This weekend’s first-ever Roller Derby World Cup in Downsview Park lets the ladies raise a little hell on wheels.
Starting last night and running throughout the weekend, the first ever Roller Derby World Cup has officially crashed into Downsview Park’s Bunker. With 13 teams participating—hailing from Europe, North and South America, and as far away as New Zealand—the competition has also drawn fans from all over the world to Toronto, which may seem like an odd choice for the first ever tournament of this kind.
However, according to American Lindy Hartsfield, co-owner of the roller derby magazine Blood & Thunder, and co-organizer of this weekend’s event, the choice was easy to make. “We did a training camp in Toronto a while ago with the Toronto Roller Derby league and they were really organized, so we thought this could work,” she says. “Plus, Toronto has three roller derby leagues, whereas other cities will have one league for 300 miles, so there’s a big community here.”
For those who are unfamiliar with roller derby, the game is like a mix of football and a track relay race. There are skaters (known as jammers) trying to score points by looping around a flat, oval track and blockers who try to prevent them. Make no mistake though, this is not a sport for the faint of heart. Decked out in shorts, stockings, helmets and knee pads, many of the women of the roller derby world are covered in tattoos, donning warpaint for games and giving themselves satirically bad-ass names like KC Knucklebone, Hell’on Keller and Maiden Sane.
Though originally popularized in the 1930s, roller derby has had a resurgence over the past decade, predominantly with women who may have shied away from traditional sports. “The sport is great because it gives usually mild mannered people a chance to become aggressive and come out of their shell,” says Hartsfield, who’s also a former player. “And you get the chance to meet some awesome people. It used to more punk rock girls in the beginning, but now it’s for everyone.”
Click on the gallery below for more photos of the rough and tumble players: