After a successful debut season, the Revelstoke Derailers are back in action this weekend for their first home bout of 2013.
The local roller derby team started with a bang last year, winning three of its first four games, including wins over Whistler and Penticton in front of sell-out crowds at the Revelstoke Forum.
This year, the team has new players, there’s new rules, and there will be a bigger beer garden at the games.
“We learned people drink a lot of beer,” joked Tennille ‘Kernel Panic’ Barber.
“We’re a more solid team,” added Jen ‘n Tonic’ Kipling. “We’ve picked up some really awesome players this year and the girls who have stuck around since last year are very committed.”
I stopped in at a derby practice last week as the team was preparing for this Saturday’s home bout against the Armstrong Candy Strykers. One player sat against the boards icing a knee injury, while at the other end of the rink a few new players, dubbed Fresh Meat, were practicing their skating.
On the track, the teams veterans were going at each other, taking turns as jammers and blockers.
“It’s going pretty good,” said Eve ‘Whiskey Chaser’ Northmore, one of the team’s newest skaters who recently passed her skill test and will be playing in her first bout this weekend. “It’s been really fun and the girls are all really great.”
The biggest change this year comes with a new rule that governs the way jams are started. The jam is the period of play where points were score. Previously there were two whistles to start the jam. The first whistle would start the blockers. Once all the blockers crossed a certain line, a second whistle would go and the jammers would start. This meant that sometimes teams would apply delay tactics, either to gain position or simply to kill time.
This year, there is only one whistle and everyone – jammers and blockers – start at the same time.
“It makes it faster and makes longer jams,” said Barber. “I could potentially jam for the full two minutes instead of them wasting time when I’m standing on the jam line. It’s more action right off the bat, more action altogether.”
Over winter the team didn’t have a practice space and it lost bouts against the more experienced Candy Strykers and the Kamloops Derby Dolls. “We’re a lot tougher a team now,” said Kipling. “We took a lot of hits in the off-season.”
In addition to this weekend’s match against the Candy Strykers, the Derailers are hosting bouts against the Calgary Kill Jills on June 29, and the NWO Rollergirls from Chilliwack on July 13.
The teams the Derailers are playing this year are all more experienced, which should make for closer, more exciting bouts, said Barber. “Honestly, if we played the teams we played last year it would probably not be as good as a show,” she said. “People don’t want to see blowouts, they want to see excitement.”
The June 29 bout will be a double-header, with the second match a men’s derby battle between the Calgary Reservoir Dogs and the Vancouver Murder.
“It’s bone breaking, bone crunching fun,” said Barber on the men’s bout. “We’ve been told we cannot skimp on the paramedics that night.”
The Revelstoke Derailers take on the Armstrong Candy Strykers on Saturday, May 25, at the Revelstoke Forum. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the match starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Society Snow & Skate, Mane Attraction, Ray’s Butcher Shop and the River City Pub.