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Double trouble at conference centre

Scar Wars roller derby to feature men's, women's bouts

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In a not-so-far away galaxy, on a fast-approaching Saturday (April 8), there may be a disturbance in the force.

Scar Wars, the first-ever doubleheader bout as part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), is coming to the Whistler Conference Centre. The first bout, the women's faceoff between the host Apex Pistols (made up of Squamish and Whistler players) and Vancouver's Smokin' Laces, will start at 6 p.m. while a men's game between the Vancouver Murder and Puget Sound Outlaws of Seattle will follow at 8 p.m.

"This is the first men's roller derby that's been showcased in Whistler. These are two of the top 10 men's teams in the world today," Alison Kemp (aka Gold E. Blocks) of the Apex Pistols said.

Kemp said WSSF organizers Watermark Communications have hoped to expand the roller-derby segment for awhile, but it finally worked out.

"They have asked us if we wanted to do a doubleheader for many years and we typically don't do that because it's twice as much work. It's a lot of work to have more than one game," she said. "But it was a great opportunity for us to do something to support men's derby, which is a very fast-growing segment of roller derby."

Though recent revivals of the sport have primarily had women at the forefront, Kemp welcomes men's participation to help grow the game.

"We receive a lot of support from men who are involved in roller derby as coaches. Having male coaches for women's games allows all the skilled women's skaters to skate without any pressure to take a turn at being coach and vice versa. You'll see the men's team has a female coach," she said. "Here is this sport where a whole lot of community coalesces around it. There's the sport aspect of it that is extremely fun and extremely challenging, but also has all these other elements that tick a lot of boxes for people — a strong tradition of giving back to the league, perhaps by coaching, or community or charity involvement.

"It's very inclusive and supportive, so it wouldn't be in keeping with the spirit of roller derby to think of it as encroaching on something that's our domain. It's not women-only any more than women would want something that's trying to break into an old boys club."

Dave Evans (aka Scott Killgrim) has skated for the Murder in the past and will serve as the Apex Pistols coach on Saturday night. He's eager for attendees to get two different versions of the sport in one evening.

"I started originally as a male skater with the intention of playing and we've tried for years to get more men into it and try to get a men's team in the area, but nobody really knew that men could play roller derby," he said. "I think it will be really interesting to have people come out and see a men's game and see the differences between the men's game and the women's game.

"The men's games tend to be a lot more of a physical game compared to the strategy side."

"The hits are harder in the men's game," Kemp said.

"It tends to be faster and more about the speed," added Evans. "The strategy is still there. It's just not as apparent as when you're watching the women's game."

Both bouts will feature some star players, as some of the Apex Pistols are featuring for the A-level Anarchy Angels in Vancouver, including Lori O'Hare (aka Princess Slayah), Jessie Cameron (aka Purrfectly Legal), Amil Dupuis-Rossi (aka the Fighting Mongoose) and Lindsay Leatheam (aka Rowdy Roddy Pippa). As well, Shannon Handley (aka Mal Adjusted) plays for Western Canada's highest-ranked squad.

The Murder, meanwhile, features Whistler's Craig McConnell (aka Pain Threatzky), who plans to try out for Team Canada in advance of the 2018 World Cup. Seven of his teammates are currently on the national team.

The bout is a fundraiser for the Apex Pistols to help cover training costs. Tickets are available at wssf.com, Soles of Whistler and Jono Hair.

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