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Roller derby debuts at WSSF

Black Diamond Betties to host first ever home bout



It's been a long road for the sport of roller derby to establish itself in the Sea to Sky Corridor, but this Monday the skates are hitting the track right here in Whistler during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF).

The bout, aptly titled "Vengeance in the Valley," will once again pit Whistler's Black Diamond Betties against the Squamish Sirens.

"It's super exciting to be able to bring the sport here and have Whistler experience what we've been up to," said Bettie's captain Lori O'Hare, who rolls by the derby name Princess Slayah.

"It's a great feeling for us to actually have an opportunity to show people what we do. Our team is really hungry for a win, so I'd say it's going to be pretty competitive. And (the Sirens) don't want to be beaten by us either."

Even though the Betties are at the start of their second competitive season, this will be the first time they have been able to showcase their sport in front of a home crowd. It was only last year that the team found a suitable practice venue at the Ullus Community Centre in Mount Currie — previously team members had to car pool to Squamish to share track time with the Sirens, and even sometimes drive as far as Lillooet to get in their twice-weekly practice sessions.

The Squamish Sirens have come from equally humbling beginnings. Shannon Handley moved to Squamish from Toronto in 2008 with a dream of one day having derby included as a demonstration event at one of the Whistler festivals. She began recruiting girls to skate with posters around town, and a Facebook page, and would turn up at any public event in her skates to promote the sport.

"It was definitely a long process," said Handley, who wears the name Mala Justed on the track.

"We started small, the first summer there was just six of us skating around in parking lots."

Handley has managed to grow the Sirens to over 20 members and was first to offer assistance when Whistler local Kathryn Elder was gathering interest to form the Betties.

"They are our sister league, they helped us get off the ground," said O'Hare, talking of the close relationship with the Sirens.

"(Bouting the Sirens) is an opportunity to play with people that we know and have a good relationship with and that makes it a lot of fun on the track."

This will be the third time the Sirens and Black Diamond Betties have battled it out and thanks to the tireless campaigning efforts of Ali Kemp and Nicole Lauzon it will happen at the Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival. The Whistler Conference Centre will have a portable track installed leaving room for around 900 spectators. The doors will open at 7 p.m. with the bout begining at 8 p.m. and the $15 tickets are available at the Whistler Activity Centre, next to the conference centre.

"We can't believe this opportunity has come about," said Handley.

"It's all been a dream in the back of my head and it's really amazing that the Whistler girls have been able to take this opportunity and run with it. The work that they've done to make this happen is incredible."

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