by Mark Sprain
It was a 12-12 tie after the first jam between the Helsinki Roller Derby All-Stars and the Rat City All Star Team (AST) in the opening bout of the second half of the season at the Rat’s Nest a couple weeks ago.
That April 29 bout launched the world competition phase of the season, the part that features bouts for both Rat City all-star teams, AST and the Rain of Terror (ROT) against teams from around the country and world as they prepare for the world championships this coming fall.
The Helsinki, Finland, touring all-stars provided the first competition on the AST schedule. After their early tie at 12 each AST pulled away quickly, demonstrating along the way that their new training approach has the early look of success. Many skaters did not skate with home teams for the first four months of the year, instead going through a rigid training program designed to put a faster, stronger and healthier team on the track when all-star play began.
AST was every bit all of those things, dispatching the vieraileva ryhmä with a 235-130 win. The Green Ninja Turtles left a little more like black and blue ninja turtles and the translation is ‘visiting squad’.
AST mistress of mayhem Astrid Suchy-Dicey, formerly skated as Belle Tolls, explained how this year’s pre-season training has raised the level of skating for the team, “We incorporated something called ‘periodization’ into our training, with different stages of training to enhance athletic development. Everyone followed a similar but individual plan tailored to each individual skater’s needs and goals.”
The tailored training regimen was developed by the league’s off-skates training team of Lance and Kelly Neubauer and overseen by Athletic Trainer Anthony Robertson.
“There were nine — more some days, less others — all-star skaters who elected to rest during the home season, recuperate and engage in some heavy duty weight training,” Suchy-Dicey said. “That type of preparation is hard to do when you are also full-time full-contact skating with a team, your body just gets too beat up and you risk injury.” Those nine included Luna Negra, Astrid Suchy-Dicey, Lacey Ramon (Carmen Getsome), Leanne Evans (Mayja Look), Patience Shelhorn (Patience Grasshopper), Raven Seaward, Sami Automatic, Enurgizer Bunny and LeBrawn Maimes.
“I think overall this experience has been enormously successful for each of us. I cannot believe how fast and hard some of my teammates are playing right now… it is incredible to watch athletes use targeting training to develop towards different goals. I’m thrilled to have been part of this process. Plus, there is nothing like sweating with your team to create a strong bond. I think this year’s change represents a very strong start to our season, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us this year.” she added.
After watching those all-stars, many of whom we haven’t seen on the track for months, destroy the game and solid Helsinki squad it’s hard not to agree with Suchy-Dicey and wonder about how successful AST could be this year. They are presently ranked 16th in the world according to the April 30 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association international rankings. Helsinki stands at number 53.
AST jammer Luna Negra (#911) returned with added speed, if that’s even possible. She blew up the Finns with 107 points and took the lead in twelve of the thirteen jams she started. Raven Seaward (#53) grabbed 29 points in the two jams she skated and was her usual dominate force on the line. AST Head Coach Vito Ramon interchanged blockers with little difference in the complexion of the bout. They all moved opponents at will, stuffed turtle jammers, paved the track with green clad bodies. Early in the second half and down 3-5 on a power jam H. Botts, formerly skated as WickedSlam, (#94) and Suchy-Dicey dominated the entire Helsinki line and shut out jammer Taru Saxelin (#101). By then it was
169-82, the turtles outscored 103-53 in the second half.
In addition to Luna Negra’s 107 and Raven Seaward’s 29, Lacey Ramon had 40, LeBrawn Maimes, 28, and Suchy-Dicey, 7. Helsinki was led by two skaters with 33 points each, MIA and Varpu Knuutila, Maria Kosonen, 25, Taru Saxelin, 17, Paulina Brandt, 10, Maiju Rinne, 8 and Nina Erwes, 4.
Helsinki went on to take part in the Big O tournament the following week in Eugene, Oregon. Their notable bouts included a close loss to the 21st ranked Boston Derby Dames, 160-148, a blowout win over Northwest Arkansas All-Stars by 347-66, and a loss to the 17th ranked Terminal City Rollergirls from Vancouver, BC, 215-185.
Next up for Rat City the all-star B team, Rain of Terror, will host the Terminal City all-star B team, B-Side, at the Rat’s Nest on May 30.