider to be the most exciting Battle for the Boot ever (114-97 was the final). Last year these two teams collided again, with the Gores earning some measure of revenge. Year in and year out the Chicks and Gores have shown a remarkable consistency and poise, and this year has been no different. Best ever performances at the Beast of the East (2nd and 4th place) and dominant regular-season victories for both teams over the Death Track Dolls and Smoke City Betties proved that these two squads are undeniably at the top of their games.

Given the exposure of these two teams over the years, some common misconceptions and expectations have arisen. But any attempt to pigeonhole them is a dangerous act as they have both proven adaptable and creative throughout the season.

MISCONCEPTIONS EXPLORED

Chicks Ahoy! led the league in scoring with 408 points in the regular season. (photo by Sean Murphy)

Chicks Ahoy!
1) Only a Defensive Juggernaut.

The big-hitting fast-skating tactics that defined the early years of the Chicks’ existence have certainly evolved over the years, and the 2011 Chicks Ahoy! may be the most well-rounded yet. To overlook the offensive power of this team would be a great folly. Anchored by a stable of smart veteran pivots (Rebel Rock-It, Nasher the Smasher, Mega Bouche and Tara Part), the girls in green have developed the most explosive jammer threesome in the league. Long-time Chick Candy Crossbones leads the way in what has been a career season for her, while rookie Kookie Doe has done the rare feat of being a reliable and successful rookie jammer. And after spending most of  last season nursing injuries and pondering her role in the league, Dyna Hurtcha has emerged in 2011 as one of ToRD’s best and most feared jammers. What it amounts to is an extraordinary offense that was the only team to top 400 points scored in the regular season (408), while their 194 points against the Dolls in the season-closer was the highest score recorded by a team this year.

Despite the retirement of seven players, the Chicks still boast an experienced lineup. (photo by Sean Murphy)

2) Don’t have enough experience to win.

After reaching the final and falling in a one-sided loss, seven key member of last year’s team retired in the offseason meaning that the 2011 Chicks would have the biggest rookie corps ever. But even with those seven losses, the Chicks roster a remarkably experienced crew. Aside from the aforementioned players, the likes of Dolly Destructo, Hoff, Furious Georgia, G-Force, Hum Dinger and Robber Blind round out a pack with an impressive amount of experience, all of whom have at least one appearance in ToRD’s championship game. And despite being only in her second-year, Marmighty works the pack like a wily veteran and has been a dominant force on the track all season.

3) The Chicks can’t defeat the Gores.

The Chicks led for much of the first half of this year’s regular season showdown, and were in it for a lot of the second as well, but just couldn’t hold it together down the stretch and seemed to take their foot off the gas as the Gores roared ahead late to take the bout 132-83. But what that first half proved, was that at their best, this Chicks team can compete with and even get the better of the Gores. On top of that, a lot has happened since that April bout and the Chicks have matured as the season went on and this year’s rookie group (led by Kookie Doe and Bala Reina) has emerged as a reliable support group, but more importantly they provide an excited, wide-eyed energy and appreciation for the moment that the team so desperately lacked last year.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

The Gores only gave up 185 points during ToRD's regular season. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

1) Only an offensive machine

While it’s true that the early Gores were clearly (and perhaps even unfairly) defined by their extraordinary 1-2-3 jammer rotation, the retirement of Lunchbox after last year’s championship victory forced the team to do some recalibrating, and much to the chagrin of the league, their  adjustment proved successful. With the lowest points against in the league (185 in the regular season), the team also put together some of the top defensive performances of the season, holding both the Dolls and Betties under 60 points (and the offensively powerful Chicks to a comparatively low 83). Led by a core of smart, positionally sound veteran pivots and blockers (Brim Stone, Molly Boom, Lady GagYa, Junkie Jenny, Kandy Barr and Foxy Sinatra), this defensive excellence actually began at last year’s Battle for the Boot when a rookie blocking crew of Aston Martini, Santa Muerte and Chronic were a key part of one of the most dominant defensive performances in ToRD’s history as they held an overmatched Chicks team to an all-time low of 31 points.

The Gores are looking for the first three-peat in ToRD history. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

2) Don’t have depth at jammer with loss of Lunchbox

With the Chicks putting together a solid jammer lineup, the Gores have had to contend with the loss of one of their greatest skaters, Lunchbox. But the team has responded well sending the agile Brim Stone to the jam line for the most times in her career (she recorded a JQ of 19 on the strength of a 58% lead percentage that was good enough for fourth in the league) while second-year skater Pinky Violence and 2011 rookie Lulu Cthulhu have both served apprenticeships this year. But when it all comes down to it (as it did in the regular season match up between these two teams) the scrappy Dust Bunny and the speedy Bambi (the only two players to ever lead the league in JQ Ratings) are experienced and reliable enough to take on the bulk of the work themselves. And for a two-jammer rotation, that’s pretty intimidating.

3) Resting on the laurels of their dynasty

Although they have admittedly taken a more relaxed approach to the game this season, the Gores are not a team that is resting on past successes. They train hard, plan extensively and have put together the most varied play-book in the league. And as they showed in last year’s thoroughly dominant performance in the championship, they know how to step it up for the big game. Featuring some of the hardest working skaters in the league and a handful of CN Power all stars, this is not a team that is going to sit back and expect success.

EXPECTATIONS
Their lone regular-season match up in April provided some of the most exciting derby played at the Hangar this year, and while the Gores have held the course since then, the Chicks seem to have only gotten stronger. The Chicks may have collapsed in last year’s final, but this year’s edition of the team seems to have a much stronger constitution. Expect them to come out flying, playing simple, pace-control derby. And, of course, one should never expect anything less than the best from the defending champions. Gores and Chicks battling for the boot: it’s almost a tradition now.

**Tickets are available online or at numerous retailers downtown. Doors open at 6:30 PM, with opening whistle at 7:30 PM.

**The bout will be broadcast by Rogers TV. Keep an eye out for dates and times.

Forest City Thrashes the Field to Take CWRDA East

Forest City All Stars defeated the Rideau Valley Vermin 166-90 to win the inaugural CWRDA Eastern Championship. (photo by Neil Jeffery)

When the smoke cleared from the track in Navan, Ontario, only the Forest City All Stars were left standing at Blood Spill on the Hill, CWRDA’s Eastern Champioship. Two very full days of bouting saw seven other teams fall, and in a tournament full of one-sided affairs, some fell harder than others. It was a well-deserved and even fitting win for a team that has toiled for years on the front lines of eastern Canadian roller derby without a major win yet to their credit.

DAY ONE

The winners of the four first round bouts advanced to the semi-finals, while the losers moved on to the relegation semis later in the day. The historic (though rebuilding) Hamilton Harlots kicked things off by returning to their winning ways against a Belles of the Brawl team (Brantford) whose history pales in comparison to their southern Ontario neighbours. The 234-61 victory (first in 2011 for this new-look Hammer City squad) kicked off a round of blowouts that culminated in a 456-6 whitewashing of the overmatched Ottawa Roller Derby by the GTAR’s newly formed G-Stars travel team. Sandwiched between these bouts were two blowouts of a different sort. Forest City (who were merging players from the Luscious Lunch Ladies and the Thames Fatales for the first time) toppled a smart-looking, but inexperienced Royal City All Star team (Guelph), while hosts Rideau Valley (playing as the Vermin—a team put together specifically for this tournament) took it to a wide-eyed and excited Muddy River Lumbersmacks (Moncton). Both of these teams seemed to revel in their losses, soaking up the experience and often immediately recycling the knowledge gained.

That set up relegation round showdowns featuring the four least experienced teams in the tournament. But even amongst these freshmen squads there was clearly a divide. Muddy River was cruising against a Belles of the Brawl team that finally had to throw in the towel when injuries and ejections depleted the Brantford bench to dangerously low levels, giving the New Brunswick team its first victory outside of the Atlantic provinces. In the second relegation semifinal, the Royal City All Stars continued their solid play, putting together a dominant performance against an Ottawa Roller Derby team that bowed out of the tournament having been outscored 852-13 in its two games.

Guelph's Royal City Royal Girls, in their first major tournament, won the relegation final to finish fifth overall (defeating Moncton's Muddy River 116-73).

DAY TWO

Since the two leagues first faced off on July 7, 2007, Hammer City seemed to have Forest City’s number. Four years of dominance finally came to an end earlier this year when both Forest City teams defeated both Hammer City teams in a double header in Hamilton. So when they met in the first of two semifinals they brought with them a great deal of flat track history. In a striking coincidence this was the first time since 2007 that Forest City was tracking a team playing under the league banner and their opponents, the Harlots, were those same opponents who initiated them four years earlier. Sometimes revenge is a long time coming, and Forest City got it this weekend, advancing to the semifinals with a convincing 218-58 victory.

The second semi-final looked like it was heading to blow-out territory as well with Rideau Valley jumping out to a dominant 101-19 half-time lead over the G-Stars, but the GTA team reeled it in during the second half getting stronger as the bout wore on to lose in a scrappy, entertaining game, 163-52.

Muddy River's travel team, the Lumbersmacks, handled themselves well in their first out-of-region competition.

The relegation final was a highly anticipated bout featuring the two more inexperienced and exciting teams in the event, the Muddy River Rollers and the Royal City Roller Girls. The first half lived up to the expectations and then some as these two precocious teams left it all on the track, trading leads seemingly as often as they traded hits, with Royal City just able to inch ahead 51-41 at the half. Muddy River captain Burn ‘N RubHer and fellow triple threat Brandy Swifter led the way for this New Brunswick team that also had strong performances from Ms. Hate (who alternated helmet panties throughout the weekend as well), Thora Thunder and Malicious Kitty jamming and Lulu LeBomb pivoting. But as the game wore on, Royal City’s more sophisticated pace control (led in large part by excellent pivot Mandy Maggotbone) toppled Muddy River’s hit and run game. Kim Scarsmashian and Ginger Slaughters also had a strong tournament in the pack while Hot Cross Guns, Hellcat and Lady GoreJess led the offense and paced the Royal City to a fifth place finish with the 116-73 victory. It is clear though, that both of these teams have a very bright future, and Moncton, as the leaders of the pack on the east coast, gained invaluable experience to bring back with them.

The G-Stars capped a successful tournament taking the third place bout against the Harlots, 128-53. While the Harlots continue their rebuild, GTAR has now added a travel team to its roster which gave valuable experience to its less experienced Chrome Mollys players. While the usual suspects starred (Getcha Kicks, Lee Way Wreck’em, Canadian Psycho, Newfie Bullet and Splat Benatar) it was a coming out weekend for jammer Beaver Mansbridge who turned heads with her fearless play and excellent conditioning.

This tournament marked the first time a Forest City team had skated under the unified league name since 2007 (in orange vs. the Harlots in Hammer City). Photo by Derek Lang

It was clear though, that the top two teams had deservedly made it to the finals. With both teams dominating competition all weekend, expectations were high. It was set up to be an intriguing battle between two very experienced leagues  who were experimenting with new-look rosters. Rideau Valley had the potentially brutal, defensively sound packs led by Vixens’ standouts Semi Precious, ASSASSINista, Screaming Meanie Massacre and Margaret Choke, yet didn’t roster any of their all-star jammers (giving all-important track time to the likes of Death From Below, Crash Karma and eventually Mudblood). Forest City, on the other hand, shortened its jammer bench to (virtually) two for the final, the Thames Fatales standouts Killson and Slacker Smacker (though Lunch Ladies Andi Slamberg and Mighty Thor took their turns when needed later in the game as they had throughout the tournament). Killson, the tournament’s top jammer and perhaps MVP, was excellent in the early going while the frightening duo of Semi-Precious and ASSASSINista had their way with the Forest City packs and devastated the less experienced Slacker Smacker whenever she wore the star (who, though often overwhelmed, always pulled herself off the ground and threw herself back into the fray). When Forest City vet Anya Face went down with a significant ankle injury about midway through the opening half (and Sufferjet pulling out with her leaving only 11 skaters on the bench), things did not look good for London. But after a long timeout as Anya was helped off the track and eventually carted off to the hospital, Forest City came out with a single-minded focus and an increased level of determination that saw them threaten to pull away, taking a 78-50 lead into the locker rooms. They wouldn’t look back.

Congratulations to the Forest City Derby Girls on winning their first major championship.

While the Rideau Valley jammers were excellent all weekend, their comparative inexperience was exploited by the veteran London squad who forced numerous jammer majors and used a simple yet effective pace strategy to take full advantage. (It was a split-pack, separated-lane set up that relies on having a jammer strong and independent enough to face opposition blockers on her own). The heavily pace-controlled power jams were orchestrated by the experienced blocking crew led by pivot Mirambo and featuring Back Alley Sally, Freez’er Burn and None-ya Biz. It was an extremely innovative play that left the Rideau Valley bench struggling for a response, and allowed Forest City to build a gap in the second half that could not be overcome. With the 166-90 victory, the Forest City All Stars were crowned champions at the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship.

***A big thank you to Rideau Valley for begin such gracious hosts! A personal thanks goes to the dynamic duo of Tipsy McStaggers and Sister Disaster. The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

***Weren’t in Ottawa! You can get all the scores AND relive all of the moments (including the exciting championship game) by checking the archives at Canuck Derby TV.

Blood Spill on the Hill: CWRDA’s Eastern Championship.

Blood Spill on the Hill is the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship tournament.

Blood Spill on the Hill, hosted by the Rideau Valley Roller Girls, is the first ever Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Association (CWRDA) Eastern Championship tournament. An eight team tournament featuring some of the top teams in the east, this potentially gruelling two day grind will test not only the endurance of the skaters, but the teams’ organizational management as well, as they will have to juggle their rosters accordingly. There are some noticeable absentees in the tournament with the top three teams out (Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City), which makes this tournament an opportunity for the rest of the top competitive teams in the east to step up.  For some, like Muddy River (Moncton) and Belle City (Brantford), this will be their first chance to face top-flight competition, while for others, like Forest City and Rideau Valley, this will be a test of their ability to handle the pressure of being the favourites.

ROUND ONE

Day one will mean game over for two of the eight teams, while for the other six it’ll be another day of derby and a chance for a top five finish (with the day-one winners moving directly to the semifinals). The Hammer City Harlots will kick off the tournament facing a new team from Belle City (Brantford), the Belles of the Brawl. While on paper this one looks like a washout (the most experienced team taking on the least experienced), this is not the same Harlots teams as years past. While a few veterans remain (including former Eh! Team skater Judge Jodie), this team (and the league as a whole) has gone through a major overhaul and has taken some tough, one-sided losses to teams they used to routinely beat (Forest City and Queen City). Nonetheless, Belle City has the disadvantage of having limited play against outside competition, while the Harlots have gotten a few under their belts this season already.

The Rideau Valley Vermin will consist of rookie and experienced skaters, including members of the 2011 Beast of the East Champion Slaughter Daughters. (photo by Derek Lang)

Next up, the Rideau Valley Vermin take on the upstarts from the Atlantic, the Muddy River Lumbersmacks. Moncton has lead the recent explosion of flat track derby on the east coast (six leagues and counting), and with recent victories over Halifax and Fog City (Saint John) have proven that they deserve this spot in the tournament. As quickly as this Moncton team has come along, they are in tough against the Vermin, a mixed team of veteran and new skaters from RVRG that has yet to play together, but will boast members of the WFTDA apprentice Vixens. The Muddy River skaters are aware of the challenge they face. “We’re super excited (to be) schooled by Rideau Valley right from the get go!” says Muddy Rivers’ Brandy Swifter. “We definitely hope to use (the tournament) as a great learning process.” A sentiment echoed by the other inexperienced leagues, and the experienced ones as well. “It’s a great opportunity for us to train our newer players in an actual competitive game environment” says RVRG veteran Dee Dee Tee discussing the forward thinking decision behind entering the Vermin into the tournament. “We expect nothing but good to come from the experience we are poised to gain this season,” she concludes.

The Forest City travel team will be led by an experienced core of Thames Fatales skaters. (photo by Joe Mac)

Like Moncton, Guelph’s Royal City has been turning some heads in its first year of operation, putting up increasingly great fights against considerably more experienced competition from GTA and Tri-City. But they too, being a comparatively inexperienced team, have gotten a tough draw in a Forest City All Stars team that hasn’t played since the earliest days of the league’s existence, but will have an experienced lineup regardless. No doubt it will draw heavily from Thames Fatales, which has had an excellent 2011 thus far. The new hometeam, the Luscious Lunch Ladies, has developed very quickly as well, scoring a huge victory over the Harlots in May. Veteran skater Anya Face is relaxed about the tournament, and sees it as an opportunity to improve. “We are there to play some roller derby, and see if our strategies work,” she says, adding “we are always learning new off-the-wall strategies … so to try them out in a game situation (allows us) to see what works.” Depending on how the skaters from the two teams merge, Forest City could be a team to watch.

GTA's Derby Debutants gave the Royal City All Stars their first taste of competitive derby in May. (photo by Joe Mac)

Finally, two veteran leagues that are still waiting for that competitive breakthrough will close out the opening round match ups. Despite their similarities in lineage, the GTA Rollergirls have had a much more consistent run than Ottawa Roller Derby and will be tracking a team of all stars brought together from its two home teams. Another clear advantage for GTA is how much track time they’ve already logged this season as both the Derby Debutantes and the Chrome Mollys are deep into their seasons. ORD, on the other hand, has been out of the top level of competition since its last appearance at the Beast of the East in 2009, but could use this as a stepping stone to greater competitive heights.

