30 December 2011

Bout Recap: Twin City Riot vs Burlington Bombshells

Now that the Cup is over and Flocci has returned to health and sanity, let's go back in time for a long-overdue bout recap.

Back in September, we kidnapped our friend SlapDash and headed up to Barre to see the Twin City Riot host Burlington's Bombshells. Before the women took the track, though, the men of the Burlington Bomb Quads and the Mass Maelstrom went head-to-head in an exhibition bout. As with most men's derby, we lamented the lack of speed control (it's all fast, all the time), but marveled at the footwork and jumps, even if they were a bit sloppy. Also true to form, there was one skater who stood out, but we don't know his name -- he skated for the Maelstrom, and his number is 1337 -- he used strategy, he's an effective blocker, and his pink helmet was terribly cute. (Dear teams, please post rosters on your websites? Please?) The Bomb Quads wore black, the Maelstrom wore white, and, as SlapDash pointed out, "the guys in white always win." The Maelstrom's victory was a decisive 133-68.

Twin city came out sporting sequined silver skirts to celebrate the bout's disco theme, aaaaand... it kind of went downhill from there. Don't get us wrong, we love the Riot. They're awesome. But when they play a team that's not even close to being at the same skill level, even the best team can be kind of boring to watch (see also: Team USA vs. everybody). The Bombshells, wearing Sharpie-numbered uniforms and low-contrast panties (almost as if they were deliberately giving WFTDA rules the finger), looked wobbly on their skates, and barely managed to score 16 points by the end of the first half -- answered with 196 by the Riot. The Riot, realizing they'd win the bout without even trying, let just about everybody on the team try their hand at jamming. We discovered that you can take Mocha Latte out of the blocker role, but you can't take the blocker out of Mocha -- she brings the booty blocks even when she's jamming.

At the half, we looked at the score, looked at the time, and decided that we'd rather go get dinner than stick around for the rest of the slaughter. Flocci's notes read, "2nd Half: Who knows? (...what evil lurks in the hearts of men...) Burritos!" That the burritos were better than the derby made us sad, but at least we had full bellies to console us.

The only good thing about this bout is that the highlight video (if one can call it that) is available online. CVTSport has posted it here. You'll hear a lot of cheering only because the hometown crowd was so supportive of the Riot that they went nuts for each and every scoring pass.

The final score, we found out later, was 260-38. That says it all.

07 December 2011

World Cup Photos

One of the frustrating things about the venue (as if the list weren't long enough already) is that their camera policy kept changing. On Thursday, they let all cameras in. On Friday, they let non-professional models in (SLRs were okay, but only if they didn't have huge lenses). Saturday and Sunday, no SLRs whatsoever.

Flocci, being something of an amateur photographer, brought both her point-n-shoot (for taking video) and her DSLR. The fancy camera has a very basic, not the least bit professional, stock lens on it. It allows her to take decent pics, but not fantastic ones. Axel Adams would look at it and laugh.

So when the security guy made the announcement Saturday morning that all SLR cameras were banned unless the user had a media badge (and believe me, we hope that this blog becomes popular enough before the next big event that it'll qualify for a media badge), Flocci was more than a little disappointed. Her point-n-shoot camera doesn't do well at motion photography. In fact, it doesn't do motion photography at all, unless what you intend to capture is a screen full of blur. If someone who is otherwise holding still takes a breath while the camera is trying to make up its mind about whether to take the picture, the entire frame is blurry. If a breeze moves the photographer's arm hair by a nanomilimeter, the whole frame is blurry. If the... well, you get the point. It's not a great camera. But that was the only option available as of Saturday morning. After a few bouts of abysmal shots, Flocci finally gave up and resigned herself to only having photos from Thursday and Friday.

Here are some of her favorites. More are already up on Flickr, and more still will be going up just as soon as her head stops feeling like she just got kicked with a skate. Whether you call it con crud, arena plague, or Beaver Fever (which, we understand, is a completely different illness in some parts of the world), being sick isn't fun. Not one bit. Anywho, on with the pics!




