Richter City Roller Derby 2011 Final
16 July 2011, TSB Arena, Wellington
It’s Saturday night in Wellington city, I’m surrounded by at least 2,000 screaming fans, and I’m trying to decipher the rules of a sport I’ve only ever seen in the movie ‘Whip It’. It’s the grand final of Wellington’s Richter City Roller Derby league – Smash Malice vs Comic Slams, at the TSB Arena.
Set to an 80’s rock soundtrack, roller derby involves four skaters (Blockers) on each team rolling counter clockwise around an oval circuit, bumping and blocking each other to get another team player (Jammer) through the group. The Jammers wear a big star on their helmets to help poor viewers (like us) identify them. Points are scored when the Jammer passes each skater on the other team, and continues until the ‘Jam’ has ended. Players often change in each ‘Jam’.
It’s a fast pace game of two 30 minute halves. My ability to work out all the rules was also hindered by the sheer spectacle of costumes worn both in the rink and by the supporters in the crowd.
Smash Malice were donned in various states of leopard print, gold and black, with team members named Scarface, Slammoth, Cupcake, Skatebite and my favourite skater of the night, SkandaLass. Comic Slams wore blue and silver, with players known as Nuken, Mischief, Hurtiliser and Evil Diva.
Even the refs, and there are a huge amount of refs in this sport, were in character. They were decked out in black and white stripes, with names such as, Danger Danger, Fiend and the only in-line skater on the court (and from my seat the fastest skater of the night) – Speed Addict.
All three groups dress up attire included enough Lycra, fishnet stockings and eyeliner to have stepped straight out of the eighties.
I’m not going to pretend I fully understood the scoring or rules of the match, but I certainly enjoyed my unique evening in Wellington. The only let down of the event was the PA, meaning we couldn’t make out a word the commentators were saying.
Smash Malice were the winning team on the night, scoring 122 points to Comic Slams’ 90.
For those chicks reading who are inspired to don their skates and fishnets and take to the rink, there are Roller Derby teams in Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Taupo, Kawerau, Mount Maunganui, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.
You can also follow the NZ Roller Derby Team on their way to the Derby World Cup in Toronto (Dec 2011).
In a nutshell: Get a programme, or at least look up the rules before you watch a match – it’ll make far more sense. Get your skates on!