Eh! Team

Word on the Track: Busy Weekend for Canada’s WFTDA Teams; New Canadian Apprentice Leagues Announced

Montreal's Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City's Hoosier Mama, in Montreal's only loss in 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal’s Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City’s Hoosier Mama in Montreal’s only loss of 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)


Two of Canada’s top three WFTDA teams are in action this weekend, but enter their games as underdogs, while the steadily rebuilding Thunder duel with an Eh! Team that is showing signs of finally turning the corner back into the competitive stream in a busy weekend of WFTDA action as teams tussle for position in the Division One and Two playoffs.

Coming off of a surprisingly hard-fought victory over regional rivals, CN Power, Montreal’s 17th ranked New Skids on the Block (currently 6-1 in 2013) are heading on their first California road trip to take on Bay Area and Santa Cruz this weekend. First up, the Skids are in tough against B.A.D.’s All Stars in Oakland. Currently ranked 4th in the WFTDA, Bay Area is 2-0 in 2013 including a hard fought, widely watched 29-point victory over Rose City (175-146). On Sunday Montreal will take on 62nd ranked Santa Cruz in what should be a significantly easier bout. Santa Cruz has been busy this season, compiling a 6-1 record in sanctioned play, but the highest ranked opponent they’ve defeated is the 29th ranked (and quickly tumbling) Arizona Roller Derby.

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

49th ranked CN Power is on the road this weekend as well, heading to Ohio to take on 38th ranked Cincinnati in a critical showdown. Toronto’s CN Power, with a 3-5 record, has been somewhat inconsistent as of late (great victories or performances against Ohio Roller Girls, Queen City and Killamazoo are buffered by surprise losses to Rideau Valley and Grand Raggidy), but they are coming off of their best performance of the season against the New Skids on the Block in Montreal (a 210-121 loss) and will need the same sort of effort against Cincinnati this weekend. Cincinnati, who is holding on to one of the last Division One playoff spots) has burst put of the gates so far in 2013, compiling a 6-2 record, and they do have two common opponents with Toronto, the results of which point to a tight game this weekend: Cincinnati lost to Naptown by 147 points, while Toronto lost by 143; Cincinnati defeated Killamazoo by 109 points, while Toronto defeated Killamazoo by 94 points. It should be a great showdown, and will be streamed live online here.

Finally, the 133rd ranked Hammer City hosts 50th ranked Tri-City in a southern Ontario showdown that has the potential to shake things up considerably. The Eh! Team, once Canada’s top team, has been struggling to find its footing in the WFTDA. After starting the season 0-3, they recently picked up their first win of 2013, a 258-129 victory over Circle City. After surging up the WFTDA rankings over the past two season, the Thunder are also rebuilding in 2013 after some off-season transfers and retirements, and are 0-2 on the season suffering big losses to Montreal and Killamazoo.


WFTDA.TV has released its complete 2013 schedule and it begins this weekend with the Texas vs. Rocky Mountain showdown live from Denver. While some of the highlights include London’s game against Rose City in Portland (on June 5th as part of London’s West Coast roadtrip) and the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, WFTDA.TV has also announced that it will be covering both Division 2 playoff rounds.

While the majority of the broadcasts will be free (including the Division 2 playoffs), the same pay per view pay scale from 2012 will be in place for the Division 1 playoffs ($12 for the “regionals” and $20 for the championships or $50 for all five tournaments). There was some controversy around the pay per view model in 2013, but given the scope and quality of the broadcasts, it seems a small price to pay to watch the best roller derby the sport has to offer.


And finally, a slightly belated congratulations is in order for Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers and the Fog City Rollers out of Saint John who have officially begun their WFTDA apprenticeship.

The WFTDA recently released the names of its new batch of apprentice leagues and along with the Canadian and American teams named, the list also included teams from Argentina, Australia, England, Sweden, and Germany. Muddy River and Fog City have been leading the wave of Atlantic Canadian roller derby and finished 1-2 in last year’s RDAC Atlantic Championships. They both competed in the RDAC Championships in Edmonton this year as well.

** You can watch the Cincinnati vs. Toronto showdown here.

Quad City Chaos 2012 Recap (Part One): The Games

Despite big changes to the lineup, the Vixens continue to progress. (Photo by Greg Russell)


Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls) 84 vs. CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby) 197

The Rideau Valley Vixens came into this tournament in the midst of a mini-rebuild as the first true generational shift in the travel team occurs. With the loss or absence of key pack players and jammers,  the team could easily have crumbled under the pressure of playing their big sisters to the south: but instead, what has emerged from the Vixens’ minor overhaul is the emergence of a solid team with a ton of potential. As a travel team, the Vixens have always been defined by outstanding individual play, so it was a CN Power squad that was caught off guard. Tight walls controlled CN Power jammers on opening passes and allowed the impressive and growing number of Vixens’ jammers to get a significant amount of leads (Soul Rekker and Dee Dee Tee lead the rotation that also included Mudblood, Tarantulove, and Pix E Cutz). This kept things close, with CN Power holding on 83-48 at the half.

CN Power seemed to reel things in to kick off the second half and went on a 30-9 run in the first ten minutes to pad their lead and pull ahead of the upstart Vixens; a Soul Rekker 15-point pick up briefly brought Rideau Valley back into it, but a Betty Bomber 30-point power jam with only 13 minutes remaining increased the lead to 73 points and provided the padding that CN Power needed. Strong recycling from the Brim Stone/Panty Hoser duo, and continued impressive play from Aston Martini ensured the 113 point victory for CN Power, the narrowest margin in four meetings with the Vixens, a good sign for the Ottawa team.

Eh! Team (Hammer City Roller Girls) 31 vs. Thunder (Tri-City Roller Girls) 392

Freudian Whip has taken on a larger jamming role with the Thunder; Hammer City vet Miss Carriage returned to the track before re-injuring her collarbone. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The second bout of the opening day of the 2012 Quad City Chaos was a display of textbook dominance from the Tri-City Thunder. Controlling every aspect of the bout over a majority of the first half, smothering pack defence, unstoppabably agile jamming (including a monster game from rookie Ova’ Kill—who was playing her first game and recorded 50 points in the first half alone), and overall track awareness saw the Thunder hold the Eh! Team off the board for the first 23 minutes (they lead 145-0 at that time). For the most part, Hammer tried to stem the flow by keeping their core of veterans in the key jammer-pivot roles. It was vet Bitchslap Barbie who finally pulled the first lead jammer and points for her team, and the insatiable Mean Little Mamma kept the momentum going. Down but not demoralized, the Eh! Team was looking at a 180-11 deficit at half.

One thing about this Hammer City team, they never stop fighting even in the face of major odds (they entered the tournament on a 16 game WFTDA losing streak). Lead by the unceasing play of Barbie, Mama and Miss Carriage, the new generation of Hammer City skaters slowly began to mark their presence, and led by a similarly unceasing Lorazeslam and a smart on-track leader in Whacks Poetic, the likes of Zoe Disco, Oh! Henry, Peppermental and Skarla provide a solid group around which to build.  In the end they had no answers for the Thunder who skated away with an impressive 361 point victory.

