• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Roller derby warriors skate to glory

The Local · 13 Dec 2010, 16:51

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Munich shooting
'Lone' Munich shooter kills nine, commits suicide
Photo: DPA

A teenage German-Iranian gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree at a busy Munich shopping centre and then committed suicide had likely acted alone, German police said Saturday.

As it happened
Nine dead in shooting rampage in Munich
File photo: DPA

Nine people are dead after "at least one person" went on a shooting spree in a Munich shopping centre on Friday evening. An attacker is believed to be among the dead.

German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot
Pro-Erdogan protesters in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Hatred between supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and those opposed to him has exploded on social media in Germany in the wake of a failed coup attempt last Friday.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,713
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd