Every nation has a few famous skaters, who have brought a large influence on the development of roller derby. For Sweden, arguably one of the most well known is Swede Hurt, who has a strong involvement in both of Sweden's leagues in Stockholm and Crime City, and is coaching Team Sweden to boot.
We caught up with her to get her opinions on the state of modern roller derby, with a slightly European perspective.
You got into Roller Derby mainly in the 'States, how does the experience of playing for the big US teams compare with European Derby?
- Swede Hurt by... Swede Hurt (or Mad Maloony, possibly)
It has been about finding a different place for me, I am extremely competitive, and I miss playing in US, but it has also been an experience to move back home to Europe and helping derby here. I have been able to coach all-over Europe, and it has also taught me about myself and derby. European Derby is for sure on the right track, and I love to see how there are new teams popping up every month, I love that so many girls realize that it is not about the fishnets but about being an athlete. I always try to tell girls that you cannot skip your basic skating and derby skills, and you cannot forget the off-skate parts either. Both is really important in the process of building a team, that and being a good listener and resolve conflicts before they become gigantic.
I had to take a decision when I moved back to Sweden; if I was gonna sit around and be upset that people weren't playing derby on the level I was used to OR if I was gonna start coaching people and bring them up to the level I wanted to play on. And since I don't really like just sitting around being unhappy - I started to coach and push people upwards.
As someone who's played in the highest levels of American roller derby (with Gotham), how has this influenced your coaching of Team Sweden?
Keep it clean, know the rules, be confident and have fun and keep fit. I loved being a part of Gotham, and I admire many of the Gotham skaters for their dedication and hard work. Becoming a great derby player is about hard work, dedication to your team and lots and lots of fun. I expect lots from my skaters, but they also know that I listen to them, and that I only push them because I belive in them.
Is it a problem that most of the national teams seem to have tried to get a "US skater" to make themselves seem competitive?
I think it is a problem if you get a coach just for the name, but if the coach is there to work with them, I do not see a problem. Mad Maloony (my assistant coach) and Titty Twista (head coach Team Germany) are two good examples of girls that are coaching national teams and they never skated for a US team - but they are both very competent coaches that do good work with their teams.
You're also part-owner of the SwedeVix store for roller derby supplies. How has your experience of skating and coaching informed the company's policies?
Well, of course we always listen to skaters about how they like equipment, and if something isn't working out for our customers, we will not sell it anymore. I try to ask around how different skaters like different plates, wheels, etc. etc. Of course I could try it all myself (and I do try lots of our products) but something I like might not work for a shorter and lighter girl. I don't sell things just to sell, I sell things because I want girls to get great derby gear, that will make them perfom better.
Is it a foregone conclusion that Team USA and Team Canada will take the two top spots in the World Cup? Which teams are you most worried about competing against?
I think that England is underestimated, I for sure think they can give Canada a run for their money. I am quite confident in saying that Team US will take the number one spot. I have no clue where Australia are at, and same goes for New Zealand. I think that every team is a challenge, in different ways, I never write a team off until the last whistle. I think it be fun to play any team, and we will get on the track and do our best no matter what team we are playing - with a smile on our lips.
Post-World Cup, would you like to see Team Sweden continue in other bouts? You've already played Team Finland - does a European cup sound out of the question?
I think that a European Cup would be fun, I am always up for playing/coaching more derby. And I think Team Sweden has been a great place for Swedish derby to grow, and I hope that we can continue to play, maybe a re-match with Finland next year, maybe play Germany.
I would love to stay as a head coach for Team Sweden and keep playing, but I would not be able to help organizing such a fun thing. I am going to concentrate on Stockholm Roller Derby's WFTDA status, it be great if we could get through the Apprentice Program during 2012. And me and Vix are also arranging Battle of Nordic Light again in Malmö.
Generally, when do you think European Derby will be seriously competitive with US derby, in both actual skill and perception?
Once again, I am impressed by lots of the Euopean teams, LRG are really great, and I was very impressed by their performance during Eastern Regionals. There is a thirst for knowledge all over Europe, and a drive that is amazing. Derby girls are getting fitter, studying strategies and playing smart. I think with implementing minimum skills and leagues getting more structure, and also introducing off-skate sessions, we will not be very far behind, there is so much talent all over Europe - just coaching CCR has been so rewarding. Now with so many teams joining into the WFTDA Apprentice Program I'm hoping for a European Regional Tournament in 2013 - that really would be amazing.