 *Watch the archived boutcast.

Breakout Vixens jammer Tarantulove mixes it up with Whacks Poetic, one of the key members of the next generation of Hammer City skaters. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Eh! Team (HCRG) 75 vs. Vixens (RVRG) 248

The Rideau Valley Vixens continued their exceptional play. Hammer City, who seemed to be learning and adapting on the fly all weekend, came out with a grinding defensive start that had the Vixens on the defensive as well, and their walls were up for the challenge. While Hammer’s defense was tightening up, they still struggled to generate offense (they were lacking a little toughness in on the track with Judge Jodie and Mama taking this one off). New Vixens’ jammer Tarantulove –who was out there for RVRG’s opening jam—would have a big game for the Vixens who would dominate the first five minutes before Eh! Team vet JJ Bladez finally nabbed a lead and picked up four points to make it 26-4, five minutes in. Once on the scoreboard, the Eh! Team stepped it up, and a Miss Carriage power jam had them clawing back into it. Despite being pulled into Hammer’s hard-hitting, high risk style, fantastic blocking in this one from Screaming Meanie Massacre (who has stepped into a bigger role on the team) and the vastly improved Margaret Choke (who was reliable defensively all weekend), kept the Vixens in control, and they eventually began to slowly pull ahead, leading 147-41 at half.

In the second half, Rideau Valley tightened things up and with less penalties were able to pull away (they took a lot of counter-clockwise blocking penalties in the first). Frostbite Me continued her excellent play in the pack while Tarantulove continued with her best game of the tournament closing out the game with a big jam to end an impressive, one-sided Vixens’ 173 point victory. Nonetheless, the Eh! Team had to be content with their 75 point offensive output in the game.

Brim Stone leads a CN Power wall to hold off Ova' Kill (who had a very impressive rookie debut). (Photo by Greg Russell)

Thunder (TCRG) 107 vs. CN Power (ToRD) 141

The marquee matchup of the 2012 Quad City Chaos was at prime time on Saturday night, and with these two ranked 16th (Thunder) and 17th (CN Power) in the WFTDA’s North Central Region, this one was about much more than a potential QCC tournament victory.  This was the third meeting in the last 15 months, and a tie breaker as they split the previous meetings. While this matchup is no longer as much about differing styles as it once was, Thunder still prefers a much slower, deliberate game than CN Power who still doesn’t seem to mind getting involved in a faster shoot out. Nonetheless it was a complete stalemate in the opening jams as both teams proceeded cautiously, almost respectfully. They traded leads throughout the first five minutes until a CN Power power jam (skated by Bambi, who’d never faced Thunder before) with a 4-3 pack advantage gave them a lead (21-3) that they would never relinquish. They settled in to this one and at one point increased the lead to 60-9 with only 12 minutes left. But the Thunder fought back hard at the end of the first and wrestled momentum away, outscoring CN Power 37-3 in the final 12 minutes to pull close, 63-46 at the half.

Super Thunder blocker Bareleigh Legal attempts to hunt down CN Power's Defecaitlin. (Photo by Greg Russell)

This bout was typified by wide swings in momentum, and CN Power came out calm and collected to start the second and was able to quickly get back into it. Penalties played a big role in this one: while Toronto had a steady stream of blockers heading to the pack giving Thunder dangerous pack advantages, Toronto’s jammers managed to remain clean, and the power jams made a big difference. But CN Power also showed their depth in all positions. Experienced jammer Candy Crossbones seemed to revel in the physical game played by the Thunder, and Betty Bomber and Aston Martini both had strong games in the pack. For the Thunder, sin-e-star and BareLeigh Legal were their usual lethal selves but Sofanda Beatin has really stepped up her game and was a huge presence all weekend for Tri-City. Rookie Ova Kill also continued to impress against experienced opponents. Defecaitlin closed out the bout with an important lead jam on the final jam, as CN Power held on for the very important victory.

*Watch the archived boutcast.


Despite leading for much of the game, in the end the experience of players like sin-e-star and Sofanda Beatin was too much for the Vixens. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Vixens (RVRG) 168 vs. Thunder (TCRG) 202

In what was the second-place game at the tournament, Thunder came in as huge favourites, but as they did all weekend, the Vixens impressed with their steady team play. From the very opening jam, this one was a thriller. Tri City controlled things early as Sofanda Beatin was a one-women wall constantly recycling the Vixens’ jammers. They quickly built an 18 point lead before the very athletic Mudblood, who has emerged as a key player on the Vixens whether in the pack or jamming, finally got her team on the board, but the Thunder were still in control, 18-4 five minutes in. Potentially still suffering from the previous night’s emotional bout against CN Power, Thunder was not their usual dominant selves and seemed easily distracted as an excited Rideau Valley team kept pushing. Some strong offensive blocking from transfer Eh-Nihlator helped Soul Rekker pick up 18 and begin a thrilling run that saw RVRG inch ever closer, down two, 32-30 halfway through the first.  They took their first lead 46-44 with 10 left in the half. Mudblood and Ova’ Kill had some fantastic battles in the half, but the Vixens completely took over (leading to some desperate, undisciplined play from the Thunder) and only a big final-jam pick up from Konky had Tri-City still in it, down 74-63 at half.

The Vixens managed to hold on to the lead for the first fifteen minutes of the second, but as the tension rose, the experience of the Thunder shone through, and small errors plagued the Vixens. The power jams started going Thunder’s way and when they took a 132-125 lead halfway through the second, it was clear that momentum had firmly shifted. Leigh-zzie Borden (who had a breakout tournament at QCC ’11) closed out the game with a power jam with only 3 minutes left that put it out of reach and guaranteed the Thunder a second place finish at the Quad City Chaos.

CN Power's Aston Martini was dominant at times during the tournament. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Eh! Team (HCRG) 55 vs. CN Power (ToRD) 408

CN Power closed out the tournament with one of their greatest offensive performances ever, breaking the 400-point barrier for the first time and building up their largest margin of victory ever.  But no one would have guessed that score after the first five minutes of the bout when Hammer City put forward their best sustained effort of the tournament. Catching the hosts completely off guard, the Eh! Team took their first lead on a Lorazeslam jam (8-7) four minutes in. (It took them 20 minutes to score against the Thunder the day before.) It was a slightly different look from the CN Power offense (Rebel Rock-It played big minutes with the star and looked great in the scrum starts) and Eh! Team had their top roster who are playing very well together (*tragically, veteran leader Miss Carriage rebroke her collar bone the day before and was unable to play). It was only a Defecaitlain power jam 8 minutes that gave CN Power a definitive lead (44-12). Led by strong pack play from Whacks Poetic and Oh! Henry, consistent jamming from JJ Bladez, Lorazelslam and Mean Little Mama kept Hammer on the board, but CN Power comfortably increased their lead to 208-31 at the half.

