After hosting the first ever WFTDA Division 1 tournament in mainland Europe last year (European Smackdown), Malmö, Sweden's Crime City Rollers have excelled themselves for 2017 by snagging the first ever WFTDA Playoff fixture outside the North American continent.
The Division 1 Playoff, scheduled for September 8th through 10th, will be the first playoff in the new Division 1 structure. This change to the Playoffs means that there will be only 3 Playoffs, each contributing 4 teams to the final Championship event (probably in November). Teams will be drawn from the top 36 teams in the WFTDA Rankings at the time of selection, with 12 teams at each Playoffs.
Given the distribution of Teams and Rankings in WFTDA at the time of writing, this suggests that potential European teams invited to Crime City's playoff include: the hosts, Crime City (currently #13), London Rollergirls (#5), Rainy City Roller Derby (#21), Helsinki Roller Derby (#22), Stockholm Roller Derby (#28) and Kallio Rolling Rainbow (#30).
This suggests that at least 6 teams will be flying over from the USA and Canada (or Australia) for this playoffs.
Speaking to us just after the announcement went public, Crime City told us, when asked about the work needed to bring this Playoffs to Europe:
"We applied like everyone else but without the awesome teamwork with the city of Malmö it would not have been possible. Without the amazing support from Attila from Malmö stad and Henrik from Event Skåne it would not have been possible. We also have amazing people in our league like Queen Mia and Vix, they had a vision and could simply not be stopped.
We are very excited about this event. The whole league has been waiting for the announcement and it feels great to be able to give Roller Derby Europe this experience. We aim to fill Baltiska hallen (the arena) and its 4000 seats during the whole weekend!
This means a lot for Roller Derby in Europe, not just because of recent events in the 'States but also for the acknowledgement of our level and of European Roller Derby. It also means a lot to be able to give people the experience to watch first class roller derby live."
With this announcement, WFTDA becomes the final significant institution in Roller Derby (after MRDA, MRDWC and RDWC) to host a significant tournament event in Europe in 2017/18.
Anyone who has anything to do with Chicks in Bowls knows of Lady Trample. For any readers who don’t, she is the founding member of CiB. It was created in 2013 and now there are 253 chapters all over the world, including our bonnie Scotland [the pride].
I am lucky enough to be one of the managers of CiB Scotland, which I run with my LDD team mate and friend Sam Awry. When GMRD asked us if we would help organise the Ramp Camp part of WinTourope Scotland, it comes as no surprise that we jumped at the chance!
We were given some time to talk to Trample in the car on the way to Unit 23. It was great to be able to hear about the first time Trample went to a skate park with Cutthroat and how she was motivated to learning as many tricks as she could. Within no time, there were a group of skaters going to the park regularly. One thing we agreed on during that car ride, is that sometimes you need to be at the skate park practicing tricks to remind yourself why we all love skating, or when derby becomes intense: Because it's fun; Because it gets the adrenaline going; Because stepping out of the comfort zone can be empowering.
The beginner boot camp was first with skaters attending from near and far. Everyone was eager to learn from the professional. After a hello and welcome (and how she was so excited to be in Scotland) the session itself covered stance and balance when skating ramps, how to carve up and down bowls, how to turn, transition and drop-in. It was fantastic to see everyone pushing themselves and encouraging each other. The Trample herself was really friendly, warm and reassuring, holding hands and giving words of encouragement in tandem with her instruction and pointers.
The intermediate session that followed was aimed at skaters who have been rolling about in skate parks for years. All poised and ready for a challenge from Lady Trample, she did not disappoint! Stalls, grinds, seated drop-ins and massive craves were on the intermediate menu. It was great to see so many seasoned and awesome derby skaters playing about and having fun.
There was a real excitement about Lady Trample being at Unit 23 that night, and so many quad skaters being together, in custom made skates which involve a unique marrying of trainers and plates and different types of trucks, sharing their passion for ramps and tricks (not to mention the obligatory splinter or two) was great to be a part of. There was a lot of information swapping about Chapters, skate parks, wheels and experience.
On a personal note, for me, skate park skating improves my skills in order to be a better derby skater. Lady Trample coming to Scotland really embedded this for me as she is one of the best Jammers in the world as well as an awesome chick in a bowl! Trample and Ramp Camp has put skate park skating and CiB Scotland on the map. It proves quad skating is growing in all its beautiful forms and Scotland is right there embracing all it has to offer.
For information on Chicks in Bowls Scotland, visit our Facebook area here.
For general information about the CIB movement, products and merchandise visit http://www.chicksinbowls.com
After our Special January Edition, it's time to start up the Weekly Derby Reviews for February.
