Author: Derby Nerd

Writer, teacher, roller derby fan.

Nerd to Release First Work of Fiction; Launch Dates Set for Toronto, Tri-City

The Nerd takes a moment for some shameless self promotion of book launches set for April 16 in Toronto and April 17 in Waterloo.

Writing as D.D. Miller, the Nerd's first book of fiction will be released in April. Roller Derby figures prominently in the title story.

Writing as D.D. Miller, the Nerd’s first book of fiction will be launched on April 16 in Toronto and the next night in Waterloo. Those old blue roller skates on the cover play a significant role in the book.

As some of you may have known, the Derby Nerd doesn’t just write about roller derby; I also write fiction as D.D. Miller.

Next week, my first work of fiction, a short story collection called David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide and Other Stories, will be published by Wolsak & Wynn (through its new Buckrider Books imprint).

This book has been a long time coming and features a wide variety of stories all dealing in some way with the vagaries of life in the early 21st century. Of course, roller derby played a part in the writing of the book—as it does in most aspects of my life—but it has a particularly large role in the title story.

The title story is about a character who has a brief, but to him intense, relationship with a significantly younger girl with whom he has remained obsessed, to the point where he’s found a lookalike online cam girl replacement for her. The second obsession that he has is with replacing a David Foster Wallace book that he’d lent to her and never gotten back. Eventually, he discovers that she has become a roller girl and goes to see her play:

“The Toronto Roller Derby League played its games north of the city in the Hangar in Downsview Park. It was a massive space, with huge windows that spread the late-evening summer sunshine across the hard concrete floor and the round track in the middle. Metal bleachers lined the track and they were full of a strange mix of people: punks and jocks and grandmothers and children, hipsters, nerds, a whole posse of women on a stagette. Loud rock and roll blared from speakers sprinkled among the bleachers, and a mohawked man in a slim suit and skinny tie prowled the zone between the track and the seats, stepping over and around the people who sat on the floor lining the track. He yelled into the mic, his face beet red and eyes gleaming: I could barely make out what he said. The louder he got, the louder the crowd got.”

**You can listen to me read from this particular section of the book at the 14:25 mark of this interview I did recently on CIUT’s (89.5) Howl radio show.**

The Toronto launch is set for April 16 at the Gladstone.

The Toronto launch is set for April 16 at the Gladstone.

For those derby people “in the know” there are a lot of “insider” references specifically for you in this story but there is also some “literary license” taken (for example, in this story, ToRD was playing in the Hangar in 2008—they didn’t actually move there until 2009).

While I will be making appearances across the country throughout the summer and fall (stay tuned!), there are a few specific launch dates set for Toronto and Tri-City (Waterloo specifically).

First up, for those in the GTA, I’ll be launching at the Gladstone Hotel on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, with doors opening at 7:00 PM. This is NOT going to be your typical stuffy literary affair: we’re hoping it will turn into a raucous celebratory party! For more information, check here.

The very next night, I’ll be in Waterloo at Words Worth Books. This will be a (slightly) quieter event, but refreshments will be served!. Check here for further details.

In both cases, I’d love to see roller derby take over these events! You guys have actually read more of my writing than anyone else (for which I am perpetually and eternally grateful), and would love to see some of you there! Thanks! And once again, apologies for the shameless self-promotion!

**For a further preview of the book, read this interview I did about writing and roller derby with Open Book Toronto.

**Also, for those in Toronto who can’t make the launch, I’ll also be reading on April 23rd at the Press Club as part of the Pivot Reading Series.

lanch date ain Waterloo set for apirl 17

The book will launch at Words Worth Books in Waterloo on April 17th.

 

 

Dolls Move into First Place with Win Over Betties

Betties fall to 0-2 after rematch of 2013 Battle for the Boot.

The Betties and Dolls met in a rematch of last year's championship game; the results were similar. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Betties and Dolls met in a rematch of last year’s championship game; the results were similar. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

After a rash of off-season roster changes that followed their 2013 Toronto Roller Derby Championship, the Death Track Dolls were expected to enter into a period of at least minor rebuilding. But on Saturday night at the Bunker, in their second game of the season, it was the Dolls taking one more stride toward securing a second-consecutive spot in ToRD’s annual Battle for the Boot with a decisive 208-70 victory over the Smoke City Betties.

The tale of the game could be read in the opening jam as the Dolls got off to an explosive 19-0 start, with the Betties’ jammer titmouse picking up a cutting penalty on her opening pass allowing the Dolls’ Bellefast to pick up four scoring passes. It was a poor start all around for the Betties as the Dolls’ packs dominated, allowing their jammers to pick up the first five leads and build a formidable 69-0 lead before the Betties got on the board at the ten minute mark of the opening half.

The Dolls’ stiff defensive walls and tidy jamming had them cruising in a comfort zone the Betties could never reach. Missing their two leading scorers from the season opener (WackedHer and co-captain Wolverina), the Betties’ offense ran through veteran titmouse, the ever-improving SewWhat?, and second-year skater Kill’Her At Large (with Honey Boom Boom supplying relief).

The Betties' Sew What (who eventually led her team in scoring with 28 points) attempts to evade Audrey Hellborn. (Photo by Greg Russell).

The Betties’ Sew What (who eventually led her team in scoring with 28 points) attempts to evade Audrey Hellborn. (Photo by Greg Russell).

The Dolls shifted things a bit offensively from their season opener, slipping co-captain Getcha Kicks into the pack (for the most part) as second-year jammer Chicken Sluggets entered the roster. Led by the explosive Bellefast, first-year ToRD skaters Devochka and Sleeper Hold continue to show poise beyond their experience level, no doubt aided by the excellent, confidence-building pack work of the Dolls.

The Betties’ bench (led by Bench Coach BruiseBerry Pie and introducing new Bench Manager Scarcasm) called a timeout late in the half as the game was getting away from them. Whatever was said seemed to take hold as the Betties had their most consistent push to close out the half (they scored 16 of their 26 points in the final seven minutes). Nonetheless, the Dolls were in control 119-26 at the half.

The Dolls got off to another quick start in the second, but eight minutes in the Betties got their first power jam of the game after a cut from Sluggets; this allowed them to stay within a hundred points (161-62), a gap that the Dolls would maintain for much of the half.

Misery Mae attempts to hold back Devochka as Laya Beaton holds the line. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Misery Mae attempts to hold back Devochka as Laya Beaton holds the line. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There were definitely moments for the Betties in the half, and some great individual experiences as well. titmouse overcame a slow start (and 0 points in the first half) to put up 11 points in the second. The Betties also continue to be the most physical of teams in the league with Misery Mae (who was outstanding), Tushy Galore (who eventually fouled out) and Mazel Tough delivering punishing blows, a necessity, it seemed, as the Dolls managed to control things positionally.

There were some minor changes to the Dolls packs, but even with the few personnel changes the game remained the same: two solid lines anchored by key players (Just Jes and Android W.K. on one side, Dawson and Audrey on the other), but the play of all of the blockers is rising slowly and, seemingly, equally, as this balance and consistency looks to be key to the Dolls’ success.

