2011 Roller Derby World Cup: Preview

On Thursday, December 1st, 2011, France and Canada will take the track to kick off what could be considered one of the most important gatherings of flat track roller derby teams in the sport’s decade-long existence. The 2011 Roller Derby World Cup marks the first time that international teams will come together to play in a competitive flat track roller derby tournament. The importance of this event in the dissemination and global exposure of the sport cannot be overlooked.

Taking place in the Bunker in Toronto on two tracks over an ambitious four-day period, the tournament will kick off with a round robin “seedings” mini tournament featuring bouts with shorter, 20 minute halves between teams who were grouped by a random draw based on experience and international diversity.  Concluding on Friday, all teams will then be placed in an elimination bracket based on how they fared in the round robin portion (due to the uneven number of teams—13—the top three seeds will receive a first round bye).

In 2008, Team Canada (captained by current Team Canada member 8 Mean Wheeler), travelled to the UK for a series fo bouts.

With so little cross-international play at this stage in the development of the sport (in 2008 Team Canada travelled to the UK to play a series of bouts), expectations are wide open for the tournament. Based purely on age of programs, total leagues and games played, the “big four” are USA, Canada, England and Germany (these are also the top four countries in terms of rostered skaters from WFTDA teams). In terms of sheer number of leagues, Australia and New Zealand have actually now passed Germany. But beyond that, expectations are wide open. Although choosing from a much smaller pool, Scotland and Sweden both boast a huge number of WFTDA affiliated skaters (18 and 19 respectively), with the majority of those players being chosen from the countries’ two WFTDA affiliated leagues (Auld Reekie and Glasgow in Scotland, Stockholm and Crime City in Sweden with the Swedes also picking up Knickerblocker Glory from London). Along with England (who are made up of a core 11 from the London Rollergirls who are ranked 5th in the Eastern Region), the knowledgeable cores that make up Sweden, Scotland and England could prove to be a big advantage in a tournament where teams will have to come together quickly (France and Finland have chosen from similarly small pools, but the comparative lack of experience takes away some of this advantage).

The host country, Team Canada is built around a core of Montreal players (6)

Semi-Precious gives a helpful push to Soul Rekker; both Rideau Valley skaters are members of Team Canada. (Photo by Derek Lang)

and a few other WFTDA-experienced skaters from Toronto, Tri-City and Terminal City, but beyond that is a mishmash of regional selections (the lone Maritimer on the team, Rainbow Fight, has had to be replaced due to injury); nonetheless, based on experience Canada should be considered one of the favourites in the tournament. They will be lead by the six members of Montreal’s New Skids on the Block (the first non-US team to qualify for the WFTDA playoffs) who should provide the core jammers with Iron Wench and Georgia W. Tush; blockers Smack Daddy, Lil’ Mama, and Bone Machine; and pivot Jess Bandit (who is also co-captain). Sharing the pivot stripe will undoubtedly be ToRD’s Brim Stone (co-captain) and Terminal City’s 8 Mean Wheeler, but Beretta Lynch (West Kootenays, and capable of playing any position) and Oil City’s TeeKnee (a Brim Stone style triple threat) could also lead the pack (Beretta Lynch could play any position). The Blocking contingent will be rounded out by injury-addition Semi-Precious (who, despite her late selection, is a more-than worthy addition), Red Deer’s Gunpowder Gertie  and Edomonton’s big hitting  Hell on Keller, while exceptional triple-threat Windigo (who plays south of the border for Houston Roller Derby) can be counted on in any role. The rest of the players provide a lot of depth at jammer with the wily Taz from Red Deer joining Forest City’s Killson, Tri-City’s Motorhead Molly and Rideau Valley’s Soul Rekker as skaters who shine with the star. Canada should do well against France, Sweden and Brazil in the preliminary round. Although France and Sweden, featuring rosters built of players familiar with one another, should not be taken lightly, and Brazil (who will be lead by Gotham’s Brazilian Nut) are a pure wild card who could be capable of anything and have absolutely nothing to lose: always a dangerous combination.

Team USA, the pre-tournament favourites, will play a split-squad exhibition bout on Thursday.

Despite the limitless possibilities in this tournament, the one thing that everyone can agree on is the dominant potential of Team USA. The roster of the team is filled with the superstars of the sport from Sassy and Psycho Babble in the west, to Suzy Hotrod and Teflon Donna in the east, to Smarty Pants and Juke Boxx in between, there are absolutely no holes in this fantastic roster. So dominant could this team be that they will split for a “Stars vs. Stripes” exhibition on Thursday night that could prove to be one of the best bouts of the tournament. While spots 2-13 might be up for grabs, anything less than a first place finish for Team USA will be considered a massive disappointment.

*The tournament kicks off Thursday, December 1st, 2011, at 5:00 PM. You can catch all the action live on DNN (including the special Stars vs. Stripes exhibition bout that will be boutcast live on Thursday, December 1st, at 9:00 PM.)

Thursday, December 1:

5 P.M., Track 1: Canada vs. France
5:30 P.M., Track 2: Australia vs. Germany
6:20 P.M., Track 1: Argentina vs. Ireland
6:50 P.M., Track 2: New Zealand vs. U.S.A.
7:40 P.M., Track 1: Brazil vs. Sweden
8:10 P.M., Track 2: Australia vs. Finland
9 P.M., Track 1: USA vs USA expo bout

Friday, December 2:

9:30 A.M., Track 1: England vs. Ireland
10 A.M., Track 2: New Zealand vs. Scotland
10:50 A.M., Track 1: Canada vs. Sweden
11:20 A.M., Track 2: Finland vs. Germany
12:10 P.M., Track 1: Brazil vs. France
12:40 P.M., Track 2: Scotland vs. U.S.A.
1:30 P.M., Track 1: Argentina vs. England
2 P.M., Track 2: France vs. Sweden
2:50 P.M., Track 1: Brazil vs. Canada
4 P.M. – 5:30: Welcome Ceremony: Parade of Nations
5:30 – 10 P.M.: Beginning of elimination round

Saturday, December 3:

9:30 A.M. – 8:30 P.M.: Elimination and placement rounds

Sunday, December 4:

10:30 A.M. – 6:30 P.M.: Elimination and placement rounds
6:30 – 9 P.M.: Closing celebration and award-giving at the Bunker

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