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July 25-31, 2007

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Roller derby

Elbow room: Hannibal Lickedher runs a set of blocking drills at San Jose Skate with Whip Her Slap Her.

Rink of Destruction

By Felipe Buitrago


THE RETRO chic of the past decade has brought back many near-forgotten aspects of pop culture. But the cherry bomb on top of it all has been Roller Derby, and now the South Bay's devastating ladies are making a league of their own right here in San Jose.

Roller derby actually originated back in the mid 1930s in Chicago, and has seen its ups and down. Now in the 21st century the girls are bringing it back and teams are popping up all over the West Coast. In San Jose, the Silicon Valley Roller Girls are getting new players every week. Some have more enthusiasm than experience, but TC, the SVRG's head of fundraising, says that "there is a short learning curve." The SV Roller Girls practice at San Jose Skate twice a week ,and then take the team to the streets and skate through the city on their way to Roosevelt Park to continue training.

Don't let the good looks and dedication fool you. They're very pleasant off the track, but don't expect them to be ladies in the rink. Names like Lowdown Ruthless and Mistits are worn with pride, like the pads opponents see close just before they hit the floor. Contact is still a fundamental part of the sport and the rules are simple. There are five players for each team on the rink at a time. Each team has one jammer (scorer), a pivot, which is the last line of defense, and three blockers. The objective: the jammer scores every time she passes each opposing player. The first jammer to pass all blockers and pivots is the lead jammer and can then end the session at anytime. Sessions are two-minute countdown periods with 15 seconds in between to regroup. A bout lasts one hour and has 30 sessions.

So strap on those pads and spin those wheels, stay low and get ready, 'cause these girls are here to kick ass.


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