The second half brought much the same from both teams; increasingly good play from the young, inexperienced Eh! Team skaters, and a relentless push forward from CN Power who never once took their foot off the gas ( Defecaitlin recorded a rare 39 point jam on a remarkable 8 scoring passes at one point). Mean Little Mama ran into some more undisciplined play as jammer for the Eh! Team, which truly sealed the deal for the hosts who did everything right in the second half on their way to the 353 point victory and top spot at the 2012 Quad City Chaos.

* Watch the archived boutcast.

***All the WFTDA action was streamed live on Canuck Derby TV. Check the archives if you missed it. The non-sanctioned games will be available on Layer 9.

***On Thursday the recap continues with The Commentary.

2012 Quad City Chaos Preview: Part Two (The Teams)

Toronto Roller Derby’s third annual Quad City Chaos will play out at the Bunker in Downsview Park this weekend. This four-team invitational will feature the top teams in Ontario with CN Power, Tri-City Thunder, Rideau Valley Vixens and Hammer City Eh! Team facing off in a two-day round-robin tournament.

CN Power's Nasher the Smasher by Adam Swinbourne.


CN Power has fared well in the first two installments of the Quad City Chaos finishing in second place both times. They enter this year’s Quad City Chaos on a roll dating back to the end of last season. Although the team split its final road trip of 2011, the loss came to Indianapolis’s Naptown Roller Girls, one of the top teams in the game, and the value of the experience gained was immediate as they crushed Louisville’s Derby City Rollergirls on the same trip. Things have looked good so far in 2012, as CN Power has recorded big wins over Fort Wayne and Roc City (Rochester, NY). Part of the reason for the sudden surge in power has a lot to do with the increasing depth of the Toronto Roller Derby League and the ever-deepening pool from which to draw. Led by CN Power veterans Brim Stone, Tara Part, Nasher the Smasher and Lady Gagya, skaters like Panty Hoser and Aston Martini have stepped up in a big way recently to provide the depth that the team needs for success. Dyna Hurtcha, Betty Bomber and BruiseBerry Pie provide the team with versatile skaters who are capable of playing any position, and the offense remains firmly anchored by the impressive rotation of Bambi, Candy Crossbones and Defecaitlin (Rebel Rock-It has also been somewhat of a revelation since she joined the rotation as well). This weekend could provide a big coming out party for returning skater Mia Culprit, while one of ToRD’s breakout 2011 skaters Marmighty will be making her debut.

CN Power kicks things off against the Vixens on Saturday morning (12:00 PM), a team that they have controlled well in their previous three meetings over the past two seasons. While they will face a far different (and more experienced) Eh! Team roster to deal with on Sunday (4:00 PM) than they did in the fall, the stiffest test for the hosts will come from their WFTDA North Central rivals the Tri-City Thunder on Saturday night (7:00 PM). These teams have split their previous two meetings, although they have not met since last year’s Quad City Chaos.

CN Power Roster: Aston Martini 510hp, Bambi 33, Betty Bomber 23, Brim Stone (C) 21:8, BruiseBerry Pie 31, Candy Crossbones 2020, Defecaitlin 2, Dyna Hurtcha 21, Lady Gag Ya (C) 212db, Marmighty 41, Mega Mouth 26, Mia Culprit 22, Nasher the Smasher 2×4 Panty Hoser 99, Rebel Rock-it 7, Santa Muerte 111, Tara Part L7.

Thunder's Anita Martini by Adam Swinbourne


The Tri-City Thunder return to the QCC for the second year in a row. Last year, a 14-point loss in the final game of the tournament to CN Power was all that kept them from a second place finish. Currently ranked 16th in the WFTDA’s North Central Region (one spot above CN Power), the team has lost some key players from last year’s impressive WFTDA season, but have filled those roles with skaters from their increasingly deep system. Former fresh meat team the TKOs has seen Fox Smoulder, Rain Blows Brite and Low Blow Lois all graduate to the travel team, but vets like Sofanda Beatin’ and Konky also have been brought in to fill gaps and provide depth. But this team is still anchored by a solid, impressive core of vets. sin-e-star, Bareleigh Legal and Anita Martini are workhorses in the pack and are smart, solid positional blockers. Relentless jammer Motorhead Molly also remains the core of the team’s offense, while Leigh-zzie Borden had a breakout 2011 that saw her become a key component to this team (actually at last year’s Quad City Chaos, Leigh-zzie emerged as a key piece of the jammer rotation).

The Thunder has never faced the Eh! Team in official bouting action but defeated the Vixens last year at the QCC (109-84), and while they will look to have dominant performances against them both at this tournament, their eyes have to be clearly set on CN Power. At the end of 2010, the Thunder handled CN Power in a shocking, one-sided 72 point victory that inadvertently sent CN Power on the path that they are on today. Last year when they faced off, the teams were literally neck-and-neck. While the Thunder is currently ranked above CN Power in the WFTDA, a look at their last two shared opponents may actually give the host team the edge. CN Power easily handled Roc City in their home debut, while the Thunder struggled at times against the Roc Stars before pulling away in the end. Previously, the Thunder lost to Queen City’s Lake Effect Furies, while CN Power narrowly defeated the Furies. Nonetheless, both teams have gained immeasurable experience over the past year, and this showdown has all the makings of a classic.

Thunder Roster: Evil Liza 0, Low Blow Lois 8, Anita Martini 9, Ova’Kill 11, Rain Blows Brite 13, Cleothrashya 15, Bareleigh Legal 18, Lippy Wrongstockings 19, Freudian Whip 22, Suzy Slam 33, Leigh-zzie Borden 40, Stacie Jones 101, Motorhead Molly 204, sin-e-star 306, Sofanda Beatin’ 420, Wanda Wreckya 502, Fox Smoulder 1013, Konky 2000, Preying Man Tease 6T9.

Eh! Team's Bitchslap Barbie by Adam Swinbourne


The Hammer City Eh! Team returns to Quad City Chaos, looking to return to the form that saw them pick up third place at that first tournament, defeating Terminal City on the final bout of the weekend. Much has changed in the two years since that first Quad City Chaos, and the Hammer City Eh! Team went through a bit of a rebuild that has seen them through to this season. After losing to Montreal that weekend by 182 points, the Eh! Team has lost13 WFTDA bouts in a row. Only five skaters remain on the roster from that group, and that includes Mean Little Mama and Judge Jodie who actually skated for the Hamilton Harlots last season (the other returning skaters are Bitchslap Barbie, Little Red Rollerhood and Miss Carriage). Lorazeslam, ZoeDisco, and Bam Bam Bigelow all picked up valuable experience playing for the Eh! Team last season, while Whacks Poetic, Dark Passion Play and Scooby Doom were key pieces of the Harlots.

While the Eh! Team will be in tough against the Thunder and CN Power (CN Power beat a short-handed Eh! Team 277-22 in October, a game that saw Zoe Disco, Whacks Poetic and Oh! Henry gain valuable experience), they could challenge the Rideau Valley Vixens (who have had a similar, though not quite as deep, roster turnover as the Eh! Team previously went through). The Eh! Team has that experienced core of the on-track leaders Barbie and Miss Carriage, the fearless, hard hitting Mean Little Mama and the feisty Judge Jodie (not to mention the speedy JJ Bladez who began her career in Toronto in 2007 with the D-VAS) that has seen it all in this sport and should bring a quiet confidence to the track.

Eh! Team Roster: Mean Little Mama 0, JJ Bladez 5, Little Red Rollerhood 7, Dark Passion Play 11, Bam Bam Bigelow 26, Miss Carriage 45, Judge Jodie 67, Whacks Poetic 86, Lorazeslam 88, Bitchslap Barbie 98, Skarla 100, Lucky Lady Pearl 333, Marmageddon 412, Bean Stalker 511, Peppermental 613, Wild Rice 795, ZoeDisco 911, Oh!Henry 5150, Daisy Dynamite AK47, Scooby Doom K9

The Vixen's Dee Dee Tee by Adam Swinbourne


The Rideau Valley Vixens are on the verge of completely their WFTDA Apprenticeship and commencing play in the competitive WFDTA. Since forming for the 2010 season, the Vixens saw two years of steady growth that saw them travel through the North Eastern United States in search of challenges. At the same time, they continued to develop their two home teams, the Riot Squad and the Slaughter Daughters (who won the 2011 Beast of the East). The depth of their league will certainly be tested this year as big losses of key players on the roster will need to be  filled. From the roster that competed hard at last year’s Quad City Chaos, key pack pieces Slavic Slayer, Surgical Strike and Assassinista have transferred to Montreal, while Ripper A. Part (who had a break out tournament in 2010) and Sister Disaster (a key piece in the pack) will not be with the team either. While they retain a strong core led by Semi Precious and Da Big Block in the pack and Dee Dee Tee and Soul Rekker on the jam line, they’ll need fresh faces like Mudblood, Pretty Pants, Chakra Rocker and Pix E. Cutz to step it up if they hope to remain at the competitive level they’d reached.

Although the Vixens had an excellent showing against the Thunder at last year’s QCC, they may be in tough to replicate that feat. Also, against CN Power, the Vixens actually took a step back in their last bout: after a hard-fought 116 point loss at last year’s QCC, they fell back to lose by 130 points this past fall. They will need big performances from veterans and rookies alike to stop the slide. One game to keep an eye on is the Eh! Team matchup (Saturday, 5:00 PM). Both teams have comparatively inexperienced teams built around solid veteran cores and both will be hungry for a victory, it could be an opportunity for the Vixens to pick up a big victory over a WFTDA team to give them some momentum for 2012.

Vixens Roster: Drunky Brewster 3, Pix E. Cutz 9, Chakra Rocker 11, Blackout Susan 13, Margaret Choke 26, Frostbite Me 40, Eh-Nihilator 49, Soul Rekker 55, Pretty Pants 69, Dee Dee Tee 74, Screaming Meanie Massacre 77, Tarantulove 130, Mudblood 278, Da Big Block 454, Semi Precious 10 KT

*Tickets are available online or at a number of Toronto Retailers.

**Tune in to Canuck Derby TV for live streaming of all the sanctioned action.

***Read Part One for complete schedule and a bit of tournament history.

2012 Quad City Chaos Preview: Part One (The Tournament)

The third annual QCC will be held on March 31st and April 1st, 2012, at ToRD's Bunker.


In 2010, the first Quad City Chaos featured the top four teams in Canada at the time (Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver), and, therefore, came to be seen as somewhat of an unofficial Canadian Championship. In a major coming-out party, Montreal dominated the round-robin tournament, exhibiting the knowledge gained on their long WFTDA road trips earlier that year. While the New Skids on the Block showed Canada what the competitive level of flat track roller derby was quickly rising too (the sport was only months removed from “The Great Leap Forward”), the three other combatants were very evenly matched and provided some thrilling roller derby (including Toronto’s first ever win over Hamilton, an 89-87 heart stopper). This year, Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power will host the third Quad City Chaos in their Bunker in Downsview Park.

Montreal and Toronto play in the 2010 QCC. (photo by Derek Lang)

In the two years since the inaugural version of this four-team invitational, so much has changed. Flat track roller derby has evolved far beyond the simplicity of the earlier incarnations of the sport and although Montreal still continues to pace the pack in Canadian roller derby, they are at the very least, no longer playing a different game from their nearest competitors; Montreal may have dominated the tournament again last year, but it was a far different kind of dominance. After a disappointing 2010, CN Power grew in leaps and bounds in 2011, the first year that ToRD’s top travel team played with a set roster. Finishing second in the tournament for the second year in a row (including a thrilling 14-point victory over rivals Thunder from Tri-City), they used the success of the Quad City Chaos as a springboard for their first season playing in the WFTDA’s North Central Region (they’d close out the year ranked a more-than-respectable 17th in the Region). The Thunder themselves made an impressive Quad City Chaos debut, defeating other first timers the Rideau Valley Vixens to ensure a third-place finish (they would go on to complete 2011 ranked 16th in the North Central). The Quad City Chaos has become an important early season tournament for Canada’s top travel teams, and in 2012, this is no different.

Full 2010 QCC results.

2011 QCC recap: Part 1 (Games); Part 2 (Commentary)

Hammer City's Eh! Team (seen here in the 2010 QCC) return to the tournament in 2012. (Photo by Derek Lang)


While the inaugural QCC was an unofficial Canadian Championship, the 2012 version may well be looked at as an unofficial Ontario championship. Two-time defending QCC champions Montreal’s New Skids on the Block are out this year meaning that there will be a new QCC champ crowned. Along with host team CN Power, the Tri-City Thunder and Rideau Valley Vixens will be returning to the tournament, while 2010 participants Hammer City’s Eh Team! returns after a one-year hiatus. These four teams represent Ontario’s (and right now four out of five of Eastern Canada’s) full contingent of WFTDA participants. The WFTDA has changed the face of competitive roller derby in North America (and increasingly the world), and Canadian teams are currently making a charge up the rankings. With Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars turning heads out west and Montreal remaining one of the top teams in the east, Ontario’s four-team WFTDA cohort is set to enter the picture in a big way in 2012.

The Thunder vs. CN Power game at QCC '11 was the hilight of the tournament. They face off on Saturday night. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The 2012 QCC will feature sanctioned bouts between all three full WFTDA members, and each team will play a bout against the Rideau Valley Vixens who (like CN Power at last year’s tournament) are on the verge of completing their WFTDA Apprenticeship and will once again be the biggest beneficiaries of this experience. With Hammer City being a year into a major rebuild and Rideau Valley dealing with a significant roster shakeup of their own, the tournament looks like CN Power’s or the Thunder’s to win. With CN Power ranked 17th in the WFTDA’s North Central Region and the Thunder ranked 16th (not to mention that the two teams have split their previous two meetings), their Saturday night prime-time matchup (7:00 PM) has all the makings of a phenomenal showdown and could be the bout of the weekend (and with rankings on the line, has ramifications outside of this tournament).



12:00 PM: CN Power (ToRD) vs. Vixens (RVRG)

2:00 PM:  Eh Team! (HCRG, 25th in North Central) vs. Thunder (TCRG, 16th NC) (WFTDA Sanctioned: tune in to Canuck Derby TV for live streaming)

5:00 PM: Vixens vs. Eh Team!

7:00 PM:  CN Power (17th) vs. Thunder (16th) (WFTDA Sanctioned: tune in to Canuck Derby TV for live streaming)


2:00 PM: Vixens vs.  Thunder

4:00 PM: CN Power vs. Eh! Team (WFTDA Sanctioned: tune in to Canuck Derby TV for live streaming)

**Tickets for the 2012 QCC are now available.
**Tune in to Canuck Derby TV for live streaming of all the WFTDA sanctioned action.

**Thursday: 2012 Quad City Chaos Preview: Part Two (The Teams).

Toronto Hammers Hamilton in Bout Blanche Double Header.

CN Power jammer Defecaitlin talks to her blockers on the bench. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In downtown Toronto on Saturday night, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Toronto Argonauts in a key late-season Canadian Football League matchup; north of the core in the Bunker at Downsview Park the Argos’ roller derby counterparts were skating away with two dominant victories against their historic southern Ontario rivals. The Hammer City Roller Girls, once the top league of Canadian derby, has been going through a major rebuild in 2011, and that learning process continued against ToRD on Saturday as the Toronto skaters dominated both bouts for convincing victories.

Game 1: Hamilton Harlots 75 vs. Smoke City Betties 164

The Betties and the Harlots are two of the oldest flat track teams in Canada. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For Canadian derby nerds out there this first matchup had huge historic implications. In 2005-6, at the same time that Oil City was setting up shop in Edmonton, the Harlots in Hamilton and the Betties in Toronto were setting the foundations for what would become flat track roller derby in Eastern Canada (with the Steel Town Tank Girls, the Harlots would start Hammer City, while the Betties would split into two teams—the other being the Gore-Gore Rollergirls—and merge with a freshly quartered Toronto Terrors to form Toronto Roller Derby). But that was the past, and these two teams have gone through major changes since and don’t much resemble their precedent-setting counterparts.

Pivot Misery Mae is a key part of the Betties' resurgence.(Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties’ challenges over the past two years have mirrored those currently being faced by the Harlots: massive turnover. In the 2009 ToRD off-season (after a thrilling run to the Battle For the Boot 3), the core of the original Betties imploded and left a roster-void in the squad; a void that looks as if it is finally being filled.  Things started off perfectly for the Betties as they ran out to a big lead. Led by veteran pivots Mia Culprit and Lady Scorcher and stand-out rookie Misery Mae, the Betties quickly established pack control early on—something that has been an issue lately. But keeping things tight and playing a simple, straight-up flat track bout allowed the jammer core of Sail Her Poon, Rug Burn and titmouse to run wild over the Harlots who didn’t have the same success in the early going. titmouse had arguably her strongest game as a Bettie ever. Before being slowed by a knee injury earlier in the year, she’d been training with CN Power (and has since become a key member of the Bay Street Bruisers rebirth) and that commitment to training has certainly paid off as she dominated her Harlots’ counterparts in the early going.   The Betties built a nearly 70 point lead before running into penalty troubles that allowed the Harlots to crawl back into it. Nonetheless, Betties led by 39, 83-44, at the half.

Like the Betties, the Harlots are rebuilding around a group of up-and-coming skaters like jammer Abba Stabbya. (Photo by Joe Mac)

One thing that both Hammer City teams have going for them is a vibrant young core to build around. The Harlots have had a busy summer and it showed in the growth of skaters like Whacks Poetic who is emerging as a pivot and on-track leader, while Kick Assymptote and Bean Stalker have also come a long way in 2011. But the team still revolves very much around the two Hammer City veterans Judge Jodie and Mean Little Mama. Both were very effective all night, and led the push back that continued at the start of the second half. But a tendency to challenge one-on-one led to 5 first-half trips to the box for Mean Little Mama. In an attempt to avoid the blocking penalties that had plagued her in the first half (and to start the second), Harlot’s bench manager Furious P put her out as a jammer midway through the game, joining a rotation lead largely by Naughty Bee and Abba Stabya. A subtle hip hit and hard stop by Bruiseberry Pie forced Mean Little Mama’s momentum to take her off and on to the track in a major track cut that saw the Betties go on an insurance-gaining power jam but  also deprived the Harlots of their hardest hitting and most active blocker. The Betties regained control of the game for the final quarter and were able to distance themselves from their opponents for the confidence-building 89 point victory.

Veteran blocker Nasher the Smasher had an opportunity to jam. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Game 2: Eh! Team 22 vs. CN Power 277

Originally scheduled to be CN Power’s first ever WFTDA sanctioned home bout, at the last minute the Eh! Team were unable to send enough rostered skaters to allow for the sanctioning, and instead sent a group of borrowed Tri-City skaters to fill out the roster. Also, an injured Miss Carriage was the only Eh! Team veteran visible as she ran the bench for a team built largely of the Eh! Team newcomers. To the inexperienced skaters’ credit, they stepped up and took full advantage of this learning opportunity and played hard through to the final whistle. CN Power also dressed a roster featuring the newest travel team members and gave blockers Tropic Thunder and Nasher the Smasher the opportunity to jam, but with an all-important showdown looming against North Central rivals Grand Raggidy in a few weeks, the ToRD travel team stuck to the game plan and powered their way to a team record 255 point victory.

The vast experience gap in the packs made life difficult for the Eh! Team jammers. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Given the incredible imbalance in experience, CN Power dominated from the opening whistle. Jammers Candy Crossbones, Defecaitlin and Brim Stone (other usual jammers Bambi and Dyna Hurtcha had the night) owned the lead percentages on the backs of some excellent pack work. Panty Hoser joined Rebel Rock-It and Tara Part as pivots and led packs that alternated between being physically dominant and positionally sound. The Eh! Team was led by former ToRD jammer JJ Bladez who continues to shape her role as a key cog in the Hammer City offence. Lorazeslam also had a strong game and is clearly a skater that this Eh! Team can begin to build around. But despite some scrappy and spirited play, CN Power cruised through the first half, and only a few late calls allowed Hammer City to get on the board, as they were down 135-6 at the half.

After missing CN Power's last bout against the Sexpos, Defecaitlin had a big night in her return to action. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the first half of the second period, it looked like that 6 point score was going to hold, but a power jam for the Eh! Team (one of only two, both late in the game) and a brief lapse in discipline from CN Power saw Hammer City take advantage and put 12 points on the board, tripling their score.  Led by Tri-City skater Sofanda Beatin  (who left it all on the track for her adopted team) the Eh! Team fought back. Oh! Henry had a strong bout for Hamilton and like Lorazeslam is another skater who looks like the future of this team.  The newest CN Power skaters—Sinead O’Clobber, Santa Muerte and Tropic Thunder—gained extremely valuable track time for ToRD’s all stars who have thus far been dominating the lower ranks of WFTDA’s North Central Region. CN Power also played with some strategies and Defecaitlin twice (in two different ways!) “fed the baby” to her blockers (pulled the jammer back into the pack after the first pass). It was a great all-around performance from ToRD’s travel team who look to finish 2011 on a high note before its first full season of WFTDA competition.

