Underneath the leather and lace, satin and fishnets, roller derby is a contact sport on wheels; all shoulders and elbows, and hard drops to the wood floor. You have to pass skating, contact and falling tests just to be insured to play.
In that context, the Whistler-based Black Diamond Betties — have trained a long time to get ready for their first official bout against the Squamish Sea to Sky Sirens on June 2. The exhibition bout is being billed as the "Calamity in the Corridor," and takes place at Brennan Park Recreation Centre in Squamish.
The Sirens made their debut last year to a packed house, inspiring some Whistler women to bring the sport up here.
It hasn't been easy. Despite the high level of interest, Whistler is a transient town. And finding space to practice has been tough, with the Betties practicing anywhere they could get time, from parking garages to rec centres, tennis courts to ice rinks, up to Pemberton and down to Vancouver.
The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a beer garden, merchandise and half-time entertainment. Tickets are $10 in advance at Hempire and Evolution, or $15 at the door. Kids six and under are free. VIP tickets are $30, which includes a shuttle from Whistler to Brennan Park and home again. For more, visit www.whistlerrollergirls.com.
While the rules might seem complicated, the basic point of the game is to score points by breaking through the other teams blockers, while blocking the other team. Each team has one jammer on the floor, the only member of the team that can score points, and four blockers. The jammer has to make it through the pack once before she can start scoring points.
Each bout consists of two 30-minute halfs. Each half is made up of jams that can last up to two minutes — or be called early by the lead jammer. The lead jammer is the first jammer to score points in the jam, and they can opt to try to score additional points by passing opposing players or stop the jam.
The refs watch the action unfold and use hand signals to communicate with players. Everything from establishing the lead jammer to watching for illegal contact and out-of-bounds players is up to the refs.
The Black Diamond Betties have several other events lined up through the summer, culminating with another bout against Squamish on July 21. They are travelling to Revelstoke for a June 23 matchup against Revelstoke — "The Ski Town Showdown" — and to Abbotsford on July 8 for "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
No home bouts are planned this year, although the team is still looking for space to practice. New players are welcome.