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Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby packs in the crowds

Rossland Gnarlies Angels blockers keep the Killjoys off balance during Friday's West Kootenay Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby at the Castlegar Community Complex. — Bruce Fuhr photos

By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports

The Castlegar Community Complex was rocking Friday night.

But it wasn’t the Rebels on a run to the KIJHL title playing Canada's game that people were flocking to see.

No, the attraction sparking the attention of spectators from Nelson to Nakusp was the West Kootenay Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby.

“No, I’m not overwhelmed,” Rossland’s Gnarlies Angels coach Kevin said when asked about the recent success of the league.

“I’m not even surprised because this is such an amazing game,” he added. “I don’t know how (Flat Track Roller Derby) stayed underground for so long but now its taking Canada like a wildfire.”

The West Kootenay League has five teams entered — the Salmo Babes of Brutality, Gnarlies Angels, Dam City Rollers of Castlegar and two teams from Nelson,

Friday’s doubleheader had the Dam City Rollers up against the Babes of Brutality in the curtain raiser. The second game of the night had Nelson’s Killjoys up against the Gnarlies Angels.

“In Salmo, our team has been skating for year and a half but the Castlegar girls are doing a way better than we were at this stage last year and have been only skating for half a year so they’re doing awesome,” said Babes’ skater Trixie Beltem, looking ever so intimidating with her Cinco de Mayo painted face.

It’s clear from the scores of the night there are two really good teams in the league that will continue to dominate until the other squads catch up.

Salmo’s Babes of Brutality won the opening tilt 204-61. The nightcap had Gnarlies Angels of Rossland scoring 70-plus points with only 15 minutes gone in the 30-minute first half.

That Grand Canyon-like discrepancy in the caliber has not slowed the enthusiasm by the lesser teams or interest in the league.

“We have way too many (skaters) on teams right now and people keep calling wanting to join teams that are already full,” said the Rossland coach.

Flat Track Roller Derby uses many of the same rules of the older banked track sport seen on television during the 60’s and 70’s.

Each heat begins with a pack of blockers lead by two pivots. The two jammers from each team, who score the points, start a 10 meters behind the pack and begin skating when the last blocker crosses the pivot line.

The jammers work their way through the pack of blockers to score points.

Jammers begin to score points upon their second pass through the pack. 

The only difference between the lead jammer and the opposing jammer is the lead jammer has the ability to call off the jam.  Calling off the Jam can prevent the opposing jammer from earning points when used strategically.

The season opened last month in Rossland.

The next league action is scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at the NDCC Arena.

There is league action in July and August before the season finale goes September 11 in Rossland.

If interest keeps building in the league organizers may want to kick the walls out of the Rossland Arena to guarantee there’s not a Vancouver-Canuck-like riot for those people not able to get in the door to watch the action.