The inaugural Roller Derby World Cup rumbles into Toronto this Thursday, Dec. 1. Skaters from 13 countries are padded up and prepped for a four-day tournament to crown the sport’s first-ever world champion.
The brainchild of derby digest Blood And Thunder and hosted by Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD), the competition brings together well-known and world-class skaters like Team U.S.A.’s Suzy Hotrod, recently seen in the Body Issue of ESPN The Magazine; Team England’s Violet Attack, featured in the Birmingham Mail; and Toronto skater and Team Canada co-captain Brim Stone, cover girl of last Sunday’s Toronto Star.
Like any flat-track derby competition, only amped up, the Roller Derby World Cup brings plenty of bone-crunching hits combined with agile, evasive skating and lung-busting endurance. It’s derby’s epitome of athleticism and guts-and-glory competition. And it’s already brought in sold-out crowds, who will be filling out The Bunker up in Downsview Park.
Team U.S.A. comes into the competition as the veteran favourite, with roots in the new era of roller derby that go back to the early 2000s. The U.S.A. also has arguably the best jammer in the sport in Atomatrix and, beyond Hotrod, other top-calibre skaters like Amanda Jamitinya, DeRanged, Joy Collision, and Teflon Donna. Calling the team stacked is an understatement. Add derby minds like as Buster Cheatin’ and Bonnie D. Stroir as the bench brains, and Team U.S.A. is downright scary.
But this isn’t to count out our hometown girls. If nothing else, Canada may prove to be Team U.S.A.’s stiffest competition. The Canadian roster includes six members of the top-ranked league in the country. Georgia W. Tush, Iron Wench, Smack Daddy, Lil Mama, and Bone Machine were all members of the Montreal team that finished sixth in this season’s East Region playoffs. Factor in ToRD triple threat Brim Stone, brick-wall blocker Semi Precious, and a seasoned skater such as Windigo, and Team Canada’s poised to make a real run at its Yankee rivals.
Derby analyst Dave Miller (a.k.a The Derby Nerd) predicts a strong showing for the Canadians, although he notes that even silver won’t come easy. “While I’m pretty sure the U.S. will be head and shoulders above the rest of the world, I think that there will be a great battle for second place,” he says. “Canada, England, Australia, and Germany are the countries to watch; they’ve got the deepest flat-track roots.”
England earned its place as a serious contender when its travel team, the London Rollergirls, arrived at this season’s East Region playoffs ranked 10th, only to astonish the derby world by finishing fifth, defeating more highly ranked teams from Carolina and Montreal. Skaters Stefanie Mainey, Vagablonde, and Ninjette should be difference makers for the English.
From an international perspective, Francey Pants from Team France, Swede Hurt from Team Sweden, and Brazilian Nut from Team Brazil are familiar enough to derby enthusiasts to further increase the electricity over the weekend. Fans will also get to witness fresher faces like Scotland’s Marla Mayhem or Australia’s Slawta Dawta for the first time.
Pack up your lawn chair, get ready to pound some beers, and get all jacked up on “derb-drenaline.” The World Cup is here.
Published by: The A.V. Club