A recent CN Power roller derby bout.
Get ready for a weekend hosted by the fastest women in Canada. And we mean fast.
Toronto Roller Derby (or ToRD for short) will welcome the best skaters in the nation for the first time in the history of the organization at Quad City Chaos—going down at the Hangar at Downsview Park (75 Carl Hall Road, Unit 2) from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 27 and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 28. The event will also celebrate the launch of tord.tv, a multimedia site that league reps say will eventually broadcast ToRD bouts live.
“This is a major interleague roller-derby event,” says rookie Death Track Doll and event co-organizer Jan “DownrightDirty” Dawson. “It’s our all-star team comprised of members from the Dolls, the Smoke City Betties, Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore Gore Rollergirls. This is the first time we’ve ever hosted something this big. We’re trying to get ourselves officially registered with the WFTDA [Women’s Flat Track Derby Association], that’s the next step for us, and an event like this helps us do that.”
The round-robin tournament features the cream of the crop from the country’s top leagues as they go head-to-head representing their city on their respective all-star team. Fearless women clad themselves in elbow pads, helmets, and lecherously skimpy outfits, adopting such kitschy alter-egos as Dyna Hurtcha, Defecaitlin, and Panty Hoser for a weekend of knock-‘em-down mayhem as they whirl around the flat track.
As a young roller derby league inviting their cross-Canada rivals here for the first time, Toronto enters the tournament far from being the favourite, experts say. Indeed, the ladies of CN Power will have their work cut out for them against Montreal’s New Skids On The Block, Vancouver’s Terminal City All-Stars, and Hamilton’s The Eh! Team. But anyone who has ever been to a local bout knows that the ladies of ToRD are no shrinking violets. They believe, inspired by the hometown support, that the grit and ingenuity that brought the skater-run league the notoriety it currently enjoys will see them through to victory on the weekend. Even if it doesn’t, it’s all in good fun.
“CN Power’s definitely doing competitive intelligence and watching footage,” says Dawson. “Montreal’s played a lot recently, and they’re on fire. Nobody talks any smack that’s too loaded though, because at the end of the day you party with the other team. Even though you’ve knocked that person down, you’re going to buy them a beer afterwards. It’s a total sisterhood.”
It’s that sorority that brought ToRD up from its humble beginnings. What would eventually become the league started as two teams, the Toronto Terrors and Smoke City Betties, in 2006. Putting out the call for talent, the Terrors held a tryout in April of that year that brought sixty women out, prompting the dissolution of that team and the rise of four new ones.
A few months later, ToRD was officially born. Moving from George Bell Arena to the Hangar last summer, the league quadrupled their attendance to nearly one thousand people per bout.
“We saw that A&E show Rollergirls and we thought, ‘Hey, we could do this!’” says Death Track Doll and ToRD co-founder Monica “Monochrome” Mitchell. “At first, people didn’t know what it was. But now people are getting more attached to it….It’s one thing to see people buying tickets and know that your baby is starting to make a little bit of money, but we’re hearing the crowd roar, everybody’s up out of their chairs. That’s an adrenaline rush, to see people get really wild and enthusiastic about it. And we didn’t ever expect that.”
Photos by Kevin Konnyu.