Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reeking of sweat and victory

I am pleased to report that last night at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, the Old Capitol City Roller Girls extended their win streak to three with a decisive 182-91 tally over the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls.


It was the first time that OCCRG had played the Hell Dorados (CRRG's A-team) since June of 2009; an event which we lost largely due to inexperience -- we had only had our first bout exactly one week earlier. (This past May, OCCRG thumped CRRG's B-team, the Bombshell Cartel, 271-84 on our home turf of the Coralville Marriott.)

Given the long drought between facing the Hell Dorados, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I knew we were a much more athletic and seasoned team since the last time we had faced them, but I knew the same would be true of the Hell Dorados.

As it was, it was undramatic bout. OCCRG took the lead from the outset with the usual big jams from Ophelia Fracture and GladI8Her (who was last seen bouting in June). I had a quite a few successive go-rounds as my turn as jammer, as did Left 4 Deadwards. The team's defense was quite strong, with plenty of full-body leans and booty blocking used to impede the progress of the Hell Dorados jammers by Fannysaurus Wrex and Animal Mother. As expected, Bat R Up and ZomB Blokr did the dirty work of breaking up walls put up by the Hell Dorados blockers and delivering some puissant blows.

The Hell Dorados did put up a good fight from beginning to end. Their blockers were aggressive and hit hard, and OCCRG had to rely on fancy footwork to evade them. In the second half the Hell Dorados employed a strategic play, delaying their blockers rolling past the pivot line as long as possible, for every single jam. (This is a play that is experiencing an unfortunate surge in popularity in the roller derby world in the moment, and is dissected well by Left 4 Deadwards in her latest blog post.) The motive behind such a play is that, in being the last blockers past the line, the Hell Dorados gained immediate control of pack speed since OCCRG blockers could not shoot ahead or risk being called for splitting the pack. It also meant that OCCRG jammers would hit a wall right off the line and isolate her from her own blockers As it turned out, all it really succeeded in doing was running down the clock, as OCCRG jammers were temporarily stymied before their blockers interceded by skating backwards into the Hell Dorados' walls to literally break things up.

Left 4 Deadwards holding up a Hell Dorado jammer

MVP of the bout in my book was Left 4 Deadwards, who switched back and forth from jammer and blocker throughout the night. She is alternately known on the team as 'Crazy Legs' for the impossible and unnatural footwork and she regularly doles out on the track. Left 4 Deadwards is not known for big hits that send opposing skaters flying like Bat R Up, but she is known for her heavy leans which are just as --if not more-- effective in fettering opposing jammers. She also sports a rear that, though diminutive, always manages to get up in everyone's business and throws thought-out plays into disarray.

As for me, I had a couple of big jams though there were two instances where a Hell Dorado blocker pushed me inside and, before I could stop myself, I cut the track. Controlling my speed and path is definitely something I will be working on in coming weeks, but on the whole I played fairly cleanly (No major elbows!) with fewer majors and minors than I have ever incurred during a bout. The Hell Dorados were successful a few times in distracting me from their approaching jammer by engaging and blocking me. I'm trained now to keep an eye out for that opposing jammer but now it's readily apparent that I also need to watch for opposing blockers who will try to knock me around when I'm caught off guard or looking the other way.

And no post-bout recap would be complete without the action shots, which come courtesy of Jonathan Johnson:

GladI8Her makes lead jammer while Fannysaurus Wrex and Chemical Spill wall

ZomB Blokr (center) and I watch for both jammers

Ophelia Fracture, as usual, runs circles around the competition...

...and slips through the inside while Left 4 Deadwards hampers another Hell Dorado jammer

More photos to post in coming days from our own team photographer, Emily Sherman.

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