Roller derby has been a sport for over 70 years, and it’s making a resurgence with East Kootenay women, with 70 members on four teams in Fernie, Kimberley, Cranbrook and Invermere.
Hoping to encourage women from the Creston Valley to join the league, two bouts will be held at the Creston and District Community Complex on April 7.
“It’s basically a revived, cleaned up sport,” said Dawn “Dawnimatrix” Burnham, captain of the Cranbrook team.
“Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track,” explains the Wikipedia.org entry. “Game play consists of a series of short matchups (‘jams’) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the ‘jammer’) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously.”
Leo Salzman and author Damon Runyun are credited with developing roller derby to its competitive form, and the sport is under consideration for the 2020 Olympics.
This is roller derby’s second year in the East Kootenay, and the third in the west, which started men’s and junior leagues this year. Bobbi “Beretta Lynch” Barbarich of Nelson was on Team Canada in the Blood and Thunder World Roller Derby championships last year.
The East Kootenay women play flat track roller derby, a variant of the steep-banked oval race made popular on TV a few decades ago, making it a relatively low-cost sport that could take place in gyms and general indoor and outdoor sport facilities.
Burnham said she used to roller skate every night in the 1980s, and enjoys using her skills again in this sport, in which she and her teammates are costumed in short skirts and fishnet stockings.
“People like to come out and see women do something physical,” she said. “It’s very empowering, really.”
Doors to the April 7 games open at 4 p.m., and the bouts start at 5. Admission is $10 for adults and $2 for kids under 12, and donations to the local food bank will also be collected.
For more information, visits www.kootenayrollerderby.com.