At full speed, swerving, pushing, and jumping, rowdy women on wheels will compete in the first roller derby event at the largest annual winter sports and music festival in North America, World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF). As one of the featured sport events, the Vengeance in the Valley roller derby bout will go down on the specially-made roller derby track on Monday, April 15. Starting at 8pm, the whistle will blow and the game will begin at full force with Whistler’s Black Diamond Betties facing off against the Squamish Sea to Sky Sirens.
World Ski and Snowboard Festival brings roller derby in Whistler| Photo: www.wssf.com
This contact sport requires rules to control the chaos. Flat track roller derby is a fast-paced activity played on quad style roller skates. Since the beginning of roller derby in the 70’s as a light form of entertainment, the sport has evolved to a more competitive and strategic pursuit of athleticism and speed skating consisting of full-force blocking and checking.
A significant aspect of the sport involves the creation of nicknames known as “derby names” which is given to athletes, referees and coaches. Along with team uniforms, players can express their individuality by adding accessories such as colourful leggings, socks and face paint.
Each bout consists of two periods known as Jams that have an unlimited number of scoring sessions. During a Jam, one team member selected as the Jammer must score as many points as possible for the team on the track. While skating counter-clockwise, the Jammer can attain one point for each opposing player that is passed. The other position of the game involves Blockers which consist of four players from each team as a pack who simultaneously play offense and defense. Blockers attempt to help their own Jammer through the Pack to score points while preventing the other team’s Jammer from passing them.
Both Jammers and Blockers are allowed to check the opposing team. However, full blown punches and elbowing result in timed penalties.
Established in 2008, the Squamish Sea to Sky Sirens were created by former Toronto Roller Derby member and current MVP of British Columbia, Shannon Handley a.k.a. “Mala Justed”. As a registered non-profit society, the Sea to Sky Sirens have grown to a team of 22 women who compete in Squamish and throughout the rest of the province.
As for the Black Diamond Betties, Kathryn Elder along with Handley, established the team in 2011 with currently 23 athletes on the Whistler team roster. Only their second season, the Black Diamond Betties will experience their first home bout at Vengeance in the Valley.
Located in the Sea to Sky Ballroom at the Whistler Conference Centre, VIP seating and general audience seating will allows spectators to scope out the intense competition.
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