2010 was a coming out party for roller derby. From the wildly successful 2010 WFTDA Championships to the first ever German Flat Track Roller Derby Championship, the sport has taken the world by storm. While already the fastest growing sport in North America, with 600 leagues operating in 20 countries it is quickly becoming the fastest growing sport on the planet. With such growth comes legitimacy, and for flat track roller derby that meant acceptance into the Federation of International Roller Sports (FIRS), which (more close to home) translated into acknowledgment by the Toronto Sports Council. This official recognition marks the first baby steps toward taking part in international sporting events such as the Pan-Am, Commonwealth, and Olympic games.
ToRD HOSTS CANADA AND THE WORLD IN 2011
The Toronto Roller Derby League enters its fifth season in 2011 as a WFTDA apprentice league (one of three current Canadian apprentice leagues), and the league has altered its hometeam schedule to mirror those in the US. After a year in which ToRD set attendance records and that culminated in a sold-out championship bout broadcast by Rogers TV, expectations are high. Things kick off on February 5th with the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls taking on the up-and-coming Death Track Dolls in what should be an exciting bout. CN Power and the D-VAS will play a double header February 26th, while the revamped Chicks Ahoy! and the vastly improved Smoke City Betties open their seasons on March 12th in what should be a very telling bout. The regular season continues until June, with the playoffs beginning on June 11th.
ToRD will also be hosting the second annual Quad City Chaos on March 26th and 27th. This season’s QCC will have reverberations beyond the city as it features all WFTDA-affiliated teams. Defending champions Montreal and the host CN Power will be joined by new WFTDA members the Tri-City Thunder and the recently named WFTDA apprentices, Rideau Valley Vixens. As it was last year, this tournament will represent the highest level of Canadian derby to be seen this year. This all will be a prelude to ToRD’s biggest venture to date: hosting the first ever World Cup of women’s flat track roller derby. There had been rumours and whispers about this event since organizers Blood & Thunder Magazine announced that they would be holding a training camp at The Hangar (which happened this past December), and it is now official. Details are still being worked out, and this will be a massive undertaking for everyone involved, but this–along with the FIRS announcement–could begin to change the nature of the sport. The World Cup will be held on December 1-4, 2011 and will feature at least eleven countries.
Toronto Junior Roller Derby is entering its second season of operation and continues to expand. With a range of young skaters from 9-18 years old, TJRD will soon be graduating skaters to the senior ranks, which will be another game-changer for the sport. Junior Leagues, which are popping up all over North America, represent yet another step in the evolution of flat track roller derby and speak to the strong future that the sport has.
NEW HEIGHTS FOR THE SKIDS
After a simply extraordinary 2010 that saw them become the first non-US team to qualify for the WFTDA Regionals, Montreal’s New Skids on the Block are not slowing down in 2011 (not to say we won’t be seeing some slow derby from the pack masters from La Belle Province). Montreal took WFTDA by storm in 2010 due to their willingness to play any team at any time no matter the ranking or reputation (which resulted in a meteoric rise in ability) and that will hold true this season as well. The Skids kick off 2011 with a west coast road swing that will see them take on Western Region powerhouses including the mighty Oly Rollers (February 13), the team currently ranked second on the planet and one of the great teams in flat track roller derby’s early history. Despite the success of 2010, the Skids know that there is another level out there to attain and seem focused on attaining it.
Over the past few seasons, Montreal has taken the lead in Canadian roller derby and will continue this season as they have completed a precedent-setting league restructuring that will see the members of the Skids no longer playing on any of MTLRD’s hometeams. In what could be a model for leagues in the future, skaters will now have to work their way through the B-team Sexpos (which will remain a roster of hometeam skaters) to eventually earn a spot with the Skids. This also means that MTLRD has just had its largest intake of rookie skaters ever, changing the face of La Racaille, Les Contrabanditas and Les Filles du Rois. This has to have the rest of the top eastern Canadian hometeams salivating for the Beast of the East IV (April 29-May1), as the tournament is suddenly a wide open affair. With the makeup of the MTLRD teams virtually unknown at this point (outside of Montreal), new front runners have emerged to challenge the Montreal dominance, including ToRD’s Gore-Gore Roller Girls and Tri-City’s Vicious Dishes.
** 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!
** Tomorrow: Part 2 will feature Tri-City, Rideau Valley, Forest City, Hammer City and more!