Last Saturday, the day dawned like many other summer days in Michigan’s beautiful Copper Country. Except this wasn’t an ordinary day. Last Saturday was Keweenaw Roller Derby’s seventh annual Solar System Smackdown mixer: the Aurora Assassins and the Ultraviolet Valkyries were preparing to do battle at Houghton’s Dee Stadium.
Open skate was amicable enough, however the atmosphere turned serious once warm-ups got under way. Assassin’s captain Payne Thretzky (alter-ego of KRD blocker I Love Skatin’) lead her blue shirts through a series of stretches and scenarios as the Valkyries waited on the sideline for their turn. Soon, they took the track, lead by captain Lt. Baldavich (pseudonym of KRD jammer AfroDisiac) as she put the Valkyries through their paces.
Head referee Otto Korrect (kindly visiting from Chippewa Valley Roller Derby) had his crew assembled and at the ready, while head NSO Gore Mae Cupcake and her peers stood at the ready. The bout was soon underway, with the Assassins pulling into an early lead, thanks to skillful jamming on behalf of Glory Sparks (Dead River Derby), Starbuck (KRD), Radiosmacktive (Madison Roller Derby), Pippi StrongWhomping (KRD), and T. Slam (Minnesota Roller Derby, formerly of KRD). In spite of this early lead, the Valkyries’ jammer corps responded strongly, kicking asses and taking names. Lead by Lt. Baldavitch (KRD), the Valkyries’ jamming duties were shared by McMauler (aka. Kim Kong of KRD), Leaf Cutter (aka. Princess Fury of KRD), and Switch Please (Minnesota Roller Derby). The entire bout saw the lead go back and forth, as both teams jockeyed for intergalactic roller derby supremacy- a true nail-biter.
Newer skaters Wall-EE (Kingsford Krush) and Fifi (KRD) laced up their skates for the Valkyries in what was their second and first bouts respectively. They truly held their own on the track, with both skaters performing skilled blocking and assisting in the formation of solid walls. Not to be outdone, the Assassins also had a strong defensive showing, with KRD’s Princess Bubblebutt, Rowena RaginClaw, Jeffrey Dahminator, and Kansassin (Madison Roller Derby) joining forces, creating smooth, strong blocking formations. Visiting Canadian skaters Vodka ChaseHer and Chasing Wolf from Thunder Bay Roller Derby both skated like champs- Vodka in purple, and Wolf in blue- blocking jammers, and landing some punishing hits each. Speaking of hits: KRD’s Amelia HitsHart , Payne Thretzky, Famke Jams’em, and Mae Rollin Gung Ho (Chippewa Valley Roller Derby) were not shy about getting physical- each of them played effective and stealthy offensive blocking; surprising skaters and landing some punishing body checks.
Overall, it was a close and exciting bout. The final result saw the Assassins emerge victorious 172 over the Valkyries’ 147. Both teams fought hard and enacted the true spirit of roller derby: fair play, support for fellow skaters, and athleticism.
Bout MVP trophies were true works of art, kindly created by injured KRD skater Luna Stormborn and her partner Joey Voldarski. They were awarded to Valkyries’ jammer Leaf Cutter, and blocker Mae Rollin Gung Ho. The Assassins MVPs were earned by Pippi StrongWhomping (jammer) and Kansassin (blocker). MVP zebra award- chosen by the NSOs- went to Boba Thrett (KRD) and MVP NSO – chosen by the referee crew- was awarded to Angela (KRD).
Many volunteers came together to make this event a success; too many to name here. A galaxy-sized thank you is extended to you all.
In closing, Solar System Smackdown 7 is now part of roller derby history. The friendships and alliances formed by events like this are not to be understated: they are what roller derby is at its core. Skaters coming together, playing their hearts out in a sport that we all love so much. Supporting each other. Having each other’s backs. Dancing our asses off at the after party. The world needs so so much more of this.
Be good to each other and keep turning left. Over and out.