25 September 2011

September Double Header: Green Mountain Derby Dames

Bout Recap #1: Black Ice Brawlers vs Team Unicorn

This was the first bout of a double-header that gave us whiplash. Our B team had a spectacular loss to Madison's Mad Rollin' Dolls Team Unicorn. And by "spectacular," we mean a final score of 71 to 256. It hurt. A lot. And not just for us. One of the Unicorns injured her knee in the very first bout and had to sit out the rest of the game. Her team then helped her feel better by picking up a 34-point jam later in the first half.

In the second half, Madison increased a 105-point lead to a 185-point win, thoroughly trouncing our poor Brawlers, but doing it with style. Team Unicorn jammers who get lead jammer status put up "the horn" in celebration. They also bring some impressive names to the track, including our unanimous favorite, IƱigo Destroya #6FM. So, despite the epic loss for our home team, we enjoyed watching the bout.

MVPs: Madison - Major Kusaknocky #sec9
Green Mountain - Snatch McKraken #3.69

Bout Recap #2: Grade A Fancy vs Legislashers

To balance the catastrophic loss of the first bout, the Fancies turned around and beat Granite State's Legislashers 245 to 36. StrawBuried Jam, who we've seen skate for Central Vermont as well as the Dames, is, according to twoevils, officially a member of the Burlington Bombers, but she did some amazing things for the Dames in this bout, and we hope she sticks around. Nancy Nightmare also had some great jams, and it looks like our Fancies are working on their strategy and pack awareness.

Speaking of strategy, we saw not one but two attempts to pass the star, that somewhat obscure play that we first saw in Boston a few months ago, though only one of the attempts was successful. Pivots, remember that the jammer panties go over the pivot panties. Removing the pivot panties only gets you a major penalty. Still, the successful star pass did help the Legislashers gain a few points, and that first failed attempt was a good learning experience for them.

All in all, it was a great way to finish off the night, and we even got to pick a name of the bout that we'd missed out on the last time we saw the Legislashers play: Catcher In The Thigh #1972.

MVPs: Granite State - Em Bomber #6ft
Green Mountain - StrawBuried Jam #623

Bout Recap: Riot vs Legislashers

Looking at our notes from this bout, we're not sure if it was actual issues or just grumpiness at the hot and sticky weather that left so many unhappy bullet points on the list, but considering there were some good exclamation points mixed in, we're thinking there may really have been some problems with this bout. The game itself, the actual skating, was great. Twin City is getting good at blocking, the scores were close for the whole game, and our MVP decision was easy and unanimous: Granite State's Tazslamian Devil stole the show with her jamming.

But the rest of the event... oy. The sound guys at Twin City still haven't figured out that a pair of monitors (usually pointed back towards a band so they can hear what they sound like) does not an arena-filling sound system make (which is to say we couldn't understand the announcers AT ALL). Arriving when doors open meant that we spent an hour sitting on the wooden bleachers waiting for the bout to start. The rosters in the program didn't match the skaters who actually showed up. And, dear Legislashers, while that shiny white spandex looks awesome on the bolt, it makes your skaters, even the skinny ones, look lumpy and uncomfortable. (What? Flocci's a seamstress. She cares about these things.)

But the skating? Fantastic. These are two well-matched teams, which says a lot for Twin City, since this is still their first season, while Granite State has been around for a while. [Edit: Holy failed research, Batman! 2011 was actually Granite State's first competitive season. Thanks, Taz, for the correction!] Taz, as we mentioned, was in top form as a jammer, and while we were a little surprised that she spent most of the second half as a blocker, she did some amazing things in that role, too. The Riot's Quad Shot also had some stellar jams, helping her team grab a nine-point lead at halftime. The second half saw an epic struggle for dominance that ended with the Legislashers coming out ten points ahead at the final whistle. Close games are so much fun to watch!

We thought we had settled on a name of the bout before the teams came out for their intros, but then we realized that half of the skaters on the program had stayed home, so after watching a few jams and crossing skaters off the list, we settled on the Legislashers' Angie O'Nasty.

We're hoping to see a lot more games like this one -- close scores, well-matched skaters, and the occasional spectacular play that leaves us hoarse from cheering. This is good derby.

18 September 2011

WFTDA East Region Playoffs: Dutchland Wrong to Forfeit?

So, who else has been glued to the free live stream of the WFTDA East Region Playoffs this weekend? There have been some great bouts, some bouts that should have been great but weren't, and one unprecedented decision that has a lot of people very upset.

The 8th-ranked Dutchland Derby Rollers were slated to play 1st-ranked Gotham Girls Roller Derby in their second game of the Playoffs. Dutchland was going to lose, no question about it. There was a good chance that Dutchland's skaters would come out of the bout with low morale, high exhaustion, and potentially some serious injuries. They had a team meeting, consulted WFTDA officials, and decided to forfeit the game.

They're catching a lot of flak for this. Some folks think they should have been kicked out of the Playoffs, others think they shouldn't even be in WFTDA for the next year, and the decision is generally being condemned as unsportswomanlike and, well, lame.

We get it. You come to the Playoffs, you expect to see all of the scheduled bouts go off as planned, even the unbalanced ones. But y'know what? We think Dutchland made the right call for their skaters. They knew they would lose anyway, they weighed the pro of experience against the con of skater health, and they made the decision to take the loss without risking the safety of skaters who still had several bouts ahead of them.

Roller derby is a tough sport for tough gals, and we love that toughness. Thing is, you can't just be tough. You have to be smart, too. If this had been Dutchland's last bout of the tournament, then yeah, take the chance and skate against the best team in the East Region, risking major injury and a serious blow to morale. But putting your girls up against such a formidable opponent that early in the tournament when you need all of them to be fit and healthy for two or three more bouts in the next two days? That's just not smart, and we applaud Dutchland for realizing that and having the guts to make a tough call in spite of the damage to their reputation.

Good call, Dutchland. We salute your brains. Now, back to the tournament!

11 September 2011

Bout Recap: Grade A Fancy vs CNY All Stars

August 13th saw us filling up the gas tank and heading out to Rome, NY to see our Green Mountain Derby Dames take on Central New York's All Stars. As a bonus, we also got to see our local lads, the Burlington Bomb Quads, skate against the Quadfathers. Men's derby isn't really our thing (not enough fishnets), but it was pretty cool to see the Dames' coach, Pope John Maul, strap on skates and get out on the track.

The venue (JFK Arena on W. Embargo Street, *snerk*) was pretty nice, aside from the netting hanging between the bleachers and the rink, surely put there for the sole purpose of irritating photographers like me. (Nothing to do with catching stray pucks/gloves/teeth during hockey matches, oh no.) We were very impressed with CNY's VIP section, furnished with comfy couches, and with their modular track boundary, which helped keep folks sitting on the suicide line safe.

There are some people who, no matter what their title or position, end up being in charge of whatever they're participating in, by sheer force of character. The Dames' Ref Doomsday is, we've discovered, one of those people. Even though he wasn't head ref at this bout, he was clearly head ref as far as the other refs were concerned. He's also a stickler for the rules -- a lead jammer tried to call a jam, but she didn't actually touch her hands to her hips, so Doomsday didn't blow the whistle. He's hardcore like that.

We also liked what seems to be a budding trend in referee fashion: the kilt! The Constable, visiting ref from Alaska (probably the only person who traveled farther to attend this bout than we did), was decked out in a striking sport kilt, black with white pleats. See? Pretty spiffy. And for those of you wondering what a ref wears under his kilt: bike shorts. This is a family-friendly sport, after all.

After all of this chatter about refs and couches and such, we... don't actually have much to say about the bout itself. Our beloved Dames lost 75-160, largely because of blocking: CNY did it, and the Dames didn't. The Dames blockers have a tendency to get so focused on the opposing blockers that they let the opposing jammer sail right on through without so much as a hip check, and the Dames jammers don't get a lot of support when they come up against a solid defense. That said, our jammers did slip past CNY's blockers often enough to score a respectable number of points, and we cheered for them as loudly as we could.

Our MVPs for the bout came down to a tie for the Dames between Nancy Nightmare and Sonic Euthanizer, and a clear favorite for CNY, Gutshot. We were uncharacteristically split on our favorite names of the bout: Flocci favored Mean Squeak, while Johnny liked Bitter Swede.

We rolled into the driveway around 2am, exhausted and stiff, but glad we'd made the trip. Even when they lose a bout, our Dames are a joy to watch, and we'll follow them anywhere.