If anyone has any good cold remedies, drop us an email, k?

05 December 2011

World Cup Elimination Bouts Recap Part 3

We made it across the border and back home safely (and with far less fuss than we expected -- those new enhanced licenses really are awesome) and are starting to thaw out as the dormant furnace comes back online, so it's time to finish up the recap. We weren't quite finished with Saturday's bouts...

Germany met Ireland to determine 9th and 10th places, and despite some really good jams for Ireland, Germany still took the win 116-60. It's okay. Ireland still has that skater with those frilly, shiny skins. They win in Flocci's book.

Sweden and New Zealand went head-to-head on track 2, and what a game it was! The score was seriously close (45-42 at halftime) until the last few minutes when NZ's jammer got a major penalty and Sweden surged ahead. NZ couldn't make up the points in time, and the game ended with the Swedes ahead 94-66.

France also played Finland that night, but we went back to the hotel to be sure we would be well-rested for the final. Finland won 115-84, setting them up for a bout with Sweden to determine 5th place, and bumping France into a bout with NZ for 7th place.

Sunday brought precipitation first thing in the morning, prompting the security team to bring the expectant crowd indoors (which they should've done on Thursday, but hey, lesson learned). Once they started letting people into the track area, there was a mad rush for seats, since everyone wanted the best possible spot for the final bout later in the day. We snagged the spot we'd had the day before, giving us a good view of both tracks, so we could catch all the action.

The first bout of the day was Canada vs. England to determine which would play in the final. England put up a heck of a fight, struggling to collect points while preventing Canada from scoring too many of their own, but England's jammers had a rough time with Canada's blockers, and Canada ended up taking the bout 161-90. This bout saw one of the only serious injuries of the Cup -- Canada's Georgia W. Tush broke her collarbone in the second half (which we didn't find out until later, because she was up and skating off the track almost as soon as the medic got to her), keeping her out of the final bout.

Meanwhile, Team USA was up against Australia on track 2, and it was the most dramatic slaughter of the Cup: 532-4. In the first half, USA was scoring nearly 100 points every ten minutes, and the Aussies didn't get their 4 until the second half. It was, in a word, rough. But it settled the opponents for the final: USA and Canada.

Sweden and Finland played their 5th place bout, which, looking back at the notes, should have been a real nail-biter, since it had lead changes and close scores throughout, but the play was a little on the slow side and the fan groups for those teams weren't nearly as noisy as Canada's or England's, so it felt less exciting than it probably should have. The Finns took the bout 126-100, putting them 5th overall, and Sweden 6th.

After the USA vs. Australia carnage, New Zealand took on France for 7th place. We were very happy that the Kiwis performed their Haka in a place where we could see it this time, as it's quite the impressive display. The French were clearly unfazed by the show, however, jumping to an early lead and holding it for most of the remainder of the game (there was a brief tie in the first half, but then France got a power jam and reinforced their dominance). Penalties were frequent on both sides (it wouldn't surprise us if someone was ejected, but we didn't see) and it was a somewhat messy bout, but a good show by both teams nonetheless. France ended up 7th overall, and New Zealand 8th.

Before the 3rd place bout, seating had to be rearranged to allow everyone to see the action on track 1. This was handled in slow, laborious, and gruff fashion by the security team, with one of the bout announcers stepping in on the mic to help keep people calm. Folks who had gotten up early, stood in the rain, and jockeyed for the best spots on the track 2 bleachers first thing in the morning were informed that their effort had been for naught, as the bleachers were going to be cleared of all belongings before being moved. This made people angry, and for a little while we were worried there would be a riot, but fortunately, derby fans are generally nice folks (even when irritated), and the re-seating procedure (when it finally happened) was relatively pain-free. If it hadn't been for that announcer (whose name I didn't catch, else I'd totally give her props), things could have been a lot worse, but she did an amazing job of putting some humor and rationality into the situation and addressing people's frustration with kindness and understanding.

