Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WFTDA Championships: Bout 2 – Rocky Mountain versus Nashville

Deranged (27) would get boxed in the first jam for a Major Cut, giving Nashville’s Rambo Sambo (M60) a lead jammer and a quick call to take advantage of the early Rocky Mountain penalty.
Nashville’s jammer, Rambo, would commit her own cutting penalty after earning lead, releasing Deranged to score three 5-point grandslams to Rambo’s 4 points. Nashville’s Slaya (1970) exhibited some great front-pack booty blocking to hold Triple Shot Misto (7423) back on her first pass. Misto would still earn lead jammer and 8 points in the third jam.

Rocky’s Frida Beater (202) would open up the score for the 5280 Fight Club, earning lead and a 24-point jam when Nash’s Rock Nasty (14) would go to the box for a Fourth Minor for a Cutting penalty.

Despite penalty trouble for Rocky, including Psycho Babble for a High Block, Misto for a Major Cut and Deranged twice in the same jam, the Fight Club held a 60-21. Deranged would be released in the 10th jam, earning lead and a 16-point jam thanks to an Outside Offensive Block by Urrk’n Jerk’n (00) and the refs sending Rambo to the box for a  Fourth Minor on a Forearm penalty.

Nashville fought back, but Rocky would answer and get the better of the exchanges, taking a 101-41 lead into the second half.

Rocky’s defense tightened up, holding Nashville to just 7 points in the first 10 minutes of the second.

In the second half’s 7th jam, Urkk’n would earn lead and score 5 points, before passing the star to Pyscho Babble, who was boxed for the illegal procedure. Later it was ruled that Psycho had never actually relinquished the star properly. Rocky’s Amanda Jamitinya (9) and DeRanged would key in on Nashville jammer Four-Leaf Roller (318), forcing the Nash jammer to commit a Track Major.

Nashville calls a timeout at 14:25, and everyone looks visibly winded. With a 138-51 lead, Rocky would again lock down the Nashville offense, holding them to 7 points. The Fight Club jammers continued rolling, scoring a collective 60 points in 14 minutes to win the game, 198-58. Penalty trouble haunted Nashville, handicapping their ability to score. Rambo Sambo would be boxed twice in those lasting minutes of the game, once for a Major Cut and another for a Fourth Minor on a Cut penalty. Her teammate Rock Nasty would also be boxed for a Cut Major. The Fight Club in turn managed six Lead Jammers in 9 Jams, and converted on multiple scoring passes three times.

WFTDA Championships: Bout 1 - Minnesota versus Charm

In the first short day of the weekend, the derby community was treated to a few surprises. In the first contest, Minnesota stormed the gates, amassing a 38-6 lead against Charm City, before Baltimore would call a timeout with 20 minutes left in the game.

During that stretch, Melissa "Medusa" Hopper managed a 25 point power jam when Charm jammer I.M. Pain was boxed for a penalty in the second jam.

Both teams utilized the scrum starts, a term adopted from rugby in which a mass of players are clustered together (in this case right in front of the jammer line), early and kept working with that strategy for some time.

Charm would adapt to Minnesota occupying the jammer line by utilizing the star pass over the Minnesota back 4 wall.

By passing the star over the wall, Baltimore gave it's pivot the star in an attempt to get an early first pass.

Relinquishing lead jammer, Charm gave the Minnesota the opportunity to earn LJ as the second jammer to exit the pack. With strong jammers Minnesota earned lead and would call it before the opposing jammer would start accruing points on her score pass.

 Harm would finally earn lead jammer in the 10th jam, IM Pain picking up a 7 (5-2) to 3 point swing.

 Both teams would hit various point swings contributing to the general ebb and flow of the game, but Minnesota would maintain a sizable lead. Charm managed a few more star passes to little effect, including an attempt by Joy Collision that would send her to the box as the jaMmer.

 Coming out of the halftime down 94-42, Charm would struggle, watching minnesota's lead grow to 107-47.

 In the 6th of the second half, Joy Collision would pick up a 4-5-5-5 run when the Charm defense stuffed Minnesota,
's Lexicutor, drawing closer at 107-68 with 23 minutes remaining.

