As the Emerald City Roller Girls roll out their Sixth Season this Saturday at the Lane Events Center, fans will see a lot of changes that improve the experience. First of all, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), the largest governing body for roller derby, introduced a new rules set back in November. The biggest changes are all skaters will start on one whistle and minor penalties have either been removed or upgraded to a major, meaning all penalties will result in a trip to the penalty box. These changes make it easier for spectators to follow what is going on while also making some officiating jobs obsolete.
Within ECRG, the culture has shifted to enhance the bout experience for attendees. This season there will be more skater-fan interactions (don’t worry: it won’t be violent!), more free merch, and an overall focus on making sure everyone leaves with a smile on their face. ECRG is also unveiling a new slogan: "Get up. Get down. Get Derby!"
This Saturday, twelve skaters will skate in their very first bout or their first bout back from a hiatus. But, I will get into more detail about those skaters as I discuss the match-ups below.
Church of Sk8in versus Rose City’s Break Neck Betties
The two-time defending Rose City (Portland) Rollers’ Champions, the Break Neck Betties, are taking on last season’s Emerald City runner-up, Church of Sk8in, in the night’s first bout. Church of Sk8in has five new or returning faces. Rocka Rolla returns to Church after a season of skating exclusively for the travel-team Skatesaphrenics. Roller Toaster returns after a brief hiatus. Turnin Trixy and Blitz Vixen are also returning Emerald City skaters. They previously skated for the Andromedolls and Flat Track Furies respectively. Finally, Church has one new addition who will be skating in her first full bout, Stevie Plunder.
New to the Betties is recent ECRG transfer and former Skatesaphrenic and Andromedoll Autumn Atticweapon. “I look forward to seeing Roller Toaster and Turnin Trixy return to the track,” Autumn said.
“To prepare for this season, we’ve been practicing strategies with the new rules set in mind,” Autumn added. “We learned a lot at our mini-bout versus (Rat City’s) Grave Danger last month.”
Betties' team captain Scrappy Go Lucky sees this bout and a scrimmage against the Skatesaphrenics as a good tune-up for the Rose City home season. “We’re really grateful for the opportunity to have a fun 'hangover' scrimmage with the Skatesaphrenics Sunday morning,” Scrappy said. “We want to do what no team in Rose City has done before by winning the Championship three years in a row. It’s kind of like getting a ‘turkey’ in bowling but far more badass.”
Church of Sk8in captain Killin Sicilian is familiar with many of the Break Neck Betties and is looking forward to the bout. “It is always nice to smash into pals on the track, particularly Licker N Split. She is such a strong skater, and I’m glad she is skating with Rose City again. I skated against her in a challenge scrimmage at last year’s Big O, and we’ve been buddies since.”
Church will be skating without some major weapons. Jala Pain Yo and recent-transfer from Ann Arbor Coop de Grace are recovering from injuries and will not skate Saturday. “We also lost two top jammers: Betty Aim Fire, who is skating exclusively for the Skatesaphrenics, and Joy Toy, who is currently incubating the spawn of Sk8in.”
Other skaters to watch:
Break Neck Betties: Mutch Mayhem and Shove Me Tender
Church of Sk8in: Red Ruckus and PowWow
Flat Track Furies versus Andromedolls
Saturday night’s headlining bout pits last year’s third-place finisher, the Flat Track Furies, against four-time defending Champions, the Andromedolls. The Furies have a variety of new faces this season. Returning to the track is top jammer One-Eyed Jack. Betty Bout It transferred to Emerald City from Ohio. And, the Furies also picked up Bay Area-transfer Beg For Merzy. Lady Bullseye and Swoff are brand new and will be skating in their first full-length bout.
New to the Dolls are SakaHo Thunda, skating in her first full bout, and Treasure Valley-transfer Coperna Cuss: “As a transfer skater, it’s been a fantastic experience integrating myself into the league. We have an incredible community and some amazing talent,” Coperna Cuss told me. To prepare for the season Cuss has been working on endurance, “I’ve actually been working a lot harder on off-skates endurance training. It’s made an enormous difference. I feel like a smarter, more precise player: without having to focus on how tired I am, my brain can work on plotting and my muscles do what I tell them.”
This is in addition to team conditioning. “As a team, we prepare by doing 60 suicides in practice,” Dolls’ blocker Cathartica said about a drill in which you sprint to one end of the track, hit the deck, then sprint back.
Dolls’ captain Agent Orange has gone to great lengths to help train her team: “Our secret weapon? Look, when one of the captains has a stripper pole installed in her house, you know the whole team is going to be working out 24/7…and looking damn fine while doing it.”
The Furies’ Beg For Merzy can’t wait to take on the Dolls. “Agent Orange and (Dolls’ jammer) Surly Q are really incredible skaters,” Merzy said. “I also love that both their names are inspired by hair.” Merzy also used some unorthodox methods to prepare for this season: “I did a couple hilarious early 90s workout videos that I found in my parents’ VHS collection featuring way too much teased hair and teal spandex.”
The Furies have also been working hard on the track. “We have doubled down on our practice times, developing new strategies, studying the new rule set, and adding mandatory cross-training outside of practices,” Furies’ captain Jenesis O’Sin said. “In the words of our coach, ‘We train longer, harder, meaner, and cleaner than anybody else.'”
The Furies’ Frankie Facebreaker echoed the sentiments: “We have no secrets: no secret plays, no secret signals, no secret weapons. What you see is what you get. We are confident in each other and our skills on the track. The Dolls have always been a dominant force. They have great communication, a strong and deep jammer bench, and they make up a significant proportion of the A and B travel teams.”
For the Furies, this will be the final about for Blue Ruin. Blue was recently elected President of ECRG and wants to spend more time focusing on that role. “I look forward to being able to sit in the stands and enjoy the bouts,” Blue said. “I hope 2013 is the best season ever for the fans and that they are able to be there for every exciting bout.”
Other skater to watch:
Flat Track Furies: Wonder Dread and Aphrofighty
Andromedolls: Scariel and Assista Suicide
Doors open at 5pm on Saturday, and the action starts at 6pm. There are still a few tickets available. Your options from cheapest to most expensive:
1. Cheap ticket night! Stop by Emerald City Skates (23 E. 11th) between the hours of 4pm and 7pm Friday, January 4th to purchase $10 tickets directly from a derby girl!
2. Purchase tickets for $12 at one of these three locations: Emerald City Skates (23 E. 11th), The Redoux Parlour (780 Blair), or Ninkasi Tasting Room (272 Van Buren). Sales end at noon on Saturday.
3. Purchase tickets internetically via Brown Paper Tickets.
4. (if available) Get your tickets at the door: kids 5 and under are free, kids 6-10 are $5, and the rest of us kids are $15.
If you are incredibly lame or you just don’t like watching roller derby in its most enjoyable way (i.e., live and in person), there will be live streaming video of the bout on the internet. The internet broadcast will feature the announcing stylings of Skatesaphrenic Bullet Brains and Chas Horner.