Rumbling and rolling
Ryan Summerlin May 20, 2012
By Stephen Kasica
EAGLE – Where can you find girls named “Ribbons-n-Blows,” “Crime Scene” and “Garrison Kill’er” whip around a track on roller skates and ram one another to the floor? Roller derby.
The 10th Mountain Roller Dolls hosted an all-comers mix-up match – called a “bout” – at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink on Tuesday. This event marks the league’s one-year anniversary, cementing its credibility as a serious sport. Forty women between 25 and 40 years old from the Eagle Valley compose the Roller Girls. This modern rendition of roller derby is not at all the spectacle from the 1960s and 1970s.
“It’s a sport, not WWF derby,” said “Mistress Medusa,” also known as Jodi Knight.
By day, some work in restaurants as waitresses, are practicing attorneys in Eagle County or are yoga instructors. But at night, in neon-colored elbow and knee pads, glittered-blasted skateboard helmets and metallic tights or fishnet stockings, they fly on their skates on the plastic flooring under the ice rink in a tight, narrow track outlined in duct tape and rope.
Tuesday’s bout featured the league divided into two teams: the Lightning vs. the Thunder. In the first half of the match, the Thunder mounted a substantial and secure lead over the Lightning, as the Lightning never came within 20 points. However, the Lightning crawled back and finally made up the difference in the final 10 minutes of the game. After more than an hour of competition, both teams found themselves circling the track with hands on their knees in the final minutes of the bout. But after one penalty-filled “jam” – similar to a down in football – the Lightning surpassed the Thunder and won the bout, 144-120.
The comeback came after the Lightning started playing more strategically in the second half, said Roller Dolls’ head coach and Thunder captain “Zen Blaster,” otherwise known as Robin Nash.
Although roller derby is phasing out the spectacle past, the game can be just as physical. In the second half, the Lightning suffered a setback when “Scrappy’s,” Sherry Green, skates flew out from under her while trying to break through the pack. She sat out the rest of the game.
“They knock the snot out of each other,” said Matt Green, who was in the stands supporting his wife. “This is a rough sport; you’re going to be amazed.”
The Roller Girls are required to attend two-hour practices twice a week. Before they can skate in a bout, they have to pass a skills and safety test mandated by Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the sport’s governing body. The test requires players to learn three different ways to stop and complete 25 laps in less than five minutes, among other measures of skill. But accidents still happen.
“Lttl Villain,” aka LaVerne Gomez, wore referee’s black and white strips for this bout because she broke her pinkie when she fell during a practice scrimmage and got her finger caught in a team member’s skate.
Early in the first half, “Ruby RedRumble,” aka Brandy Hoeve, became tripped up in the pack of eight women on skates and fell face-first onto the track.
But what is the appeal of participating in such a physical club, when peers and colleagues might join a recreation volleyball league or book club? Being on a roller derby team is liberating for Hoeve.
“It’s very gratifying to be able to deck a girl,” she said. “Your whole life you’re told you can’t hit girls.”
The next roller derby bout will be June 16 at the Eagle Ice Rink and Pool. More information on the league, how to join, and when they hold their boot camp can be found at 10thmountainrollerdolls.com.