Speaking of balance, scoring was spread out well among the jammers on both teams. Devochka led the way for the Dolls with 69 points (followed closely by Bellefast with 59 and Sleeper with 46), while SewWhat? led the Betties with 28 (followed by Kill’Her At Large with 25).

With the 138-point victory, the Dolls move to 2-0 and pull into first place in ToRD’s regular season standings. The Betties now drop to 0-2 and are in danger of not even making the playoffs just one year after competing in the championship game.

D-VAS Top Farmers 252-110

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma'am attempts to evade the Farmers' Crazy Mama. (Photo by Greg Russell)

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma’am attempts to evade the Farmers’ Crazy Mama. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Toronto and Durham Region’s future stars closed out the double header on Saturday night. Coming off of a resounding season-opening loss to a considerably more experienced team from Woodstock, the D-VAS started slowly in this one as well, gifting the visiting DRRDy Farmers an early lead (it was 42-36 Farmers near the midway point of the first). The home team took its first lead with only 11:30 left in the half (jumping ahead 59-54). The confidence seemed to grow after this, and by half, they had increased the lead to 113-73.

The D-VAS cruised in the second half, looking stronger as the game went on, while the farmers faded. Although the entry drafts for both leagues are a long way off at this point, there are definitely skaters making early impressions: the D-VAS got strong jamming all game from Murdercat and Battering Ma’am with the Annguard getting stronger late in the game. In the pack, Juggernaut J and Kimikaze were both strong positional presences, while Vag Lightning and April Cruel delivered some big hits.

For the farmers, double threat Crazy Mama lead the way, with Bad Princess and Roller Mitch putting in solid performances jamming. Jungle Jen also put in a strong, well-rounded performance for the visiting Farmers.

**With Montreal’s upcoming Beast of the East dominating the roller derby house league scene for the next few weeks, the next action in Toronto will be May 10th (D-VAS and Toronto Junior Roller Derby will hold a double header); the house league resumes on May 24th. Durham Region will hold its 2014 season opener on Saturday, April 12th, in Ajax. Check here for details.

Roller Skatin Banner

Dolls and Betties meet in 2013 Champs Rematch

The Death Track Dolls have won five in a row against the Smoke City Betties dating back to 2009.

The Betties and Dolls face off in a 2008 regular season match up. The Dolls won 89-73. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The Betties and Dolls face off in a 2008 regular season game. The Dolls won 89-73. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The last time the Dolls and the Betties met was in the 2013 Battle for the Boot, a one-sided championship battle that saw the Dolls romp 258-73 in the record-setting win. In recent history, the Dolls dominating the Betties is not a surprise, and all-time the Dolls have a 5-2 regular season advantage and a 1-0 playoff advantage (last year’s championship game was the first time the two teams had met in the playoffs).

But the Betties’ road to the 2014 season has been a long, winding one (the story of the Betties is one of the most compelling—and important—in Canadian roller derby, actually). From 2007-2009, the Betties won two of three meetings against the Dolls (including a 9-point victory in 2007) until the massive roster overhaul before 2010 set the Betties on a years-long rebuild that saw the Dolls go on a 5-0 run since that time.

Since 2009, the Dolls have been on a slow build, improving every year (with a slight, arguable slip in 2012) and culminating in last year’s championship win. Last year, the Dolls dominated every aspect of the league, cruising to a record-setting regular season and a one-sided championship win. In the off season, the Dolls went through a massive roster overhaul that many thought would cause them to start a 2009-Betties’ style rebuild, but early indications show that has yet to happen.

THE STORY SO FAR

Smoke City Betties

In their season opener, Betties blocker Babushkill duels with Rosemary's Rabies to open a lane for jammer WackedHer. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In their season opener, Betties blocker Babushkill duels with Rosemary’s Rabies to open a lane for jammer WackedHer. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Each team has played one regular season game so far in 2014. The Betties fell in a shocker to a resurgent Chicks Ahoy! team in a tight 159-139 game that the Chicks dominated early, before the Betties rally came up just short. It was a thrilling game that came down to one controversial jammer penalty in the closing moments of the game.

The Betties have slowly built up a deep, balanced roster. Led by the hard-hitting duo of Misery Mae and Tushy Galore, the brawn runs deep with Mouth of the South, Mazel Tough, and Laya Beaton supplying frightening support. But the pack is also made up of a slew of more positionally inclined blockers like Honey Boom Boom, LowBlowPalooza, Babushkill, and Kill’Her At Large.

Offensively, the Betties were led by rookie jammer WackerHer, who led the team with 46 points and put up a line of 46 points, 3.8 points per jam and a 42% lead percentage. Co-captain Wolverina was also a huge presence for the team, notching 45 points (on 4.5 PPJ) with a 70% lead percentage (currently third in the league). Double threat SewWhat also supplied important offense (32, 2.9, 55%). Veteran jammer titmouse (16, 1.4, 55%) rounds out the rotation, and the Betties will need a bounce back game from her if they hope to push the Dolls (she had a high lead percentage, but couldn’t translate that into points).

Death Track Dolls

The Dolls' Dawson and Audrey Hellborn attempt to close the door on Lumberjack Flash during the Dolls' season opening victory. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls’ Dawson and Audrey Hellborn attempt to close the door on Lumberjack Flash during the Dolls’ season opening victory over the Gores. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls kicked off 2014 the same way they ended their 2013 record-setting season: in dollminating fashion. There were a lot of questions surrounding the champs as off-season retirements and call-ups to CN Power left the team scrambling to rebuild, but the championship culture developed over last year is paying off. Their season-opening 172-79 victory over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls sent a clear message while defying expectations

The pack is built around a core of veterans, but relies on new skaters as well. In the season opener, there was a great balance between the lines with one set led by second-year captain Android W.K. and returning veteran Just Jes, and the other led by a trio of Dawson, Audrey Hellborn and Canadian Psycho. Word on the track is that veteran Doll Speedin’ Hawking will make her season debut this weekend, adding more experience to the lineup. But the next generation of Baby Dolls is stepping up in the pack as well, with second-year skaters Robotomy and former Rollergette and current Los Conos (Hamilton) skater Stringer Belle leading the way.

Getcha Kicks had a strong game with the star in the season opener putting up 72 points on 5.1 points per jam behind a 71% lead percentage (tied for tops on the league) but look for the Dolls co-captain to take some time in the pack this game with second-year jammer Chicken Sluggets entering the roster. That leaves Bellefast to lead a young offense. She’s currently tied for the league lead in lead percentage (71%) and scored 35 points against the Gores.

The Dolls also got strong performances from ToRD rookies as well, with Durham Region transfer Devochka having a strong first half (24 PTS, 1.8 PPJ, 15% LP), and former Loco skater Sleeper Hold getting stronger as the game went on, on the way to putting up an offense line of 17, 1.3, and 39%.

D-VAS vs. DRRDy FarmersDolls vs. Betties 2014

Concluding the double header on Saturday night, will be a game featuring the future stars of both ToRD and nearby Durham Region Roller Derby as the D-VAS and DRRDy Farmers meet up. Both teams are made up of skaters who will eventually be eligible for their respective house league drafts at the end of the season.

