A former Terrace resident, Brie Birdsell, recently made her way to the world stage – lacing up for Team Canada at the Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup, in Toronto, Dec. 1 – 4.
Canada rolled to second at the event, which saw 13 teams from around the world clash on track, in the first-ever world flat track roller derby competition.
“It was the first of its kind so they are kind of testing the waters,” says Birdsell, or Bone Machine, who added it was really exciting to skate with players from around the world.
“It was really well supported by fans,” she said, noting that Team Canada sold almost 1,000 T-shirts at the event, which was sold out.
Birdsell said one of the best parts of the competition was watching Canada pull together and put on a great performance.
Players for Team Canada had been recruited from across the country, and held their first practice as a team a mere two hours before the first match.
However given the results, any nerves about working together as a team quickly proved unfounded.
Day one Canada took on France, winning the match 244 – 14.
Day two was more of the same as Canada stormed Sweden with a 196 – 26 result and continued on to beat Brazil in an astounding 408 – 7 win.
Day three saw Canada win over Finland, 499 – 31, pushing Canada into the semi-finals.
Birdsell said she was most nervous about playing England in the semi-finals, because she has played against players from the London Roller girls league as a part of her regular team, Montreal’s New Skids on the Block, and knew the British would bring a strong battle on the track.
“So you know your opponent, and know where their strengths are, it is more intimidating then,” Birdsell said.
Canada needed to win the match to advance, which it did with a score of161 – 90, sending the team to the finals against the United States.
Throughout the tournament, there was a clear dominance from the United States, where the roller derby revival started more than a decade ago. Most of the other countries have younger derby leagues, and fewer athletes to choose from.
Birdsell said going into the finals her team knew it wouldn’t be able to win the match, so instead players focussed on scoring more points against the U.S. than any other team at the tournament. A goal that was accomplished with a final result of 336 – 33.
“It was really great seeing your idols on the track, and being able to hold your own against them, at least momentarily,” said Birdsell.
She said the best part of the event for her was watching her teammates experience a tournament of that calibre for the first time, and being part of a team where the drive and the excitement to go all the way was constantly there.