Chicago Invitational Pro Roller Derby Challenge 2011

And, as if the Championships wasn’t enough excitement for one month, just one week later New York’s Gotham Girls, joined the banked-track LA Derby Dolls and WFTDA’s Rocky Mountain and Windy City in a very different kind of tournament. In a first for modern roller derby, new production team Catalyst teamed up with Kitten Traxx to organise the first Pro Roller Derby Challenge: Chicago Invitational with $10,000 prize up for grabs.

In addition to being the first tournament in the current roller derby revival involving prize money, it was also first times that WFTDA teams faced each other on a banked track. Rocky Mountain were the favourites to win because they already had another banked track win against San Diego 125-100 but Windy City and Gotham have only played the one game on the bank before.

On Friday, Gotham played Rocky Mountain, followed by Windy City facing LA. on Saturday, then the losers of Friday’s action played for a $1,000 prize while the winners played for $10,000 — with second place getting $3,000.

Contrary to expectation, the LA Derby Dolls took home the first prize, with Rocky Mountain coming in second, followed by Gotham in third place and Windy City finishing fourth. The MVPs for the tournament were Cris Affliction for the LA Derby Dolls, Wreck N Shrew from Windy City, Fiona Grapple from Rocky Mountain, and OMG WTF for Gotham.

The final between Rocky Mountain and LA was a nail bitingly close bout with 9 lead changes and 3 ties. Rocky Mountain started off in the lead but in the end the tables turned with Rocky cutting it close going into the last jam of the game with a tied score of 108-108 with their jammer in the box. It was all over when LA’s Chargin’ Tina broke the tie to give LA the win with a final score of 113-108.

What does this mean for roller derby? It’s not the only sign that derby might be heading towards becoming a professional sport. Its popularity is still growing at a rate of knots so we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds. In the mean time, there is plenty more exciting  roller derby coming up in the sport’s very first World Cup starting on the 1st December.


It’s all action: WFTDA 2011 Championships Roundup

There has been so much going on in the derby world these last couple of weeks, it’s difficult to know where to begin. The 2011 WFTDA Championships, Continental Divide and Conquer was held last weekend in Colorado, USA featuring the top 12 WFTDA-ranked teams from  around the world. 12 bouts of hard-hitting, nail-biting, high-quality roller derby ensued resulting in a repeat victory for those New York champs Gotham Girls Roller Derby.

On the first day of the tournament the second and third place teams from each WFTDA region fought it out on the track. Kansas City Roller Warriors  played very well taking on the Rose City Rollers of Portland, Oregon and advanced to the quarter final with a close 139-128 win. This is the first time in two years that Kansas  advanced past their first game in Championship play.

In the quarter finals, Minnesota started off with a surprising big early lead over Texas in the first game, but Texas fought back to claim a 141-108 win in the end. Kansas City beat the North Central  region’s number one Windy City Rollers 112-95 and advanced to the  semi-finals later in Day 2. The first day’s victory over Nashville sent the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls into a tough quarter-final match against tournament-favorite Gotham Girls All-Stars with Gotham winning 187-134. The Oly Rollers, top ranked from the West ran away with a victory against the East’s 2 seed Philly in the last quarterfinal game. Oly took the lead in the second jam of the game and never  looked back to win 181-95 and were set to take on Kansas in the semi-final.

On day two, the semi-final  rounds were action-packed with Gotham winning 195-113 against Texas  and, perhaps the most surprising bout of the  weekend, previous champions Oly scraping a win against secret weapon Kansas 124-104. Day three started with  the fight for third place between the Texas and the Kansas repeating the South Central Region Playoffs.  The Texas Rollergirls staved off the advances of Kansas, grabbing third place with a win at 136-112. Texas, which has made an appearance at every WFTDA Championship tournament, grabbed third place while Kansas City secured fourth after a weekend of excellent gameplay.

The final bout featured a battle between former champions: 2009 champions, Oly  Rollers, and 2008 champions, Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Gotham were  victorious and became the first league in WFTDA to repeat a championship  title, 140-97 and take home The Hydra. Go Gotham!!!!

