I had to dig out my big-girl panties before stepping onto the banked track at UIC Pavilion where the Windy City Rollers All-Stars took on the LA Derby Dolls in the Red Bull Banked Jam! Not only did I get dressed up for the part, but I also got new name/persona to complete my derby transformation. I even brought my mom along for the ride. They named my mom, “Rushin Roulette” and me, “Painbow Brite.” We got all suited up in our over-the-top derby outfits and were ready to take to give life to our new identities.
Before stepping out on the track I got to chat with derby girls Val Capone, Isabelle Ringer and Mo Vengeance. They explained the difference between a flat track vs. a banked track and the rules of the “game”. Then it came time for Isabelle Ringer of the LA Derby Dolls to bring me out on the track and cut me loose. I asked if she’d hold my hand, but she told me to “get my big girl panties on!!!” I put on all my protective gear and was ready to go.
Climbing up onto the track wasn’t an easy task. I had to make sure my skates stayed parallel to the track otherwise I would have instantly rolled off the incline. Once I made it onto the track it was time to get my skate on. I followed Isabelle Ringer around for a few laps trying to get the hang of it. She taught me how to “fall”… that’s right, there’s a proper way to FALL so that you don’t get hurt. You have to fall butt-first…. no kidding! Another tip is to stay low and always be bending at the knees. I kept trying to come out of that stance and stand, which makes you much more likely to fall…. trust me, cause I did!! HAHA.
Eventually I got more and more confident out there. Also, Ringer showed me a trick on how to gain the most speed on a banked track. Skating to the top of the ramp down the stretch, and then shooting down towards the bottom around the bend really increases your speed. Using the banked track to your advantage is the idea:).
Banked tracks started right here in Chicago in the 30’s, the track made appearances through the 80’s, but has since disappeared. The Red Bull Banked Jam brought this style track back to where it originated as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Roller Derby. Being a Roller Derby girl for a day and getting to do this with my mom was such a great experience. If you’ve got the guts to be a Roller Derby girl, go for it!! It takes a true athlete to compete with these girls, but man is it a good time!