Chrome Mollys

Timmins’ Daughters Mine for Gold at 2 Fresh 2 Furious

The Gold Miners' Daughters (Timmins), 2 Fresh 2 Furious Champions. (Photo by Joe Mac)

When the Gold Miner’s Daughters opened up their 2 Fresh 2 Furious with a slight upset over the more experienced Violet Uprising from Royal City, it didn’t turn too many heads. And when the unheralded team had a setback in their second bout, it seemed that would be the end for the upstarts from Timmins. But by the end of a grueling one-day, two-track tournament, the small-town skaters would find themselves face-to-face with their big city counterparts from ToRD, and more surprisingly would stare them down; the Daughters saved their best for last as they overcame ToRD’s D-VAS in a 43 point championship victory.

A TALE OF TWO TRACKS: The Double Elimination Round

Durham Region defeated Kingston (Shirts) to kick off the tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

The Battle for the Bubble

The two teams from Guelph’s Royal City were the pre-tournament favourites in this pool, and while Violet Uprisings was two and done in the double elimination (losing a heartbreaker 47-42 against the Kingston “Shirts” team in the elimination game), the mixed team of Queens of Pain kicked things off with what turned out to be the dominant performance of the tournament, a 99-15 victory over another hybrid team made up of players from Ottawa (ORD), Timmins (TRD), and Soonami (Sault St. Marie); they followed that victory with a tougher 32-17 win over Belle City’s (Brantford’s) Belles of the Brawl to assure themselves a spot in the quarterfinals.

Belles of the Brawl defeated Kingston (Shirts) to stay alive in the tournament. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Durham Region Roller Derby entered the tournament with a long and winding history to get to this point, but they are a team on the rise and proved that early on as well defeating Kingston (46-22) and then the Gold Miners’ Daughters (38-30) to book their spot in the quarterfinals. The Daughters looked out of sorts in that bout, suffering too many jammer penalties to get any sort of offense going, and couldn’t overcome the solid pack work from Durham. But the loss may have been exactly what they needed as they bounced back to trample the ORD/TRD/SSM mixed team in the elimination game to set up a rematch against Durham in the quarters. In the other elimination match, the Belles of the Brawl overcame the impressive Kingston Shirts team 51-24 to set up the second quarterfinal rematch.

Royal City's Queens of Pain emerged as favourites after the most dominant victory of the tournament (99-15). (Photo by Joe Mac)

Belle City ran out of steam in the quarterfinal. For much of this round, the Belles had ridden the extraordinary play of jammer Vitamin K, who was especially dominant in their opening victory over Peterborough’s Electric City Rollers, but the Queens of Pain (with a very balanced attack led by Hot Cross Guns and triple threat Mandy Maggotbone) were too much and moved through to the final four with a 38-13 victory. The second quarterfinal was another rematch, this one between Durham Region and the Gold Miners’ Daughters. And while in the early going, it seemed like it would be another tight one, the Timmins skaters were just warming up. Despite strong jamming from Cutsie Bootsie and String Blade, and solid pack work led by pivots Karma Screwya and Hitz Miller, Durham had no response for the extraordinary jamming from the Daughters’ Kill’er Princess and Nasty Nads as the Timmins team pulled away in the end to get their revenge and, more importantly, their spot in the seminfinals.

Playing their first competitive derby, Windsor's Border City Brawlers picked up their first win ever (over the Ottawa Delinquents). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Tangle in Ted Reeve

There was no clear favourite on the other track which featured fresh meat teams from two WFTDA leagues (ToRD and Queen City) and the host, GTAR’s Chrome Mollys. The Mollys and D-VAS did their part, both going 2-0 to earn a bye to the quarterfinals (though both faced early challenges, D-VAS from Queen City, Molly’s from South Simcoe in an exciting and controversial game). Just to complicate matters, South Simcoe Roller Rebels threw their name into the mix when they kicked things off with a one-sided trouncing (83-36) over Windsor’s Border City Brawlers, who were making their competitive debuts. But Border City would improve as the day went on and would earn their all-important first ever victory, 53-47 against the Ottawa Delinquents.

ToRD's D-VAS eliminated Kingston (Skins) in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Border City, who were led by workhorse Tulkamania, would see their journey come to an end  in another nail-biter that went down to a final pass that saw the Kingston Derby Girls’ Skins team pull out a 44-42 hard-fought victory. Buffalo’s Queen City made up for an opening bout loss to pull out two victories in a row to get back to the quarterfinals (including an 85-4 shellacking of Peterborough’s Damaged Dollz who, shorthanded, were playing with borrowed D-VAS). They ended South Simcoe’s impressive tournament in the elimination game, holding off a stiff challenge to win, 39-19, and set up a quarterfinal showdown with the defending champ Chrome Mollys.

ToRD’s D-VAS ended the tournament for the Kingston Derby Girls when they eliminated the Skins in the quarterfinals, but it rounded out an impressive showing for the Kingston league, which saw both teams pick up at least a victory, and the Skins make it to the final eight. Queen City and the Chrome Molly’s sparred in the other quarterfinal in a great battle that saw the hosts pushing the Buffalo team to the very end. It was only a timely, game-saving jammer take out by the standout Day TripHer that allowed Queen City to hang on for the 43-37 win that eliminated the hosts.

The D-VAS and Queen City met in one semifinal. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

THE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

The final four featured two very intriguing matchups that did not disappoint. Two of the pre-tournament favourites, Queen City and ToRD’s D-VAS, squared off in the opening bout. These two established leagues have a long history from home team scrimmaging to travel team showdowns, and this first-time freshies matchup lived up to all expectations. Led by co-captains Skinned Knee Crosby and Tammunition in the pack, the D-VAS pulled away early, but their Hell Bat led offense, which had been explosive all day, faced a tough test from the Queen City packs and they never let ToRD pull away and kept it close to the final jam, but couldn’t quite narrow the gap, dropping the 28-23 decision. The second semifinal was equally as compelling. Heavily favoured Queens of Pain pulled ahead in the early going and controlled things for much of the game. But the Gold Miner’s Daughters were improving continuously all day, and it was visible in this bout. Pivot Ames to Mame kept things calm in the pack and pulled out big moves one-on-one. The tenacious skaters from Timmins never seemed out of it and with only two minutes left, jammer Kill’er Princess gave the Daughters their first lead of the bout, 32-28. Kill’er Princess was back out with the star for the final jam as well and as she’d done all day, calmly took the lead to call it and earn a berth in the championship.

The Gold Miners' Daughters were at their best in the final against the D-VAS. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There was just something about the swagger that had crept into the Gold Minters’ Daughters’ game by the time the championship rolled around that made things seem like they were inevitable. After feeling things out in the early part of the tournament, gaining valuable track experience, the Daughters had continuously honed their game. When the opening whistle blew in the final bout of 2 Fresh 2 Furious, it looked like this team from Timmins had only just found its stride. This is not to take anything away from their opponents, ToRD’s D-VAS, who entered the tournament with heavy expectations on their shoulders and carried them well. Paced by an agile jammer rotation of Hell Bat, Keri Daway and Scrappy Skins, and anchored by the solid pack work of Renny Rumble, Laya Beaton and Bridget Bones, the D-VAS had the deepest roster in the tournament, but they seemed gassed by the end of the night and didn’t have enough to contain the extraordinary jamming by the Daughters’ duo of Nasty Nads and tournament Future Star (MVP) Kill’er Princess, which, by the end of things, was the not-so-secret to their success. It was an extraordinary showing for a team that came, seemingly, from out of nowhere, but has now let it be known that they have most definitely arrived.

* In the battle of royalty, the Queens of Pain (Guelph) defeated Queen City (Buffalo), 38-14, for third place, to end a strong showing for both teams. Guelph’s Royal City continues to show that they are a league on the rise, and are the leaders of the second-wave of Ontario roller Derby that is currently sweeping the province.

* Layer 9 captured much of the tournament in HD from his usual trackside location. Watch the final here!

*A special thank you to the GTA Rollergirls and all the tournament volunteers for their hospitality.

* Stay tuned: On Friday, the final Nerd Meat post will include a more personal reflection on the tournament.

COMPLETE RESULTS:

Ted Reeve Bubble Ted Reeve Arena
Double Elimination

DURHAM REGION ROLLER DERBY 46 VS. KINGSTON – SHIRTS 22

VIOLET UPRISING [RCRG] 30 VS. GOLD MINERS DAUGHTERS (TIMMINS) 47

ELECTRIC CITY ROLLERS (PETERBOROUGH) 30 VS. BELLES OF THE BRAWL 75

ORD/TIMMINS RD/SOONAMI 15 VS. QUEENS OF PAIN (RCRG) 99

DRRD 38 vs. GM Daughters 30

K-Shirts 47 vs. Violet Uprising 42 (eliminated)

Belles 17 vs. Queens of Pain 32

Electric City 24 (elimin.) vs.  ORD/TRD/SSR 56

GM Daughters 48 vs. ORD/TRD/SSR 23 (elim.)

Belles 51 vs. K-Shirts 24 (elim.)

Quarter Finals

DRRD 29 vs. GM Daughters 42

Queens of Pain 38 vs. Belle City 13

Double Elimination

BORDER CITY BRAWLERS 36 VS. SOUTH SIMCOE REBEL ROLLERS 83

CHROME MOLLYS (GTAR) 45VS. OTTAWA DOLLINQUENTS 24

D-VAS (ToRD) 59 VS. QUEEN CITY 32

KINGSTON – SKINS 65 VS. DAMAGED DOLLZ (PETERBOROUGH) 36

South Simcoe 42 vs. Mollys 44

Border City 53 vs. Delinquents 47 (eliminated)

D-VAS 85 vs. K-Shirts 12

Queen City 85 vs. Dollz 4

South Simcoe 19 (elim.) vs. Queen City 39

K-Skins 44 vs. Border City 20 (elim.)

Quarter Finals

Mollys 37 vs. Queen City 43

D-VAS 70 vs. K-Skins 20

 

 

 

Semi Finals

QCRG 23 vs. D-VAS 28

GM Daughters 32 vs. Queens of Pain 28

Third Place

Queen City 14 vs. Queens of Pain 38

Finals

D-VAS 24 vs. GM Daughters 67

2011 2 Fresh 2 Furious Champions: Gold Miners’ Daughters (Timmins)

2 Fresh 2 Furious Features the Future Stars of Eastern Canadian Roller Derby

The D-VAS in 2008 featured current skaters Betty Bomber, Land Shark and Mia Culprit. (pictured in a bout against Rebel Rock-It and the Bay Street Bruisers). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

On June 16, 2007, The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (D-VAS) defeated the Smoke City Betties 96-78 to win what was each team’s first ever bout in Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD). While the Smoke City Betties would quickly emerge as a contender in ToRD (reaching the semifinals in 2008 before Battling for the Boot in 2009), the D-VAS would struggle, posting a 2-6 record in ToRD’s frst two seasons before falling under the knife in ToRD’s 2009 contraction (when they and the Bay Street Bruisers folded). ToRD veteran Mia Culprit (and current Betty) was the first captain of the D-VAS and sports a tattoo of the logo on her right leg. “It was difficult to say goodbye,” she admits. “I have the best memories of the D-VAS. Specifically getting to meet people like Betty Bomber….Dolly Parts’Em, Seka Destory…” The astute ToRD fan will recognize those names as current skaters with the Death Track Dolls. Other skaters from those two D-VAS teams have made their way in the derby world as well. ToRD fan favourite Land Shark (another Doll) was a rookie on the team in 2008, Rollergettes founder and skater Goldie Lock ‘N Load was on the original roster, and so was JJ Bladez, who now skates for Hammer City’s Eh! Team.

In 2010, as ToRD went through a period of intense, but stable, growth, the league resurrected the D-VAS as a farm team for ToRD’s draftable skaters, a development role that, in retrospect, has always seemed to be its calling. The program has already successfully graduated skaters into the league, and this weekend, the next generation of ToRD rookies will face off against other fresh meat teams and new leagues in the 2 Fresh 2 Furious tournament hosted by the GTA Rollergirls.

THE TOURNAMENT

The concept for 2 Fresh 2 Furious actually has roots as far back as 2008 when GTAR’s Derby Debutantes hosted the Virgin Suicides Brawl, a similar tournament for young, inexperienced teams. “I think 2 Fresh 2 Furious is a great opportunity for new players and teams to get their derby feet wet, so to speak,” says My-call Buble long-time bench manager/coach of the Derby Debutantes. “It’s a less intimidating forum for newer players…as their opponents will be of a similar level to them.” D-VAS co-captain Skinned Knee Crosby echoed these sentiments, “The whole tournament is a great, fun idea, and it shows…that roller derby is growing fast and local.”

And right now, flat track roller derby in Ontario may be growing faster than in any other region in North America with leagues forming (seemingly) by the month in locations as varied as Windsor and Minden. Considering the extraordinary growth of the sport in this province, this tournament is now more important than ever. 16 teams will be featured on two tracks in a 20-minute, double-elimination format that will be familiar to anyone who has been to the Beast of the East in Montreal (it should be noted that Buffalo’s Queen City-which has been competing in Canada since 2007-will be sending its fresh meat team as well). This format guarantees that each team will get to play at least two bouts, providing invaluable experience to the participants.

The Chrome Mollys and Royal City have already met this year (May 14). (Photo by Joe Mac)

THE COMPETITION

Things kick off on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM when two very new leagues, the Border City Brawlers (Windsor) and South Simcoe Rebel Rollers face off, while Durham Region Roller Derby will take on one of two teams from Kingston. “We expect strong showings from the WFTDA leagues of Queen City and ToRD,” predicts My-Call Buble, and while this could be case, it’s hard to handicap this event as even some of the more established teams will be sending fresh-faced lineups. The D-VAS, for example, will be using this opportunity to dress ToRD’s latest crop of fresh meat graduates, many of whom have yet to even put on the uniform. The same goes for GTAR’s Chrome Molly’s who will sit some of their more experienced skaters to give the fresh meat a chance to gather the all-important experience.

ToRD's D-VAS have warmed up with a home and home series against Nickel City's Sister Slag. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Despite this mystery, there will, though, be teams to watch. “I looking forward to watching Royal City play; they have some great girls on their team,” says Crosby. My-call Buble also takes note of the quickly emerging Royal City Rollergirls (who will be sending all three of their home teams), “Royal City, Belle City and South Simcoe, although new this year, are playing every chance they get.” Word on the track is that this hard-training South Simcoe Rebel Rollers team may very well be a team on the rise, while Belle City’s Belles of the Brawl (Brantford) just got some valuable experience at CWRDA’s Eastern ChampionshipDurham Region has also been busy in 2011. After some struggle to get off the ground, DRRD  seems to have found its footing and has had some impressive showings lately. Any track time is valuable in a young skater’s career, so this activity will be a big advantage for these teams.

But the beauty and excitement of a tournament like this is in the inability to predict things. Any one of the teams participating has a viable shot at winning. For these young teams, it may come down to which roster gels the quickest, which team has the strongest leadership and organization, and, as with any tournament, which teams simply wants it more.

* 2 Fresh 2 Furious kicks off at 11:00 am at Ted Reeve Arena. For a complete schedule visit the gtarollergirls.com. Tickets are available at Way Cool Tattoos and Red Tent Sisters, or online.

* Here is a complete list of tournament participants. (For a complete schedule, click here).

Beast of the East 2011: Daughters Go Undefeated to Tame the Beast

The top three teams at the 2011 Beast of the East (Slaughter Daughters, Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Death Track Dolls). (Photography by Derek Lang)

Last year, at the 2010 Beast of the East, amidst all of that Montreal dominance, there were some major surprises. The Toronto Roller Derby League had a terrible tournament by their own standards, with the Smoke City Betties, Death Track Dolls (both 0-2), and Chicks Ahoy! (1-2) all eliminated unceremoniously in the first round. Similarly, Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters—who had an amazing 2009 and came into the tournament with high hopes—were two and done on Saturday. At the 2011 Beast of the East it was a different story, as the Ontario teams were the talk of the tournament and the Slaughter Daughters would be the only squad to go through both days undefeated to deservedly hoist the award, that to trophy-designer Tommy Toxic’s credit, was the by far the most beastly yet created.

La Racaille (MTLRD) and The Derby Debutantes (GTAR) face off in the double elimination round.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

The cliché is that records are made to be broken, and although coming into the tournament there was a lot of talk about parity among the top teams, records were set and then broken continuously on day one. It began right with the opening game of the tournament when the GTAR’s Derby Debutantes became the third team to lay down 100 points in a BOE bout with a 124-4 victory against BOE newcomers Les Duchesses de Quebec (who were playing their first-ever bout). It was just the beginning of record setting scores as four teams would be capable of putting down 100 points (the Debutantes would become the first team to have 100 points scored for and against in the same tournament). When all was said and done, it was Montreal’s new-look Contrabanditas setting all of the records in a 148-0 shutout against the GTAR’s Chrome Mollys (who were the second of three teams playing in their first BOE).

For the most part, the opening bouts of the double elimination round went as expected; if there was an upset, it would be the Death Track Dolls victory over the defending champion Filles du Roi (who were tracking an almost unrecognizably young lineup after MTLRD’s off season shake-up)—a bit of foreshadowing of the Dolls-as-Montreal-killers on the weekend. The top game of the opening round easily went to the much anticipated matchup between the Vicious Dishes and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Two of the pre-tournament favourites—the top teams from Tri-City and ToRD—did not disappoint. Although the two teams had never played before, there was considerable history built up in recent, tense bouts between the all star teams of the two leagues. This one came down to the final jam, with the Dishes pulling out a thrilling two-point victory.

The Dishes would also be involved in another close first round bout, on the losing end this time to the Ditas (27-21) although both teams would make it through to the round of eight. Joining them in the quarterfinals were the Ditas’ MTLRD league mates La Racaille (who went 2-0), and defending champs FDR who had to win a qualification showdown against the Derby Debutantes. The quarters were rounded out by the Slaughter Daughters and three Toronto teams, the perennial powerhouses Gore-Gore Rollergirls along with Chicks Ahoy! (first quarterfinal experience since 2008), and the Death Track Dolls who returned to the second round for the first time since 2009.

ToRD's Gore-Gore Rollergirls saved their best for day two, scoring one-sided victories in both the quarter and semifinals.

PLAYOFFS

Quarterfinals

From the opening bout of the quarterfinals, it was clear that the top teams were able to step it up to another level when it mattered most. MTLRD’s La Racaille, who had a solid opening day, were dominated by the considerably more experienced Gores, 88-11, marking the first time that La Racaille, the most successful team in the tournament’s early history, would not qualify for the final. Two of the other bouts were somewhat one-sided as well, with the Slaughter Daughters throwing down their “A” game in a 71-3 victory, knocking out the defending champion Filles du Roi; similarly, pre-tournament favourites the Vicious Dishes just couldn’t ever wrestle momentum away from a very physical, very tight Chicks Ahoy! team, going down 48-8, in what was an extremely close bout until the Chicks were able to pull away on the strength of a well-executed power jam with Dyna Hurtcha sporting the star.

ToRD's Death Track Dolls recorded the biggest upset of the tournament in their quarterfinal win over MTLRD's Les Contrabanditas.

But it was the Death Track Dolls and Les Contrabanditas who would provide the greatest excitement in the second round. Montreal’s hopes were clearly on the backs of the experienced Ditas, who looked to be the strongest, most consistent team in day one of the tournament. The Dolls, on the other hand, were already pleased with a return to the second round of competition, which, regardless of what happened, qualified as a success. Not surprisingly, the experienced team from Toronto came into the bout loose and relaxed; taking advantage of early penalty troubles from the Ditas, the Death Track Dolls rode some consistent pack work and fine jamming from Land Shark and breakout player Santilly In Yo Face to an early lead that they would hold onto in the face of a considerable push back at the end of the bout, holding on for the 58-49 upset to push three of the four Toronto teams into the semifinals.

The Slaughter Daughters' bench watches the scoreboard during the final jam of the 2011 Beast of the East.

Semifinals

In the first all-ToRD semifinal, the Death Track Dolls just couldn’t summon the kind of performance that had led them to their win over the Ditas, what may have been the biggest victory in the team’s history. After a so-so Saturday that saw them hold on for a victory over Thames Fatales in a qualifying bout, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls continued to step it up on Sunday. They’d had some slow starts in the first round and certainly remedied that, pulling away from the Dolls early to qualify for their first ever BOE final. It was vindication of sorts for the team that has been the tops outside of Montreal for the past two years.

In the second semifinal, the Chicks Ahoy! continued their strong play on Sunday, creeping out to a slim 8-4 lead in what was another scrappy and defensive performance from the ToRD team. But the Slaughter Daughters showed the same kind of focus and determination that they had all tournament and stayed close, taking their first lead, 11-9, at the midway point of the bout. It would remain close through to the very end, with both teams displaying fantastic pace control defensively to keep things tight and low scoring. It was 19-19 with just under two minutes left when Soul Rekker took a lead on a hard-fought, slow moving jam that allowed her to pick up a double grand slam to break the stalemate and give the Daughters a 10-point lead that they defended, riding a 33-19 victory to advance to the finals.

RVRG's Slaughter Daughters: 2011 Beast of the East champions

Finals

The Death Track Dolls capped off a hugely successful tournament with a historic 42-31 victory over their ToRD rivals, Chicks Ahoy!, in the third place bout. The Chicks didn’t have much left in the tank, their previous two bouts being defensive grinders against very physical opponents. For the Dolls, it represented their first victory over the Chicks after some very close bouts over the past two seasons, and their best showing in this tournament.

When all was said and done, and 14 teams fell away, it was clear that the two best teams of the tournament remained. Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters and ToRD’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls were set to make history as the combatants in the first ever all-Ontario final. The final lived up to and eventually surpassed all possible expectations, coming down to a remarkable final jam. Five-on-five these two teams were well matched, keeping the crowd guessing through numerous lead changes (including three on a Ripper A. Part vs. Bambi jam that had no lead called). What it came down to was special teams and who could take advantage on power jams. Despite leading by 16 at the start of the final jam, the Gore’s jammer Bambi took her fourth minor on her initial scoring pass to send the inexhaustible Soul Rekker on a power jam. Semi Precious and Assassinista led an indestructible trap that kept the pack crawling, and with only 9 seconds left, Soul Rekker was finally able to complete the comeback and take the 20110 Beast of the east 87-85. (*There seemed to be some confusion about scoring at the end, although it looked like Rekker made four, five-point scoring passes).

The Daughters were more than worthy champs, facing any style of play they encountered with confidence and adaptability. They had extraordinary depth at jammer (easily the top 1-2-3 jammer rotation in the tourney), and played special teams simply, but masterfully, owning pace lines and setting hard traps.

The Nerd's 2011 MVP: Semi Precious of the Slaughter Daughters

THE NERD’S PICKS

MVP: Semi Precious (Slaughter Daughters)

After last year’s pack-play-evolution, it was obvious that the team with the top pack would do very well this weekend: that was certainly the case with the champion Slaughter Daughters who could dole out timely punishing hits, positionally block one-on-one with the best of them, and set devastating traps. At the centre of it all was Semi Precious. Big-time recognition has been a long-time coming for this extraordinary blocker.

Breakout Player: Assassinista (Slaughter Daughters)

There were at least a few players in the running for this one, but once again, the packs were the difference all weekend and Assassinista was undeniably a force in the Daughters’ championship pack. This is almost a cumulative recognition for Assassinista whose play for both her hometeam and the travel team Vixens has been turning a lot of heads for some time. This weekend, she proved that she deserves recognition among the elite.

The Nerd's 2011 Breakout Team: The Death Track Dolls (ToRD)

Breakout Team: The Death Track Dolls (ToRD)

In 2009, Dolls’ star jammer Land Shark took home this recognition as a player; two years later, and she’s leading her team to the award. The Dolls recorded an early minor upset over a young FDR squad, and then looked lacklustre in a loss against leaguemates, the Chicks Ahoy!, but things got rolling in a must-win, 84-8 surprisingly dominant victory against the Riot Squad. A major upset over Les Contrabanditas in the quarterfinals, and a third place rematch win over the Chicks cemented this teams’ status as breakout team of the tourney.

* The Beast of the East in its entirety was boutcast live by Canuck Derby TV and has been archived for your viewing pleasure.  Keep an eye out for layer9’s trackside archive as well.

***A special thanks to Montreal Roller Derby who hosted another amazing tournament and Canuck Derby TV for making sure that everyone could see it.

2011 Beast of the East: Preview

This is the fourth edition of the important tournament.

Although the role of the Beast of the East tournament has shifted over the years, its value, and its importance in the development of a stable, sustainable Canadian roller derby community is undeniable. More and more the shift in focus in roller derby in general is toward the travel teams: the teams striving to compete at WFTDA’s highest level. All over North America the growing trend is for more travel-team based tournaments as a way in which to get a handful of sanctioned bouts done in a short period of time (necessitated by the realities of travel expenses, scheduling and the other trivialities that get in the way of a rollergirl’s derby life). So to have a tournament devoted solely to hometeams is becoming an increasing rarity; it also casts an aura of levity around the event: it becomes as much about a celebration of the sport than anything else. But that’s not to imply that teams don’t want to win (they do), and certainly there is a particular expectation in the air this year, as the recalibration of the Montreal Roller Derby League means that its new-look hometeams will not be as formidable a juggernaut as they have been in the history of this tournament, and certainly were last year.

In the beginning the Beast was an opportunity to learn the sport, both on and off the track. On the Friday before the inaugural 2008 tournament, the participants gathered for a viewing of Hell on Wheels, the documentary that tracks roller derby’s revival at the turn of the millennium, and inadvertently the birth of the flat track version of the sport. By 2010, when all three of Montreal’s hometeams completely dominated the tournament, the Beast had become an opportunity for Montreal to introduce the ever-evolving strategies of the sport that they’d learned toiling at the front lines of roller derby’s highest competitive levels. There was a distinct culture shift last year: it became evident that to remain competitive at flat track roller derby, it was necessary to reach for a higher level of physical training and strategic consideration.

One year later, it will be fascinating to see how the teams have adapted; which teams accepted the formidable challenge and have stepped up their games.

THE COMPETITION

Hammer City's absence will be felt (The Death Row Dames were quarterfinalists in 2010). (Photo by Derek Lang)

The noticeable absence this year is Hammer City. Three HCRG teams have played in the Beast of the East, with the Harlots winning the first BOE in 2008, and even last year they were a serious presence as the Death Row Dames went on a spirited run to the quarterfinals. The league has refocused, and reshaped with a clearer focus on travel teams (word on the track is that the historic Harlots will be retained as a B-Team). Nevertheless, 13 teams will be returning from last year including six of the eight teams from the quarterfinals (Vermont’s Green Mountain Derby Dames are the other absent quarterfinalists). Three new teams will be debuting including fresh league additions in GTA (The Chrome Mollys) and Tri-City (The Total Knock Outs), while the newly formed Les Duchesses de Quebec will be making their bouting debut.

ToRD's Gore-Gore Rollergirls have been the top non-Montreal team for the last two years; this could be their opportunity. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The biggest change in competition comes through Montreal’s realignment. All three of Montreal’s teams have qualified for the semifinals in every tournament (a run that has included all-Montreal finals in the last two tournaments, won by La Racaille and Les Filles du Roi respectively), but this year with the top fourteen players being lifted from their hometeams to play exclusively with the New Skids in the Block, there will obviously be some growing pains for the Montreal teams (only one team, La Racaille, has played with its new roster, scoring a 60 point victory over the GTA’s Derby Debutantes). This opens the window for a handful of teams who have the experience and depth to do very well in 2011 including ToRD’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls, Tri-City’s Vicious Dishes, and Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters. While the Montreal teams remain largely mysterious, they have all retained an important core and shouldn’t be counted out; on paper anyway, Les Contrabanditas look to be most dangerous as they retain seven skaters from last season’s impressive team and picked up two more vets in the off season (Beats Per Minute from Les Filles du Roi, and Low Dive Jenny from La Racaille).

Death Track Dolls and Les Filles du Roi will meet in the opening round; they last met in the opening round of the 2009 BOE. (photo by Derek Lang)

EXPECTATIONS

The timing and nature of this tournament make predicting what will happen tricky. A team could potentially play up to six bouts over the course of the weekend which means that energy conservation and roster juggling become important aspects of the game. Also, the 20 minute mini-bouts mean that often anything can happen: a good power-jam could be the difference, and teams that take longer to warm up could be at an obvious disadvantage. On top of this, there are also differences in the amount of track time these teams have had as well, with the ToRD teams potentially already rounding into mid-season form.

Only the opening match ups in the double elimination round are set, with paths getting complicated after that. While it doesn’t appear that there will be any major upsets, there are a few intriguing pairings. At the top of the list is the Gore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Vicious Dishes bout. Either of these teams are capable of winning this tournament, and if all goes as predicted may even cross paths again in the semi-finals (regardless of who wins this one). The Smoke City Betties and Thames Fatales game could also be an entertaining one, with both teams already having some bouts under their belts this year (and the Betties improving quickly). Finally the Death Track Dolls vs. Les Filles du Roi bout could be surprising. Les Filles (the defending champs) lost a lot of skaters to the Skids realignment and look like they will be tracking a very inexperienced team: because of that, there could be an upset up the Dolls’ sleeve. The harsh reality is, is that one win is not enough and half of the teams will be done by Saturday night.

This could finally be the year Les Contrabanditas rise to the top in MTLRD.

While Montreal may not have the dominant squads they once did, I still think all three teams will make it through to the quarterfinals, joined by three ToRD teams (The Gores, Chicks Ahoy! and Death Track Dolls), the Vicious Dishes and the Slaughter Daughters. Unfortunately for the hosts, I think the round of 8 will mark the end of the road for two-time finalists and ’09 champs La Racaille and the defending champion Les Filles du Roi, with the final four being the Dishes, Gores, Ditas and Daughters. I honestly think anything could happen between these four teams, but it would be nice to see the Gores (or Dishes) and Daughters meet in the final to truly bring an end to Montreal’s dominance. In both 2009 and 2010, the Gores were clearly the top team outside of MTLRD, and this could finally be the opportunity they need. The Ditas, though, who always seemed a step behind one of their Montreal counterparts will be extremely motivated to finally break through and win this.

Whoever manages to prevail, to be capable of pulling it off nothing less than a monumental effort will be required.

***The Beast of the East 2011 gets under way at 8:00 am on Saturday, April 30 at Arena St. Louis. If you’re not going to be in Montreal on the weekend, no need to worry! For the second-year in a row, all of the action will be boutcast live on Canuck Derby TV beginning at 8:00 AM (eastern) and running straight through until a champion is crowned on Sunday.

Hello 2011 (Part 2): Thunder to take WFTDA by storm; Vixens on the rise

Tri-City will compete in WFTDA's North Central Region this year.

A Few to Watch in 2011

In eastern Canada in 2010, no league turned more heads than Tri-City. Top hometeam the Vicious Dishes scored huge victories over ToRD runners-up the Chicks Ahoy! and both hometeams from Hammer City. This season, TCRG has added a third hometeam as well, the Total Knock-Outs, who look to help drive uip the competitive level during the home season. The Thunder clapped loudly this season as well, when the Tri-City travel team closed out the year with somewhat of  an upset in a one-sided victory over ToRD’s CN Power. Having attained full WFTDA status (they’ll join Hammer City’s Eh! Team in WFTDA’s North Central Region), the Thunder will embark on an ambitious first season in the big leagues challenging a number of North Central foes including Chicago Outfit (in Chicago on May 14) and Killamazoo (at home in October); they’ll also play Montreal’s New Skids on the Block in a closed bout in March, which could be their toughest challenge of the year. With such a challenging and exciting schedule, the Thunder could be this year’s New Skids on the Block.

RVRG recently became Canada's latest WFTDA apprentice league.

If the Thunder are this year’s Skids, than this year’s Thunder will be the  Rideau Valley Vixens. Adding a second hometeam late in 2009 and then creating the Vixens early in 2010, last year the Ottawa league suffered some early growing pains. So-so performances at the Beast of the East were a far cry from the Slaughter Daughters’ run to ’09 quarterfinals, but it all proved to be for the best: Both the Daughters and the Riot Squad picked up some big late season victories.  Taking the Montreal approach and jumping into competition head on, the travel team Vixens took their lumps early in 2010 with losses to tough teams in Toronto, Montreal and Pittsburgh, but they continued to reach wide and aim high for competition and spent the rest of the year turning the tides with a series of big victories south of the border over New Jersey (Jerzey Derby Brigade) and Utica.  They begin 2011 as Canada’s latest WFTDA apprentice league.

Thames Fatales had some big victories against US competition in 2010.

The Expanding Eastern Canadian Scene

The Thames Fatales had another strong season in 2010. Starting with a solid showing at the Beast of the East, the Thames Fatales made forays south as well, scoring some big victories in the US, while making inroads in Canada too with some improved performances against Hammer City and two one-sided victories over GTAR’s Derby Debutantes. With a new Fresh Meat squad (The Luscious London Lunch Ladies), and a continued acceptance of all challenges, the skaters from Forest City could be the next break-out Canadian league. A potential WFTDA apprenticeship in the future?

GTAR was another league to make some big steps forward in 2010 with the Debutantes shocking the competition at the Beast of the East and putting in a hard-fought performance against Edmonton’s E-Ville. An addition of a second team, the Chrome Mollys, could help them narrow the gap between them and the other eastern Canadian leagues. Canada’s original WFTDA league, Hammer City, will also look to rebound after an up-and-down year. With the Eh! Team unable to work their way up the WFTDA rankings, suffering some big losses, including their first ever loss to ToRD’s CN Power. Hammer City hometeams also suffered setbacks to Tri-City and saw the gap narrowed between them and Forest City. But with the realigned hometeam rosters creating a competitive parity between the Death Row Dames and the Harlots that hasn’t been seen in years, Hammer City could get that competitive edge back in 2011.

Halifax is leading the development of a buoyant Maritime roller derby scene.

New roller derby leagues continue to sprout at a surprising rate as well. In Ontario, leagues in Sudbury (Nickel City Roller Derby–who will be playing ToRD’s D-VAS in February), Guelph (Royal City Rollergirls), Oshawa (Durham Region Roller Derby), and Kingston (Kingston Derby Girls) are on the verge of bouting, and there are so many other leagues sprouting up that this is really just the tip of the iceberg of the sport in this province. But the sport is moving further east as well with leagues forming in Quebec City, Moncton (Muddy River Rollers), St. John (Fog City Rollers), Charlottetown (Red Rock ‘N Roller Derby) and St. John’s (709 Derby Girls). The Nerd has a personal interest in the development of a stable league in the city of his birth, Halifax, Nova Scotia. And is excited to say that after a few false starts in the city, the Halifax Roller Derby Association finally has solid leadership and is up and running and gaining a lot of momentum. With Muddy River set to host the region’s first major flat track roller derby training camp in July, 2011 will see a huge surge in the participation in and popularity of roller derby in eastern Canada. This bodes well for the future.

**The Derby Nerd will be business as usual in 2011 continuing here and also my work behind the mic for ToRD.TV. One change is that I will be writing about learning the sport from the inside as well, as I embark on ToRD’s latest Fresh Meat training session. You can follow my growing knowledge of the practical side of roller derby on the Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby page (beginning Friday). Also, I’ve done a little reorganization of the site (to the stats and results pages) and you can now subscribe and share!

**Please feel free to use the comment section below to promote any important dates, tournaments, non-mentioned leagues, events, etc. To a successful and exciting 2011!

Word on the Track

WFTDA RANKINGS RELEASED: MONTREAL 6th IN EASTERN REGION

The final, pre-regionals WFTDA rankings were released this month, and the match ups for each of the regional playoffs have been made. Montreal’s New Skids on the Block qualified in 6th place in the Eastern Region, getting the final of the six byes into the second round where they will face their cross-border rivals, the Boston Massacre. The skaters on these two teams know each other well and this should be a fantastic bout. Montreal has been reeling in the Eastern Region teams at a remarkable clip all season. After suffering a 100-point blowout to this team in 2009, Montreal managed to cut the deficit in half the last time they met in May (and were actually within 10 points at the half before uncharacteristic penalty troubles allowed Boston to pull away). Despite the amazing development MTLRD has undergone this season, you have to wonder if it will it be enough to get them past Boston and into a potential semifinal showdown with the Philly Rollergirls. To find out, you’ll just have to buy some neon and join the New Skids on the Block’s Neon Army as it heads to White Plains, New York, on September 24th for the Eastern Regionals.

Montreal plays Boston at Regionals

This year’s WFTDA Regionals will play out over four weekends stretching between September and October. The top seeds have remained the same all season, with Gotham (who were upset in last year’s Eastern final by Philly) holding on to top spot in the East. The defending WFTDA champion Oly Rollers, who are in the midst of a record-setting 20 bout winning streak, remain #1 in a very competitive Western Region, while traditional powers Windy City and Texas (last year’s finalists) stay on top in the North Central and South Central.

DERBY NERD ON HIATUS DURING A BUSY MONTH

Sadly, The Derby Nerd will be on hiatus for the next month, a month that happens to be packed with exciting roller derby action. But you can trust that I will be doing my best to spread the word to the far reaches of the globe.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 7

One of the most anticipated roller derby bouts in Montreal’s history will be played on this night. The defending champion Les Filles du Roi will face their original Montreal rivals Les Contrabanditas. When these two teams met during the regular season it was a brutal tug of war that came down to the final jam and a single point. Both of these rosters are loaded with talented skaters at every position. This is going to be one explosive bout.

Across the border into Ontario on the same night, the Rideau Valley Roller Girls will be hosting two of their southern neighbours for a double header. The Riot Squad will face off against the GTAR’s Chrome Mollys (who have won their only two bouts this season), while the Slaugher Daughters will line up against ToRD’s Smoke City Betties. Facing such a strong opponent will be a valuable learning opportunity for the Betties during a critical part of a rebuilding season. With a group of eager rookies short on experience but big on heart, this bout couldn’t have come at a better time. With only one game left of the regular season, this could be an important step toward a strong showing.

ToRD hosts a mid-season travel team double header

SATURDAY, AUGUST 21

August 21st will see The Hangar’s first double header, and it is a big night for a number of reasons. In what seems to be becoming tradition, the CN Power will host a mid-season neighbour from south of the border. QCRG’s Lake Effect Furies will be the visitors in CN Power’s first bout since ToRD’s acceptance into WFTDA’s apprenticeship (joining the Tri-City Roller Girls as they only other Canadian WFTDA apprentice league—TCRG Thunder will be in Syracuse, NY, on this night to take on Assault City).

Durham Region Roller Derby makes its debut

In another historic moment, two new teams will be making their debut to kick off the double header. Durham Region Roller Derby will be taking part in their first bout as a league. Featuring a small core of former ToRD skaters led by former Doll Bones Brigade, DRRD (playing out of Oshawa) are another exciting addition to an ever-expanding roller derby landscape: They’ve taken their time to get things right and this should be an entertaining debut. Speaking of exciting futures, they will be facing off against the resurrected D-VAS, only this version is a farm team featuring the skaters who will be eligible for ToRD’s 2011 off-season draft. It will be an interesting bout to watch to get a sense of the next generation of skaters.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 28

And finally, the Death Track Dolls will conclude their season a week later (on August 28th) against the undefeated Gore-Gore Rollergirls (they actually haven’t lost to a non-Montreal team since the 2008 championship bout against the Chicks Ahoy!). The Dolls’ patience through restructuring seems to be paying off as they are having a statement-making year. They will look to add emphasis to that statement with a strong showing against the defending champs.

The Derby Nerd will return in September.