As always, the primary source for bout information is Flat Track Stats, so do please make sure your bout is listed if you are concerned we have missed you. [We're happy to add or update FTS data for you.] We're also perfectly open to submissions of bouts directly to us, via our Facebook page (message or otherwise), or by email.
For prediction, we use Flat Track Stats, and, when FTS is not able to make a prediction, our own global SRD Rank. [This is especially the case for Latin America, and non-MRDA Men's bouts, which FTS declines to rank.]
The last date in Scald Eagle and Lady Trample's Roller Derby and Ramps bootcamps is this weekend (4th/5th), in Nantes, France, also featuring Brawn Swanson. [https://www.facebook.com/events/381880268819988/]
If you missed out, coming later this month, Lorrae Evans is following after her Victorian Roller Derby comrades by running bootcamps in
(see the Europe section for GVA Roller Derby's semi-secret bootcamp with Lorrae Evans this weekend, and also for Berlin's semi-secret bootcamp with Loren Mutch...)
Pacific Roller Derby were O'ahu’s first modern-day roller derby league founded back in 2008, and joining WFTDA the following year. As Pacific have grown, they have shifted from their early "All-Star" team, drawn from across Hawai'i, to fielding their own O'ahu-sourced A-Team, the Hulagans. Pacific Roller Derby are very proud of their Hawai'ian culture, and make a point of bringing Aloha with them when they travel for tournaments, or host their own.
The Hulagans will be competing in the WFTDA Sanctioned tier of the tournament, against host leagues Kokeshi Roller Dolls, Tokyo Roller Girls and Devil Dog Derby Dames, as well as Alaska's Fairbanks Rollergirls.
To hear our chat (with rather a lot of Pacific Roller Derby on the other end of the line)...
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As promised last week, we'll be spending some time up to the Tomodachi Derby Tournament in Okinawa (24th to 26th March) introducing you to the teams competing there.
First up, competing in the Men's event, we'd like to introduce Calgary's own Men's team, Glenmore Reservoir Dogs.
Strictly, the men's team of Chinook City Roller Derby, the Reservoir Dogs are named for both (of course) Quentin Tarantino's film, and the Glenmore Reservoir, not far from their original practice space. Currently ranked at 17th position in the MRDA Rankings, and 65th in the world (men and women) by SRD Rank, the team has been competing since 2011, and an MRDA member since 2013. As well as hosting their own tournament (Flat Track Fever), Chinook City were also the hosts for the 2016 Men's Roller Derby World Cup.
At the Tomodachi, Glenmore Reservoir Dogs will be playing the Japanese National Men's Team, NinJapan Rollers.
The team's only remaining original founder member, Dev Null, was happy to answer some questions from us. The Reservoir Dogs had a pretty busy 2016, at the O-Town Throwdown and the Mayday Mayhem - taking second place at the latter to the formidable Ground Control. Can you talk us through your high-points of the last season?
The Ground Control game was a high point I think for 2016. Stelly is an incredible jammer and we thought without him, we would have had a much better outcome for us in that game. Still, it was such an incredible game and our jammers and blockers did everything we could at the time to face them. At O-Town playing against the Hooligans, it was great for us to go up against a top 15 team and our standing against them and Montreal proved that we belong in the top 20.
You also hosted Argentina's ThunderQuads - probably the strongest Men's team in Latin America. How did you arrange that (possibly one of the longest distances they've travelled away), and how did it feel to be playing that kind of truly international Derby at home?
Most of team Argentina were ThunderQuad skaters at the time so putting the game together was pretty easy. Playing that game at home was awesome and as a precursor to MRDWC it got the whole team involved. It's incredibly difficult to get teams here because of distance and international travel, so having the community come to us we could really show our hospitality.
As joint hosts of MRDWC 2016, you saw your opponents at the Tomodachi, Ninjapan Rollers, compete against some of the best skaters in the world. How are you planning for your own bouts against them?
We're going to be bringing our best defensive game and coupled with the strength of our jamming crew we feel we should have some success against Team Japan. Our practises are also getting better because we've added skaters this year and have a deeper bench. We're really excited for the 2017 MRDA season.
With the schedule as it is, the Reservoir Dogs are going to have a lot of derby to watch. Are there any teams you're looking forward to seeing in action?
The teams are really well matched in the WFTDA division, and I think the Tokyo vs Kokeshi game will be the one to watch. Fairbanks vs the Devil Dogs and Devil Dogs vs Tokyo will also be great games. Most of us just love watching new teams and hopefully new strategies. We'll see where we are when we get there!
