2011 Roller Derby World Cup

Going Global: First Roller Derby World Cup Thrills

Canada and France kicked things off at the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup (Canada won 244-17). (Photo by Greg Russell)

When the dust settled, and the final teams skated away from the Bunker in Toronto; when the bleachers were wheeled out, the lights and scaffolding broken down, and the flags pulled from the wall; when the echo of the final whistle of the final bout of the inaugural Roller Derby World Cup finally faded away, little remained in the Bunker that would give away the fact that one of the most important events in a sport’s young history had just occurred there. There were just scraps: empty beer cans, torn laces, worn toe stops. And memories, of course.

Thursday’ Stars vs. Stripes Team USA exhibition bout featured two of the best flat track lineups ever. (Photo by Greg Russell)

A week before the World Cup began, the Bunker did not look like a location ready to hold an international sporting event. Even on the opening day murmurs could be heard about the appropriateness of the facility, a massive Cold War munitions bunker in the middle of a vast sprawl of old warehouses and hangars that were once part of a Canadian Air Force based just north of Toronto. Those used to the stadiums that were often the venues in WFTDA’s Big 5, were at first taken aback by the underground feel of the space: its quirks and eccentricities. But any doubts were erased when the Stars and Stripes took to Track 1 on Thursday night for the Team USA split-squad scrimmage (won 109-108 by the Stars). The energy from the fans and other teams lining the track, within such proximity to the biggest names in the game, was palpable; it was electric and inspiring, and the energy owed a lot to the intimate setting of the unique venue. By the time Ireland and Finland closed out Friday’s games with one of the more entertaining bouts of the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup (a 148-134 victory for Finland), there was no question that the Bunker had sold itself to the fans.

With an abundance of talent (like Suzy Hotrod and Sassy), Team USA was far above the rest of the competition. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

As much as it has been exciting to see the WFTDA playoffs in large stadiums, outside of the Championships the attendance at the Regional playoffs has been sparse which has made the stadiums look cold and empty (despite the number of devoted fans there). The Bunker, on the other hand, was constantly packed for four days, with fans feeding off of each other’s energy and the general euphoria of being at a tournament of this magnitude. Despite the blowouts and the disparity of the countries involved, every bout on each track was lined with loud, adoring fans. Plus, it gave the event a small and exciting start, something that can be built upon in the future.

There was never any doubt that Team USA was going to capture this first ever world cup, but the dominance with which they accomplished the feat was potentially surprising (even after three days of crushing victories, their 532-4 semifinal victory over Australia was somewhat shocking). They are playing the sport in a completely different stratosphere than any of the other countries, but at the very least, Canada showed that there are countries playing the same game. Team USA raised the bar, showed the potential heights of the game: it is now the world’s responsibility to rise up to it.

Australia finished in fourth place (they defeated Sweden 126-80 in the quarterfinals). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Although expected to be one of the top countries, Australia was still one of the surprises of the tournament. In the first round they handled another pre-tournament favourite Germany with relative ease (136-53) before distancing themselves from eventual fifth place finisher Finland, 179-29. In terms of heart and swagger, New Zealand impressed, facing off against Team USA twice and surviving to tell the tale, while defeating Germany in a thrilling elimination game that knocked the Germans out of the top eight. Finland was a true surprise in the tournament, struggling in the preliminary round before taking out Ireland in that stunning elimination bout to advance to the quarterfinals; their victory for fifth place over Sweden in a Scandinavian showdown was inspiring.

Aside from the final, Canada dominated the tournament including a 499-31 quarterfinal win over Finland. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But the host nation impressed most of all. 3-0 in the preliminary round (defeating France, Sweden and Brazil by a combined score of 848-50), they destroyed Finland in the quarterfinals (499-31) before facing off against their expected rivals for second place, Team England. Lead by a strong, experienced core of skaters that included pivots 8 Mean Wheeler and Jess Bandit, jammers Iron Wench, Luludemon and Georgia W. Tush, offensive blockers  Windigo and Smach Daddy, defensive closers  Lil Mama, Bone Machine and Semi Precious (who, despite begin a late addition to the team, was a force for the Canadians), and triple threat Beretta Lynch, the Canadians kept their cool and, more importantly, maintained their discipline in a thrilling semi-final against England. They pulled ahead early and held on in a tight one, only truly closing out the game definitively in the waning minutes for a 161-90 victory and a guaranteed silver medal. Despite some impressive pack performances in the final from 8 Mean, Boner, Windigo and tournament MVP Smack Daddy, and some exceptional jamming from Iron Wench (5 leads for a 50% lead percentage) and Luludemon (18 points total and a pretty remarkable 2.5 points per jam), they ran into the impenetrable wall that was Team USA. Canada seemed content to hold USA to fewer points than anyone else and managed to score more points against them than all of their previous opponents combined, all in all, an impressive performance.

Despite giving them their stiffest test, Canada was overmatched 336-33 by USA in the final. (Photo by Greg Russell)

This tournament was an experiment in real time that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this sport has gone global; that this sport is important, more important than just a game. That the women out there on the track have accomplished something so much larger than each individual skater, than each team. The skaters at the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup have not only become ambassadors of their game, but they’ve become leaders, the front line of an unprecedented movement of women in sports. They’ve given the women of the world a unique voice in a chorus of oh-so-similar sports voices, created an opportunity where none existed, built a world-wide phenomenon that spreads daily and, most importantly of all, an international sport to call their own.

***For game-by-game recaps, please visit DNN to read Justice Feelgood Marshall’s bout analysis.

***To order DVDs of the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup (singles or sets) visit rollerderbyworldcup.com.

THE FINAL STANDINGS (and first ever flat track roller derby International rankings)

1. USA (5-0)

2. Canada (5-1)

Canada and England finished 2-3 and played in a thrilling semifinal won by Canada 161-90. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

3. England (4-1)

4. Australia (4-2)

5. Finland (3-3)

6. Sweden (4-3)

7. France (3-4)

8. New Zealand (2-4)

9. Germany (3-2)

10. Ireland (2-3)

11. Scotland (2-3)

12. Brazil (0-6)

13. Argentina (0-4)


Argentina: SargenTina

The Iron Wench was Team Canada’s tournament MVP (seen here fighting through a USA wall). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Australia: Short Stop
Brazil: Nanda
Canada: Iron Wench
England: Kamikaze Kitten
Finland: Kata Strofi
France: Francey Pants
Germany: Heavy Rotation
Ireland: Zola Blood
New Zealand: Skate the Muss
Scotland: Marla Mayhem
Sweden: Swede Hurt
USA: Joy Collision
Tournament MVP: Smack Daddy (Canada)

2011 Roller Derby World Cup: Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 1:

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

Friday, December 2:

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

Saturday, December 3:

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

Sunday, December 4:

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

Preliminary Round Groups Set for 2011 Roller Derby World Cup

Preliminary Round Groups

Group A


Group B


Group C

New Zealand

Group D


**It was broadcast on DNN on Thursday, November 17, 2011. Stay tuned for the archive.