Six years ago the Yukon Roller Girls played their first bout in Whitehorse, beating the Fairbanks Rollergirls by over 50 points.
The Fairbanks derby team returned to Whitehorse this past weekend and the outcome was noticeably different.
The visiting team defeated the YRG 157-116 in a low-scoring bout called the Klondike Gold Krush at the Mt. McIntyre Rec Centre on June 3.
“I think both teams really concentrated on defence instead of offence,” said YRG president Christy “Crack-Her” Huey. “You could see that with the strong, solid walls where the jammers are getting tired having to push and you’re constantly reabsorbing them. If there’s a solid wall there’s not that franticness of having to hit people, where you get the injuries.
“I think both teams concentrated on keeping everyone safe. It is a contact sport but you have to be mindful of your body.”
Though the YRG didn’t log the win, they did showcase new talent. Five members of the team were competing in their first at-home bout, including Huey and Codi “Baddie Banks” Ingram, who was named Yukon’s MVP jammer.
“We were really excited,” said Ingram. “We had a lot of support from each other and our friends and it’s nice to see we can do these things here.
“I feel like we won because we had fun and we played safe.”
The Krush was closer than the final score indicates with Fairbanks up by 66-51 at half. Down 119-90 late in the game, Yukon jammer Andrea “Honey Badger” Badger scored 18 points to pull her team to within 11. YRG even closed the gap to 119-15, but with three minutes left the wheels came off when the home team fell into penalty trouble, sending Fairbanks on a string of power jams.
“There were some opportune times where not only was their jammer in the box, one of their blockers was in the box,” said Fairbanks assistant captain Katlian “Minifridge” Stark. “So our jammers didn’t have to deal with a full lineup of four … that definitely made those last couple of jams really beneficial to us.”
“They got the power jam and that was the big difference,” said Huey. “They had a really solid jammer that was really quick and she managed to squeeze by three lines and that’s 15 points right there.”
Saturday’s bout was just the second in Whitehorse in over three years. The YRG lost 220-76 to the Sea to Sky Sirens from Squamish, B.C., last September in Whitehorse.
But the YRG did notch a win a couple of weeks ago at a B.C. tournament/boot camp in Terrace. Seven Yukon rookies, all playing their first bouts, notched a win over Prince George but fell to Terrace and Quesnel at the event.
“It was a rookie team; we had zero veterans with us,” said Huey, who was named the YRG’s MVP blocker on Saturday. “We got better. The first game we got slaughtered, the second game was close — within 10 or 20 points — and the last game we won.”
The previous time Yukon and Fairbanks met on the flat track was at the United We Roll Roller Derby Tournament — the Alaska state championship — in 2013. The YRG won the bout and went on to win the state championship.
The next two years the YRG struggled to keep a team together and entered a period of inactivity. If anything, the Klondike Gold Krush confirmed the YRG are back and ready to go. They hope to host another bout by the end of summer, said Huey.
“We came into the game knowing there were going to be a lot of new skaters on Yukon’s team, but we didn’t want to go in thinking we were going to win,” added Stark. “It was a much closer game than I thought it was going to be. I was super impressed by the Yukon ladies. They were great, really solid.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com