With everyone re-seated (and a projector displaying the CCTV feed on another wall, with spare bleachers set up), the England vs. Australia bout finally began. It wasn't the most painful point disparity of the bout, but it was still a decisive win for Team England, at 203-85. Australia was even ahead for a few jams early in the first half, but then England got two back-to-back power jams to put them back in the lead and just kept going. The officials seemed to have trouble with this bout, making it a rough one to watch, what with refs changing their calls on the fly and calling official time outs every other jam to correct or clarify score/penalty issues, but we decided to be thankful that all of these issues happened in this bout instead of the final.

Finally, after three solid days of bouts, the top two teams in the world took to the track. The cheering was deafening, the signs were hilarious ("Beaver Fever" and "Kick Ass and Friendly" for the Canadian side, for example), and everyone was excited.

And then, the carnage began.

By the 7th jam of the first half, Team USA had racked up nearly 100 points and hadn't allowed Canada to score. Late in that jam, though, the US jammer attempted her second apex jump and got called on a cut track major, allowing the Canadians to start jam 8 in a power jam, which they used to grab a precious grand slam. They snuck in another four points a few jams later, but that was the last they scored before halftime, while USA nearly doubled their own score.

In jam 7 of the second half, even though USA had lead jammer, Canada still managed to score another ten points, though by that time USA's score was well over 200. Next jam, Canada picked up another three and prevented USA from increasing, a pattern they repeated a few jams later, but it wasn't enough to stop the flow of points onto the USA side of the scoreboard. The game wrapped up at 336-33, with everyone cheering, and the very first Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup was awarded to Team USA.

In case you're thinking that Team Canada didn't play an amazing game, consider this: they scored more points against the USA in that one game than all the other teams that took on the USA all weekend combined. They also kept the USA to their lowest score of the weekend by more than 40 points. They did a fantastic job against unbeatable odds, and we salute them.

That's it for the recapping, but we'll keep posting some World Cup-related tidbits over the next few days as we unwind from all the excitement and settle back into normal life here in Vermont. If you missed the action on DNN and want to get bouts on DVD, check out the World Cup's merch, where you can pick your bout(s) and get a volume discount if you want multiple bouts!

World Cup Elimination Bouts Recap Part 2

Okay, so if you've been following World Cup coverage at all, you already know that the USA took home the cup. And if you saw them play at any point during the weekend, you're not the least bit shocked that they won. Every team that they played, they beat by over a hundred points. Sometimes over two hundred. Sometimes over... well, you get the idea.

Saturday's USA vs. New Zealand bout was business as usual for Team USA. Get lead jammer almost every jam, get a bunch of grand slams, don't let the opposing jammer get out of the pack, and if she does make it past the blockers, call the jam. Simple when you think about it, but difficult for most teams to pull off... but then, most teams don't have Suzy Hotrod and Bonnie Thunders and Donna Matrix and... well, you get the idea. So we weren't exactly floored when USA beat New Zealand 470-8, but we cheered ourselves hoarse when NZ got those 8 points in two jams.

While that was going on, Germany and Scotland were having their consolation bout, where German organization beat out Scottish fire for a final score of 104-41. That put Scotland into a battle with Brazil for 11th place and let Germany move on to their final placement bout.

Once the track was swept, England and France set up for their elimination bout, and boy, was that a rowdy game. French fans are just about as loud as English fans, and it didn't matter what the score was, everybody cheered all the time. My favorite cheer from the English fans had to do with skater Violet Attack, who wears skins with "ATTACK" emblazoned across her bottom. Whenever she was on the jammer line, her fans would chant, "I see London, I see France, I see Violet's underpants!" It was probably more than her inspiring attire that helped England beat France 383-14, although as a blocker, she probably had something to do with england holding France to only a two-point gain in the second half while England more than doubled their points.

The Canada vs. Finland quarterfinal bout was rather like watching a USA bout, only the Finns scored a few more points than most of the USA's opponents. The final score was 499-31 (with chants of "five hundred" peppering the last two jams), and Flocci was tickled to see that Canada's helmet covers incorporated maple leaves into the design (one around each jammer star, and several along the pivot stripe).

Scotland and Brazil had their 11th place bout over on track 2, and the Scots easily took a 110-64 win to settle their spot in the rankings.

We should mention the banana. The east coast's best-known mascot (NY Shock Exchange skater Bane-Ana On Skates) was at the Cup in all his a-peel-ing glory, cheering for whichever team had more yellow in their uniforms and teaching the crowd some brain-hurting puns during time outs. He was a wonder in and of himself, and then we noticed that someone else (possibly Finland's coach?) was wandering around in a monkey outfit. Sadly, we never saw the two meet (nor chase each other around the venue, which we would have paid extra to see), but it was funny in our heads.

It's time for us to pack up and head back across the border, so we'll save the rest of the recap for when we get home. For anyone else who's on the road today, drive like you're jamming, but stay out of the box!

04 December 2011

World Cup Elimination Bouts Recap Part 1

When last we spoke of our intrepid roller derby heroines, they had just finished the seed rounds, and everyone was taking a break so the math geeks could have their way with the numbers. Well, the numbers came out like this:

Seed 1: USASeed 8: Germany
Seed 2: CanadaSeed 9: New Zealand
Seed 3: EnglandSeed 10: Finland
Seed 4: AustraliaSeed 11: Brazil
Seed 5: SwedenSeed 12: Argentina
Seed 6: FranceSeed 13: Scotland
Seed 7: Ireland

With the seeds set, the elimination round began with two bouts on each track Friday night.

First, we saw Sweden take on Argentina, which wasn't an especially close bout, but it had some drama in the second half. Sweden attempted a star pass but failed on a technicality (the jammer has to put the helmet cover on the pivot, not just hand it to her), and then one of Argentina's jammers was ejected for excessive penalties mid-jam. The Swedes had started the bout by grabbing four points and turning that into 24 in short order, and they kept on racking up points throughout the game, finishing off with a 191-65 win over Argentina.

Unfortunately, that was the only bout we saw Friday night due to exhaustion and health issues, but we got some rest and came back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Saturday morning, ready for more action. We met up with members of our home team, the Green Mountain Derby Dames (hi, ladies!), and staked out the best seats for seeing both tracks at once. Everybody got their brackets caught up, and we settled in for the bouts.

Germany took on New Zealand first thing that morning, and it was one heck of a bout. There were lead changes, a couple of tied-score jams, and an interesting coach-jammer communication technique displayed by the Germans: a red or green flag depending on whether the coach wants the jammer to keep skating or call the jam. Considering how many jammers miss their entire freakin' bench giving the "call the jam" signal, it seems like the simplicity of the color method has merit. It wasn't enough to help Germany make up a last-minute point deficit, though, so New Zealand took the win 143-127.

Meanwhile, on track 2, Scotland (who lost the night before to Australia) kept a moderate but stable lead over Argentina throughout their consolation bout, and came out with a 114-91 win, leaving Argentina ranked 13th overall.

We watched Australia trounce Sweden in the first half of their elimination bout, and cheered as Sweden reduced Australia's 75-point lead to a mere 48 points by the end of the bout. It was still a pretty solid loss at 126-78, but the Swedes were smiling and singing at the end, and, as we've mentioned, that's one of our favorite things about roller derby -- the score doesn't alter the skaters' enjoyment of the game or the friendships they make with their opponents.

Over on track 2, Ireland put Brazil into the 12th spot overall by pulling off a 213-57 win with ease. Flocci was a little distracted by one of Ireland's skaters who was wearing frilly gold skins ("they're so shiny!"), but she did manage to glance at the scoreboard long enough to notice that both teams almost doubled their scores in the second half, which turned Ireland's lead from commanding to unbreakable.

Aaaaand writer's block has just hit. More in the morning after sleep and before packing our bags and freshly-purchased merch into the car for the eight-hour drive home.

World Cup Day 2 Seed Bouts Recap

Day two saw the conclusion of the seed rounds, a few hours of quiet while the results were tabulated, and then the beginning of the elimination rounds. Some of the bouts were painfully mismatched due to the way the seed groups were set up (random draw), and some of the teams were seeded rather higher than they should have been, but as the elimination bouts progressed we got a much better idea of which teams knew their derby and which have some room to grow.

We staked out Track 2 on Friday, claiming a spot on the suicide line at turn 1, and our first bout was New Zealand vs Scotland. It started off looking like NZ was going to wipe the floor with Scotland, but then the Scots got a power jam near the end of the first half and brought the score to within ten points. That was, however, the closest they got to beating NZ, and while they put up a good fight and kept the score fairly close, they were never able to bridge the gap. The last whistle blew with the score at 124-111, New Zealand over Scotland.

The next bout was Germany vs. Finland, which was almost an upset. Germany took the first lead on the scoreboard and pulled ahead, but then Finland started grabbing lead jammer again and again and held a ten- or twenty-point lead for most of the first half and into the second. Germany must've had one heck of a pep talk during halftime, though, because ten minutes into the second half, they grabbed a ten-point lead and slowly built it up to end the bout at 104-80.

Our third seed bout on Friday was one of those slaughters we mentioned yesterday. USA took on Scotland, and skated like they weren't even there. The final score was 435-1, and Team Scotland was heard cheering, "we got ONE! We got ONE!" Later that day we found ourselves sitting behind Team Scotland on the bleachers, and they were in high spirits, so these girls know how to see a loss in a positive light and keep having fun.

Our final seed bout was France vs. Sweden, which, while not as rough as some of the bouts, was still a pretty decisive game. France took an early but small lead, and then Sweden grabbed it and didn't let go for the rest of the bout. The final score was 110-46, Sweden over France. France clearly has a way to go when it comes to their derby strategy, but they played their hearts out in every bout, and were clearly honored to be there.

The seeds were announced after a break, and while the calculations were going on, we sat in the car and tried to guess where each team would fall on the list. We did fairly well, getting six out of the thirteen teams right, and only being off by one slot for another three.

Time for breakfast, so we'll cover the elimination bouts in the next post. If you're not here in Toronto today, be sure to stream the final bouts live on DNN!

03 December 2011

World Cup Day 1 Recap

Okay, whinge session finished, let's get to the derby. We decided to get our money's worth out of these weekend passes and arrive on Thursday night when the seed bouts started. We didn't take rush hour traffic into account, so we arrived a little late, and once we got to the Bunker we waited in line for the better part of an hour to get in, but once we were in? Derby heaven. Hundreds of derby girls, bunches of derby vendors, and two glorious tracks of wicked derby action.

Our first bout was Germany vs. Australia. We quickly fell in love with Australia jammer Shortstop, who has a magical way of finding holes in packs and helped her team take an early lead. They then widened the gap in the second half, and despite a great final jam for Germany, the Aussies came out ahead, 136-53.

While we were watching that bout, we caught a minute or two of Canada's bout against France, which ended at 244-17. Because of the way the seed round groups worked out, there were several such slaughters Thursday and Friday, and even a few on Saturday, too... but we'll get to those later.

Our second and final bout of the evening was USA vs. New Zealand. We didn't get to see NZ perform the Haka, but we heard it, and it was very impressive. Unfortunately, this was another of those slaughter bouts, and the yanks walked away with a 377-8 win over the kiwis, but the crowd's reaction to NZ's 8 points (scored in two 4-point jams) was so loud that folks on the other track couldn't hear their own whistles for a minute.

That's been the best thing about the crowd here in Toronto: no matter which team you're rooting for, everyone roots for the underdog, and everyone cheers like mad when that underdog gets points, gets lead jammer, or even just makes it out of the pack. It's really amazing to see that kind of unconditional support at a sporting event that could just as easily foster intense rivalry.

Time to have some food and crash for the night, but while we're doing that, check out this clip from CTV News. We're the ones who drove eight hours to get here!

02 December 2011

Open Letter

Dear Toronto,

You're a very groovy city. You have all sorts of culture and you're pedestrian friendly and you have fruit vendors on the streets, which we thought only happened in the movies. If we were living here, we'd probably be very happy.

As we're just visiting, though, we have some issues.

First, let's talk hotels. The choice should not come down to: $60/night for a closet-sized room that lacks both temperature control and on-site parking or $100/night for something decent. We're here for several days, and that nightly rate adds up. I've stayed in budget hotels before. I've stayed in a place that had roaches and ants and needed to have the room key re-coded twice a day, and that place was better than where I'm sitting right now. I know property's expensive in the city and all, but I'd almost rather sleep in my car than pay that much for this little.

Secondly, driving. I get that Toronto is a pedestrian/cyclist/public-transport kind of city. That's awesome. But that shouldn't mean that trying to do anything by car requires a degree in cartography, a two-year apprenticeship, and an endless supply of patience. It should also not take an hour to go ten miles. I strongly suggest some research into things like flex time (so everyone's not trying to use the same road at once), traffic light synchronization (so one can move more than a block before hitting another red light), and reflective paint for the lines that help drivers know what lane is theirs and what lane belongs to the bus/trolly. Years ago I taught myself how to drive by spending a lot of time in Manhattan, and that training definitely came out last night... I'm sorry for being kind of a jerk out there, but it was that or let the car transform into a gian robot and just stomp everyone to death.

And finally, roller derby. ToRD, we love you, and we think you're the bees knees for hosting this event. But how in the world do you expect to be able to handle the insane number of fans you're going to get on Saturday and Sunday if Thursday's relatively small crowd was almost too much for the venue? I understand why you had to set up two tracks (there is, after all, a lot of derby that needs to happen this weekend), and that, because it's a film studio instead of a sports arena, you had to bring in bleachers, but the amount of seating is simply inadequate for the number of people, it's difficult to get from one track to the other because people are sitting wherever they can find space (often in the walkways), and apparently the only way to get a team's merch is to not watch them, because you only have each team's merch out when they're actively playing.

There's also the matter of the check-in tables (waiting outside in December in Toronto for the better part of an hour because you didn't have enough ticket-checkers issuing wristbands was not fun, lemme tell ya) and the food lines... I get the feeling you weren't expecting a thousand of us to show up all at once. Lesson learned? Maybe? We're going to compensate on our end by getting there wicked early and keeping the same seats all day instead of trying to go from one track to the other, and we're hoping you get things sorted on your end, too.

I'm not even going to talk about the washroom situation. I simply have no words.

So, with all the bitching out of the way, let's get to the positive bits, shall we?

The crowd here is spectacular. People cheer for good skaters and good moves no matter what team they support, folks are generally friendly and eager to connect with other fans, and the skating is great! Last night, when USA creamed New Zealand by three-hundred-something to eight, every single fan went hoarse congratulating NZ on those precious few points. I have never seen anything like it. The people watching the other track must have wondered what happened, because the eruption of sound as people realized that the NZ jammer had actually made it through the pack was deafening.

The programs are beautiful. We would have liked to see the schedule in the program posted on the website for the benefit of those who couldn't be here in person, but since we are here in person, I suppose we shouldn't complain. We love that we can write in our brackets, we love the team pages, and we love that it was affordable. Keep the printing company -- they rock.

It's about time for breakfast, so I'm going to leave it at that for the time being. Summary: the event is fantastic, and we're thrilled to be part of it, but the logistics could use a lot of work.

Love and bruises,
Flocci Lady

01 December 2011


We're here, we caught a couple of bouts already, and we're going to pass out for the night so we can be fresh and energized for tomorrow's bouts. Pics and recaps will come when we have a minute to breathe.