• Germany edition
 
Roller derby warriors skate to glory
Photo: DPA

Roller derby warriors skate to glory

Published: 13 Dec 2010 16:51 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Dec 2010 16:51 GMT+01:00

Accompanied by rowdy rock music, packs of girls in lacy tutus, short-shorts, stripped socks and ripped nylons circled an oval track in Berlin on Saturday night, bumping hips and bottoms to push ahead and score.

What might sound like a meat-market nightclub was actually Germany’s first-ever roller derby championship. The arena was jam-packed with the country’s wildest and wackiest skaters, as well as plenty of fans turning out to root for their favourite derby gals.

Andy, a young man whose girlfriend plays for the Hamburg team, said that other sports like football and basketball tended to be too serious for his liking. “This is more fun,” he said with a laugh. “You have a lot of punks and freaks here, and the music is great.”

The Berlin Bombshells hosted Saturday’s competition involving five German teams from Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart and Essen, along with a joint Hamburg-Bremen roster called the Hanse-Connection.

An afternoon of furious and frenzied action rolled into the night, as tension mounted ahead of the final. Despite their home advantage, the Bombshells lost to the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz in a tight 128 to 124 match.

An American import, roller derby has only recently become popular in Germany and Stuttgart formed the country’s first team in 2006. Since then, its reputation as an expressive and exclusively female sport has soared among young women wanting to get fit while taking a turn as a femme fatale on roller skates.

The Bombshells were founded in May 2008, when the team’s captain going by the moniker Master Blaster came to Berlin from California’s Bay Area.

“When we started, we didn’t know anything about roller skates,” Master Blaster, who is also known as Molly Stenzel, told The Local. “So we did some research and met once a week to figure out how to structure ourselves.”

Photobucket

Click here for a roller derby photo gallery

With four new teams popping up this year across Germany and almost 50 players in the Berlin-based league, Bear City Roller Derby, the sport is gaining popularity while continuing to recruit roller girls. Three times a year, the league offers an open-call for a 10-week beginner course that teaches skating techniques and the rules of the derby.

“At this point we have nothing but room to grow, so everybody is welcome to come and to train,” said Stenzel.

With two teams full of skaters, a handful of referees, scorekeepers and penalty trackers, the rules and idiosyncrasies of roller derby, developed by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), take some getting used to. Basically, each team has an appointed jammer who must break through the pack of blockers, four girls from each team, in order to make laps and score points in a two-minute countdown period called a jam. The restrictions on how a player can block are taken very seriously.

Penalties are doled out for any illegal moves that include using forearms, hands and heads, which can result in wobbling, falling and often creating a five-girl pile up on the track. As for the potential of cattiness among the girls, a referee explained to The Local that fighting is forbidden and that the few minor tiffs that occur during matches are purely for entertainment value.

With a defining dynamic and approach to the game, each team toggles between sportsmanship and showmanship, while combining the styles of the rockabilly and punk subcultures. According to their team captain, the Berlin Bombshells are extremely sport-oriented.

“We are interested in playing at the highest levels worldwide, but we like to have fun too,” said Stenzel, who scored a wealth of points for her team during the final match. “There’s a lot of positive, loud and wacky attitude that keeps everybody excited.”

During the final, flag runners peeled around the track during time-outs and a mascot in a full-bear costume danced in support of the Bombshells.

“This year our focus was really to bring German roller derby to the next level,” said Stenzel.

She has been aided by the efforts of player’s like Stuttgart’s Blitzkrieg Baby, who shined brightly all the way into the stands on Saturday with her powerful style and sexy black and hot pink uniform. “I love this game because every kind of girl can play it,” she said.

Besides willing the first German championship, Stuttgart have performed well against UK teams this year. But that hasn’t stopped them from developing a close bond with London’s Rock ‘n Rollers, whom Blitzkrieg Baby calls their sister team.

Sisterhood was most definitely evident amongst all team members and throughout the mixed crowd of Germans, Dutch, Belgians and Scandinavians. Two roller derby fans and players, Fist F*cker from the Swedish city of Malmö and the 1950’s waitress-turned-movie starlet named Agent Anchor from nearby Copenhagen, traveled all the way to Berlin to catch the German championship.

Holding corncob pipes between their teeth, with the word crack written across the bowls, they said they hope to play against the Bombshells one day.

“It’s good fun,” said Fist F*cker. “You develop yourself and your mind and body. And it’s all girls, which means good laughs and good spirits.”

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight
Photo: DPA

Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight

US appeals court on Friday ruled that Oracle be given a choice between $356.7 million or a new trial for its copyright lawsuit against German rival SAP. READ  

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy
Former SPD MP Sebastian Edathy photographed at a press conference in February. Photo: DPA

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy

The Constitutional Court on Friday rejected an attempt by former Social Democratic (SPD) MP Sebastian Edathy to have evidence against him thrown out in his trial for possession of child pornography. READ  

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash
Photo: DPA

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash

A Bavarian student expecting a cannabis delivery was collared by "Commissioner Fluke" after acting surprised in front of policemen when he saw his letter box was empty. READ  

Security fears block Germany-Israel match
German and Israeli fans cheer in the stands during a friendly in Leipzig in 2012. Photo: DPA

Security fears block Germany-Israel match

A friendly soccer match against Israel marking 50 years of diplomatic ties has been called off amid security concerns and the escalation of the Middle East conflict, the German Football Federation (DFB) said on Friday. READ  

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain
Inside the terminal at the Frankfurt International Airport. Photo: Shutterstock

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain

Figures from the European Union show that while many German professionals are able to find work abroad with their well-recognised qualifications, Germany doesn't always extend the same courtesy to foreigners. READ  

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims
Passengers at Berlin's Ostkreuz station yesterday as information screens relay news of the disruption. Photo: DPA

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims

A radical left-wing group claimed responsibility on Friday for an arson attack that cut power to several S-Bahn lines and caused transport chaos in Berlin, saying it was intended to awaken people to the plight of refugees. READ  

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues
Passengers in Hannover check departure boards showing cancelled Germanwings flights. Photo: DPA

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues

UPDATE: Germanwings pilots have ended their six-hour strike which grounded 116 flights and up to 15,000 passengers of Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings on Friday. READ  

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in
Emergency services use a crane to lift the fallen crane in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in

A Cologne resident was pinned to his bed after a 40-metre construction crane toppled onto his home early on Friday. READ  

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel
Merkel looking grave at Thursday's West Balkan conference in Berlin. Photo: DPA

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that European leaders will discuss the worsening Ukraine crisis and possible further sanctions against Russia at a weekend summit. READ  

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm with fellow World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League

The 2014-15 Champions League draw yesterday brought déjà-vu for English and German clubs as old opponents found themselves facing off once again. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten of the oddest things found by German border control
Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer
Berlin
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,480
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd