Queen City Rollergirls

Gores wreak vengeance on Betties in ToRD semifinal

The Gores were looking for revenge against the Betties after a regular season loss. (Photography by Greg Russell)

Smoke City Betties 86 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 166.

Some teams just know how to win. They’ve done it so long, the know what it takes, and they know how to bring it when the situation calls for something a little extra special. After this weekend’s dominant performance, there can be no question left about what kind of team the Gore-Gore Rollergirls are. Coming off of their worst ToRD regular season ever (they’d finished atop the standings after all five of the previous regular seasons) and having sustained their largest ever defeat (a 142-point loss to this same Smoke City Betties team), it seemed that the streak of appearing in every championship game in ToRD’s history was in jeopardy. But with an offense led by ToRD’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi (returning from injury), and a pack of fiercely determined blockers clearing the path, the Gores led from start to finish in the semifinal showdown with the Betties and looked like a team renewed as they booked their ticket to the 2012 Battle for the Boot and set up a showdown with their long-time rivals, the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!

Bambi’s performance was not affected by her absence due to injury.

Facing adversity all season and feeling the strain of injuries and mid-season retirements, the Gores limped into the post season (actually only qualifying after a very close plus/minus tiebreaker with the Dolls). With an offence run by committee, the Gores could not get any momentum in their season closer. With Bambi returning from the first major injury layoff of her career, the Gores offense got going early. A 3-0 jam by co-captain and regular pivot Lady Gagya got things started, but on the second jam disaster struck for the Betties. With Bambi skating her first jam since May, the Gores were rewarded with a power jam and the Betties paid dearly. A remarkable 34 points later, and the Betties found themselves floundering in a 37-0 deficit only three minutes in.

Despite strong individual efforts from the likes of Renny Rumble and Platinum Bomb, the Betties couldn’t sustain momentum.

That power jam would prove to be the difference maker in the first half: at the halfway point, the lead remained similar, 54-11. Early penalty woes both in the pack and with their jammers had the Betties scrambling in a way that they hadn’t done all season. Indeed, this was truly the first setback in what has been a banner season for the skaters in black and blue. After two years of rebuilding, it seemed that this was finally the year the Betties would claw their way back to the top. After promising performances against the Death Track Dolls and the Chicks Ahoy! and culminating in their lopsided victory over the Gores (not to mention a quarterfinal appearance at the Beast of the East) it had been a season of steady progression. Led by a core of skaters having breakout seasons (the finally healthy titmouse and rookie Slaptrick Swayze jamming; Sin D Drop-her and Platinum Bomb in the pack), the Betties seemed poised to make their first appearance in the championship since 2009. Down 86-40 at the half, the Betties were certainly still within reach, but the Gores seemed to be gaining confidence by the jam.

Once again the Gores found offense from many different sources, including Santa Muerta, while the Betties stuck to a tighter rotation that included BruiseBerry Pie.

The Gores received standout performances from some usual suspects. With jammer corps depleted, it was Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte , Chronic and Kandy Barr who did double duty to support Bambi (D-VAS call up Getcha Kicks also got her skates wet in her first ever on-track action in ToRD). While Lady Gagya’s phenomenal footwork makes her a natural fit to jam, Santa Muerte’s tireless determination helped her have her best ever game with the star. But since the Betties had a jammer core at least equal to the Gores on this night, the difference was in the pack; and where they Betties had been tight and consistent during the regular season, they were stretched and penalty prone in this one.  Chronic had another fantastic bout in the pack, and Foxy Sinatra added another top-notch bout to what has been, arguably, the best season of the long-time veteran’s career. It was this relentless attack and punishing defence that allowed the Gores to increase their stranglehold to 123-53 at the halfway mark of the second half.

Renny Rumble continued her breakout rookie season.

But despite the loss, the Betties had standouts as well. titmouse capped  a remarkable season with another consistent performance with the star, while BruiseBerry Pie continues to develop into one of the true superstars of the league (and had the possible highlight of the night late in the game on an apex-jumping steal of four points). Rookie of the year candidate Renny Rumble had another strong performance as well showing extraordinary track sense and impeccable one-on-one positional blocking. Renny diversified her game tonight as well, entering the jammer rotation (a position she has experience playing, though not for the Betties). Regardless of the strong individual performances, they seemed overwhelmed on this stage (falling behind by 100 points at one point late in the half) and were never able to claw their way back in the 166-86 loss.

The Dolls had a strong finish to what was a somewhat disappointing season.

***In the first half of the double header, The Death Track Dolls closed out what by all accounts was a disappointing season with a massive 282-102 victory over the shorthanded Queen City champions the Nickel City Knockouts (out of Buffalo). It was an emotional game for the last-place Dolls, who will see the retirement or loss of some key skaters in the off season including long-time Doll Lucid Lou and the last original Doll, Jubilee. They cruised from start to finish, leading by whopping 163-18 at half on the back of some super-strong defence and steady jamming. It was an inspiring victory for the team, a big confidence builder heading into the off season.

*** The Battle for the Boot 6 (Toronto Roller Derby’s 2012 championship game) will go on September 22nd. Three-time champs The Gore-Gore Rollergirls with try to unseat the defending champion  Chicks Ahoy!. Tickets are available online in select retail locations.

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).