So, Canada, in case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a new flat track roller derby power rising in the east, and it is looking more and more ready to ascend to the top.
On Saturday, Roller Derby Quebec’s Viande Froide et Charcuteries (take a moment to let that great name sink in!) won the Fresh and the Furious 2015 in absolutely dominant fashion, completing a summer season in which the league’s two house league teams finished 1-2 at the Beast of the East and the travel team, Les Duchesses, has been quietly training at a high level, including one unsanctioned game each against Montreal’s two travel teams.
Roller Derby Quebec was already on most people’s radars, especially after the Beast run, but after this weekend’s performance by the league’s freshest skaters, there should remain no doubt that this is the league to watch. It was as dominant a run as we’ve ever seen at the one day, sixteen-team event: Five straight wins with an average differential of 87 points; 584 total points scored (a record), with a per-game average of 117 points; and the second highest scoring single game in tournament history (155).
And did I mention that they managed to do all this with seven skaters?
Amalgamated leagues and tiny benches were the story of the grueling fifteen-team, one-day tournament (played on one of the hottest days of the summer at that), with a majority of teams skating with mixed rosters (including perennial powers Toronto Roller Derby, whose D-VAS—mixed with Kingston skaters—finished out of the Top 3 for the first time ever), and while for the past two years the Quebec teams had optioned to skate as a unified provincial team, this year Montreal sent a fully loaded Smash Squad (eventually finishing second) while the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke bolstered its numbers with a few extra bodies from Trois-Rivieres. With many teams under the 14-skater norm, two teams, the Thicket from Forest City and Quebec, ended up with less than 10. Quebec actually started with 8 skaters, but one of the team’s top jammers, Chlomydia, was injured early in the first game. The Viande Froide handled the loss brilliantly, showing the perseverance and incredible endurance that has become the hallmark of this league.
Quebec’s growing provincial dominance was a big part of the Fresh story in 2015. Montreal’s Smash Squad returned as an independent team for the first time since winning it all in 2012 and played wonderfully, dominating usually strong entries from Toronto, Royal City (in the semifinal), and the defending champion Cannon Dolls (from Capital City) in the opening game of the tournament. Sherbrooke’s Les Rebelles also surprised, and did so in dramatic fashion. After dropping the opening game to the Hamutantes (a GTA/Hammer City mixed team that also performed exceptionally), Les Rebelles needed to win two in a row to advance; first, they eliminated Ottawa’s Cannon Dolls in a thrilling 94-92 game, before managing to score one point as time expired to cancel a final-jam 10-point comeback by the DRRD’y Farmers in an 81-80 win that sent them to the quarterfinal knock-out round.
Sherbrooke’s run eventually ended at the hands of Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain, who had a fantastic day (buoyed by the largest cheering section of the tournament). After a third place finish in 2011 and reaching the Fresh final in 2012 (as the Top Herloins), Royal City had not advanced beyond the quarters since, but did so this year, falling in the semifinals to the Smash Squad in a rematch of that 2012 final. Another league that quietly had a bounce back tournament was the lone US entrant, Queen City’s Queen’s Court. After a final four finish at the inaugural Fresh in 2011, the team had failed to advance beyond the first round since, but they narrowly knocked off Wellington’s surprising Bloody Marys to do so this year.
Despite the variety of fine performances, the narrative of this tournament ran directly through the winning team. A five-skater pack (featuring blockers Divacop, Dildodo Bombass, Ninge Turtle, Cunts’n’Roses, and pivot KillEasy) and a two-jammer rotation (Taminator and Izzy Gonzales, who seemed light years ahead of the competition) ran roughshod over the competition, dominating from start to finish and showing that even if Roller Derby Quebec has not ascended to the top of the pyramid of competitive Canadian derby just yet, the strength of its base (seemingly so far ahead of everyone else’s), means that it’s just a matter of time.
|Double Elimination: ArenaNEO Fights 75 vs. South Simcoe Rebel Rollers 73Roller Derby Quebec 124 vs. Queen’s Court 10
Rogue D-VAS 47 vs. Thicket 67
Renegade Derby Dames 59 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 76
NEO Fights 14 vs. Quebec 155
South Simcoe (elim.) 69 vs. Queen’s Court 107
Thicket 58 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 114
Rogue D-VAS 102 vs. Renegade Derby Dames (elim.) 59
NEO Fights (elim.) 56 vs. D-VAS 70
Thicket (elim.) 91 vs. Queen’s Court 111
|Double Elimination: Bubble 705 Bombshells 42 vs. DRRD’y Farmers 53Smash Squad 121 vs. Cannon Dolls 50
Les Rebelles 43 vs. Derby Hamutantes 136
DRRD’y Farmers 56 vs. Bloody Marys 96
Smash Squad 76 vs. Hamutantes 57
Cannon Dolls (elim.) vs. Les Rebelles 94
DRRD’y Farmers (elim.) 80 vs. Les Rebelles 81
Hamutantes 107 vs. 705 Bombshells (elim.) 37
Our Ladies of Pain 102 vs. Les Rebelles 54
Roller Derby Quebec 102 vs. Hamutantes 45
Smash Squad 97 vs. Rogue D-VAS 37
Bloody Marys 59 vs. Queen’s Court 62
Roller Derby Quebec 103 vs. Queen’s Court 16
Our Ladies of Pain 76 vs. Smash Squad 153
Our Ladies of Pain 119 vs. Queen’s Court 101
Roller Derby Quebec 100 vs. Smash Squad 46
**This year’s Louisa Kalimeris Heart Award went to Les Rebelle’s Malicious, who always seemed to jam with a smile.
**Once again, Layer9.ca was there to provide a live feed of all the action on both tracks. The archives are already up, so be sure to check them out. As an added bonus, most of the games featuring teams from Quebec include bilingual commentary.