Vixens roll to win in 1st derby
Team beats Belles 116 to 81 in Jackson’s first roller derby match.
By Miller N. Resor, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
July 4, 2012
Behind steel doors deep within the concrete recesses of the Snow King Sports and Event Center, two teams of warrior women were making final preparations before heading into battle Friday.
In the Grizzly Belles locker room, women tighten the rubber stoppers on the noses of their roller skates, pull on elbow and knee pads, shove in mouth guards and apply final touches of makeup and glitter.
Makeup and glitter?
This is roller derby, folks, where guts and glamour are about to spin out of control in front of 750 screaming, beer-fueled spectators taking in their first glimpse of a bunch of derby dolls featuring monikers like Punkalicious, Randi Wheels and Beast Lightning.
The teams’ collective energy, a mixture of excitement and nerves, is bouncing off the concrete walls. Some women have not eaten; others say they could not sleep.
Penny Penalty, the Belles coach, says a few words, before a wave of high-fives, battle cries and butt slapping sweeps over the room
Outside the locker rooms MC Hot Box Johnson takes to the center of the roller derby track and begins riling up the crowd, as more rowdy fans push their way into the Jackson Hole Juggernauts inaugural bout.
As the roar nears a crescendo, Hot Box Johnson begins introducing the teams.
One after another the Grizzly Belles and then the Valley Vixens fly out of the tunnel and begin circling the roller derby track.
As Hot Box Johnson calls their names, the women raise their hands to salute the cheers and jeers from the packed grandstand.
The audience continues to stream in, eventually filling in the “suicide-seating” along the edges of the derby track.
From the first whistle it is clear both teams came to play.
Bone-crushing lateral hip checks collide with agile jammers as they try to negotiate the pack at full speed.
The sickening slaps of bodies falling on the unforgiving concrete floor rises above the gasps of the crowd.
In the first 30-minute half, the score bounces back and forth.
Punkaliscious, Randi Wheels, Rhonda Gauntlet and Tammy Gunn all contribute to the Belles’ 14-8 lead after five jams.
The Vixens, undeterred, fire back two jams later when Athena Thrasher, a force throughout the bout, scores 10 points in a power jam to make the score 19 to 14 Vixens.
Four jams later, the Belles get back in it with a 15-point run by Rhonda Gauntlet, making the score 30 to 24 Belles.
The play is furious. Both teams obviously want to win. If only everything wasn’t moving so fast, the referees would see the scratching and biting that must be happening within the scrum. Blockers throw big body checks as jammers try to squeeze through the inside, outside or middle. The crowd cheers for contact and misses alike, so long as there is carnage.
The Belles, however, are not able to hold off Dramatic Pyrony, the only one of the Juggernauts with previous roller derby experience.
Pyrony would go on to score 24 points in the first half alone and another 17 in the second half for the game high 41 points.
The first half ends with the Vixens up 66 to 39.
At the beginning of the second half, a few big jams by the Vixens keeps the Belles at bay, but they never give up.
The competition is intense. Blockers waiting at the starting line for the whistle jostle for position, and when players come off between jams they are breathing hard and massaging bumped and bruised body parts.
Until the final whistle women are throwing booty picks — slamming on their brakes and waiting for the opposing player to bounce off their bodies.
The Belles score points in 12 of the 19 jams in the second half compared with the Vixens’ 8 of 19, but two big jams by Dramatic Pyrony and TriceraSTOMPS allowed the Vixens to outscore the Belles 50 to 42 and win the bout 116 to 81.
After Friday’s game, Dramatic Pyrony said, “I think we are off to a really good start. People should expect to hear a lot more from us.”