Both of Denver's premier roller derby leagues will be competing at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Roller Derby International Championships this weekend in Milwaukee, hosted by the Brewcity Bruisers at the U.S. Cellular Arena, and odds are they'll have to skate against each other in round two on Saturday. Expect things to get rowdy at the local watch party at Tracks, where they'll be showing the tournament bouts on Saturday (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) with a mix of fans and players from both the Denver Roller Dolls and the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in the crowd. Planning your own watch party? The live webcast will be available at WFTDA.tv with a $20 weekend pass.
"Thanks to our win at the Division Playoffs in September we're very excited that this is the first season we've had a first-round bye at championships, which puts us in a very good position to make it to the final round and take home the Hydra trophy," says Julie Adams, a jammer for the Denver Roller Dolls' Mile High Club all-star team. "We play first on Saturday in the second round, where we'll take on the winner of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls vs. Angel City bout, so there's a very good chance we'll be playing our crosstown rivals early in the tournament."
The Mile High Club finished in third place at championships last year, and heads into this year's tournament ranked fourth overall in the WFTDA, behind New York's Gotham Girls, San Francisco's B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls, and Austin's Texas Rollergirls.
RMRG's 520 Fight Club all-star team won the WFTDA championship title in 2010 and is currently ranked 10th overall. 5280 Fight Club will face Los Angeles' Angel City Derby Girls in round one on Friday at 3 p.m. (4 p.m. Central time in Milwaukee). A first-round win would pit RMRG against DRD on Saturday at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. Central), and -- WFTDA rankings and tournament seeding notwithstanding -- that could shape up to be a bout for the ages.
"They've beaten us twice this season, both by extremely close margins on last-jam victories, once by six points and once by just one point," Adams says. "Every time we've played them it's been a very good, very close game, but we've been working hard to improve our ability to finish the game so we don't have these last-jam losses when we've been ahead the whole game."
No other city has two leagues represented at this year's tournament.
"This has turned into a really healthy rivalry between two great Colorado leagues over the years," says RMRG spokeswoman Meghan Dougherty. "We're thrilled to have both teams ranked so high at championships and to have so many strong skaters coming from here. Nothing against the Denver Roller Dolls, but RMRG really, really wants to bring the Hydra trophy back home to Colorado, and our 5280 Fight Club is hoping to be the ones to do it."
Whichever team makes it past Round 2 will be in for a Round 3 battle against either Texas Rollergirls' Texecutioners or London Rollergirls' London Brawling, then on to a likely finals showdown against the undefeated Gotham Girls, the reigning champs.
"Gotham is strong and has been strong forever: they're just a hugely talented team, and they're keeping the competition fierce," Dougherty says. "But the fact is we've come out on top at championships before and our team has been improving -- we now have fourteen amazing skaters on the team, so it's not like there's just a couple superstars -- and we're seeing teams improving all across the country as the level of competition keeps getting higher. It won't be long before someone comes along and upsets Gotham, and this weekend it could very well be either the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls or Denver Roller Dolls."
The Denver Roller Dolls also have their sights set on a finals face-off against Gotham.
"They're a very imposing team, but I feel like if anybody can beat Gotham it's Denver," Adams says. "We played them in August and had a very close first period, with some lead changes where we were actually winning, which has been almost unheard of for them this year. If we play Gotham for the final round it will probably be the hardest game of our lives, but I honestly think but we can do it. Somebody needs to beat them and take the Hydra."
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Click to enlarge the image below for a full look at this weekend's brackets.