Moncton's Muddy River will be hosting the Atlantic Jamboree where experience gained at the Blood Spill will undoubtedly be shared.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Given the mix of teams, it might be worth expecting the unexpected. With Forest City, Rideau Valley, and GTA sending new mixed teams, and Hammer City sending its B team, the tournament is actually wide open and could come down to which of these teams is able to gel the quickest. This could actually work to the advantage of those newer teams (Royal City and Muddy River) who have been picking up considerable experience playing together as of late. But the core players who will make up each of the more experienced teams will certainly given them the edge. Rideau Valley has been dominating all levels of play, with their only losses in the past two years coming against some of the top teams in the country in Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City. But their experience here and abroad will make them clear front runners. Similarly, Forest City has come a long way in the past few years, developing into a tough, strategically sound league and also have to be considered front runners. But the importance of this tournament stretches far beyond who wins and losses. “By hosting and participating we hope to raise more awareness of the sport in Canada, raise the level of play and promote a nationwide competition.” Dee Dee Tee answers when asked about the goal of the tournament. The new Ontario leagues will be able to measure themselves up against the next stage of competition, while Muddy River will gain valuable experience just in time for the Atlantic Jamboree where they can, in turn, share it with their sister leagues back east.

** For more information visit the event page on Facebook. Tickets are available online and at select vendors in Ottawa.

**Not going to be there!? Catch all the action live on Canuck Derby TV.

**The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

**Tournament Schedule:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ROUND ONE

Game 1  Hamilton Harlots (Hammer City Roller Girls) vs Belles of the Brawl (Bell City Roller Girls—Brantford ) 9am
Game 2  Rideau Valley Vermin (RVRG) vs  Lumbersmacks  (Muddy River Rollers—Moncton) 11am
Game 3 Forest City All Stars (FCDG—London)  vs Royal City All Stars (Royal City Rollergirls—Guelph) 1pm
Game 4 G-Stars (GTA Rollergirls) vs Ottawa Roller Derby  3pm

RELEGATION

Game 5 (Loser of Game 1 vs Loser of Game 2) 5pm
Game 6 (Loser of Game 3 vs Loser of Game 4) 7pm

Sunday, June 19, 2011
SEMIFINALS

Game 7 (Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 3) 9am
Game 8 (Winner of Game 2 vs Winner of Game 4) 11am

RELEGATION

Game 9 (Winner of Game 5 vs Winner of Game 6) 1pm (for 5th Place)
Game 10 (Loser of Game 7 vs Loser of Game 8 ) 3pm (for 3rd Place)

CHAMPIONSHIP

Game 11 (Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 ) 5pm

Chicks Ahoy! to Battle for the Boot after semifinal win.

The Dolls and Chicks met in the semifinals for the third time in history. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Death Track Dolls 29  vs. Chicks Ahoy! 120

We’re down to two, and for the fourth time in ToRD’s history the Chicks Ahoy! and Gore-Gore Rollergirls will face off for the Toronto Roller Derby championship as the Chicks put together another impressive performance over the Death Track Dolls in the semifinal on the weekend. Despite a much improved effort from the Dolls, they simply didn’t have enough as the Chicks ruled the packs on their way to the  91 point victory and a spot in the June 25thchampionship bout.

This marked the third time that these two teams had played each other in the semifinals with the Chicks also recording victories in 2008 and 2010.

Once again, Dyna Hurtcha was nearly unstoppable for the Chicks. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Thoughts of a Dolls’ upset to end that streak were quickly put to rest in the early going when the Chicks roared out of the gates, grinding ahead 18-1 at one point before the Dolls were able to get their offense going. Once again, Dyna Hurtcha was unstoppable with the star early.  Dyna has always been a strong three-position player (winning the Triple Threat at the ToRD Awards in 2009), but her development as a jammer this season has been astonishing; whether powering through packs or rushing along the outside, the Dolls could not contain her. Candy Crossbones also continues to impress in 2011, and with rookie Kookie Doe passing every test that she’s been given in this impressive rookie season, right now, the Chicks look like they have the most solid 1-2-3 jammer attack in the league.

Land Shark returned to the lineup for the Dolls, but even she struggled against the Chicks' packs. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls were buoyed by the return of Land Shark to the lineup, but even she struggled with the extraordinary pack work of the Chicks. Jubilee took on a more regular role jamming for the Dolls as well, and could be key to filling out the offensive depth of this Dolls team moving forward. Captain Betty Bomber stepped up as well, but despite recording a solid lead jammer %, was unable to take advantage as the Chicks defence was stellar, dominating the front of the pack and running some very fast pace lines. Roller Derby is increasingly about controlling the pace and at times the Chicks seemed to have complete control over the pace of this game. In the face of this smothering defense, the Dolls were unable to even crack double digits in the first half, down 52-9 at the break.

With an already deep pack, the play of Kookie Doe has given the Chicks a deep roster of jammers as well. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

When these two teams closed out the regular season, the Dolls collapsed under the sustained attack by the Chicks and almost fell apart in the second half as the Chicks ran up the score, so full credit goes to the Dolls in this one for coming out strong in the second half and continuing to battle right through to the end; the score line seemed unfair to the Dolls in terms of the effort they gave. The Dolls’ Santilly In Yo Face continued her jamming apprenticeship and had a much more controlled game this time out, and another rookie, Bala Reina from the Chicks, also continued to get some experience jamming (as she and Dyna passed off positions in the second). The pack was working so well together that it was hard to measure stand-out performances from the Chicks, but Mega Bouche had another monster bout, and Marmighty is becoming frighteningly good in the pack; yet another solid blocker to add to a Chicks’ roster that already has the best pack depth in the league.

Santilly In Yo Face was ready for the Chicks this time, but faced considerable blocking from the likes of Mega Bouche. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Discipline has been a key issue this season for both of these teams, but particularly for the Chicks who have revamped their game in a big way. But there was a slight set back in this one, as both teams registered a lot of minors (33 for the Dolls, 25 for the Chicks) and an unusual amount of majors as well. Over the course of the regular season, the Chicks only recorded 23 majors, but picked up 10 in the semifinal, something that they will have to keep an eye on in the championship game. But there were very few jammer majors (two for the Dolls and just one for the Chicks that the Dolls, unfortunately, couldn’t capitalize on).

Nonetheless, the Chicks seem to be peeking at just the right, and have now put together back-to-back dominant games over an experienced opponent, which could be just the preparation that the Chicks need heading into the Battle for the Boot 5. In a season that at the mid-way point showed so much promise, the result was once again the same for the Death Track Dolls: coming up just short against the Chicks Ahoy!. They’ll need to build off the successes of the season and fix some of the issues that became more obvious as the season wore on, and now they’ll have  along off season to do it.

**Missed the game?? You can catch the complete bout including track side interviews on Rogers TV this Saturday (June 18) at 6:00 p.m.

**Tickets are on sale for the Battle for the Boot 5.

Nerd Meat Part 9: Taking the Test

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 9: Taking the Test

ToRD recently graduated from the WFTDA Apprenticeship. CN Power will now compete in the North Central Region. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Four months of falls, bruises, breaks, triumphs and frustrations, and ToRD’s latest fresh meat group has come to the end of the track. Our numbers have dwindled from 90+ to about 40, as those who underestimated the physicality and dedication that the sport requires have pulled away. There’s nothing left to do to prepare, and WFTDA’s minimum skills test is now upon us. Over the months there have been obvious divisions in abilities and talent. Many will pass the test, but some will not. Those who do will move on to ToRD’s farm team, the DVAS, where once again there will be divisions in talent, and eventually the top skaters in my fresh meat group will enter the draft and become chosen by one of Toronto’s four home teams. A few then will begin to train even harder, peering hopefully to CN Power, Toronto’s travel team, which recently graduated to full WFTDA status and will be competing in the North Central Region. For a select few, that is the ultimate goal.

Right now, you could almost say that Canada is going through its own fresh meat program in WFTDA. Currently there are five full Canadian WFTDA members (Montreal, Hamilton, Tri-City Thunder, Vancouver and Toronto), while one, Rideau Valley, is completing its apprenticeship. But just as every fresh meat group has that superstar who is obviously way better than everyone else (a figure skater or hockey player usually), Montreal is very much at the top of the class in Canada.

ToRD and Tri-City (competing here at QCC 2011) are two of Canada's five full WFTDA leagues.

It was in that all-important roller derby year of 2009 when WFTDA finally expanded beyond the American borders to Canada as both the Hammer City Roller Girls and Montreal Roller Derby were admitted into the mix. While Hammer City had produced many of Canada’s firsts, Montreal would finally take part in an important one: on May 2, 2009, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Montreal would face Harrisburg Area Roller Derby in the first sanctioned WFTDA bout featuring Canadian and American teams. Montreal would lose that game, and many more in a busy 2009 that saw them go 2-6 and travel as far as Nashville, with 100-point losses not being unusual. But far from being deterred, the losses pushed the Skids to improve, and they sopped up the strategies they encountered.

Montreal's New Skids on the Block entered the 2010 Quad City Chaos on a roll. (Photo by Derek Lang)

In Canada at the time, there wasn’t much inter-city competition in a broad sense of the term, and the general consensus was that the top travel teams in Canada were on a fairly even keel. Early in 2010 ToRD invited the top four teams in the country to compete in a two day round-robin tournament, the Quad City Chaos. The host CN Power would take part along with Canada’s two WFTDA teams (Montreal’s New Skids on the Block and Hammer City’s Eh! Team), with Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars rounding it out. Vancouver was clearly the top team from the west, and they’d also defeated the Skids at 2008’s Derby Night in Canada. They flew east with high expectations, some western observers were adamant that Terminal City would take the tournament.

Undeterred by the losing record in 2009, Montreal kicked off 2010 with away games against Charm City (Baltimore) and Tucson, two of the most historic flat track leagues in America. While Charm City predictably stomped them (like Montreal, they too were quick to adapt to the pace and isolation strategies coming out of the west), Montreal nearly pulled off a big upset over Tucson, falling by just 9. It was a turning point for Montreal, and they’d remain on the road to record four straight sanctioned victories before heading into the QCC weekend, pulling into Toronto with buzz just beginning to generate around this squad and how quickly they were adapting to the new look flat-track game (one of those victories was a decisive 187-83 victory over Arizona, another historic team and original WFTDA member). They’d passed the test, to say the least.

Montreal sent a clear message when they shocked Hammer City 208-26 in March 2010. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal put to rest any doubts of their talent when the Skids and the Eh! Team kicked off QCC weekend with a sanctioned bout. At their last meeting, in 2008, Montreal had barely won a defensive showdown 58-49. By March 2010 though, the Skids were a different sort of beast all together, and they crushed Hammer City 208-26 to send a clear message to the teams in the tournament and Canadian roller derby in general. They easily won that inaugural QCC (and this year’s version as well) and no Canadian team has even come close to them since.

Montreal would go on to have a breakout 2010, finishing 11-5 and setting another historic precedent by finishing 6th in the Eastern Region to become the first non-US team to qualify for the WFTDA playoffs where they’d be eliminated by Boston in the Eastern quarterfinals.

The rest of the country is left to chase Montreal, and try to chip away at the separation that currently exists. A league’s ability to compete will be determined, in large part, by how well it prepares its new skaters for the rigorous determination that making it to the top level of competitive flat track roller derby requires: this process begins in fresh meat. And in Toronto anyway, fresh meat is now just the first step toward making it into the league, a league that clearly has its competitive sights set high.

But as Montreal showed, to get to the top you have to start at the bottom, and although a skater has to train for four months just to get to this point, the bottom is actually the WFTDA minimum skills test. Only after passing that all-important obstacle does the journey really begin.

*** Check out this excellent documentary, Hangin’ Tough on the  rise of Montreal’s New Skids on the Block

Battle for the Boot 2011: The Semifinal

#3 Death Track Dolls vs. #2 Chicks Ahoy!

TEAM STATS (2011 Regular Season)

Stat

Death Track Dolls Chicks Ahoy!
Record

1-2

2-1

Points For / Against (+/-)

193 / 363 (-170)

408 / 189 (+219)

Lead Jammer Percentage

41%

55%

Points Per Jam

1.5

3.24

Total Blocks (Knockdowns)

230 (38)

387 (57)

Assists (including offensive blocks)

64

137

Minor / Major Penalties (Minutes)

84 / 27 (37)

85 / 23 (30)

The Dolls put together their best bout of the season against MTLRD's Les Contrabanditas at the Beast of the East. (photo by Derek Lang)

THE SEASON

Given the history between these two teams (including a split of two games at the 2011 Beast of the East), the way in which the Chicks Ahoy! so easily handled the Death Track Dolls in the final bout of the season came as a great surprise to many. The question hanging over this upcoming semi-final is how will the Dolls respond? Will we see the focused and determined Dolls who outlasted 13 other teams to finish 3rdat the BOE tournament? Or will it be the unfocused, frustrated Dolls that the Chicks walked all over in the final bout of the regular season?

The Chicks beat the Dolls in the opening round of the Beast of the East on their way to a 4th place finish. (photo by Derek Lang)

It’s been that kind of season for the Dolls. Opening with a lacklustre (though not terrible) performance against the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls, the Dolls rallied and put together a textbook win against the Smoke City Betties to even up their record 1-1. One clear problem was arising though, and that was consistency. There’d been moments of brilliance against the Gores (a late first-half pushback saw them dominating the packs) that couldn’t be maintained, and lapses against Betties that allowed their opponents to get back into the game. It has become clear that remaining mentally focused and putting together a consistent sixty minutes will be key if the Dolls want to have a shot (this could also explain why they did so well at the BOE where the short games meant streaky play and quick bursts were rewarded). The setbacks were a disappointment for a team that has shown only steady growth over the previous two seasons. They’ll need a season-best performance if they hope to qualify for their first ever Battle for the Boot.

