Vision exists for roller derby girls

A smashup occurred at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Dec. 9.

Crashes and interacting with the crowd were all part of the Roller Derby Smashup at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Dec. 9.

Crashes and interacting with the crowd were all part of the Roller Derby Smashup at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Dec. 9.

A smashup occurred at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Dec. 9.

Vehicles weren’t involved. Rather it was women on four-wheeled roller skates decorated in unique uniforms getting physical. At times it got so physical that fans seated near  what’s termed “suicide row” nearly felt it.

The only unfortunate incident was SixPac didn’t finish the evening after breaking her fibula and requiring surgery, which she had eight screws and a steel plate put in her leg on Monday.

“Other than that it was a great time,” said Ashley Perry, known as Little Miss Chainsaw. “The after party was also a blast.”

Perry said the players had a great time as they were mixed into two teams. It was a mixture from B.C. and Washington, creating an interesting dynamic since they usually compete against each other. While the crowd was smaller than previously, Perry said they are appreciative of the support they received.

“It would’ve been great to have more spectators for them,” she said.

Global Spectrum general manager Dean Clarke said smaller crowds won’t stop him from continuing to bring roller derby to Penticton. Clarke likes that there isn’t a roller derby season and working with S.S. Rodeo Sports and Entertainment, they can control how many events they hold. Part of his grand vision is to have roller derby events during the shoulder season so that the visiting players will support restaurants and hotels. Clarke would like to have a 12-team tournament, with teams having 35 to 40 girls on them.

“I like the sport,” said Clarke. “The amazing thing is to see the women take ownership of the sport.”

Clarke would like to see teams built and give them a place to play. His concern isn’t with how many fans attend or not.

“For me it’s not really even about the fan base,” he said. “I just want to make sure leagues keep growing. If there is an opportunity for us to host a tournament that invites teams from Vancouver and Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States, if I can pump 500 guests into our hotel accommodators because I get to choose the season, I think that’s a great way of using our facility.”

He sees it bringing an economic impact of $200,000 to $300,000.

“That is basically the brainchild of why we keep doing it,” said Clarke, who stressed support for the sport.

Clarke said the people who attended it loved it.

“It’s awesome to watch,” he said.

Dorothy Ward was among the spectators watching two of her relatives in action. It was her first time at a roller derby match and she was impressed.

“I like it,” she said. “I’m just glad it’s not me getting bumped. It seems to be good. They know what they are doing. It takes some skill and I like watching that.”

The S.S. Rodeo has been building a banked track and, once that’s ready, Clarke believes people will see an improvement in the action, as the players can’t build speed without it.

Perry said the track is near completion, but sitting in storage at the moment.

 

“Our biggest challenge right now is finding a space to have it up to practise on,” she said. “We need a 9,000 square foot space for the track. We hope come spring we can find a home for it, and throw a few banked track events in the Okanagan in the summer of 2012.”