Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Other Derby

Orb, ridden by Joel Rosario, won the Kentucky Derby yesterday. Despite a fondness for things equestrian, I didn’t watch it. I attended instead the roller derby double header in Morristown, NJ.

In a throwback to older days of derby, men and women skated. First up were the men’s teams New York Shock Exchange (NYSE) from NYC and Capital District Trauma Authority from Albany. Morristown being in the NYC metro area, NYSE played as the home team. One of the NYSE members, Starsky, also is a coach for the local women’s league NJRD. I don’t normally follow men’s derby (there are lots of male contact sports), but, as a novelty, the bout was fun to watch.

NYSE completely dominated the first half, with the score standing at 180-31 at the half-time whistle. The District pushed back in the second half, with 818 Roarshock and Massacre HATE both jamming strongly; both repeatedly bypassed NYSE blocks by jumping the inside curve. It wasn’t enough. NYSE built on its lead. Starsky had a good night, and 125th Malcolm Sex put 35 points on the board in a single power jam. NYSE won with a final score of 379-100.

The women were next up: the Morristown-based NJRD All Stars vs. Philly Block Party. As the two teams practiced on the rink between the bouts, it was immediately clear that NJRD was going to have its hands full against the powerful Philadelphia team.

NJRD began the bout strongly, taking an early lead. NJRD blocking was fierce and well-strategized, often creating a pack formation that prevented Philly blockers from engaging the jammer. Shannanigunz, Maulin Rouge, and Miss USAHole all jammed aggressively. Philly resistance was stiff, however, with Grim Reber and Herrman Monster delivering hard hits. 87 Goldie took back the lead for Philly in a power jam. The two teams see-sawed through the first half, with the lead changing hands five times. Philly nudged ahead shortly before halftime, with the score favoring Philly 119-101, very much an “anybody can win” point spread.

The intensity turned up in the second half -- to the point of keeping the EMTs busy with skaters down on the track. Viva la Chaos took a particularly hard hit late in the bout. Philly’s power showed itself. Blocking by Philly stiffened – credit to Maulin Rouge, though, for getting back on her feet and the track when encountering it. Goldie and 821 Sounds Like Magic both showed boundless endurance as Philly jammers, never seeming to tire or slow. Philly soon opened up a 100 point lead. NJRD redoubled its effort, and, assisted by a multi-pass power jam by Miss USAHole cut the lead in half. Ultimately, NJRD could not overcome Philly’s persistent energy. Philly reopened the lead, with 821 providing many of the points. The match ended finished with a 290-166 victory for Philadelphia.

Philly scored a solid win, but there was no doubt they had been in a bout. As for the future – well, that’s what rematches are for.

Kids from Philly

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