No lead over the Black Diamond Betties is safe during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF).
Whistler's flat-track roller derby squad proved that Sunday, April 20, with a come-from-behind win for the second WSSF in a row, capturing a "Super Brawl Sunday" victory, 205-141 over the Sunshine Coast's Red Tide Warning at the Whistler Conference Centre.
The Betties, who pulled off a last-minute victory over Squamish's Sea to Sky Sirens at the 2013 festival, authored a much more convincing performance on Sunday in their first bout of the season. The hosts faced a 45-point deficit late in the first half, but dominated the second half to the delight of the 800 raucous fans lining the track.
"I think we were actually fairly evenly matched," said Betties captain Lori "Princess Slayah" O'Hare. "We had the momentum after the halftime and took it from there."
In fact, it was O'Hare who kicked off the Betties' comeback on a marathon 19-point power jam to end the first half. As Whistler's most effective jammer on the night, she was named the Betties' MVP after the final whistle.
"I was trying to be playful with it, too, to bump up the festival spirit," said O'Hare. "I was having fun out there and I think it did make a difference for us."
The Red Tide Warning held an 85-61 lead at halftime, but it was erased on the first jam of the second half when Betties jammer Rhonda "Va Va Voom LaDoom" Maddin turned the pack into Swiss cheese with a 35-point power jam. The home team never trailed the rest of the way, stifling the Sunshine Coast attack with great blocking.
"We've been working really hard for three years to build a team that plays well together," said Betties veteran Nicole "Natural Born Spiller" Lauzon. "I think we've really picked it up this year, working on our defence and having fun at the same time. I think we did a lot of that tonight.
"I think every time we step out on the track, we get more comfortable playing the game."
Red Tide Warning jammer Crystal "Ivonna Masterskate" Dejong did most of the damage on the attack for the visitors and was selected as her team's MVP in a losing cause. Kristi "Roxy Shocker" Anderson and Genevieve "Honey Badger" Medrano, both on loan from the Sirens for the night, had some good moments at jammer for the Red Tide team as well.
Dejong said it wasn't characteristic of her team to fizzle down the stretch.
"We're usually a second-half team... but there was a total change-around this time," she said. "It was a very good game. It was a nice, tight fight, that's for sure."
The WSSF provided the most impressive production of roller derby in the resort thus far on Sunday, moving the track to the centre of the venue's Sea to Sky Ballroom. That put the giant video screens directly above the track and allowed fans to surround the arena, amping up the excitement level inside the building.
"It's so wonderful to be able to play in front of a home crowd that's supporting us, and it makes for a real feel-good atmosphere for us," said O'Hare.
Lauzon said the set-up took some getting used to for her team, which might have contributed to some jitters early in the bout.
"The first half (required) some getting acclimatized to playing in a venue like this, because it's so unique. We're really lucky to get to do it, we love it, and the second half I think we really got to rebound and play the game we've been working on," she said. "It's awesome having people all the way around the track. It doesn't matter where you look, there's a happy face; somebody cheering you on."
Meanwhile, Dejong said the visitors were also thrilled with the vibe inside the venue, even though the crowd wasn't exactly pulling for them.
"It's amazing," she said. "I've never been to anything quite like this before... I've never seen big screens like that at a derby bout.
Next up on the schedule is the "Battle of the Betties" at Meadow Park Sports Centre on May 31, when Whistler's Betties face the Brick House Betties of the Comox Valley.
Although the Betties will have a home crowd behind them again in that contest, the team is expecting to get a good test from their Comox counterparts.
"I think they'll be a strong team," said O'Hare. "I think they have some more experienced players than we do, so it will be a tough game for us, but I hope we've gained some experience, (too,) and that will give us the advantage."