 The Charm All Stars would scrum start with back-wall positioning with Bang! Bang! (9mm), Holly GoHardly (415) and Rosie the Rioter (100) bolstering the Baltimore pack. Pain would nab lead an 4 points to edge closer to the 107-72 deficit they faced. 

 Two jams after a Minnesota timeout, the refs boxed Minnesota's Juke Boxx (A18) for a Misconduct as a result of attempting to jump the apex and making contact with an opposing skater midair. Seizing the opportunity Charm's Joy Collision would earn lead and call it immediately, to take full advantage of a power jam. The crowd jeered Joy for calling it instead of skating, but the tactic would give Pain a better advantage. Pain would earn lead and a 5-4 scoring run before Juke exited the box and began her score pass.

 Charm's rally wouldn't end there. Behind an impenetrable Baltimore defense of Holden Grudges (63), Go Hardly and Loretta Scarrs (91), lead jammer Crowella De Vill scored 24 points, including 4 5-point grand slams, pulling Baltimore within 2 points, 107-105.

 With their bench positioned behind the jam line, Baltimore positioned themselves directly in front of the jam line before Minnesota would have a chance to. Back-to-back LJ's for Joy Collision would both give Charm the lead and extend it, 109-112. An official review by Charm would stop the clock at 14:08. Charm would maintain their lead and hold Minnesota to 1 point, but penalties would unwind Baltimore's run.

 With two sitting and one standing in the penalty box, Charm's Holly GoHardly was the only defensive player on the track. Minnesota would earn lead and a 5-point grandslam, as Crowella would be held to a 0-point scoring pass.

 Minnesota never gave up in the face of the 114-121 score. Second Hand Smoke would earn lead and a single point, setting up a run for Medusa, who went L-5-5-5-5-4 when Joy Collision was boxed for Four Minors and Reckless N'Dangerment (116) and Terrorizher (3636) were the only blockers. Baltimore would be forced to call a Timeout with 7:01 and relinquishing the lead 139-121.

 Minnesota orchestrated a 9-point swing during two jams with intense blocking. Voodoo Prodigy (Minnesota, 69) put a huge backward block on I.M. Pain. Charm's defense would take a front-control 4-wall.

 Working against the clock (3:35 remaining) and a 148-121 point disadvantage, Charm couldn't dig themselves out of the hole. Minnesota would hold them scoreless, while Medusa scored 7 points and Harmony Killerbruise (75) scored 5 points during a boxed-Collision powerjam. Killerbruise would run the clock and call it to end the game 160-121.

Friday, November 11, 2011

WFTDA Championships: Breaking Bad (Brackets)

It's really hard to plan for the weird upsets that happen during the Women's Flat Track Derby Association's regional tournaments.

With the 2011 Championship about to get underway, those of you filling out your brackets may or may not have to rely on luck on this auspicious day (11-11-11).

Arguably the hardest first round match ups of Minnesota-Charm and Philly-Naptown could be the hardest.

Charm ended Minnesota's championship run in 2010 in the first round, but Minnesota returns this year as a higher seed and with the addition of Melissa MEDUSA Hopper, former captain and standout jammer for North Star.

Philly has taken some hard losses this year at the hands of standout teams, including two losses versus Rose City, and a loss each to Rocky Mountain, Rat City and Gotham. Naptown improved to a three-seed at Monumental Mayhem, WFTDA's North Central Region tournament, by beating then-NC2 Detroit, to earn a spot in the championship tournament. Naptown's defensive blocking and hybrid style could mat up very well with Philly.

In the middle of the bracket, the possibilities for key second-round match ups include the likely Gotham-Rocky Mountain and Windy City-Kansas City.

Windy City managed to rebound from their loss against Kansas City in their last game at the UIC Pavilion, Chicago, before heAding to regional play. After settling for a 1-1 series split with KC, Chicago gets an opportunity to avenge that loss.

Rocky Mountain looks to repeat what they did against Gotham during the 2010 championship tournament, when they beat Gotham 113-79. Gotham is bringing a different game this year, hoping again to capitalize on their impressive season record going 10-0, with 7 regular season games, and 3 regional tournament wins. The only time the two teams have played each other was that 34 point win by Rocky Mountain in 2010 championship tournament play.

Texas and Oly offer the best chance at heading to semis, thanks largely to their first round byes and pairings against winners of largely mid-level bouts.

WFTDA Championships: Altitude, er, attitude is everything

In the Mile High City, the biggest difference for competitive athletes coming from outside Denver is the altitude.

The lower levels of oxygen can tax the lungs ability to oxygenate the blood, putting even higher demands on the body during times of stress, I.e. Athletic competitions.

Windy City posted a few short videos of a training session in which it's athletes carried weighted backpacks and breathed through straws to simulate the rigors of competing in Denver during the womens Flat Derby Association's 2011 Championship Tournament, Continental Divide and Conquer.

Rumor has it that Gotham Girls Roller Derby spent a week in Denver prior to the start of the tournament, acclimating to the altitude.

Host-league Rocky Mountain will likely have a distinct home-field advantage When they play No. 3 South Central seed Nashville, scheduled for 3:45 p.m. (Mountain) today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WFTDA Championships: Transfer skaters strive for their chance at gold

UPDATE: Cheri "Wild Cherri" Kresge will transfer back to the South Central Region, joining the Atlanta Rollergirls after a season playing for Gotham . 

"My love life takes me there," Kresge said. "I really wish I didn't have to leave Gotham. They were an amazing team to work with. Gotham is my N.Y. family  - the closest friends I have up here. I'm going to miss all of them."

Kresge was a part of the Gotham's 2011 Women's Flat Track Derby Association championship team, winning first place during Continental Divide and Conquer, the WFTDA's championship tournament, in Denver, Colorado.

Atlanta currently sits fourth in the WFTDA South Central standings and ranked 30th in the world on DerbyTron.com. Atlanta finished fourth in the WFTDA South Central 2011 tournament Show Me Der-B-Q in Kansas City, Mo.

"With the Atlanta Rollergirls, I hope I find a happy derby home and I plan to sit put for awhile," Kresge said. "I will be trying out for the travel team and hope to help build a collection of Ws going into regionals this year." 

Atlanta is 1-1 for the 2012 season. Atlanta defeated Maine 181 to 114 on Feb. 18, 2012, but lost to Nashville 166 to 136 on March 24, 2012.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WFTDA Championships: Wearing the white hats

Roller derby encourages players to exhibit their personal flare. Some refs even get in on the action.

As the sport grows, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association takes increasing care to present it's skating and non-skating officials in a professional manner.

Uniform guidelines give very definite standards of what a referee or NSO may wear during bout proceedings during the WFTDA Championship Tournament, Continental Divide and Conquer, hosted this year in Denver, Colorado.

You may see referees wear interesting helmets. (Great Scott's brain helmet comes to mind). But what might be a note of interest is the increasing number of referees opting for white helmets -- Machete Holiday, Umpire Strikes Back, and Colin DeShots are but a few.

The white helmets help referees stand out from the chaos that may appear on the track. In a sea of skaters, referees and non-skating officials taking center stage, it's easier to play "Spot the Official" when they're wearing white helmets.

Joshua Pfenning, aka Conan the Vegetarian, has been skating for numerous years. Conan, who referees with the Angel City Derby Girls and is an officiating instructor for the WFTDA, can typically be seen sporting the white helmet.

"I have been reffing for 6 years," Pfenning said. "I started HRing (HR: head ref) right out of the chute for a newly formed league and thought it made sense for the HR to wear a different colored helmet, so I bought white."

"Later somebody on my crew bought a bright blue helmet which sort of nullified the effect of me having a white one."

Most helmets come in black or white, with an increasing number of colored helmets entering the equipment list. Many refs still prefer the monochromatic options.

"Having the refs all wear the same helmet color creates a consistent look and adds professionalism in my opinion," he said. "I like the idea of all refs wearing a black helmet, with the HR wearing a white one."