Thursday, January 6, 2011

0 COOL STUFF: Seattle's Bank Track Roller Derby League

On Saturday, January 8th, Seattle’s Bank Track Roller Derby League, Tilted Thunder, will have their 2nd competitive bout ever, and you should go. Wanna know why, cause Bank Track Roller Derby freakin rules!!

Compared to regular Flat Track Roller Derby, in Bank Track the skating is faster, the hits are harder, and the competition is fiercer. The skating takes place on a curved track allowing jammers and blockers to gain speed by maneuvering zig zag across the banked track, not just confined to flat ground. Awesome!

Remember that part in Mad Max 3, Beyond Thunderdome where Mel Gibson has to fight that guy with the chainsaw? Now, imagine a velodrome where gorgeous women athletes rollerskate at high speed, vying for position, and that's The Tilted Thunder Rail Birds.

Some readers may be familiar with Seattle's flat track Roller Derby league, the Rat City Roller Girls. Don't get me wrong, I will always be a fan of The Rat City Roller Girls, they were one of the first Roller Derby Leagues in the country. RCRG's efforts really helped spur the Roller Derby revival across the world. But ever since the Flat Track League rules changed about two years ago, RCRG just isn't the same. There are too many new penalties that discourage physicality and slow down the action.

Tilted Thunder, however, does not have whistle happy refs, and the action is nonstop. Seattle is lucky, we are the seventh city in the country to have a Bank Track Roller Derby League.

The skating dynamics are very different on a bank track. The jammers (the skaters who score points), are faster and have the option to take the inside of the track or the high side of the track. It is much harder for the blockers to skate uphill, against the curve, so jammers often take the high road. But when a jammer takes the low road, watch out, a blocker can pull into a tuck and SMASH with the assistance of gravity.

On Dec 4th, the inaugural bout did not disappoint. With 16.4 seconds to go, the Red Team had 145 points while the Purple Team had 146 points. The Purple Team's jammer got the lead jammer position, called off the jam, but there was 1.7 seconds to go. 1.7 seconds and only a 1 point difference!! The Purple Team again got lead jammer position and ensured their win. So suspenseful, both teams wanted the first win so badly, AWESOME!! The upcoming 2nd bout will not disappoint, I’m sure.

The Tilted Thunder Rail Birds are so new, the teams don't even have official names yet! For now, the teams are called Red and Purple. You gotta go, now is a great time, while the newness of the league is still very endearing. The teamwork is still a little shakey, the athletes have not competed much together, and the skaters are still learning subtleties.

The next Tilted Thunder Roller Derby bout is set for Saturday, Jan 8th, you should go.

I wish I had some pictures from the inaugural bout, but I forgot my camera at home. Instead, here's a picture of my ticket, program, and a signed bumbersticker by one of my favorite Roller Girls, JoWanna Ass Kickin'

More information:

Words by Mark Ostler


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