The Chicks were too much for the Dolls in the season closer, a 194-35 victory. (Photo by Chrissie Wu)

The Chicks Ahoy!, on the other hand, have surpassed all expectations in 2011. With a new-look lineup (including a rookie bench boss in Flyin’ Bryan Killman) making up the team that was humbled in the 2010 Battle for the Boot, the Chicks came out flying in a dominant performance against the Betties to open the season. They would maintain that momentum in their rematch against the Gores, when the two teams put together as exciting a half of roller derby that has been seen in ToRD in at least a year. But the Chicks couldn’t hold the momentum and drifted late in the bout. But they were undeterred by the loss and after putting together their finest performance ever at the BOE (4thplace), came out and wiped the track with the Dolls to close out the regular season. That victory, in which they controlled play from start to finish, has got to provide a boost of confidence for the Chicks who are looking for

Nasher the Smasher could be a game changer for the Chicks. (Photo by Derek Lang)

their fourth spot in the championship in five years.

GAME CHANGERS

Chicks Ahoy!: Nasher the Smasher has always been one of ToRD’s most feared blockers, but there was always that one issue that hung over her: lack of discipline. In 2011, Nasher has overhauled her game, still capable of devastating strikes (she was second on the Chicks in blocks and knockdowns), she has become a much more positional force on the track, and—most importantly—has completely done away with the discipline issues that dogged her early in her career recording only 2 majors and 1 (!) minor over the course of the season (despite being on the track for 54% of her team’s jams). Another player who has stepped up in a big way in 2011 is a 2010 rookie standout, Marmighty. The sophomore star matched Nasher’s 54% jam percentage (second to only Rebel Rock-It on the team) and put up an unbelievable plus/minus of 147. Although she ran into some penalty trouble against the Dolls, she was such a dominant force in that bout that this only really stood out on the stat sheet.

Whether jamming or in the pack, Betty Bomber will be a big part of the Dolls' game. (Photo by Chrissie Wu)

Death Track Dolls: Since the retirement of Mach Wheels, Betty Bomber has emerged as the most effective triple threat in ToRD, and her value to the Dolls cannot be overstated. She almost single-handedly kept her team in the final regular season game against the Chicks. If she wasn’t so valuable in the pack, Bomber would undoubtedly be one of the top jammers in the league. Second, the blocking combination of Jubilee and Panty Hoser. The Chicks have an incredibly deep pack, and for the Dolls to have any sort of chance in this one, they are going to need their best pack players to step up and be at their best. When their heads are in the game, Hoser and Jubilee are two of the best in the league, their work one-on-one is outstanding and they were first or second in virtually every major blocking stat for the Dolls this season. The mental focus of the team seems to run through these two players, and they will need to be at their best to counteract the depth of the Chicks.

The rookie duel between the Dolls' Santilly In Yo Face and the Chicks' Kookie Doe could be key. (Photo by Chrissie Wu)

Rookie Showdown: Finally, one of the interesting stories of the bout will be the jammer battles between a few rookies, the Dolls’ Santilly In Yo Face and the Chicks’ Kookie Doe. With Dolls jammer Land Shark returning to the lineup, the first lines of offense are virtually even, which means that it could come down to which of these rookies is capable of providing more depth on offense for her team. While Kookie Doe has clocked a lot more track time this season, Santilly has a slight lead in lead % (47% to 38%) and they are statistically even in points per jam. The one difference could be that Santilly was destroyed by the Chicks’ blockers in the last bout and will have to mentally put that behind her entering the playoffs.

STATS LEADERS

BLOCKERS

Stat (Minimum 21 jams)

Death Track Dolls Chicks Ahoy!
Blocks Panty Hoser 57 Mega Bouche 67
Knockdowns Jubilee 9 Mega Bouche 10
Assists (including offensive blocks) Jubilee 17 Tara Part 30
Blocker +/- Lucid Lou +2 Marmighty +132
Pivot +/- Dolly Parts’em +11 Mega Bouche +116
Total +/- Demolition Dawn +9 Dyna Hurtcha +160
Minor Penalties Jubilee/Monichrome 14 Mega /Rebel Rock-It 14
Major Penalties Jubilee 6 Marmighty 4
Penalty Minutes Jubilee 8 Marmighty 5

JAMMERS

Stat (Minimum 21 jams)

Death Track Dolls Chicks Ahoy!
Points Land Shark 80 Candy Crossbones 141
Points Per Jam Land Shark 1.9 Dyna Hurtcha 3.48
Jammer +/- Land Shark 24 Dyna Hurtcha +99
Lead % Land Shark 53% Dyna Hurtcha 74%
Jam % Betty Bomber 36% Candy Crossbones 35%

**Tickets are available online or at numerous retailers downtown. Doors open at 6:30 PM, with opening whistle at 7:30 PM.

**The bout will be broadcast by Rogers TV. Keep an eye out for dates and times.