The D-VAS opened up the season with a 338-173 loss in an offense-heavy game against the Woodstock Warriors. This will be the first game of the season for the DRRDy Farmers.

***Doors at the Bunker open at 4:00 PM. Opening whistle for the Dolls and Betties is 5:00 PM, with the D-VAS vs. DRRDy Farmers game set to kick off at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a number of vendors in the city.

 

 

Roller Skatin Banner

Canadian Power Rankings: April 1, 2014

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd return for another year of ranking Canada’s top A-level travel teams. Read the 2014 preview here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

- The Skids have kicked off 2014 with a three-game winning streak against Division 1 opponents that includes a blowout over Bleeding Heartland, some measure of revenge against Ohio (who beat them in last year’s playoffs), and a 17-point victory against their chief Canadian rivals, Toronto. (1 / 17).
2. CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)

New CNP Logo

- Off to a 2-2 start against some stiff competition (dominant wins over Bleeding Heartland and Killamazoo, and a heart-breaking loss to Ohio), Toronto pushed Montreal further than any other Canadian team has yet, in a 17-point loss at QCC. Nonetheless, CN Power’s amazing run in last year’s playoffs has proven not to be a one-off as they approach elite status. (2 / 29)
3. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)

Terminal City All Stars

- Although they have yet to play in 2014, with a majority of last year’s playoff-bound roster returning this season, Terminal City should continue to build on what has been an impressive run. They have a very competitive schedule lined up for spring/summer (including games against the Oly Rollers, Bay Area and Denver) as they try to improve their playoff position. (3 / 37)
4. Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Roller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo - The Thunder, representing the newly renamed Tri-City Roller Derby, are on the cusp of WFTDA’s Division 1, and have a solid schedule coming up (they’ll kick off 2014 with a game against the Ohio Roller Girls). (5 / 41)
5. Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

- Creeping ever closer to D-2 playoffs, boasting a newly, and more competitively organized house league, a fully developed B-team and a season-opening (unsanctioned) win against Misfit Militia, not to mention a decent upcoming WFTDA schedule, 2014 is off to a good start for this Ottawa-based team. (6 / 66)
6. Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo +2 (8) Although currently unranked in the WFTDA, Calgary will certainly debut in the next release (May 1). They dominated competition at Wild West Showdown, posting three one-sided wins against Slaughterhouse (223-92), Ark Valley (264-105) and Dockyard (406-59). (9 / -)

7.Misfit Militia (Misfit Militia Roller Derby)
Misfit Militia Logo
 

-1 (6) After dominating all competition in 2013, the Alliston-based team kicked off 2014 with a tight 168-126 loss against the Rideau Valley Vixens, a WFTDA Division 2 team. That may have been their biggest challenge of the season (at least based on the current schedule). (8 / -)
8. The Eh! Team (Hammer City Roller Girls)

Hammer City Logo

+1 (9) Hammer City is all set to build off of what was their most competitive season since 2009. After shooting back up the WFTDA rankings, they’ve already opened 2014 with a strong performance against the 54th ranked Paper Valley in a 12-point loss. (10 / 85)
9.Kootenay Kannibelles (West Kootenay Roller Derby)

kannibelles Logo

 

+1 (10) The Kannibelles slipped back into the Top 10 at the end of 2013, and they are given the benefit of the doubt here after opening this year with a 204-point victory over Fernie’s Avalanche City. They’ve got a much tougher schedule coming up, featuring games against Calgary and Red Deer. (12 / -)
10. Belladonnas (Red Deer Roller Derby Association)

Belladonnas Logo

-3 (7) Red Deer tumbles in the power rankings after major off-season roster changes boldy alters one of the country’s more consistent teams over the last few years. They remain on the list for now, but it remains to be seen how quickly the newly built team will come together on the track. (4 / -)

New name, new logo. Tri City Roller Derby 2014 LogoThere are no major alterations to the Top 10 with the Top 5 not shifting at all (though Toronto has inched ever-closer to Montreal after a tight game in Toronto last weekend. They’ll have a rematch in Montreal on April 25); however, Red Deer, based on having a significantly different roster from last year’s 15-2 team that dominated western and central Canadian competition, has fallen three spots but remains in the Top 10 for now. This allowed the Kannibelles and Hammer City to jump up a spot.

Based on Calgary’s head-turning dominance at this year’s Wild West Showdown, the CRDA All Stars jump two places from 8th to 6th, barely leap-frogging the Misfit Militia (who narrowly lost to the Vixens). This just makes Hammer City’s inaugural Maple Stir Up (August) all the more intriguing, as both Calgary and Rideau Valley will be there.

ON THE BUBBLE

Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo

Being so early in the season, we have only one team on the bubble: Moncton’s Muddy River Lumbersmacks. They opened the season with a 12-point loss to Montreal’s Sexpos (B-team) before scoring one-sided victories against Maine’s Rock Coast Rollers (377-178)  and the Rideau Valley Sirens (366-40) (B-team). They also played a closed scrimmage against the the Vixens, staying virtually even with them for the first half before the Vixens were able to pull away in the second. The WFTDA Apprentice team has a busy eastern Canadian schedule lined up including an April 26th game against their chief east-coast rivals, Fog City.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits)

All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League)

Timber Rollers (Forest City Derby Girls)

The Mindfox (Saskatoon Roller Derby League)

Sugar Skulls (Pile O’ Bones Roller Derby Club)

Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls)

Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)

Redneck Betties (South West Saskatchewan Roller Derby Association)

At this early point in 2014, these are the teams that top the Rankings Crew’s list of teams to keep an eye on in the coming months. Although not exhaustive, these are the teams that have been most consistently on the radar over the past twelve months. Some, such as The Mindfox and the Sugar Skulls, have even made appearances in the Top 10.

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, and Dr. Jenny Fever.

*Read the Canadian Power Rankings preview and explanation here.

 

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

Roller Skatin Banner

Montreal Sweeps in Return to Quad City Chaos

Montreal goes 3-0 while Ohio narrowly avoids being upset by Toronto at the fifth annual Quad City Chaos.

Saturday night's Montreal vs. Toronto game lived up to the considerable hype surrounding it. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

Saturday night’s Montreal vs. Toronto game lived up to the considerable hype surrounding it. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

It may not have been the biggest crowd to ever line the track at the Bunker, but the crowd that took in the final game of the first day of the 2014 Quad City Chaos was arguably the loudest. At least since the venue was home to the first ever women’s World Cup in 2011. And while that says something about the level of derby knowledge the crowd had, it also spoke to the growing importance of the rivalry of the combatants: Toronto and Montreal.

Despite considerable expectations to the contrary, when the weekend’s final game came to its conclusion, things had stayed nearly the same. There were no upsets based on rankings all weekend, and while both Montreal and Toronto gained, Ohio probably will have slipped just a bit and Bleeding Heartland’s tumble down the standings was probably not slowed, all four teams hopefully came out of the fifth annual QCC feeling pretty good about their games.

Returning for the first time since 2011, Montreal’s New Skids on the Block continued where they’d left off, extending their QCC winning streak to nine games after dominant wins over Ohio and Bleeding Heartland and a thrilling 17-point victory against the hosts in the aforementioned Saturday night prime time game. The team’s strongest performance of the weekend was definitely its first, a surprisingly one-sided win (385-158) against the Ohio team that had eliminated the Skids from last year’s playoffs. They also put up the largest single-game scoring total of the weekend (469 points against Bleeding Heartland), but they were susceptible to penalty trouble, allowing the Flatliners to put up a surprising 168 points in the same game.

A lot of questions followed Ohio into this weekend, and they showed they are still a team to be reckoned with, improving with every jam.

A lot of questions followed Ohio into this weekend, and they showed they are still a team to be reckoned with, improving with every jam.

After reaching the pinnacle of the sport in 2013, Ohio was reeling from the retirement of two of its most essential players (about which much has been made), but after a slow start against Montreal (they never looked in that game early Saturday morning), they got better all weekend. A tidy performance against Bleeding Heartland was the precursor to the Sunday win over Toronto, a game I’m sure the hosts would love to have back. After being controlled for much of the first half (Ohio was playing great, but seemed a step or two behind a smooth-skating Toronto team and were down 30 at the half), the Ohio All Stars roared back in the second, opening with a 97-14 run that caught a suddenly loose-looking Toronto off guard. It was an excellent half of roller derby for Ohio, their best of the weekend, and a positive sign for the team.

The hosts came in with high expectations and despite going 1-2 for the second year in row, mostly over-performed. A sloppy opening against Bleeding Heartland (the hard-hitting Midwesterners managed to befuddle all the teams at some point in their games) was followed by a half of absolute derby dominance, where they outscored their over-matched opponents 252-6. Emotionally, the greatest success for Toronto came in the highly anticipated matchup against Montreal, a game they briefly led early in the second half (117-113), before a ferocious comeback was slowed by impeccable Montreal defense. And finally, they looked clear in control of their final game against Ohio, before a weak second half allowed the Columbus-based team a chance at redemption. Nonetheless, the 14-point loss to a team ranked 7 spots ahead of them in the WFTDA rankings has to be considered a success.

REGULATION RESULTS

Photo by Neil Gunner (neilgunner.com)

Bruisers’ MVP Android W.K. holds back Gang Green’s MVP Blitz Lemon.

While their big sisters fell to 1-2 on the weekend, for the second consecutive season, the Bay Street Bruisers went 2-0 at the tournament (increasing their 2014 record to 4-1), including a surprisingly dominant 304-94 win against Ohio’s Gang Green in the third meeting between the two teams (they’d split the first two). Sunday’s game between the Sexpos and the Bruisers showed that the increasingly vital rivalry between Toronto and Montreal is not just limited to A-travel teams. The teams had last met in August with the Bruisers coming away with a 61-point victory. However, a handful of skaters from both of those squads have since graduated to A-level play, so it was two very different B-team rosters that took to the track at the QCC.

While the Sexpos had actually gained in experienced players since that August meeting, it was a much younger Bruisers squad that took to the track this weekend. The teams were virtually even, trading leads consistently throughout, it was easy to conclude that the team that made the final error would be the team that would ultimately lose, and it played out that way with the Sexpos getting unfortunate jammer penalties in the closing jams of the game to allow the hosts to hold on for the 27-point win.

Blitz Lemon picked up tournament MVP for the Gang Green; OhiO for the Sexpos; while Android W.K. nabbed the prize for the host Bruisers.

THE PERFORMERS

The Usual Suspects (and A-Team MVPs)

Toronto's Dyna Hurtcha was a triple threat all weekend (here going one on one with Montreal's Honey Badger).

Toronto’s Dyna Hurtcha was a triple threat all weekend (here going one on one with Montreal’s Honey Badger).

In a tournament featuring four WFTDA D-1 teams, it’s no surprise that the list of tournament MVPs reads like a veritable all-star lineup. Toronto’s Dyna Hurtcha was a beast all weekend, arguably her team’s best blocker and jammer, she played with a level of intensity that did not wane from opening whistle to closing. Ohio’s Smacktivist would probably have been the tournament MVP, as their value to their team was unmatched. A tireless, phenomenal jammer, Smacktivist was basically off-on against Toronto. Nuck L. Sammie is one of the lone Bleeding Heartland vets remaining from last year’s team, and the speedy, agile jammer led the way all weekend. Finally, Montreal’s Jes Bandit, one of our nation’s finest players, rounds out the A-team MVPs. Her leadership (not to mention her top-notch defense) led the way for the Skids’ consistent performance.

The Steppin’ It Uppers

Ohio's Ava Tarr (right) and Ena Flash form a solid two-wall against Bleeding Heartland.

Ohio’s Ava Tarr (right) and Ena Flash form a solid two-wall against Bleeding Heartland.

This is always the hardest to gauge because there are many skaters who could fall into this category. And while Toronto’s Motorhead Molly may have had the game of her life against the Skids on Saturday night, the tenacious and fiery Renny Rumble gets the nod here for her consistent performance in the pack all weekend. For Montreal, it’s equally hard to judge with Chasing Amy emerging as an on-track leader and Honey Badger successfully coming all the way back from injury, but Surgical Strike continues to find new levels of excellence to achieve. Bleeding Heartland is full of skaters who have been forced to step up their play, and this weekend blockers Mauls Dolls (who also fearlessly took the star on occasion) and the powerful Uh Huh Hurricane led the way. And finally, with the retirement of two key skaters, Ohio’s Ava Tarr (who already had a big role on the team) has been pushed into the spotlight, and especially after an incredible performance on Sunday against Toronto, she seems more than ready to be an on-track leader of the team.

The Breakout Players

Toronto's Renny Rumble (left) and Candy Crossbones hold back Bleeding Heartland's Speedium Rear.

Toronto’s Renny Rumble (left) and Candy Crossbones hold back Bleeding Heartland’s Speedium Rear.

From Bleeding Heartland, the recently graduated junior skater Mersadist did not look out of place (emotionally or physically) all weekend and will undoubtedly become an important piece to build around. Montreal’s Miracle Whips, herself a recent graduate from the B-team Sexpos seems to be the team’s emerging top jammer (loaded with talent and potentially, with a just a little more track experience, she could eventually become that team’s premier jammer). Ohio’s Ena Flash (who previously played for the London Rollergirls and Glass City) has immediately been given first-line minutes this weekend for the rebuilding OHRG All Stars, and didn’t shrink under the expectations at all. And for the hosts: Candy Crossbones. You may wonder how a 7-season veteran and travel-team original can be a breakout player. Well, it happens when six years into your jamming career (having slipped a bit on your team’s jammer depth chart), you completely rebuild your game and within a year or so end up becoming an every-other-jam blocker/pivot who can be relied upon in any given situation while playing on a team inching its way into the highest levels of competitive play.

Congratulations to Toronto Roller Derby and all the participating teams for another excellent Quad City Chaos.

THE SCORES

Saturday

Montreal New Skids on the Block 385 vs. Ohio All Stars 158 (watch)

Toronto CN Power 384 vs. Bleeding Heartland Flatliners 69 (watch)

Toronto Bay Street Bruisers 304 vs. Ohio Gang Green 94 (watch)

Ohio All Stars 291 vs. Bleeding Heartland 94 (watch)

Toronto CN Power 216 vs. Montreal New Skids on the Block 233  (watch)

Sunday

Toronto Bay Street Bruisers 212 vs. Montreal Sexpos 185 (watch)

New Skids on the Block 469 vs. Bleeding Heartland 168 (watch)

Toronto CN Power 172 vs. Ohio All Stars 185 (watch)

**All the games were boutcast in HD by the ToRD.TV crew (and guests). Click here for the full archive.

Roller Skatin Banner

Quad City Chaos 2014 Preview

Quad City Chaos 2014 is the fifth addition of the two-day four-team round robin tournament, featuring two B-team games for the second year in a row.

QCC2014 PosterIn March 2010 when Montreal’s New Skids on the Block and Hammer City’s Eh! Team kicked off the first ever Quad City Chaos, they were also making history by playing in the first ever all-Canadian WFTDA sanctioned game. Fast forward five years and history is about to be made again as Quad City Chaos 2014 will be the first ever fully Division 1 tournament to be played on Canadian soil.

Both Ohio and Toronto return from last year’s tournament, where Ohio went 3-0 and the hosts fell to a disappointing 1-2 (their worst record at the tournament). However, the tournament proved to be a fantastic launching point in the season for both teams, as Ohio went on to qualify for its first-ever WFTDA Championship tournament and CN Power eventually played their way into Division 1 and a berth in the Divisional Playoffs. This year marks the QCC debut of Bleeding Heartland’s Flatliners and the return of Montreal’s New Skids on the Block for the first time since 2011; they are on a 6-0 winning streak dating back to those first two Quad City Chaos tournaments.

CNP 2014 by ezio+ianToronto Roller Derby: CN Power (29th)

The 2013 Quad City Chaos was an up-and-down affair for the hosts. After pushing heavily favoured Ohio to the limit in a 45-point loss, they couldn’t muster the energy to fend off the scrappy Rideau Valley Vixens who pulled off one of the great upsets in Canadian roller derby history by defeating Toronto to close out last year’s tournament. The losses dropped Toronto’s overall QCC record to 8-4.

Fast forward one year and a lot has changed. Toronto eventually found another gear in 2013 and rolled right into the WFTDA playoffs, scoring massive upsets over Sacred City and Boston before playing, arguably, their best game in a loss to Atlanta. The performance helped them leap 20 spots in the rankings and they remain in the 29th position in the WFTDA.

CN Power has not seen much action yet in 2014, though they picked up a win in an incredibly tough preseason exhibition game against the non-Toronto-based members of Team Ontario and are coming off of a thoroughly dominating 394-92 win against former rivals from Killamazoo. Toronto’s roster has not changed much since last season with only three new faces added to the fold (all graduates of the Bay Street Bruisers), and the experience gained from a challenging 2013 has made this a battle-hardened team who should continue the upward swing in 2014.

new-skids-on-the-blok-2014Montreal Roller Derby: The New Skids on the Block (17th)

Montreal Roller Derby has reached heights unsurpassed by any other Canadian team: a perfect record against Canadian competition in regulation/sanctioned games; four straight appearances in the WFTDA playoffs; a team-high WFTDA ranking of 8th achieved last season; they have never slipped from the top spot in the rollergirl.ca Canadian Rankings. Simply put, they are the greatest roller derby team Canada has yet to see.

However, the near perpetual upward momentum of this team seemed to get halted or at least slowed during last year’s playoffs, where they entered their tournament as a second seed, only to stumble when the path to Championships seemed wide open. What has resulted is one of the bigger off-season roster shakeups the Skids have seen (including the retirement of our nation’s top jammer, Iron Wench). But there are some new, exciting skaters on the team, all graduates of the Les Sexpos B-team.

This will be the first action of 2014 for the new-look Skids. They do have a perfect 3-0 record against the hosts (including an 89-point victory last April) and are 0-2 against the Ohio Roller Girls. Their first meeting came way back in 2009 (a narrow 4-point win for Ohio), but last season it was Ohio who ended the Skids’ chances at a Championship berth in the WFTDA Divisional playoffs with a 212-149 victory.

OHRG All Stars 2014 Photo by Dorn BygOhio Roller Girls: All Stars (22nd)

The Ohio Roller Girls are one of the game’s most venerable teams. An original WFTDA league, OHRG has gone through major organizational changes over the years before settling in to the two-team travel team system that has seen them reach new heights. This will be the third-straight year that the Columbus-based team makes the trek north and the second in a row for QCC, where they went 3-0 to claim top spot last year.

Since 2011, no team has played more sanctioned games than Ohio; including playoffs, they have compiled a remarkable 51-18 record during that stretch (including a 21-4 run in 2012). After narrowly missing a shot at Champs in 2012, Ohio knocked off Montreal in last year’s playoffs to finally make the leap. At Champs, they managed to knock off Rat City before succumbing to mighty Gotham in the tournament quarterfinals.

Despite some major off-season roster changes (one of the game’s all-around great skaters Phoenix Bunz retired along with long-time OHRGer Pippi Ripyourstockings), Ohio kicked off 2014 with a 194-128 win over Nashville. The also hold 2-0 records against Montreal and Toronto and a 4-0 lifetime record against Bleeding Heartland. Ohio faced and defeated all three teams in 2013.

Bleeding Heartland Logo

Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby: Flatliners (42nd)

A WFTDA member since the 2009 season, Bleeding Heartland achieved new heights last season. A 6-7 regular season that included victories over Cincinnati, Burning River and Grand Raggidy, the Flatliners entered the WFTDA playoffs with an all-time high ranking of 35th. However, a heart-breaking three-point upset loss to Cincinnati in the playoffs (after leading for virtually the whole game) sent the Bloomington-based team spiraling to one-sided losses against Arch Rival and Grand Raggidy (marking the second time they lost a playoff game to a team they’d defeated in the regular season).

The playoff losses knocked Bleeding Heartland down to the cusp of Division 1 (40th) before 2014 season–opening losses to Naptown dropped them even further to 42nd. They are now going to be in a struggle to return to the playoffs. They are 0-4 lifetime against Ohio (including a 154-point loss last season) and lost in their only meeting against Toronto last season. 2014 will mark their QCC debut.

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)B-Team Showdown

For the second year in a row, ToRD’s Bay Street Bruisers will act as co-host of the Quad City Chaos. Currently Canada’s top B-travel team (and currently 9th overall on Rollergirl.ca’s Canadian Rankings), the Bruisers went 2-0 at last year’s QCC, including a win over Ohio’s Gang Green, one of their opponents at this year’s tournament. The Bruisers are 2-1 in 2014, with a loss to Nashville’s B-team followed by wins over B-teams from Bleeding Heartland and Cincinnati on their way to a 5th place finish at the 2014 B-Cup Challenge in Bloomington, Indiana.

The Bruisers will face off against Ohio’s Gang Green for the third consecutive season (they’ve split the previous meetings).  This season, Gang Green already has a win over the same Nashville team that defeated the Bruisers in the B-Cup Challenge. Montreal’s Les Sexpos and the Bruisers met for the first time last August in a highly competitive game that saw the Bruisers pull away in the second half. Les Sexpos are currently the second-ranked B-team in Canada and are currently ranked 11th overall. They’ll face off in Sunday’s B-team game against the Bruisers.

**The ToRD.TV crew will be boutcasting every moment of QCC; tune in to Layer9.ca. The full schedule is available here on Torontorollerderby.com.

**Day and weekend passes will be available at the door. Advanced tickets for the Saturday night prime time double header are available online.

Catch Up on the Past QCCs!

2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

 

Quad City Chaos 2013

Quad City Chaos 2012

Quad City Chaos 2011

Quad City Chaos 2010

 

 

Roller Skatin Banner

Canadian Power Rankings Preview

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, Dr. Jenny Fever, and the Derby Nerd return for another season of ranking the country’s top teams.

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Last year, The Power Rankings crew was born out of a desire to provide subjective comparative analysis (based on objective observations, of course) of the top roller derby teams in Canada. So a quartet of derby nerds came together to hash out how the process would work, and what those rankings would look like. We’re back once again in 2014.

2014 was a fascinating year in roller derby in general and Canadian roller derby in particular. At the top, three Canadian teams qualified for WFTDA’s Division 1 playoffs and another made massive waves in the D-2 tournament. But what is most impressive for Canadian roller derby is the build up of the competitive base. All across the country, new teams are rising. Last year Calgary and Alliston, Ontario’s, Misfit Militia shot up the rankings, while old powers like Hammer City returned to competitive derby, all of this was played out in the Power Rankings. The goal of this exercise is not to replace the statistical ranking system, but to act as a parallel discussion of the excellent work done by Rollergirl.ca (in partnership with Flat Track Stats). But one of the advantages we have, is that we aren’t tied to statistics and we can take into account things like injury, personnel moves, home-track advantage, etc.

“The Power Rankings are great at highlighting the failings of the statistical model that Flat Track Stats and Rollergirl.ca use to create their list,” agrees Captain Lou El Bammo, one of the founders of the Power Rankings.  “That model employs data from years gone by which allows for large fluctuations because it does not take into account current information that we use to make our decisions. The Power Rankings brings the human factor back into the process and I think we’ve shown, through 2013, that we can adapt more quickly than the other system can.”

Another founder, Dick Pounder, echoes that sentiment. “The rankings have the potential to create good debate outside of the statistical ranking system…and I think if we can get more people into the sports-mentality of looking at everything we look at, the discussion around the power rankings will become more interesting.”

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City's 2103 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City’s 2013 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

One of the stories last year, and in Canadian derby since 2008, was Montreal’s reign at the top of the rankings. However, for the first time in years, both Terminal City and Toronto made up ground against the Skids. “We may see a battle among these three all year,” says Dick. “I think it’s only a matter of time before someone knocks Montreal from its perch in Canadian Derby,” says Dick.

Captain Lou is even more definitive in his predictions, “I expect to see the Skids slide in 2014, and we could see Toronto beating them once, if not twice, this year. My prediction is Toronto and possibly Terminal City finishing ahead of Montreal in the WFTDA standings by the time playoffs come around. We have seen the end of Canadian roller derby domination by Montreal.” Lou cites the losses of Bone Machine and Iron Wench as massive blows to the team. And although Terminal City also lost Beretta Lynch and Toronto Bambi, in both cases there are skaters ready to take over those roles, more so than in Montreal, where Wench had become such a key to the offense. Dr. Jenny Fever likes Terminal City’s chances as well, “What can I say but Terminal City AllStars? I know the training and passion that is driving them this year. Making it to the WFTDA Divisionals in Richmond, VA, last year was so inspiring, and I know that the All Stars want to hit the playoffs again, and win!”

There is consensus right now that the team to watch in Canadian flat track roller derby this year is Calgary. The CRDA All Stars have already made a big splash, wiping the track with their competition at the recent Wild West Showdown, destroying Dockyard (406-59), Ark Valley (264-105), and Slaughterhouse (223-92), to get their first WFTDA season off to a 3-0 start. On top of some impressive roster additions last year, a few more transfers from Oil City, Red Deer and Hammer City have bolstered their roster.

The Kootenay Kannibelles are another team that has the Rankings Crew intrigued. “I am very excited about the Kannibelles this season,” says Dr. Jenny Fever. “Having Bobb (AKA Berretta Lynch) back, even as a coach, is really going to help them.” Dr. J also likes what’s going on with the Mainland Misfits Anarchy Angels, who have added built a coaching staff that includes three members of Canada’s national men’s team.

On the other side of things, after some pretty significant roster and coaching changes due, largely, to retirements, the rankings crew thinks that perennial contenders the Red Deer Belladonnas will slide this season as they begin a potential rebuild, although Dr. Jenny does hold out hope for a return to form in the midst of the excitement surrounding their WFTDA Apprenticeship.

Toronto's CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto’s CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The story of 2014 though is clearly Canada’s continued infiltration of the WFTDA. Captain Lou points out that Canada now as 20 teams in the WFTDA (including 10 apprentice leagues). “I think we’ll continue to see those teams outperform the other leagues because of the level of competition available to them and the requirement to be more organized and focused that the WFTDA brings to a league,” he predicts. “I’m hoping we’ll see more leagues heading in that direction.”

Dick Pounder agrees, and likes that the WFTDA link is encouraging more east vs west competition. “We are seeing the start of east vs. west matchups this season and hopefully that will continue to happen more going forward. I am super excited about Maple Stir Up in Hammer City this year,” he says, referring to the all-Canadian WFTDA tournament scheduled for Hamilton this August (it will be the first all-Canadian WFTDA-sanctioned tournament after Quad City Chaos 2011 featured three full-member teams and on apprentice.)

“I’m also hoping that we’ll see more provincial All-Star teams form in 2014,” adds Captain Lou. “Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick have all made the leap. I’ve witnessed the benefits that this process can bring to skaters and I think other provinces will too. With any luck, this will lead to a Canada Cup for Roller Derby in 2015!”  Team Ontario and Toronto’s CN Power played an exhibition game last month, and it lived up to all the hype, showcasing a phenomenal level of talent. The knowledge and experience share gained from these kinds of partnerships is undeniable.

“I find the increasing level of competitive teams on the world stage very exciting,” says Fever, alluding to Canada’s prominent place on that stage.  “I love that we have the training, dedication and drive to boost the sport. On the other hand, my favorite derby games to announce are the smaller, home team games where the teams are made of women who want to have a great time and play derby. Those crowds are always my favorite. They might not know all the rules, but they are having a great time enjoying a sport that we are so passionate about.”

