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Freewheeling Fun: Roller Derby in Calgary


The Chinook City Kill Jills (in yellow) take on Fernie's Avalanche City Roller Girls (Photo: Steve Recsky Photography)

The Chinook City Kill Jills (in yellow) take on Fernie’s Avalanche City Roller Girls (Photo: Steve Recsky Photography)

Sparkle Motion. Negative Nancy. Crimson Shivers. These rough and tumble nom de zooms are a tongue-in-cheek nod to the 1970s heyday of roller derby, a full-contact, roller-skate sport now experiencing a North American renaissance. Artfully rugged, fast-paced and surprisingly strategic, matchups see each team’s “jammer” score points by lapping the opposing team’s “blockers” on an oval flat track. In Calgary, these matches are held at indoor community halls surrounded by floor-level spectator seating. Sparkle Motion, aka Claire Lacey, is a member of Calgary’s co-ed Chinook City Roller Derby league. She skates on its women’s team, the Kill Jills, and coaches new recruits.

What position do you play?
I play all positions. I love the speed and single-mindedness of jamming, as well as the physicality and strategy of blocking.

A lot of people think of roller derby as more entertainment than sport, like the WWE. Is the competition real?
That image is a relic from the ’70s. Roller derby is a real sport. No scripts, just speed and hard hits.

Is roller derby a good spectator sport?
Roller derby is a blast to watch! It’s a fast, dynamic sport. Most game officials work really hard to be friendly to first-time spectators by outlining the rules in event programs and having announcers take questions from the crowd.

What is Flat Track Fever?
It’s Alberta’s biggest roller derby tournament, and it runs in Calgary from May 23 to 25 at Optimist Arena (5020 – 26 Ave SW). Three days, two divisions: one for men and one for women. There will also be co-ed exhibition bouts [men and women competing together in the same bout]. It’s a great way to check out what the sport is all about.

How does the roller derby scene in Calgary compare to other Canadian cities?
Calgary has a thriving scene, with two leagues that encompass women’s, men’s, co-ed and junior roller derby. I love the community. Alberta is a derby hotbed, with lots of teams playing at different levels.

What’s the best thing about roller derby?
It’s full speed, full contact, full fun! And derby people are the best people in the world.

Visit www.chinookcity.ca for Chinook City Roller Derby’s full game schedule. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online for Flat Track Fever at flattrackfever.com.

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