Public gets first glimpse of Yukon Roller Girls

Jammers scored points in the Yukon for the first time in history over the weekend. About 200 spectators took in the first public performance of the Yukon Roller Girls, the territory's first roller derby crew, at the Takhini Broomball Rink on Saturday.

Jammers scored points in the Yukon for the first time in history over the weekend.

About 200 spectators took in the first public performance of the Yukon Roller Girls, the territory’s first roller derby crew, at the Takhini Broomball Rink on Saturday.

“I think it was a success all the way around,” said Jennifer Duncombe (aka Lady Cuntessa), event co-ordinator for the Yukon Roller Girls. “The girls were able to handle the intensity of skating from nine in the morning until nine at night, which is a huge feat.

“Our coaches have done a great job preparing them with the rules and strategies to play a smart game. That has been a huge success. That’s what gets you wins in bouts, is the smarts of understanding the rules and how to play.”

The first public scrimmage, which was admittedly a glorified practice open to spectators, was the culmination of a three-day camp hosted by the Yukon Roller Girls. In addition to skills building, the camp helped lay groundwork for the future by including clinics for on-skate and off-skate officiating.

“For a brand new derby league, the way these girls are organized and what they pulled off this weekend blows me away,” said Jeff Tichbourne (aka Noah Backtalk), one of three derby veterans up from BC to help run the camp. “Their dedication and the amount of work they have put into this weekend, and their very first game, really impresses me very much. And I’ve seen a lot of different towns that are new, a lot of derby leagues that are new, and these guys are doing it right.”

Tichbourne, who referees for the Terminal City Rollers Girls in Vancouver, founded the Team Canada’s Men’s Roller Derby and competes on a men’s team in Vancouver, was also impressed by the jump in skill levels.

“The amount that these girls have learned in two days, to go from what they were like on Thursday to today, is night and day,” he said. “All these girls are picking it up and taking it to the next level in a very short amount of time.”

The two other derby specialists in town for the camp were Ana Kresina (aka Risquee Biznatch), who has been skating with the Terminal City Roller Girls for the past three seasons and has travelled the continent competing and attending boot camps, and Kelly Duncan (aka Beaver Canoe) a five-year veteran of competitive roller derby with the Eves of Destruction out of Victoria, BC.

For the public scrimmage, Kresina and Duncan both captained teams of Yukon Roller Girls – black versus white – and it turned into quite a show. Not only was it a neck-and-neck battle throughout, with big hits, it was an exciting come-from-behind win with white defeating black 117-108 in the final jams.

“Their jammer went to the box, so they couldn’t score any points – for us it was a power play,” said Kresina, who was captain for white. “So we made sure we played very tight and held the player back, creating a pack in the back, which means we are controlling the speed of the jam. So our jammer got through and scored a bunch of points.

“That was great for us because when their jammer was in the box, ours was still on the track and could score points.

“We had some great walls that were playing really well together in order to not allow the other jammer to pass. And there was a lot of communication going on.”

The Yukon Roller Girls, a non-profit organization, was first established about a year ago and has the long-term goals of establishing a local competitive league and a representative team to take on other cities at home or away.

In the works is also a Junior Yukon Roller Girls squad for Whitehorse girls ages 12-18.

The derby crew holds practices Sundays and Tuesdays, with an additional practice on Thursdays for newcomers or “Fresh Meat.”

More information can be found at yukonrollergirls.ca.

“Everyone had different moments to shine at different points through the day,” said Duncombe, who now lives in Whitehorse but started with the Eves of Destruction, competing and coaching throughout Canada. “People keep coming out, get to know your favourite players, and support them. Everyone has their own character, and that’s what we want to build up.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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