****The first Canadian Power Rankings of 2014 will be released on April 1. Check here to see the final Canadian Power Rankings of 2013.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Here are five skaters who you may not have seen a lot of, but who the rankings crew thinks could turn some heads in Canadian derby this season.

Kris Myass: Jammer (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Easy Break Oven: Jammer, Blocker (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Fraxxure: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Meow Wallace: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Rainbow Fight: Jammer, Blocker (Toronto Roller Derby)

With Men’s World Cup Set to Begin, Roller Derby Truly Goes Global

On March 14 and 4:30 AM EST, the first ever Men's Roller Derby World Cup will begin.

On March 14 and 4:30 AM EST, the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup will begin.

In 2011, when Team Canada and Team France took to the track in Toronto to kick off group play at the inaugural Women’s Roller Derby World Cup, the sport of flat track roller derby was beginning its first tentative steps into global legitimacy. Three years later, on March 14, 2014, when England and Argentina take the track in Birmingham, England, as the first participants in the group stage of the first-ever Men’s World Cup, the sport will have truly become a global phenomenon.

Unlike the Women’s World Cup, there is heavy involvement in the Men’s tournament from the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), and the event will be played under the WFTDA/MRDA ruleset (the Women’s World Cup has recently announced that it too has decided to use this rule set—despite an initial decision not to), and Miss Trial, the MRDA’s head official, will head up the officials crew at the event.

There will be fifteen countries represented at the World Cup, and as with the women’s event, USA enters the tournament as the heavy favourites, but France, Finland and Canada are all expected to compete with a few other dark horses out there (including a virtually unknown Japanese Team).

Led by Head Coach Lime (who has coached, literally, from coast to coast in this country) and Jess Bandit (one of the coaches of the Mont Royals, and one of our country’s finest players with Team Canada and Montreal’s New Skids on the Block), the majority of Canada’s team features, not surprisingly, heavy representation from the more established men’s leagues in Vancouver, Red Deer, Montreal and Calgary (Glenmore), but Toronto Men’s Roller Derby will send two representatives to England in the form of skater Harrassin’ Ford and Assistant Coach BruiseBerry Pie (who will be joined by Calgary’s Demolition Herbie as Assistants).

Team Canada will take on Belgium, Japan and Scotland in the group stage.

Team Canada will take on Belgium, Japan and Scotland in the group stage.

Men’s derby has had a comparatively slow and slightly more fumbling ride to the limelight than the women’s version of the game, staggered by a mix of politics and the perception of the sport as exclusively a women’s game, but over the past two or so years in particular, the men’s game has taken off. The rise of the MRDA (and its direct ties to WFTDA) and the undeniable brilliance of teams like MRDA champs Your Mom’s Roller Derby have thrust the sport into the spotlight.

“Coming from someone who didn’t know there was a men’s roller derby community until I was involved in the women’s game for two years, something like this is huge,” says Ford, echoing the awkward pace of growth of the men’s game. Ford began his career as a ref and played his first co-ed game in summer 2011. At the time, he was light years away from being a national team member, but a phenomenal commitment to skating and to learning the game has aided and quickened his development. He was one of the first members of the Toronto Men’s Roller Derby (and its team, Toronto Outrage) and continues to ref on a regular basis.

Despite his depth of experience as a ref, Harrassin’ is still relatively new to the men’s game. “I’m very excited to be going over and being part of this team after being involved in this sport for such a short period of time,” he says. “It’s an honour for me even just to go over and watch.”

On the track, Harrassin’ points to some of Canada’s more experienced players as the ones to watch. One of the founding members of the team, Vancouver’s Noah Backtalk—who is also a respected coach and ref in the community—will be an on-track leader of the team along with Montreal’s El Tennant and Tank (not to mention The Rev, who, like Noah, is another one of our country’s first-ever players of the men’s game). Harrassin’ also points out that Red, who plays for Ottawa’s Slaughter Squad, is a jammer to watch. However, he notes that one of the stories of the whole tournament could be the father-son duo of Riceball and BrADASS, who play for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs (Calgary).

Team Canada got together in Montreal this past weekend to make final preparations for the tournament. (Photo from Team Canada's Facebook page).

Team Canada got together in Montreal this past weekend to make final preparations for the tournament. (Photo from Team Canada’s Facebook page).

Canada opens the tournament against Belgium. They will be joined in their group by Japan and Scotland. All teams play a placement-style round robin(of 30 minute games) in the group stage to set the rankings for the knock-out portion of the tournament (similar to the 2011 Women’s World Cup). Canada is expected to do well in its pool, and if it manages to finish in the top two, will move on to take on either Wales or one of the heavily favoured Finnish or US Teams (“I think we can give them a good competitive game if nothing else,” Ford says of a potential matchup against the US). If they slip into the bottom of their pool, they’d face one of the bottom-ranked teams from the group featuring France, Ireland, Australia and Germany in the “Jug” (consolation) bracket.

Regardless of the outcome, much like the first-ever Women’s World Cup, this tournament is about much more than winning and losing. This is all about giving the men’s game a prominent showcase and growing the sport as a whole. “It’s great when a bunch of different countries can throw together teams that are this competitive,” says BruiseBerry Pie.  “It helps bring everyone up together.” Harrassin points out that “any and all exposure for the sport is good!”

Bruisey goes on to say that this will be especially important for the North American game, where the focus is primarily on MRDA club-level play. “In North American, we don’t really know how much is going on in Europe. They are so close together that they can get together and play each other all the time…the more people play each other the more parity we will have,” she points out, alluding to the potential strength of the European contingent.

From a tight-knit group of women in a roller rink in Austin, Texas, in April 2003, to the top fifteen countries in the men’s game in an arena Birmingham, England, in March 2014, the story of flat track roller derby has been one of steady, consistent growth. While the future is excitably unknowable, one thing is for certain: when the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup comes to a close, it will conclude another incredibly important chapter in the development of this sport.

**See the full Canadian roster here at Canadian Derby Frontier. For the full listing of teams, click here. A full schedule can be downloaded here. The first game kicks off at 4:30 AM (EST). The whole tournament will be boutcast live.

Roller Derby At the Olympics?? The Nerd Guest Blogs for SISU Mouth Guards

The fine folks at SISU Mouth Guards asked me what I thought about roller derby’s chances of making it into the Olympics.

As the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi slip away from memory and the Paralympics ramp up in their place, the usual chatter from derby fans and participants can be heard at games and in practice spaces across North America and the world: Should roller derby be an Olympic sport?

The questions has gained even more traction given that the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup is now only days away, and the second Women’s World Cup will have played out by the end of the calendar year. Fifteen countries will be represented at the Men’s World Cup, but the remarkable stat may be that twenty-nine nations are scheduled to be represented at the 2014 Women’s World Cup, a phenomenal increase over the thirteen present in 2011, and with the inclusion of South Africa and Japan, all six inhabited continents will be represented…

Read the rest of the article here.

***Sticking with this international theme, stay tuned tomorrow for a preview of the Men’s World Cup including interviews with Toronto-based Team Canada player Harrassin’ Ford and assistant coach BruiseBerry Pie.

