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SASKATOONEXPRESS - May 9-15, 2016 - Page 13



Roller Derby being taken more seriously Darren Steinke Saskatoon Express he party isn’t over for the Saskatoon Roller Derby League, but it has definitely toned down over the years. Veteran skaters Mel (Forna) Skate Langeler and Laurel (Bella Von Bastard) Turner have been with the local league pretty much since it started in 2007. Both remember that events in the league’s formative years usually revolved around the social aspect of getting together and going out for a great after-party. The social characteristic is still part of the sport, but things have evolved over time. “It keeps getting more serious,” said Langeler, 33. “When we first started, there were a lot of like fishnets and tutus and getting drunk and wearing crazy makeup. “Now it is like protein shakes. I think it is going to keep getting more intense and physically difficult, especially with the junior skaters coming up. “The game gets more strategic and athletic every year. I think that is just going to continue.” Turner, 36, remembers how losses would pile up in the early years, when the league would send travel teams to participate in games in other cities. The joke would be about winning the after-party. She remembers doing things like crashing weddings after games. Now, Turner finds herself a cagey vet among a younger generation that is very sport-focused. She is more conscious about setting a good example. “I still feel the pressure being a senior skater,” said Turner. “I feel like there is a lot of like pressure because we have been around so long to perform and lead.” A roller derby game consists of two halves that are 30 minutes in length. Each half consists of a bunch of jams that are up to two minutes in length, and there is a

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30-second break between each jam. Each team fields four blockers and a jammer. A jammer tries to lap the other team’s blockers and earns a point for each blocker that is passed. These days, new players get into the sport because they know a little bit about it. Langeler and Turner remember their reasons were joining were somewhat different. “I always had roller skates growing up, so I was like, ‘that sounds amazing,’” said Langeler. “It was just like a fun physical activity. It didn’t really feel like working out. It was like a good like ragtag group of women that were all doing it.” “I just had a baby, and I needed to like find a way to get out of the house,” said Turner. “She was only like a few months old, and I needed a hobby. It was really fun, really cool and edgy. There were lots of very cool women.” In the continuing evolution of the sport locally, the Saskatoon Roller Derby League will hold its first-ever tournament on May 14 and 15 at the Legends Centre in Warman. The event is being billed as the “Attack of the 8-Wheeled Woman.” The tournament features the local league’s top tiered team named Mindfox. Other teams slated to be in attendance include OCRD out of Edmonton, Gang Green from Brandon and the Sugar Skulls from Regina. The clubs are expected to face each other in a round-robin format. There will also be a junior game between the local Bridge City Bruisers and the Regina Juniors. The games begin at 11 a.m. on May 14, and all admissions will be donated to KidsSport. Currently in Saskatoon, there are two travel roller derby teams —Mindfox and the B-team, which is dubbed the Killa Bees. The two house league teams are the Parole Models and the Voodoo Vixens. Going forward, Langeler said there is

Jammer Anji (Irish) Keegan gets stood up by blocker Laurel (Bella Von Bastard) Turner during a roller derby practice at the SaskTel Sports Centre, while Meredith (Mer C Buttkicks) Hebb, centre, and Celeste (Sookie Smackdown) Hudon, right, look on. (Photo by Darren Steinke) a split in the roller derby community as to the direction the sport is going. She said some skaters now choose to just have their last name on the back of their derby uniform as opposed to a traditional colourful derby name. Langeler said there are still a lot of people that want to protect traditions like that one, but she feels skaters should feel free to go by whatever name they choose. She notes that times have changed.

“It is different now than it used to be,” said Langeler. “Now it has really developed a lot into more of like a sport.” Turner said the shifting focus towards the competitive aspect has been a natural progression. “There is huge movement to legitimize,” said Turner. “You pretty much have to like evolve with it.” For more information, visit saskatoonrollerderbyleague.ca

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