Roller Derby on TV?

Television has fallen in and out of love with roller derby over the years through its various periods of decline and revival. Some would even argue that television was responsible for the declines in popularity of the sport during the 70s, 80s and 90s due to over-saturation of the air waves. However, the sport we know and love today is very different from that of days gone by but it is becoming more of a presence on mainstream television and as its popularity is still rapidly growing internationally, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more frequent appearances in the near future.
These are all the roller derby mainstream TV moments I could find to date:
  • Roller derby was incorporated into the plot of the 27th episode of “The Untouchables” in 1960
  • The sport was featured in the 14th episode of the animated TV series “The Addams Family” in 1973
  • In the early 1970s, a roller derby participant was depicted in the children’s program ZOOM, in a segment called “As the World Zooms.”
  • In September 1973, “Bailey’s Comets”, an animated series on CBS featured a 6 member (3 male, 3 female) roller derby team involved in an international race against other, rather bizarre teams for a $1 million cash prize
  • Roller derby made an appearance in the 12th episode of the TV series “Charlie’s Angels” in 1976
  • It was also shown in the 87th episode of the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” in 1977
  • In 1978, NBC produced a short-lived TV sitcom called The Roller Girls which featured the exploits of a fictional all-female roller games team, the Pittsburgh Pitt
  • Roller derby made an appearance in an episode of the TV series “Laverne & Shirley”
  • It was also shown in the 22nd and 117th episodes of the TV series “Fantasy Island” in 1978 and 1982
  • The 10th episode of the TV series “Room for Two” in 1982
  • The 31st episode of “The Fall Guy” in 1982
  • The 45th episode of the TV series “It’s a Living” in 1986
  • My personal favourite roller derby TV appearances were the 30th and 49th episodes of the TV series “Clarissa Explains It All” in 1992 and 1993, where Clarissa’s best friend Sam’s mother was a skater in a roller derby league, which was why she was never at home and Sam was always hanging out at Clarissa’s house
  • In 1999, roller derby players were guests on the 62nd episode of “The Martin Short Show”
  • the 17th episode of the animated TV series “George and Martha” in 2000
  • In 2004, roller derby players were featured in episode 8 of the trading-places-themed reality TV series “Switched Up!”
  • Roller derby was featured in the 181st episode of the “King of the Hill” animated TV series in 2005
  • Also in an episode of the TV series “CSI: NY” in 2005
  • In 2005, roller derby players were featured in episode 25 of the trading-places-themed reality TV series “Average Joe”
  • In 2006 the A&E Network premiered “Rollergirls”, a reality TV show consisting of 13 one-hour episodes featuring the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls
  • The 3rd episode of the TV series “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” in 2006 included roller derby skaters
  • The 32nd episode of the TV series “Family Business” featured roller derby in 2006
  • In 2006, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in a roller derby-themed stunt on the comedic stunt show “Wildboyz” on MTV2, in a roller derby-themed challenge on the reality TV dating show “Next” on MTV, and in a roller derby feature in the first episode of “Sucks Less with Kevin Smith” on mtvU
  • In 2006 and 2007, members of roller derby leagues appeared in a roller derby-themed TV commercial for Right Guard deodorant and another for Aleve pain reliever.
  • In 2007, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in a roller derby-themed challenge on the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” on NBC
  • Two episodes of the reality TV show “Trading Spaces” featured members of roller derby leagues
  • In 2008, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in roller derby-themed challenges on the reality TV dating shows “Rock of Love 2 with Bret Michaels” on VH1 and “Date My Mom” on MTV.
  • The 38th episode of the TV series “Psych” in 2008 featured roller derby
  • As did the 14th episode of the U.S. version of the TV series “Kath & Kim” in 2009
  • In 2010, Gotham Girls’ Miss American Thighs starred in a TV commercial for Cheerios
  • In 2011, an episode of CMT’s “Made” featured a member of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls training someone new to the sport
  • Inside Out West on BBC 1 featured UK roller derby league Severn Roller Torrent