Roller Derby

Eight-Wheeled Freedom: The Derby Nerd’s Short History of Flat Track Roller Derby set for release Spring ’16

One of my favourite pics that has been featured on this site; this one is by Kevin Konnyu.

Since the book is historical, I thought I’d take a look at some of the historic shots that have appeared on the site; this one by Kevin Konnyu captures the intensity of the great early ToRD rivalry between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy!.

I still miss the Hangar and shots like this one (by Derek Lang) remind me why.

I still miss ToRD’s Hangar, and shots like this one by Derek Lang remind me why.

Some may have noticed that I’ve been posting just a little bit less this year as I have in the past—still hitting all the main high points in the season, but fewer of the traveling recaps and extra stuff I used to do. While this may be true, I can assure you that I haven’t been spending any less time thinking and writing about roller derby, I’ve just been focusing those energies toward a different project: a full length non-fiction book about the sport titled Eight-Wheeled Freedom: The Derby Nerd’s Short History of Flat Track Roller Derby that is nearing completion and will be released in Spring 2016 through Wolsak and Wynn.

There are, of course other reasons as well. I’ve been writing a column on WFTDA Canadian roller derby for Jammer Line and I’ve felt less pressure as there have arisen other great resources for derby news out of the ashes of DNN (among others); namely, Derby Central and even Derby Notes, which—even if I don’t always agree with the opinions expressed—is capable of producing very informative articles on the game. And of course, I’ve been on the road as part of the broadcast crew for this year’s WFTDA playoffs.

While the book has a Canadian perspective, the development of the larger game is certainly a focus as well. (Photo by Joe Mac)

While the book has a Canadian perspective, the development of the larger game is certainly a focus as well. (Photo by Joe Mac)

So yes, while my focus has shifted, I’ve still been immersing myself in the game: I’ve been following it as closely as ever, I’ve been researching its place in contemporary culture—how and why it has evolved the way it has. Eight-Wheeled Freedom is part sociological study, part memoir and part historical recounting of the 21st century revival of the sport of roller derby as a flat track game primarily played by women; there is a particular focus on the development of the game since it came to Canada in 2006.

Sustained global growth of the game has separated flat track roller derby from every version that came before it. This is a Greg Russell photo of the first game played at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup (Canada vs. France).

Sustained global growth of the game has separated flat track roller derby from every version that came before it. This is a Greg Russell photo of the first game played at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup (Canada vs. France).

While told from my point of view, it is not really a memoir in any traditional sense, but the structure of the text mirrors my growing understanding of the game and community right alongside flat track roller derby’s own growth. Also, while the text will provide a historical overview of the revival, it is not just a history book, and the focus is on why the sport has become so established in light of past failures of roller derby to inspire a grassroots movement. Another important focus of the text is the game’s evolution from sports entertainment spectacle to a complex, competitive endeavor.

An intense shot of intense action by Neil Gunner. Another focus in the book is on roller derby's evolution from spectacle to sport.

An intense shot of intense action by Neil Gunner. One focus of the book is on roller derby’s evolution from spectacle to sport.

The layout of the book is not chronological, but instead moves thematically in its exploration of the game and the surrounding community, tackling historical moments through an explanation of the cultural significance of the events. For example, a chapter on the influential 2006 A&E television show Rollergirls is framed around a discussion of roller derby’s role in third wave feminism. Another chapter looking at the history of Toronto Roller Derby’s relationship with Toronto Pride and the Pride-affiliated roller derby event that features an international all star game also examines the role that the sport has had in the LGBTQ community and, in turn, the influence this community has had on the development of the game.

With the WFTDA celebrating its 10th anniversary and the Canadian game about to celebrate a decade-long existence as well, it seemed like the perfect time to tell the story of flat track roller derby.

Some of you may recognize that Wolsak and Wynn also published my first book, David Foster Wallace Ruined my Suicide, and did an excellent job on it, so the book and the story are in good hands. That book’s designer, the excellent Marijke Friesen, returns as well. Work on the text is nearing completion with work on layout and other formatting concerns beginning as well, and keep an eye out for a book-specific website launching in the new year.

For now, stay tuned for updates on the final stages in the development of Eight-Wheeled Freedom.

Thanks readers and roller derby fans for your continued support!

Photo by Todd Burgess

The All CAN-CON WFTDA D1 Playoff Preview

Canada's five entrants in this year's Division 1 playoffs represent the majority of the record-setting eleven international participants.

Canada’s five entrants in this year’s Division 1 playoffs represent the majority of the record-setting eleven international participants.

On September 24th, 2010, in White Plains, New York, the whistle blew on a WFTDA Eastern Region quarterfinal playoff game between Boston and Montreal. By game-play standards, it would be a pretty normal duel: Boston, the 3rd seed, held off 6th seeded Montreal 147-85 to advance. However, this seemingly regular playoff game announced something special: competitive flat track roller derby had gone international.

Sure, the international game had been born four years earlier when flat track derby first burst forth from US borders and set up camp in Canada, England, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, but until Montreal’s unprecedented run through the 2010 season, the upper echelons of the competitive game had been exclusive to the founding nation.

By 2011, London had joined Montreal in the playoffs, and the international influx was on. Only five years since Montreal’s debut, there will now be a remarkable twelve international teams represented in the Division 1 playoffs (and one more in D2). Canada still leads the way with five teams (Montreal, Terminal City, Toronto, Tri-City, and Rideau Valley), but now Australia (Victoria, Sun State) and Sweden (Stockholm and Crime City) both have two leagues represented and joining them are teams from Finland (Helsinki) and Scotland (Glasgow). It is a remarkable development in what has been a remarkable evolution of the sport and of its primary governing body, the WFTDA, itself celebrating its 10th anniversary this season.

D1 TUCSON (Sept. 4-6) : Terminal City All Stars (27th overall, 7th seed) and Tri-City Thunder (40th, 10th).

Last year, Tri-City Thunder was involved in the first ever all-Canadian WFTDA playoff showdown when they squared off against Montreal in the consolation bracket at the Salt Lake City Division 1 playoff (falling 366-145); this year, the team from Kitchener-Waterloo is guaranteed to be involved in the second as they’ll meet Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars in the opening round of the opening weekend of the 2015 WFTDA Division 1 playoffs in Tucson, Arizona.

Montreal and Tri-City prepare for the opening jam of last year's all-Canadian playoff showdown. (From WFTDA.TV)

Montreal and Tri-City prepare for the opening jam of last year’s all-Canadian playoff showdown. (From WFTDA.TV)

This is the second-straight D1 appearance for Tri-City following an up-and-down season that saw them reach as high as 38th and fall as low as 54th before settling into the second-to-last playoff spot in the WFTDA’s highest division. The inconsistent nature of the season was evident in the team’s final regular season games losing to D2 Chicago Outfit before knocking off D2 Brewcity to round out a 7-3 year that featured great victories over, among others, national rival Calgary (208-196—they were ranked 46th at the time) and perennial D1ers Queen City (175-163).

After an off-season that saw the team lose some key long-time players (including virtually the whole jammer rotation), the team has rebuilt surprisingly quickly. Transfers Crazy Squirrel and Honey Badger (who has considerable D1 playoff experience after her time in Montreal) make up the core of that new offense and both have been excellent this season. Last year, playing for the New Skids on the Block, Badger managed 5.42 points per jam and a 56% lead percentage in four playoff games (including a 59 pt.–67% game against Arch Rival in the Consolation Final).

Thunder, however, will be in tough against a Terminal City team whose seemingly so-so 8-6 regular season record suddenly looks a little more impressive when its noted that some of the losses came to teams like Rose City, Bay Area, and Denver. The highlights of the season include victories over national rivals Toronto (a surprisingly one-sided 239-122 win) and Montreal (182-177, ending the Skids’ 17-game Canadian winning streak).

Crazy Squirrel picks up lead jammer status in a May win against Queen City. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Crazy Squirrel picks up lead jammer status in a May win against Queen City. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Although they lost some key skaters in the pack this season (Lisa Suggit and Karlene Harvey for example), the offense remains intact, led by last year’s playoff revelation Maiden Sane. Sane, who came up with Regina’s Pile O’ Bones Derby Club and was part of the National team in 2011, transferred to the team late in 2014 and ended up leading the team in playoff scoring (340 pts. with an 8.1 PPJ) and lead percentrage (69%). Kim Janna, who missed last year’s playoffs while recovering from injury, is back and will bolster the offense this year.

An expected Terminal City win will see them advance to take on mighty (but rebuilding) Bay Area in the quarterfinals while Tri-City would have a tough consolation showdown against either Charm City or Rocky Mountain.

*Head over to Tournament Central for complete information and brackets.

D1 DALLAS (Sept. 11-13): Rideau Valley Vixens (41st, 10th)

Last year, the Rideau Valley Vixens captured the hearts and minds of Canadian roller derby fans with an inspired run through the D2 playoffs, winning the first ever all-international tournament final over Bear City, before giving a powerful Detroit team all it could handle in the D2 Championship game. This year, they’ll be part of an all-international showdown when they take on the surging Sun State team from Brisbane, Australia, in the 7-10 seeding game.

In 2014 the Vixens became the first non-US team to win a WFTDA playoff tournament. Click on the photo to read about it. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In 2014 the Vixens became the first non-US team to win a WFTDA playoff tournament. Click on the photo to read about it. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Not much has changed in the Vixens’ roster this season with its team coming back nearly fully intact and its jammer rotation holding steady, including its enigmatic potential superstar jammer Shania Pain still studying/living/working all across the country and only getting to play and practice with the team sporadically. However, it was long-time veteran jammer Soul Rekker who led the way in the clutch last season, finishing the Division playoffs as second overall leading scorer (with 345 points over three games). Rekker (at 66%) also led her team in lead percentage, although all three primary scorers recorded at least a 51% for the tournament. Its experienced blocker core, however, leads the team; featuring returning skaters like BLackeyE, Bottema, Brennan, Murphy, Reyes, Rudolph, junior graduate Jamie’s Got a Gun and double threat Sister Disaster, it’s a deep, multi-faceted blocker roster capable of big things and whose performance will ultimately determine how far this team goes.

A Friday morning win would see the Vixens face off against a reloaded and refocused Texas team in the quarterfinals, while a loss would see them face the loser of the Rat City/Stockholm quarterfinal in the consolation bracket.

*Head over to Tournament Central for complete information and brackets.

D1 OMAHA (Oct. 2-4): Montreal’s New Skids on the Block (16th, 4th) and Toronto’s CN Power (32nd, 8th)

In April of this season, Toronto, who had never defeated Montreal’s New Skids on the Block, had Canada’s top team on the ropes. Going blow-for-blow throughout and leading for a portion of the game, CN power couldn’t hold off its long-time rivals in the end, dropping a heartbreaking 180-171 decision. You could argue that Toronto never quite recovered from that heartbreak, stumbling through the rest of the season after such a promising start (they’d handily knocked off Boston and Steel City leading up to that game), struggling to hold off D2 opponents while suffering some heavy one-sided losses to their D1 counterparts, ending up at 6-6 on the season and dropping from a season high of 24th to its current ranking (its lowest point in over two years, since June 2013).

Toronto managed some big victories early in the season, including a win over Boston. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto managed some big victories early in the season, including a win over Boston at the Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal, on the other hand, has had the opposite trajectory in 2014. Starting things off slowly after significant off-season change saw some of the team’s first generation of players retire, the team has gotten better as the year has gone on. Following the May loss to Terminal City, the Skids went on an incredibly dominant six-game winning streak capped off with a best-ever 197-point spanking of long-time rivals Charm City (who had upset them by a single point in last year’s Division playoff quarterfinals) and an incredibly narrow 12-point loss to 10th ranked Philly to finish 9-2 on the season in sanctioned play.

Toronto did have significant roster turnover in the off-season, including the loss of their top two playoff leading scoring jammers (Motorhead Molly and Dusty) and the transfer of (arguably) its top blocker to Montreal (Dyna Hurtcha) among others. The offense was bolstered by a couple of ready-for-D1 jammers in Mad Megz and Smoka Cola (who has suffered a devastating broken leg on the eve of playoffs and will join similarly broken blocker BiggleySmallz on the sidelines) and Bellefast (who was actually called up from the B-team for last year’s playoffs, picking up some critical big-game experience). Belle will be joined by returning jammer Bala Reina (who missed last year’s playoffs) and a couple of B-team call-ups in multi-talented Beaver Mansbridge and breakout jammer Sleeper Hold. The defense is still led by long-time blocker (and National Team member) Nasher the Smasher, Team Mexico leader Renny Rumble with second-year CN Power blocker Ames to Kill emerging as the future (and present) core of the pack, but watch out for crafty (cut-drawing) vet Mega Bouche and hard-hitting Misery Mae as well.

Montreal defeated Windy City, its quarterfinal opponent, 303-97 at ECDX this summer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Montreal defeated Windy City, its quarterfinal opponent, 303-97 at ECDX this summer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Montreal’s offense returns mostly intact with Mel E Juana and Miracle Whips back, and internally developed Falcon Punch taking Honey Badger’s spot in the top three. In the pack, a long-time core remains (Jess Bandit, Cheese Grater for example) and is bolstered by the arrival of Team Canada transfers Dyna Hurtcha (Toronto) and KonichiWOW (part of this year’s Windy City exodus).

Despite the high rank (16th), you could make the argument that expectations have never been lower for Montreal and yet it’s entirely conceivable that they could finally advance to champs this year; however, it looks as if they will need to defeat Champs host Minnesota (at the very least) to do so (but should have no problem getting by Windy City in the quarterfinals; a team they beat by 206 points in June, to set up a semifinal showdown against Gotham).

Toronto kicks things off against familiar rivals Queen City, a team they have defeated three times in a row now dating back to October 2011. A victory will see them advance to take on Gotham in the quarterfinals, which—barring a miracle of the largest magnitude—would see them in the consolation semifinals against, most likely, No Coast or Helsinki (or Windy City, but only if that team is capable of slowing its momentous slide during the regular season) with a chance to improve its ranking to 5th

*Head over to Tournament Central for complete information and bracket.

*Won’t be heading to any of the playoff tournaments? Remember to tune in to WFTDA.TV. Also, read about WFTDA’s exciting new partnership with ESPN3 here.

Canadian Power Rankings: August 1, 2015

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams every two months (or so). Read the June 1st Power Ranking here.

1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

 +1 This league just keeps finding a way to replenish itself. After a very minor slip at the beginning of the season, the Skids have pulled (slightly) away from its Canadian competition once again. Since losing to Terminal City in May, Montreal has been on a tear, winning six in a row  including crushing the likes of Windy City and Charm City by 200 points. (1 / 16)
2. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars
 -1  A bit of a slip as they have not shown the same level of late-season consistency that their Montreal counterparts have. A shaky win against Calgary was somewhat tempered by a better win over Toronto. Suffered some heavy losses in June, but to the best-of-the-best (including Rose City and B.A.D.) (2 / 27)
3.CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)New CNP Logo  After being neck-and-neck early in 2015, Toronto has lost pace with Terminal City and Montreal (losing to Vancouver by 117 points). They also suffered June loss to tumbling Ohio and just narrowly defeated D2 team Naptown (186-175). (3 / 32)
4.Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

 – The Vixens have been quiet since the last rankings (as the league focused on its house league season), with a tough but reasonable loss to Charm City on the books (182-120). The Vixens managed to cling to the final 2015 D1 playoff spot. (4 / 41)
5. Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo +1  Calgary has had quite a season of growth. Late-season inconsistency saw them slip from a D2 playoff spot, but strong performances in recent losses against Terminal City (242-216) and Toronto (243-171) show that they still have plenty of fight left in them. (8/65)
6Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Rller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo -1  After surging back into the Top 5 in June, Thunder slip a spot after a recent loss to D2 Chicago Outfit (186-100) and a lacklustre win over Brewcity (196-122). Nonetheless, they held onto a D1 playoff spot and will return for the second year in a row.(6 / 40)

7.Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)Duchesses Logo

 – Quebec’s travel team continues to roll. Although they lost handily to Montreal, they managed to stay ahead of their Muddy River Rivals in a July win (242-210) and then shocked 85th Suburbia 428-50. It’s time to see this team against some top-flight competition. (9 / -)
8. All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League) winnipeg logo +1  Winnipeg leaps up a spot on the strength of a pretty incredible summer. After losing to Muddy River in May, Winnipeg has reeled off five straight victories, including four crushing sanctioned wins over D3 opponents and another over Minnesota’s B-team. (11 / 112)
9. Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo -1  After going 8-1 to start the season, Muddy River has been quiet since the last Power Rankings with only one result, a 242-210 loss to Quebec, on the books. (12 / 105)
10. Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits Roller Derby)


The Anarchy Angels remain in the Top 10 after slowing things down over the summer with a respectable 207-123 loss to Rat City’s Rain of Terror since the last rankings. (10/ -)

The Changes

While the Power Rankings did not have any major shifts in this addition, there were some noticeable minor changes to the Top 10. At the top of the list, Montreal takes over top spot from Terminal City heading in to the WFTDA playoffs. This season began with Montreal, Terminal City and Toronto neck-and-neck, but as its gone on and the New Skids considerable roster changes began to settle, Montreal has surged ahead and while Terminal City has kept pace better than Toronto, MTLRD remains Canada’s greatest hope heading in to the WFTDA D1 playoffs, continuing to find ways to replenish its roster, a mix of excellent internal training and some solid impressive transfers (Team Canada’s Dyna Hurtcha [Toronto] and KonichiWow [Windy City] joined the team mid-season)

Although Tri-City managed to defeat Calgary in the spring, this summer, Calgary’s play has pulled the team slightly ahead of their counterparts. Calgary’s impressive play in losses to high-ranked competition (culminating in a surprisingly close 242-216 loss to Terminal City) gives it the edge over Tri-City who has been quieter and has less impressive performances against lower ranked teams. And finally, Winnipeg has been simply crushing it this summer, defeating its four D3 opponents by an average differential of 191, clearly distancing itself form its D3 competitors.

The Watch List

Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls) (13th)

E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby) (14th)

Avalanche City Roller Girls (Fernie Roller Derby Society) (15th)

Shipyard Sirens (Fog City Rollers) (16th)

Brute-Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) (17th)

Two more teams have popped up on the Rankings Crew’s radar: joining E-Ville, Avalanche City and the Brute-Leggers are Capital City’s Dolly Rogers and Fog City’s Shipyard Sirens. Both of these teams have been on and off the Power Rankings bubble before and strong recent play sees them both return. The Dolly Rogers opened the season with a loss to Montreal’s Sexpos, but since then have managed six-straight one-sided wins that have demonstrated an increasing level of play (in May they defeated Kingston’s Disloyalists by 194 points; in an August rematch, they’d increased the differential to 325). The Shipyard Sirens have been, and remain, Muddy River’s primary competition on Canada’s East Coast. Another late start to the season sees them pop up on the Watch List late, but they’ve kicked things off impressively with a smothering 354-69 win over Fredericton’s Capital City Rollers. More recently, they crushed Bangor with a slightly better margin of victory than Muddy River (163 vs. 132), which certainly piqued our interest.

Nerd Glasses

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

*Get caught up by reading the June Power Rankings here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

Smashers Topple Madames for Fourth Straight Gibson’s Cup

The 2015 Atom Smashers

The 2015 Atom Smashers

In the annual all-Durham Region showdown, the Atom Smashers won their fourth consecutive Gibson’s Cup over the Motor City Madames on Saturday night in recording-setting fashion, managing to set records for most points, fewest points against and largest margin of victory in the 312-75 win. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, it was a celebratory and entertaining evening featuring the best crowd of the season with Rogers TV on board for a full broadcast.

The Gibson's Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Gibson’s Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

After forming in 2010, Durham Region Roller Derby put together its first full season in 2011, concluding with the inaugural Gibson’s Cup. That first season, the Smashers and the Madames were virtually even, with the Madames taking that initial showdown 145-114. It would mark the last time the Madames would notch a victory over their leaguemates.

The Smashers eventual dominance was not born overnight, but took time. In 2012, they won the event 257-152, and then in 2013, the Madames managed to make up some of the gap, losing by only 66 points; however, last year the gap widened, and this year the difference on the track was immense.

In a two-team house, league it’s truly impossible to find a single event or reason for a growing gap between teams, but differences in drafting, inconsistent retention rates, and simply individual skill are all factors that play into it. Also, nearly from the start, DRRD’s travel team, the Devils (on hiatus in 2015), was comprised of a majority number of Smashers. No doubt, the advanced training and competitive schedule also played into the growing chasm between the clubs.

The Madames entered the 2015 Gibson’s Cup on the heels of an up-and-down season. A final four appearance at Wellington Roller Derby’s Winter Wipeout (where they were eliminated by the Smashers) was followed by a one-sided loss to Royal City’s talented Killer Queens. This loss preceded a two-game winning streak over Lindsay and Niagara that brought the team into the Cup on a high note.

The Smashers are coming off of, arguably, their best season ever (they went undefeated in 2013, but given the nature of the competition and the amount of games, 2015 may still be better overall). They dominated the aforementioned Winter Wipeout tournament, taking home the trophy after defeating Orangeville in the final, and then made their second consecutive appearance at the Beast of the East, where they lost to Rideau Valley’s defending champion Prime Sinisters and then a heart-breaking one-point elimination game against Toronto’s Chicks Ahoy!. But the team followed that event with three straight wins (including handily taking the rematch with the Chicks) before a very narrow 136-122 loss to Wellington’s Feims ended the run.

Led by its longest serving core members Mozilla, Karma Screwya and Reject Barbie, the Madames entered the Cup with a 12-skater short bench, and the team got caught on its back wheels at the opening whistle, as the Smashers roared out to a 43-0 lead that extended to 84-10 only eight jams in; at the midway point of the opening period, a 37-point jam by Betty Fugetaboutit extended that already impressive lead to 125-19, essentially putting the game out of reach.

There wasn’t any one aspect of the game that Madames seemed lacking in when put up next to their counterparts, and the team has managed to build up a solid, albeit short handed, roster. Daisy TripHer, Astro Girl and Roller Mitch form a developing jammer rotation with a ton of potential, while the core blockers have built up a solid-multi-generational group around them, led by the excellent Pac-Ma’am.

But the Smashers have somehow managed to remain one skate ahead and keep building off of the already solid base. As a team, the Smashers are built a little differently, eschewing a set jammer rotation and instead passing around the star to a group of double threats, led by Piptonium and Fugetaboutit. This season, they’ve added Iggy PopHer, Code Blue, and Birdie, all similar, multi-position players who played big roles in this year’s Gibson Cup win: Not that they don’t have designated blockers (Amefyst, Psycho Magnet) and jammers (Scarlita), but they are a team with options.

With a commanding 187-39 lead at the break, the second half was all about managing the game. The Smashers used the big lead as an opportunity to give the star to some designated blockers including Natitude, Psycho Magnet and long-time veteran Goldie Lock N Load.

Word on the track is that there have been some discussions around DRRD about a possibly restructuring of the current league model, so the future of the Gibson’s Cup—at least in this form—remains in doubt. If so, this was a great sending off: celebratory, hard fought, and fun. On the track, the league remains healthy with a thriving farm team in the DRRD’y Farmers and a whole crop of 2015 rookies that seems destined to lead the league into the future.

**The 2015 Gibson’s Cup was broadcast by Rogers TV. It will be rebroadcast beginning Saturday, August 1, 2015, at 6:00 PM.

**The DRRD’y Famers hosted Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain to kick things off, falling 410-131. That game will be broadcast on Rogers TV this Thursday, July 30, at 8:00 PM.

Cold Cuts and Charcuterie Reigns Supreme as Roller Derby Quebec Dominates Fresh ’15

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

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.

Quebec's Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen's Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Quebec’s Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen’s Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

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?

Rogue D-VAS' jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rogue D-VAS’ jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

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.

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

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 impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD'y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

Sherbrooke’s impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD’y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

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

Third Place

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, 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.

The Fresh and the Furious Returns to Give Glimpse of the Future of Flat Track

Fresh 15 PosterIf you want to know what the future of eastern Canadian roller derby looks like, head on down to Ted Reeve Arena this weekend for the 2015 Fresh and the Furious tournament. This is the fifth year this GTA Rollergirls-hosted fresh-meat tournament will be held under this moniker, but it has its roots as far back as 2008 when it was called the Virgin Suicides Brawl, and has proven an incredibly important launching point for not only individual skaters in Ontario and Quebec, but for whole leagues as well. Actually, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that a majority of the current generation of skaters in Ontario and Quebec made their debuts at this very event, and the WFTDA teams in the two provinces are full of past participants.

A Beast of the East style, 16-team double-elimination tournament (held over one day on two tracks, mind you), this year’s bracket has a slight hitch as only 15 teams will be competing (Kingston and ToRD have merged their fresh meat teams for the event, neither having enough skaters who qualified under the “fresh” rules); however, this year’s tournament excitingly welcomes some new leagues as well.

Once again, will be there to live stream the complete event, with single cameras on each track until the later knock out rounds when a full boutcast will bring you the medal-round action.

For a link to the bracket, click here. And here’s a breakdown of where you can find each team. Beginning at 7:00 PM (seminfinals), the tournament shifts to one track.


An amalgamation of the freshest skaters from six Northern Ontario leagues, The NEO Fights return to Fresh after an interesting 2014 tournament saw them become the highest scoring team to be eliminated in two games (they scored 219 points in their two losses and despite the early elimination, were the second highest scoring team in the first round); they kick things off against long-time participants South Simcoe at 11:00 AM, in the opening game of the tournament.

The Bubble track actually features a who’s who of Fresh history. Roller Derby Quebec (who formerly participated as part of a Quebec provincial fresh meat team) will debut against Buffalo’s Queen’s Court (Queen City remains the lone US team in the tournament—they’ve been a part of it since the start). The Kingston/Toronto mixed team, the Rogue DVAS, will take on Forest City’s Thickets (quarterfinalists last year). Wrapping up the opening round games in the Bubble are two perennial Fresh participants, the Renegade Derby Dames and Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain.

*Catch the Bubble live stream here.


Wellington Roller Derby’s Bloody Marys will get a bye past their opening match, but will face the winners of the Arena’s opening game, featuring Durhams DRRD’y Farmers and the 705 Bombshells (another amalgam team featuring leagues in and around the 705 area code). 2012 champs Montreal’s Smash Squad returns to the tournament (after being part of the Quebec provincial team in the last two tournaments) and will square off against the team that won it all last year, Capital City’s Cannon Dolls. Finally, the host Derby Debutantes will close out the opening round games with a showdown against Les Rebelles, who represent the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke.

*Catch the Arena live stream here.



Sloppy Cup


2008 Death Row Dames (HCRG) Venus Fly Tramps (TCRD) Slaughter Daughters(RVRG—then ORD)
2011 Gold Miner’s Daughters (GCRG) D-VAS (ToRD) Queens of Pain (RCRG)
2012 Smash Squad (MTLRD) Top Herloins (RCRG) D-VAS (ToRD)
2013 Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD) Hammer City/Pulp Affliction (ORG)
2014 Cannon Dolls (CCDD) Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD)


**Remember to tune in to starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning to catch all of the fresh and furious action. As an added bonus, games featuring teams from Quebec will have a bilingual live stream.

Junior Roller Derby World Cup Set to Kick Off at Noon Today


Although lacking in the size and scope of its senior counterparts, the inaugural Junior Roller Derby World Cup, set to go in Kent, Washington, over the next two days, could in the long run prove to the be the most important of the global roller derby events. Only four years removed from the first Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup, it’s remarkable that this event is happening at all.

In the end, only three nations were able to track teams for the event, which was intelligently scheduled to coincide with the 2015 Junior Roller Derby Association Championships, but they represent three of the Big Four roller derby nations: USA, Canada, and Australia. USA itself will be split into East and West squads, rounding out a four-team tournament. On Wednesday, July 8th, the teams will play a six-game round robin (consisting of 30-minute games) to establish seeding. On Thursday, the seeded teams will then play a double-elimination tournament to determine the first junior world champion. Day 2 of the event will be live-streamed beginning at 9:00 AM Pacific (12:00 PM Eastern).

Canada opens the tournament facing off against USA East. While the two American squads remain, arguably, overwhelming favourites (as the united team did at the first senior World Cup), the fact that they are split and that junior roller derby has been longer established in Canada than in Australia actually gives Canada a shot (Australia’s roster has representatives from seven leagues, while Canada has representatives from fourteen), yet, in reality, the tournament is up in the air.

Team Canada (Photo by Bob Ayers from the Team Canada Facebook page).

Team Canada (Photo by Bob Ayers from the Team Canada Facebook page).

Thirty skaters were named to Team Canada’s practice roster, with twenty selected for the World Cup itself. While the majority of Canada’s skaters are products of Edmonton’s long-established Greater Edmonton Junior Roller Derby and its travel team, Wild Rose All Stars (nine of the full thirty), there are representatives from (nearly) clear across the nation: from Montreal to Alliston to Saskatoon to Powell River and Nanaimo, British Columbia (and pretty much everywhere in between) with Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal all adding three skaters each (four from Montreal if you count one junior graduate).

While the Edmonton core will undoubtedly lead the way, the final twenty skaters have two intriguing players to watch: Rideau Valley’s Jamie’s Got a Gun is actually a junior graduate who now plays in WFTDA Division 1 for the Rideau Valley Vixens; capable of playing all three positions on the track, Jamie could be huge for Canada. Another skater to watch is dynamic jammer,  Montreal’s El Skeletto. Already a four-year roller derby veteran at this early age, he is one of only two boys on the Canadian roster at this co-ed event.

The team has a strong coaching staff led by Terminal City and Team Canada’s 8 Mean Wheeler, Montreal  Junior Roller Derby coach Homer, and Toronto’s Mouth of the South.

Co-ed and inclusive, this first ever Junior Roller Derby World Cup will offer a glimpse into what the future of the sport has to offer. We got a sense of the level of play to expect at last year’s Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup during the JRDA All-Star game featuring skaters from both Canada and USA’s rosters. It was a phenomenal display of talent, and if at it was at all a preview of this week’s tournament, then we’re in store for something special, and if you haven’t watched junior derby at this level, then some surprises as well.

Nerd Glasses

*Click here for the JRDAWC Bracket.

*The JRDA World Cup live stream kicks off on Thursday, July 9, at 9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern.

**This article has been updated. The original said that only one boy was on the team, when there are actually two: El Skeletto and Marty McDie.