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!