Nerd Meat Part 9: Taking the Test

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 9: Taking the Test

ToRD recently graduated from the WFTDA Apprenticeship. CN Power will now compete in the North Central Region. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Four months of falls, bruises, breaks, triumphs and frustrations, and ToRD’s latest fresh meat group has come to the end of the track. Our numbers have dwindled from 90+ to about 40, as those who underestimated the physicality and dedication that the sport requires have pulled away. There’s nothing left to do to prepare, and WFTDA’s minimum skills test is now upon us. Over the months there have been obvious divisions in abilities and talent. Many will pass the test, but some will not. Those who do will move on to ToRD’s farm team, the DVAS, where once again there will be divisions in talent, and eventually the top skaters in my fresh meat group will enter the draft and become chosen by one of Toronto’s four home teams. A few then will begin to train even harder, peering hopefully to CN Power, Toronto’s travel team, which recently graduated to full WFTDA status and will be competing in the North Central Region. For a select few, that is the ultimate goal.

Right now, you could almost say that Canada is going through its own fresh meat program in WFTDA. Currently there are five full Canadian WFTDA members (Montreal, Hamilton, Tri-City Thunder, Vancouver and Toronto), while one, Rideau Valley, is completing its apprenticeship. But just as every fresh meat group has that superstar who is obviously way better than everyone else (a figure skater or hockey player usually), Montreal is very much at the top of the class in Canada.

ToRD and Tri-City (competing here at QCC 2011) are two of Canada's five full WFTDA leagues.

It was in that all-important roller derby year of 2009 when WFTDA finally expanded beyond the American borders to Canada as both the Hammer City Roller Girls and Montreal Roller Derby were admitted into the mix. While Hammer City had produced many of Canada’s firsts, Montreal would finally take part in an important one: on May 2, 2009, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Montreal would face Harrisburg Area Roller Derby in the first sanctioned WFTDA bout featuring Canadian and American teams. Montreal would lose that game, and many more in a busy 2009 that saw them go 2-6 and travel as far as Nashville, with 100-point losses not being unusual. But far from being deterred, the losses pushed the Skids to improve, and they sopped up the strategies they encountered.

Montreal's New Skids on the Block entered the 2010 Quad City Chaos on a roll. (Photo by Derek Lang)

In Canada at the time, there wasn’t much inter-city competition in a broad sense of the term, and the general consensus was that the top travel teams in Canada were on a fairly even keel. Early in 2010 ToRD invited the top four teams in the country to compete in a two day round-robin tournament, the Quad City Chaos. The host CN Power would take part along with Canada’s two WFTDA teams (Montreal’s New Skids on the Block and Hammer City’s Eh! Team), with Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars rounding it out. Vancouver was clearly the top team from the west, and they’d also defeated the Skids at 2008’s Derby Night in Canada. They flew east with high expectations, some western observers were adamant that Terminal City would take the tournament.

Undeterred by the losing record in 2009, Montreal kicked off 2010 with away games against Charm City (Baltimore) and Tucson, two of the most historic flat track leagues in America. While Charm City predictably stomped them (like Montreal, they too were quick to adapt to the pace and isolation strategies coming out of the west), Montreal nearly pulled off a big upset over Tucson, falling by just 9. It was a turning point for Montreal, and they’d remain on the road to record four straight sanctioned victories before heading into the QCC weekend, pulling into Toronto with buzz just beginning to generate around this squad and how quickly they were adapting to the new look flat-track game (one of those victories was a decisive 187-83 victory over Arizona, another historic team and original WFTDA member). They’d passed the test, to say the least.

Montreal sent a clear message when they shocked Hammer City 208-26 in March 2010. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal put to rest any doubts of their talent when the Skids and the Eh! Team kicked off QCC weekend with a sanctioned bout. At their last meeting, in 2008, Montreal had barely won a defensive showdown 58-49. By March 2010 though, the Skids were a different sort of beast all together, and they crushed Hammer City 208-26 to send a clear message to the teams in the tournament and Canadian roller derby in general. They easily won that inaugural QCC (and this year’s version as well) and no Canadian team has even come close to them since.

Montreal would go on to have a breakout 2010, finishing 11-5 and setting another historic precedent by finishing 6th in the Eastern Region to become the first non-US team to qualify for the WFTDA playoffs where they’d be eliminated by Boston in the Eastern quarterfinals.

The rest of the country is left to chase Montreal, and try to chip away at the separation that currently exists. A league’s ability to compete will be determined, in large part, by how well it prepares its new skaters for the rigorous determination that making it to the top level of competitive flat track roller derby requires: this process begins in fresh meat. And in Toronto anyway, fresh meat is now just the first step toward making it into the league, a league that clearly has its competitive sights set high.

But as Montreal showed, to get to the top you have to start at the bottom, and although a skater has to train for four months just to get to this point, the bottom is actually the WFTDA minimum skills test. Only after passing that all-important obstacle does the journey really begin.

*** Check out this excellent documentary, Hangin’ Tough on the  rise of Montreal’s New Skids on the Block

Forest City Pounds Hammer City in Double Header

It was an almost completely new look Harlots who hosted the the Lunch Ladies. (photography by Derek Lang)

Saturday night marked the beginning of a new era in history of the Hammer City Roller Girls, and they kicked it off against a familiar foe. Since 2007 the Forest City Derby Girls have been challenging their Hamilton rivals to no avail, but that all changed on Saturday as they proved greedy guests in sweeping the double header between the two cities’ four teams.

Luscious Lunch Ladies 210 vs. Hamilton Harlots 64

Although it is only their second year in existence, the Luscious Lunch Ladies looked like the veterans in this one as the historic Harlots tracked an almost completely new-look roster. Key veteran pivot Judge Jodie was almost immediately battling for control of the pack, which was being wrestled out of control by stand-out Lunch Lady Andi Slamberg. Given that neither team has had any competitive track time yet in 2011, it wasn’t surprising that there was a lot of sloppy pack play in the early, and some botched power jams kept things close, tied at 22 at one point in the early going.

The Lunch Ladies did not look intimidated by their historic opponents.

The new London team seemed to be taking after their big-sister Thames Fatales in their fearlessness, and Mighty Thor, Bloodlust Barbie, and Elle Boes led the offense, jamming admirably late in the first half, taking advantage of some inconsistent and undisciplined play from the Harlots to help the London team pull ahead 93-37 at the half.

The Harlots needed to come out strong to start the second half to fend off the Lunch Ladies’ threat to pull away. Unfortunately for Hamilton Andi Slamberg made a statement early. Trading the stripe for the star and laying down 18 points to maintain the momentum they’d built up through the first half. Urged on by the home town crowd, the Harlots certainly did not relent, and some dogged jamming from Frec-Kills and Abbya Stabya led by determined pack work from Scooby Doom and Whacks Poetic ensured that points were put on the board, but as the Lunch Ladies became more and more comfortable with one another the Harlots could not contain their offense and the skaters from London pulled away for a big 210-64 victory.

This marked the first victory ever for Thames Fatales over a Hammer City squad.

Thames Fatales 170 vs. Eh! Team 64

Although certainly not as radical a restructuring as the Harlots, it was also a revamped Eh! Team roster that took to the track against a Thames Fatales team loaded with talented veterans. While this was the 2011 debut for Hammer City’s WFTDA team, the Thames Fatales were coming off of an appearance at the Beast of the East and a recent win over Mid-Michigan. That comfort and familiarity on the track was obvious in the early going, as London quickly established control led by extraordinary jamming from star jammer Killson. Killson would dominate the jammer battles all night, and especially in the early going, no matter if she was matched up against Eh! Team slawarts Bitchslap Barbie and Miss Carriage, or the speedy JJ Bladez. Thames rushed out to a quick 41-8 lead thirteen minutes in.

Thames Fatales' Slacker Smacker was fearless in her jamming.

Hammer City has lost a lot of their core over the past few years, and were missing a few key players on the night, and the inevitable growing pains that come with integrating new players into a veteran lineup were on display in the pack dominance that Thames Fatales had over the Eh! Team in this one. London has great lines featuring players very familiar with one another. In the early going the Line pivoted by Mirambo and featuring Back Ally Sally, Jemicide and None Ya Biz clearly had the Eh! Team’s number, executing consistently well, and pulling off solid and effective traps on power jams to ensure a big 52-14 lead twenty minutes in. But for all of the youth on the Hamilton team, there was significant experience too and Hawkeye Fierce was key in helping Miss Carriage pick up key points on a late power jam to pull the host team within striking distance down 63-38 at the half.

Even veterans like Bitchslap Barbie couldn't help the Eh! Team survive the Thames Fatales on this night.

The Eh! Team clearly tried to mix it up in the second half, and there were strong jams led by veterans Eduskating Rita and the athletic Lock N Roll. Homewrecken Molly also stepped it up in the second half for Hamilton, and despite some penalty trouble for London’s “Shake n Bake” duo Back Ally Sally and Mirambo (who seem to stick together like glue when forming walls), Thames Fatales managed to respond to every push back that Hamilton could manage and with aggressive jammer Slacker Smacker putting up big points, actually managed to run up their lead 115-38 before Hamilton was able to get any offensive momentum in the second half.

London never looked out of control in this one and rode their solid team-play to a convincing 170-64 victory, the team’s first over a its southern Ontario rivals.

This was a historic win for a scrappy Forest City league that highlighted a strong young core in the Lunch Ladies, and the steely determination of the Thames Fatales, a team that has been grinding away in southern Ontario for years; this victory continues what has been a solid start to 2011 for the strategically sound team, building on the momentum gained from their one-sided victory over Mid Michigan and a solid 1-2 performance against stiff competition at the Beast of the East (their two losses were against the two eventual finalists in the tournament). For Hammer City, this double header kicked off what will be the first major rebuild in the history of the league, although they have survived the rise and falls of teams before, and have the veteran leadership in place to ride out this as well. This night also marked the important debuts for many skaters, many of whom will be relied upon to lead eventually lead Hammer City back to competitive form.

Nerd Meat Part 7: Leaps and Bounds

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 7: Leaps and Bounds

Now that the weather is starting its slow ascent into summer, I’ve been starting to skate outside. Equipped with some outdoor-appropriate wheels by wheel-hoarding rollergirl partner (are all rollergirls, by nature, wheel hoarders?), the first experience on concrete was not at all as frightening as I’d initially anticipated. There’s a school near us and surrounding the soccer field behind it is a full-size, smoothly paved track. Running drills, playing cat and mouse, I was reminded of that first time my partner and I went skating outside. We were still in Montreal at the time, and had just watched the 2008 MTLRD championship bout (the “Celery Championship,” won by La Racaille—picture flailing stalks of celery replacing the traditional white towel at hockey games and you get the idea), and my partner had finally gotten to the point where she was no longer content to sit in the suicide seats and watch anymore. She wanted to get out there and play. Only problem: She couldn’t skate.

Slaughter Lauder, jamming for the Betties in ’09, was the last ToRD skater to don artisitic skates in bouts. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Her first skates were those old-school, white artistic skates (last worn in ToRD during the 2009 season by Slaughter Lauder), bought for a few bucks at the Salvation Army on Rue Notre-Dame, just a block or two north of the Lachine Canal and the recreation trail that follows its coasts. She was committed enough even then to try to skate home and so we began a slow, laborious stutter-stepping march along the smooth trails next to the Canal.

2008 was a strange season for eastern Canadian roller derby: there was a sense of “settling” going on. The rush and adrenaline of the first seasons had passed, leaving leagues to deal with what they’d created. In Montreal, that meant a unified, highly competitive home league of three teams; in Hammer City, it meant the continued focus on the development of the Eh! Team and traveling far and wide; in Toronto, it meant a struggle to maintain control of the largest flat track roller derby league in the world. Perhaps most importantly, 2008 would see the creation of the New Skids on the Block and CN Power, the travel teams in Montreal and Toronto: the first forays into the larger world of flat track roller derby for these two leagues (this would be mirrored out west as well, in Edmonton and Vancouver among others). There was still a sense that things were settling: it was definitely still an era of change and foundation building.

The Eh! Teams takes on Texas’s Hot Rod Honeys in 2008. (photo by Derek Lang)

The development of roller derby in this country continued to be led by Hammer City. That year the Eh! Team would have the pleasure of heading right into the primordial ooze of flat track roller derby by taking on a Texas Rollergirls’ hometeam; they would also strike up a long standing cross-border feud with Killamazoo that continues to this day. And of course, they would continue to blaze a trail into big-tournament participation by continuing to take part in Fall Brawl (where they would finish 2nd in the non-WFTDA bracket).

But growth in the sport certainly wasn’t limited to Hammer City. In Vancouver, Terminal City was setting the pace out west, and in August of that year would host Derby Night in Canada, where the TCRG All Stars would defeat Montreal’s newly formed, suddenly continent hopping New Skids on the Block 66-48 in the final. But Canada would also have a hand in spreading the derby word internationally as well when in June, Team Canada, a conglomerate of 4 different Canadian leagues (stretching from as far east as Toronto and as far west as Vancouver), headed to the United Kingdom to take on Glasgow (a 102-41 win) and then London Brawling (won by the hosts 128-45). This would mark the first international flat track roller derby bouts played between intercontinental teams.

Hammer City’s Eh! Team and ToRD’s CN Power, first met in June, 2008. (photo by Derek Lang)

But as much as there was growth, there was also change. One of Canada’s first teams, the Steel Town Tank Girls would not survive the season (though the gap would be filled by a third Hammer City team, the Death Row Dames), and ToRD was struggling through its second season, attempting to maintain some sort of control over a sprawling, six-team league. While the CN Power travel team would be formed, the league focus on internal politics and attempts to placate the differing directional opinions (not to mention trying to maintain ToRD’s steadily growing popularity in the city) would mean that it would be largely overmatched by, in particular, the Eh! Team (they would first meet on June 21 at the George Bell arena in Toronto’s west end). ToRD’s six-team league would not survive 2008 with both the D-VAS and eventually the Bay Street Bruisers contracting (though the Bruisers would actually have one last hurrah at the BOE ’09, and the D-VAS would be reborn as a farm team).

MTLRD’s New Skids on the Block became the first Canadian team to defeat the Eh! Team in July 2008. (photo by Susan Moss)

But the biggest change in the sport in Canada would actually not fully come yet, but be hinted at in a July bout at Arena St. Louis in Montreal. Hammer City’s far more experienced Eh! Team would head north to take on the upstart New Skids on the Block, a rag-tag looking squad of Montreal all stars decked out in the now ubiquitous neon. Only the hometeams had faced each other to this point with HCRG taking almost all of those match ups, with only La Racaille managing a slim (32-30) victory over Steel Town at the BOE 2008. That would all change during that Saturday night in July, when the Skids would ride the momentum caused by an intense, ever-intelligent home town crowd to a historic 58-48 victory, marking the beginning of a shift in power in Canadian derby that would take almost another year to fully play out.

I was there at that bout, in my customary spot in the suicide seats, cheering wildly and probably a little belligerently (funny how when I knew the rules less, I actually used to yell at the refs more). While I was already completely enamored with the sport at that point, I was only just beginning to get a sense of the larger world of derby, and the greater significance of that Skids’ victory was lost on me at the time. Upon retrospect, it’s clear to see now that it was the first step in a complete recalibration of the sport in this country, led by a Montreal machine that would help expand the borders of the game.

The D-VAS (in black) last played as a ToRD hometeam in 2008. They now serve as a farm team for the league. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

It’s remarkable how quickly flat track roller derby is evolving, how that bout was only three years ago but seems like a different era all together. My partner was able to go from absolutely no skating ability to being rostered in a single year. Now, with 90 new recruits, the gap between the skaters who will be ready for drafting by the end of the program and those who won’t be, will be significant. The sport also requires a new level of athletic and strategic commitment as well, and the isolation and pace strategies that fresh meat are now learning at an early stage of training, didn’t even exist in 2008. Here in Toronto, players aren’t even necessarily drafted to teams upon completion of the fresh meat program anymore; instead, they will hone their skills playing for the resurrected D-VAS, which now serves as a league-wide farm team, allowing skaters to be drafted at a significantly higher level. Now, before a skater plays a bout with a ToRD hometeam, she will have the experience of being part of a team, attending regular practices, and most importantly, bouting. All before she’s even drafted.

And this is just the beginning of another massive evolution that will truly change the nature of the sport; as right now, hundreds of young girls are playing in junior roller derby leagues all across North America (including here in Toronto), learning the fundamentals of the game at a mind-bogglingly young age. When these kids start reaching playing age and a wave of junior-trained skaters starts being drafted into leagues (some who will have been skating for up to nine years at that point), it will signify a massive leap forward and the sport will change once again.

Weekend Recap: Thames tame Debs

Thames Fatales 205 vs. Derby Debutantes 64

GTAR‘s Debutantes hosted cross-province rivals Thames Fatales at Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto on Saturday night. In a scrappy, sometimes contentious bout, Fatales ended up pulling ahead for a 141 point victory over their big city opponents.

There was a tight start to the bout, with both teams jockeying for position and points. Five minutes in and the score was 9-8  for the home team. After the Debutantes pulled ahead a bit more, Thames went on a power jam in what would prove to be a pivotal moment in the first half. Down 17-9, the Thames pack took over the jam, isolating and then trapping a Debutante while Sufferjet flew around the pack, picking up a double grand slam to give the Fatales their first lead of the bout. It was a lead that they would not relinquish.

Killson and Bruise Berry Pie battled all night

Killson proved to be an uncontainable force for the Fatales in the first half, engaging in some great battles with Getcha Kicks and Canadian Psycho (who was solid in the first half for the Debs), and Piepshow stepped up to join the Fatales’ jammer rotation, but the real difference in this bout was in the pack, and the control that Thames was able to wield over it. Mirambo was excellent as pivot all bout, leading the way physically and positionally, getting some big jammer take outs and setting some devastating traps.  Bruise Berry Pie tried to respond for the Debutantes and engaged with Anya Face in some of those great pack battles. By the end of the half it was already clear that Commiekaze is a viable triple threat for the Forest City team and was instrumental in their 105-42 lead at the half.

The Debutantes came out flying to start the second half with Bruise showing a frightening intensity in the pack and going shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip with Mirambo on more than one occasion. Leather Locklear also stepped up with some big hits and capable leadership with the stripe,  Getcha Kicks kept fighting and LeeWay Wreck’em put in her time with the star; Canadian Psycho is emerging as a key player for the Debs. But the storyline played out much the same way in the second half. The Debutantes simply couldn’t contain Killson and her triple grand slam to make it 170-60 sealed the deal for the Thames Fatales.

Mirambo and Anya Face keep a close eye on Getcha Kicks

Bruise exited the defeat in style (with an ejection late in the bout), and while the Debutantes still show signs of great improvement, it was the Thames Fatales who were shining brightest on this night. Only two months on and this team barely resembles the one that went to Montreal for this year’s Beast of the East. The pack control, the strong positional play (and the continued growth of Killson as a top jammer) show that this is a team that can not be taken lightly. Both of these squads are clearly headed in the right direction and their performances speak to the continued development of the sport in Ontario.

The Neon Army: Montreal's New Skids on the Block

And elsewhere in the roller derby community…

It was somewhat of a coming-out party for Montreal‘s New Skids in the Block in Philly this weekend as they and Hammer City‘s Eh! Team headed south for the 2010 East Coast Extravaganza. Despite playing with a roster of only 11 (and missing key players including Georgia W. Tush and Trash N Smash), the Skids tore through the weekend putting up the highest single game score, getting the largest margin of victory(261) and putting in the best defensive performance of the weekend in a thorough dismantling of the Dominion Derby Girls (288-27).  They had a much stiffer test against a much more controlled and experienced Tampa Bay team on Sunday. The bout had all the makings of a low scoring battle in the early going as the Derby Darlins matched Montreal’s pack control and jammer speed. Eventually though the persistence and conditioning of the Skids was the difference and they ended up pulling away for a 197-57 victory. Hammer City didn’t fair quite as well, but undoubtedly gained valuable experience in losses to a very good Dutchland team (132-79) and Suburbia (184-95).

All the action from the ECE was boutcast live and archived here by DNN.