"Just having somebody who knows what I do, who knows how you move when you skate," makes a difference, Montgomery says. Seven screws and one metal plate later, Montgomery is skating again — as are Sprouse and Cleveland.

Broken ankles aren't the only thing Wilms sees. As a podiatrist, her days are filled with feet: foot fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, bunions, hammertoes and wounds caused by diseases such as diabetes. She's between full-time jobs right now, but she still sees patients part-time at several area hospitals and senior centers, where she trims the nails and assesses the health of elderly clients who can no longer reach their own feet. At a recent afternoon clinic, two women in their nineties chatted with Wilms about the specials at Red Lobster, the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars, and who's sleeping with whom at the nursing home where they live.

Wilms is in the process of opening her own practice, which she plans to call the Altitude Foot and Ankle Center, partly in reference to her derby team Bruising Altitude. And if roller derby continues to expand at its current pace, she's liable to have a lot of business.

Caitlin “Muffin” Krause suffered a horrifying ankle injury last year
Caitlin “Muffin” Krause suffered a horrifying ankle injury last year
Kim “Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang” Wilms (left) and Krystal “Gator Dunn” Sprouse have skated together for several years.
Kim “Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang” Wilms (left) and Krystal “Gator Dunn” Sprouse have skated together for several years.

Since its modern revival in Austin, Texas, in 2000 ("Skate City," February 18, 2010) as a sexier incarnation of its 1930s-era predecessor, the sport now includes 176 leagues affiliated with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association; another 119 leagues are vying to join. Colorado alone is home to eight WFTDA-member leagues, in Denver, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Salida, Colorado Springs, Greeley and Castle Rock.

Denver's leagues are two of the best. In 2010, the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls won the WFTDA championships and the coveted Hydra Trophy, a silver skate artfully mounted upon a base of twisted metal. In 2009 and again in 2012, the Dolls placed third in the championship tournament. With this season now under way, the Dolls — the league formed when several skaters broke off from the Rollergirls in late 2005 — are ranked second in the nation, according to the WFTDA, while the Rollergirls are ranked fourteenth.

Like many derby girls, Wilms skates on more than one team within the league. She's actually on three: the all-star travel team, called the Mile High Club, which competes in national tournaments; the junior-varsity travel team, Bruising Altitude; and home team the Bad Apples.

What makes her unique, however, is her profession. Although other teams boast nurses, paramedics and firefighters, in her five years of derby, Wilms has never met another doctor.

**********

The most recent skater on whom Wilms operated wasn't as lucky as some of her other patients. Krause, aka Muffin, suffered the worst broken ankle that Wilms has ever seen, a hot mess of pulverized bone and shredded soft tissue that took five hours of surgery to fix. Seven months after shattering her ankle at an October scrimmage at the warehouse belonging to the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, Krause is just now beginning to walk again.

Here's how Krause describes what happened: She was coming up behind a blocker, rapidly closing the gap between them and preparing to do a trick she'd been doing for years, in which she pretends to stop and then speeds away. But on that day, her move didn't work as planned. "That rapid stopping motion basically ripped my ankle off," Krause says. "My foot was backward as I was falling through the air, and when I hit the ground, my bone shattered."

The result was so disturbing that one of Krause's teammates took one look at her foot, projectile-vomited and then passed out. The injury scene has been memorialized in a now-famous Facebook photo that shows Krause sprawled on the track on her stomach, her left foot extended behind her with that skate pointing downward in a normal way and her right leg bowed out to the side, as if she were Army-crawling across the floor. Her right foot is pointed straight up toward the ceiling, and if you look closely, her right ankle looks a bit like a spiral staircase.

Wilms was scrimmaging at the Dolls' warehouse across town when a referee skated up to her and showed her a texted photo of Krause's injury. Even though an ambulance was already on its way, Wilms rushed over to the Rollergirls' track. Knowing that the paramedics would likely crudely cut off Krause's beloved skate, Wilms gently unlaced it and removed it.

The injury was especially devastating given that Krause had moved to Denver from Albuquerque the previous year specifically to join the Denver Roller Dolls. She'd been a skater since the early days of derby, and her goal was to skate with a team that had a chance of winning the world championship — a team like the highly competitive Dolls. The championship tournament was only a month away when Krause's eight-year derby career came to an abrupt end.

From the moment she realized her ankle was broken, Krause was adamant that she wanted Wilms to fix it. She'd seen the magic Wilms had worked on Sprouse and Montgomery, and she knew that her teammate did excellent work. But before she could schedule a surgery date, she had to overcome an expensive hurdle: Unlike the other skaters, Krause didn't have health insurance. One of her teammates quickly set up an online fundraiser, and within a week, derby girls from around the world had donated more than $5,000.

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11 comments
lcomer51
lcomer51

Dr. Wilms treated my big toe injuries and was simply the most caring, compassionate and knowledgeable podiatrist.  I have diabetic feet issues, injured both feet while visiting here, and she actually made a house call and helped me right away.  She went above and beyond and even cut my shoe inserts to take pressure off the injured toes.   I just cannot thank her enough for her care and expertise in getting my feet on way to total recovery.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "chatted about the upcoming weekend's bout and joked about "boob tagging," a game whose rules are just what you'd imagine."

I wanna play!



Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I wouldn't trade a dozen 'Kim's' for my doctor and friend . Finding a GOOD doctor has cut my narcotic intake by more than in 1/2 !  She DOESN'T greet me w/ a prescription pad in hand . I won't mention her name out of courtesy but  more than likely, she has kept me alive for 15 yrs or so more, on this miserable planet . Just maybe I'll be around long enough to see everyone blow each other up w/ the 'Oh so feared', "WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION !!! ", I keep hearing about ......

kimberly.hathcock
kimberly.hathcock

Yayyyy Kimmy! So cool that you got the cover, love ya girl!!!

MOrde
MOrde

I have been under the knife of my teammate DR Kimmy Kimmy bang bang and she did go out of her way in trying to find the surgery less costly. I broke my Left ankle in roller derby as well. My doctor took care of me and even made house calls. Best doctor I have ever had. She is very compassionate, hard working doctor and an excellent skater.  You put me back together, so I could continue with skating but most importantly become a mortician. Love ya kimmy.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Dr. Bang Bang?  I'm just going to leave it alone.  

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@fishingblues  ... makes me want to injure myself ...

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay  

'Fish' is already permanently injured and out of commission in that 'spot' ...

He'd talk her to death w/ much of his senseless theories & beliefs .

' His plagiarism talents noted ......'  

 
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