Finally, after the Tomodachi, What's in Chinook's future for 2017?
For 2017, we plan to build on our past success and have scheduled games at the Big O and another MRDA event prior to the end of June. Our games at O-Town Throwdown, which worked out nicely for us, and our games at Big O will hopefully see us seed well in Vancouver. In a perfect world, we'd want to come up 1 to 2 spots in MRDA for the June rankings so that we seed in at 4th or 5th place for playoffs but realistically our goal is just to make that 8 from North America. I think having 3 teams from Canada in the top 20 in MRDA is really saying something for Canadian Men's roller derby.
The 28th of January sees the first full Roller Derby bout of the year in Scotland, and it's looking like being a great match.
Auld Reekie Roller Girls have had a long tradition of playing Newcastle Roller Girls over the years - both their A teams and their B teams have taken on multiple rematches, and both wins and losses (in the case of the All Stars versus Canny Belters, both in the last year!).
It was inevitable, then, with both leagues launching their C teams in 2016, that it wouldn't be long before they ended up playing each other!
The ASTROs on track in 2016...
Auld Reekie's ASTROs have had a very busy first year, as we covered a month or two back in an interview with their captain [here], playing 4 stand-alone bouts (including one over in Belfast), and also a mini-tournament at the end of the year (which they won). Playing at home, as well, the advantages all look like being on their side...
ASTROs Captain Princess Die told us, "We are very excited to be back after our incredible win at the ARRGmageddon tournament. It was 8 weeks ago, but we've had our winter break so we're all working intensively to get ourselves game ready! We’ve lost a couple of players since our last game but the newly refreshed team who will face Newcastle are fiercely solid and determined. We are as strong as ever and ready to show Newcastle what we've got and continue ASTRO’s winning form into 2017."
Meanwhile, Newcastle's North Cs have had a more sedate opening season, with just two bouts in the last year - a loss against Spa Town, and a win against York Minxters (putting the North Cs somewhere around "high British Champs T4" level). That said, despite the experience differential, Newcastle C have a particular incentive to do well here, as their Captain, McSlay, explained : "We're very excited to be kicking Newcastle Roller Girls' 2017 season off against our good friends at ARRG. The Whippin' Hinnies (B) and Canny Belters (A) took a double win at home to end our 2016 season and the North Cs are looking to continue that winning streak in our first away game."
Of course, winning isn't everything, and the real point of this event is for both ARRG and Newcastle to find a new excuse to travel to play each other! (With both of their B teams in British Champs this year, we might expect more C team bouts in the future, as well...)
The event page for this bout is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/250628665359800/
Last year, the Asia-Pacific Region saw its first ever Roller Derby Tournament, hosted in Okinawa. Whilst the Japan Open was a huge success, the host leagues were keen to hold another one, with even more direct control from the leagues and skaters themselves.
This year's Tomodachi Derby Tournament is the result - another two day tournament, now hosted by the new Japan Derby Tournament Committee, a collective of the involved Japanese leagues. As with the previous Tournament, the Tomodachi also serves a practical benefit to all the teams involved, giving somewhat geographically isolated teams a chance to play those from other areas.
We'll be bringing you more info with interviews with the attending leagues in the run up to the event on the 24th to 26th of March, (at Okinawa Comprehensive Sport Park), but we're starting (as with EuroClash) with an overview of the competitors... (a timetable is available on our technical annex, here).
On Friday 20th January, a little bit of roller derby history will be made when the CaiRollers host Abu Dhabi Roller Derby in the first ever public interleague game in the MENA region: Arabian Fights: 1001 Jams.
It's taken both leagues several years to get to this point, and we spoke to Susan Nour (Nofearteti) of CaiRollers and Abu Dhabi Roller Derby's Milene Bizachi (Milificent) to find out more about the leagues and their thoughts on the upcoming game.
How did CaiRollers begin as a league, and how has it developed over the years?
We began in 2012 after two American expats met at work at a school in Cairo and realized that they had both previously played roller derby elsewhere. Shaneikiah Bickham (Naughty Ven Close) had played with the Big Easy Roller Girls and Angie Kaster (Indie Hannah) had played with the London Roller Girls. In that first year of their acquaintance they brainstormed on how to they could get a league started here in Egypt (because skates and gear are not available), and they started small with 8 players in September 2012. They had a vision that they wanted the league to be a more homegrown effort and not populated solely by expats in Egypt, and that has been the case. Today, our league is about 25 strong made up of Egyptian women and men from various social classes, with a handful of expats rounding out the numbers.
What difficulties have you faced in getting to this point?
The main difficulties have been very similar to those faced by any other derby league in the world: finding suitable practice space, financing things and drumming up interest among people who have never heard of roller derby and have no idea what it's about. In addition to those issues we also still struggle with access to gear. While you can buy some basic protective gear in Cairo, it's not as durable as one would hope for roller derby. And while you can find in-line skates here, you can't find the kind of skates needed for derby. We've been wonderfully supported with gear donations from roller derby leagues around the world, and whenever one of our league travels we try to bring back gear for those who need it.
CaiRollers is already a trailblazer, as the first roller derby league in Egypt. How does it feel to be hosting the first ever roller derby game in the MENA region?
It feels fantastic! We are incredibly excited and proud to be hosting this game and cannot wait to face off against our sisters from Abu Dhabi. They have been incredible about organizing their members and self-funding to get here, and it has been great working with ADRD to get this thing off the ground. Our trainers and players have also been working so hard to get ready for game day. This has been the dream since the league started four years ago, so it definitely feels like a big achievement made all the better by the fact that so many people have come together across the two leagues to make this happen.
How have you been preparing for the game?
Aside from the practical things like securing a venue, boutfits, NSOs, volunteers etc. we've been working hard in practice on our strategy and teamwork, and devoting more time to conditioning out of regular practice times.
What has the local reaction been, both to the league in general and to this game?
Since our inception, local reaction has been much more subdued than on the international scale. Although we've been around four years and have received wide media coverage both locally and internationally, we still remain relative unknowns within Egypt. Those who know us and are excited about what we're doing are mostly friends and colleagues. Having said that, among that subset people are really excited and see this game for the historic event that it is! As for reaction to the game in general - to know roller derby is to love it, and once people become familiar the game they generally become serious fans. We've been very lucky to have so much support at home and abroad.
What are CaiRollers hopes and plans post-game, for 2017 and beyond?
Now that we've come to this major milestone we hope to continue finding ways to play against leagues around the world. We've already got a game lined up with a team from Marseilles in April, and are having conversations here and there with other leagues around the world so we hope to see what comes out of those. At home, we hope to continue to grow both in numbers and skill and maintain the local, homegrown nature of our league.
How did Abu Dhabi Roller Derby begin as a league, and how has it developed over the years?
Roller derby was started in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi by expatriates with experience from playing roller derby in leagues from the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. Dubai has had a league since 2012. Abu Dhabi started skating regularly at Zayed Sports City and duForum in 2013. Since then our league has grown to around 40 members, with 20 skating regularly. We still struggle to retain people as expats are often moving in and out of the country, but we have a great core team now of 12 girls, 2 refs and lots of volunteers.
How does it feel to be taking part in the first ever roller derby game in the MENA region?
These are exciting times. It's hard to train and keep yourself motivated without having a game or competition as a goal. The lack of other roller derby teams in the area is the main reason for this. So this game not only gave us a goal, but also raised the profile of the sport in the region, hopefully opening the doors for future games and the development of new roller derby teams.
How have you been preparing for the game?
We train twice a week, outside, for about 2 hours. We have been working on reviewing the rules of the game, ensuring everyone knows the procedures, looking at and practising different strategy drills and playing against each other. We have also been testing a few new 'moves' and seeing what works. We have a few very experienced players, but also lots of people who have never taken part in a bout.
What are your hopes and plans post-game, for 2017 and beyond?
As we mentioned last week, we're so excited about Newcastle Roller Girls' EuroClash International Tournament that we're running a series of interviews with all the attending teams in the period until 25th March, when bouts kick off.
How better to start off than with a chat with Middlesbrough Milk Rollers, the highest WFTDA-ranked UK team attending EuroClash?
You can listen to our interview below, where we discuss MMR's 2016, and the experience of bouting in the USA for the first time, as well as their plans for EuroClash (and British Champs), and their upcoming Bootcamp (featuring MMR and Team England skater Ella Storey, and MMR's Gunpowder Dot and Skatewell Tart)
The Bootcamp event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1288667924513344/
and of course, EuroClash is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/365884340424845/
Tickets are available for both events right now!
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So if you were at the Glasgow edition of Wintourope, you should probably by now, know your Toe Stop Pop from your Zip Zap Zop. If not, then I'm sorry, all I have for you is an interview with the lovely coaches. Scald Eagle and Lady Trample took the time to chat with me and I must admit, I felt like a fan-girl. These guys are two of my favourite skaters to watch and I'm so glad I got this opportunity.
Lanna- “ How do you guys deal with the fame attribution that comes along with being at the top level within the sport?”
