• Germany's news in English
 

Roller derby warriors skate to glory

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.

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
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
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

3,157
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd