The Cominco Arena has seen a lot of action over the years from world champion hockey teams, to dramatic fight nights, and rampaging bull-a-ramas, but Saturday was a night of firsts for the venerable Trail facility as it hosted its first ever roller derby match.
And the home team Rossland Trail Roller Girls (RTRG) did not fail to impress a delirious crowd of over 600 as it rolled to a 218-145 win over the East Kootenay’s Mountain Town Maulers.
“It was really awesome,” said RTRG spokesperson and blocker Lisa Findlay, whose roller derby handle is Sass. “I think it was the best game we’ve every played.”
Despite a Canada Day long weekend saturated with sunny skies, the exhibition enjoyed a remarkable turn out.
“There were 602 people, so we’re definitely pleased with that,” said Findlay. “We worked really hard at promoting this bout, and we really wanted to show Trail what roller derby was all about. I think in terms of that, it was a major success.”
The crowd roared as RTRG took an early lead they would not relinquish, grinding out point-after-point with persistent blocking and explosive bursts from RTRG jammers.
The visiting Maulers rallied and put up points in spurts, but could not catch RTRG. The East Kootenay team is fairly new to derby, however, it did bolster its roster with Creston recruits, and put on a very good show for the exuberant and colourful derby fans.
“I think the Cranbrook team actually surprised us a little bit,” said Findlay. “They did really well.”
The object of roller derby is to have your jammer, marked by a special helmet, try to get by the opposing teams blockers as many times as possible, counting points for each one passed.
The blockers, as the name indicates, try to stop the opposing jammer from doing so, and also create openings for their own team’s jammer to score – in effect playing both offence and defence at once.
“It’s crazy, it’s total mayhem. It’s like thinking about 500 million things at once, strategically, while people are trying to smash into you -it’s crazy. There’s one quote that talks about roller derby being like playing chess while getting bricks thrown at you,” she said.
However, there is method to the madness, and derby has taken much of North America by storm for its excitement and intensity.
“We have lots of strategies we’ve been working on, that we’ve been putting into play on the track, and they are working out for us.”
While the West Kootenay Roller Derby League is just in its fourth season, the level of play of the athletes has improved substantially, with more fresh-meat (new players) joining annually, and with good crowds like the one that filled the Cominco Arena Saturday, it is apparent that derby has made an impact on the Silver City.
The Roller Girls next game is a West Kootenay Roller Derby League match on July 27 at 5 p.m. against the Babes of Brutality in Castlegar, followed by a tilt with the Valley Vendettas on Aug. 9.
“This next game is a critical game for us. I think if we can win this one we might actually make it to the finals,” added Findlay.