Badass roller derby action, Denver-style

Want to see some of the bone-breaking roller derby action described in this week's feature, "Denver's Roller Derby Rivalry Could Start The Sport Rolling Across The Country"? Today's your lucky day. (Thanks be to YouTube. Amen.)

The above clip shows of one of the more controversial moments of the past season. It happened in November at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association national championships, the so-called "Declaration of Derby," in Philadelphia, during a bout between Denver's Rocky Mountain Rollergirls and the Texas Rollergirls.

Toward the end of the bout, Sarina "DeRanged" Hayden of the Rollergirls was hit in the face by Texas skater "The Angie Christ" -- a no-no in derby. But the refs didn't call her on it, and DeRanged, a former pro boxer, got pissed. Out of frustration, she hauled back and punched The Angie Christ in the back of the head. (The punch is about two seconds into the fifteen-second video.)

DeRanged, one of the Rollergirls' top skaters, was ejected from the entire tournament as punishment and, thus, couldn't skate against crosstown rivals, the Denver Roller Dolls, in the next day's bout for third place in the nation.

The Roller Dolls went on to win that bout -- a victory some say was helped by DeRanged's absence. Others credit the win to the Dolls' superior strategy -- particularly an unpopular move called "slow play." To do it, the Dolls trap one of their opponents' skaters in the pack of "blockers" skating around the track and then slow the pack's speed down to a crawl so their "jammer," the skater who earns points by lapping the other team, can score more easily.

Here's a video of the Dolls doing their thing against The Windy City Rollers.

By comparison, the Rollergirls' style is faster. Chris "Hurt Reynolds" Seale, one of the three unpaid volunteers behind the Derby News Network website, describes it like this: "When they get in a jam and they really take control of it from another team, they will run up the score. They will go to town. Rocky Mountain is not thinking as much; they're more exploiting openings."

Watch the Rollergirls (in red) do some exploitin' against the Philly Roller Girls.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar