Golden City girls don’t dream of hoisting the Golden Boot when they grow up, but after Sunday’s women’s roller derby final, many undoubtedly will.
The Boot is the symbol of West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby (WKWRD) supremacy and over 1,000 derby fanatics poured into Rossland Arena Sunday night for Mountain Mayhem II, as Rossland’s Gnarlie’s Angels took on Salmo’s Babes of Brutality.
The match began with an exhibition between new teams Trail’s Bloodshed Betties and Slocan’s Valley Vendettas, in what was an exciting mixture of spectacle and sport.
The popularity of derby has grown rapidly and WKWRD has done an excellent job of educating fans and organizing itself into a marketing juggernaut.
Members of the five other league teams all volunteer to sell merchandise, work concessions, keep stats, update websites, and recruit sponsors in addition to injecting a healthy dose of humour, flair and talent into the event.
The Vendettas easily won the game but it was a good primer for the highlight and main event, the battle between the Babes and the Angels.
The two teams are the veterans of the seven-team derby league and have played each other twice, each splitting a game. The rubber match proved to be the best one yet.
Salmo entered the rink as marauding zombies and seized an early lead but the Angels battled back cutting it to a tight 86-85 margin at the half.
The rivals engaged in a fierce ballet of finesse and physicality, as jammers bobbed and weaved through opposition blockers to avoid getting ‘bootied.’
“You’re making holes for your jammer to get through and closing it in so their jammer doesn’t get through, because our jammer scores points every blocker she passes,” explained the Angels’ Celine Die-On, an apt pseudonym for the feisty Quebecois blocker.
However, the relentless strength and experience of Babes’ jammers, Beretta Lynch and Rippin’ Rushforth seemed to wear down Angel blockers as Salmo built a 30-point lead midway through the second half.
But the resilient blockers and speedy Angel jamming of Canuck Norris and Black Eyed T picked it up and cut the lead to nine with less than a minute remaining.
As time ran down, Angels’ coach Cousin Vegas gestured frantically for a timeout to force another two-minute jam.
“It was important, to be able to get that last jam in and then it just happened that things went our way,” said Vegas.
With a mix of good blocking and incredible skating, Norris swept through the pack emerging lead jammer. Then disaster struck for the Babes, as Lynch received a penalty leaving the door open for Norris.
The diminutive Angel slipped and dodged her way past blocker after blocker, racking up points while Lynch sat in the sin bin.
“You can totally win it or lose it on how you take penalties,” said Lynch. “It’s disappointing.”
As the crowd roared and cowbells rang, Lynch returned to the oval with 45 seconds remaining. But strong blocking kept her in check and be it luck or divine intervention, the Angels swooped down and snatched victory from the seething jaws of defeat.
The Angels scored 19 points to the Babes three, to win the game in the final jam, 181-174.
“That finish is going to be hard to top, I don’t think there will ever be a tighter game,” said coach Vegas.
A brief protest from the Babes ensued, challenging that the timeout was illegal because Vegas requested it with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game.
The head referee, Pamtera, said the timeout was made before the 30-second mark and denied the challenge.