Scald- “First of all, Fame is fleeting. What might be hot now might be day-old news next week. Saying that, I will always do my best regardless of status.
The derby fame is something that you just have to deal with; I can still walk into a 7/11 and no one knows who I am, but you wouldn't see Lebron James walk into a 7/11. However, if I walk in to Rollercon, that’s a different story. Sometimes it’s hard to just make it to the bathroom and back.
So what I've really worked on is to put time aside and do what needs to be done but also make sure I have time to do what I need to do. It's great though: I am more than happy to have those interactions and I love it. It feels just like yesterday for me that I was waiting in line to get stuff signed and having people that I looked up to. I have a lot of patience for it and I love to do it”.
Trample- “ One of the interesting things about, it is there is a level of responsibility, you have to be careful about what you put in the public eye. You are so accessible through social media. However, it also gives you a chance to do things for the community and opportunities to travel and share your knowledge, which I think Isn't really a thing you would see in other sports.
Lanna- “ Mental resilience is something that I personally have struggled with, how do you guys switch off that part of your brain and just get the job done?”
Trample- “It’s something that comes with time; I had a really great coach this year and the main thing he would say to me is to back myself, so much so that I actually got a tattoo of it. It’s a nice memento that I can take with me to remind myself that I've worked hard and to trust my instincts, my pack, my offence, defence and my coaches. If your team are putting you on the line, they believe in you. It takes a little bit of self belief: I played some of my hardest games last year and once I got on that line I just had to remind myself that I've done all the training and to just let it all come into motion”.
Scald- “I think that's where I'm at. In gameplay my cognitive part switches off and my instincts take over, I let my muscle memory do its thing. I don't know how often I have to actually tell myself to continue because it’s more like that's what I have to do, it's instinct. When I think about mental fortitude it’s about getting through practice week to week and living through the dynamics of my team at that level. When you're at that level you don't have the choice to just switch to the next team across town. If you want to play at that level I think the hardest part in my opinion is not figuring out how to deal with your opponents but how you can work well with your team mate”.
Lanna- “ What have your highlights of the Winter Tour been so far ?”.
Scald- “ (adopts an awkward Scottish accent) Shcotland! Och aye ye wee lass, We're in the land of Ootlander an' its ma favourite show and a cannae wait to be here. Its gonnae be a great time. (Back to American) I am super excited to be up here, I've been once before and I loved it. In the US we spent a lot of time re-visiting leagues that I had already been to so it was a lot about going and seeing old friends. We spent our time on the south west but I anticipate that next time round we will head along the east. As far as for the Wintourope Tour, my last name is Buschovik, so I’m really excited to go to Poland. I don't know much what it’s going to be like but it’s going to be an experience. The point of life is to experience new things so...”.
Trample- “ I'm super excited to be in Europe because I've never been on this side of the world. I have a little bit of heritage in Scotland so it was cool to come and explore this place a little bit. Everywhere we are going is exciting to me and there's people who I've been talking to online for the past few years who I'm now getting to meet. They are all coming to our ramp camps and people are travelling all over the world to get to the different bootcamps. Chicks in Bowls is at close to 250 Chapters and it’s amazing I get to meet so many of the Chapter admins and members”.
Lanna- “ And finally, What advice would you give to skaters who want to improve their game?”
Scald - “I think that off skates training is really important, mostly from an injury prevention standpoint. You may not like going to the gym, but going to the ER is much less fun. Having strong quads helps you have strong knees and as women we have naturally weak knees so it's imperative that we strengthen the muscles around them so that they can withstand the torque we put them under. Same with ankles, there's so many baby ankle muscles and foot muscles that we need to look after. If you want to be a kick ass skater and be better than the person next to you then you need to start doing some squats with weight and different things like that. At Rose specifically one of the keys to our success, I believe, is that we have a required gym hour 2 hours a week where we all train together in the gym.”
Trample- “ I don't really do off skates, I know, I'm bad. But I have recently been convinced by Scald that I should be hitting the gym especially to do Pre-hab. I rolled my ankle a while back and I'll do the rehab until its better but then I'm straight back on skates, and it’s not good because a few months later I'll roll my ankle again and it’s because I didn't build up the strength that I needed to help the muscles fully recover and be strong enough to stop the injury from happening again. So I am in a position now where I'm going to push myself to do it”.
Well, there you have it. It was an absolute pleasure to interview these lovely ladies and hopefully you all take something away from my questions. Huge thanks to GMRD for hosting a fantastic event and making sure the day was super fun.
Till next time Much Love.