 

ToRD Standings Clear as Mud After Dolls and Chicks Pick up Wins

The Dolls' Audrey Hellborn slows up the Gore's Beaver Mansbridge. The Dolls looked unaffected by a big off-season shake up. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls’ Audrey Hellborn slows up the Gores’ Beaver Mansbridge. The Dolls looked unaffected by a big off-season shake up. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

You wouldn’t have been blamed if you’d thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for Toronto Roller Derby’s defending champion Death Track Dolls. After winning the Boot in 2013, a number of long-time veterans like Dolly Parts’em and Monichrome retired; in addition, arguably the Dolls’ top three players, Rainbow Fight, Ames to Kill and Scarcasm all got called up to CN Power. On Saturday, armed with a handful of first-year ToRD skaters who have a lot of pre-ToRD experience, the Dolls (1-0) showed that they are fully committed to defending their championship after a surprisingly one-sided 172-79 win over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (1-1). To further add confusion to ToRD’s standings, Chicks Ahoy! (1-1) picked up its first win in two seasons, ending the team’s longest ever losing streak with a minor upset over last year’s Battle of the Boot runner-up, the Smoke City Betties (0-1), although the 159-179 victory was in doubt until the final moments of the game.

Chicks Ahoy! 159 vs. Smoke City Betties 139

WackedHer was impressive in her long-awaited house league debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Betties’ WackedHer was impressive in her long-awaited house league debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Chicks Ahoy! had nearly total control over the game in the first half as the Smoke City Betties tried to shake off some pre-season rust. Rookie dynamo Sneeky Dee kicked things off with a textbook 4 and done, and led by some excellent pack defence, the Chicks pulled ahead 23-0 five minutes in. Overall it took  almost nine minutes for the Betties to score, but when they did, they took off on a 28-4 run over ten minutes to get back in the game. Another debutante, long-time D-VAS WackedHer was huge for the Betties, taking on a big role in a four-jammer rotation that also featured titimouse, SewWhat?, and co-captain WolveRina. Not to be outdone, the Chicks also sport a newly constructed jammer rotation that has looked fantastic in the opening games. Joining Sneeky Dee (whose 25-point power jam midway through the half helped keep the Chicks ahead) were Hyena Koffinkat, Heavy Knitter and the smooth-skating Chevy Chase-Her. A late 19-point power jam for WolveRina (despite some phenomenal defense from Rosemary’s Rabies), in the midst of a big Betties pushback, suddenly had the Betties right back in it, trailing 94-77 at the break.

LowBlowPalooza and Kill'Her at Large hold back Chevy Chase-Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

LowBlowPalooza and Kill’Her at Large hold back Chevy Chase-Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The heavy-hitting Betties (led in the pack by vets Misery Mae and Tushy Galore among others, but also by strong performances from first and second-year skaters like LowBlowPalooza, Kil’Her At Large, Honey Boom Boom and Babushkill), took over the game for large swathes of the second half. Five minutes in, they were within 10, two minutes later they had cut the gap to five. But the Chicks, sensing that victory was slipping away, were similarly relentless. A Chevy Chase-Her 14 point pick-up had the Chicks back in control, only to see the Betties turn around and orchestrate a 15-pointer for Sew What? (with some punishing defence on Heavy Knitter), and eventually the Betties would take the lead.

The game would see-saw like this for much of the second. The bout marked the return of veteran blocker Marmighty to the Chicks lineup, and some ferocious packwork from her, Rosemary’s Rabies and Rebel Rock-It on titmouse had the score knotted with only a few minutes left on the clock. In the final moments, a forearm call on the Betties’ jammer Sew What? and the subsequent power jam sealed the deal for the Chicks, giving them a 20-point victory, their first of the season.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 79 vs. Death Track Dolls 172

The Dolls' offense was led by Bellefast (evading a hit from Kandy Barr). (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Dolls’ offense was led by Bellefast (evading a hit from Kandy Barr). (Photo by Joe Mac)

It was a very new-look Death Track Dolls team that took to the track to kick off 2014 against a Gore-Gore Rollergirls team that had looked good in its opener. Riding a tighter jammer rotation of Lexi Con, Lumberjack Flash and Taranasurus Rex got the Gores off to a quick start, but the Dolls, whose pack defence looked strong from the outset, eventually got a new-look offense going. Led by Bellefast—who, while still sporting her trademark speed and agility, seems physically stronger this year—the Dolls relied heavily on first-year Dolls Sleeper Hold and Devochka (whose experience in Durham prepared her well for the night) to jam, while Getcha Kicks, who’d started to block more last season, was also used as jammer to allow her steadying, experienced presence to balance things out.

Looking calm, focused and disciplined against a sometimes frazzled Gores team, the Dolls took the lead about 7 minutes in and never relented. As the Gores struggled with pack penalty troubles, the Dolls cruised to a 36-14 lead seventeen minutes into the first. Both teams’ jammers did well to stay on the track until a botched helmet-cover pass between relief jammer Beaver Mansbridge (who was hobbled by skate trouble) and Gores pivot Santa Muerte gave the Dolls a power jam that they took advantage of.  A second power jam (25 points scored by Getcha Kicks) had the Dolls firmly in control, 111-39 at the half.

First-year Gores' jammer Lumberjack Flash rushes to evade the DOlls' Dawson. (Photo by Greg Russell)

First-year Gores’ jammer Lumberjack Flash rushes to evade the Dolls’ Dawson. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores roared out of the gates in the second half and drew the Dolls into a more scrappy, undisciplined game that allowed them to mount a small comeback. But after both teams cycled through some penalty trouble, not much had changed (the Dolls were up 123-51) when a sniper-like kidney-hit from the Dolls Just Jes sent the Gores’ top jammer Lexi Con to the track and momentarily paused the game. Just Jes was just one of the many Dolls blockers who stepped up to take control of such a new roster of skaters.

Last year, blockers like Canadian Psycho and Dawson had secondary roles, but in 2014, they have been thrust into much more prominent roles on the team and responded well last night, particularly as a trio with the devastating hitter Audrey Hellborn. The return to the track of Just Jes, who worked extremely well on a line also anchored by second-year captain Android W.K., provided the balance that the Dolls needed in light of such changes to the roster.

While the Gores packs are still led by the veterans like Santa Muerte, Chronic and Kandy Barr, it’s not hard to see the future of the team in the play of a new generation of Gores skaters like Full Deck and Matchu Beatchu, who are just two of many newcomers to the team who are building a solid base. Still a work in progress, the Gores have lots of time this year to find the consistency they’ll need to get back to Battling for the Boot.

In the end, the Dolls played a tight, defensive and disciplined game (they gave up no power jams) and were never truly threatened in the second half on the way to the season-opening 93-point victory.

***Next up for ToRD is the fifth annual Quad City Chaos! A WFTDA sanctioned, Division 1 tournament hosted by ToRD’s CN Power and featuring Montreal, Ohio Roller Girls (Columbus) and Bleeding Heartland (Bloomington, Indiana). Tickets for the Saturday night prime time double header are available.