Monday, June 24, 2013

Moulin Bruise: Paris PRG Vs. London LRR

Paris RollerGirls 149 – 150 London Rockin' Rollers
Allstars Bout, June 22nd 2013

Warning and Preface.
I am writing this report based on my feelings and immediate memories ONLY, with a little refreshing thanks to the twitter feed. Some details may not be objectively accurate: subjective durations and frequencies, highlight on some particular points and abstraction of some other facts... I am aware that it is a distorted image of reality, but it's all the more lively in the end. Then why not?

Overall impression overnight.
There are some games where you are just GLAD to be on the track, SHARING some quality play with your team mates and the opposing team. There are some games where SURPASSING YOURSELF and holding on all TOGETHER is what prevails. There are some games where you are here for your buddies and they are here for you too. There are some games where you are just PROUD, proud to be what you are, where you are, whom you are with. There are some games where points don't matter that much, in the end...
Moulin Bruise was one of them. And yet points never prevailed more in my whole derby experience than that time – and I wouldn't take much risk in saying it was the case of 100% of the people involved here.

Once again we had no bench coach and no line-up manager. At the end of the season, our purses are out of order. And we played with a roster of 12, although we hoped until the last minute we would be 13 with one of our lead jammers back on skates for that game. No panic though, we handled worse situations. Our main pre-bout strategy in the changing room consisted in trying to find easy rotations for our auto-benching. French style: This is Freestyle.

Full official rosters of both teams.


Warm-up. Skate out. Check-up. Go.

Confirmation with real conditions: Kind of slippery...!
Nope, I CAN'T go FASTER. Neverending principle: You can't take speed in the bend or you skid, thus you slow down and have to gain speed back in the straight line, but not too much otherwise you skid in the next bend etc. etc. Made my skating slower than usual, the main (only?) frustration of the day.
Let's not blame it all on the ground, my mistake too... Although my wheels proved their worth, I must have put them to a too severe test lately and they are showing signs of wearing. I guess I would have been tired too if I had had to wear my own self skating the streets and skitching cars... #rolleyesandwhistleinnocently

During the first minutes, we try to get our bearings.

First impression: OMG they are FAST!
(feeling increased by the fact that OMG we are slow – cf. ground. Not an excuse, just a comment)
The packs were speeding up to 75-80% of the jammers' pace. Consequently I had the feeling that most of the jams were short: first pass, scoring pass, call it. Challenge No.1: Containing the packs.

The score board was projected on the wall behind the teams' benches, so that we had to do acrobatics to check the points... I must have had a look twice at the board in the whole game. First time by the end of the first period when I realized that, surprizingly enough, we were leading 76 to 39. I would have bet for the other way around according to that feeling of being overpowered by the Londoners on the track. Better off this way, though. Thinking it over, we had an effective powerjam in our favor which must have widened the gap!
Then, was there a cause-to-effect link? It seemed that the revelation blew a wind of disynchronization in our packs. It just wouldn't work anymore. Add a powerjam at our expense and the first period finishes with them 16 points behind: 76-60. It was time the break arrived so that we stopped going around in circles!


Quick stocktaking in the changing room. Checks on auto-benching rotations. Checks on fits of temper auto-regulation. Checks on strategy and play. Beware of the inside line. Especially with slippery ground. Re-synchronize. Slow down the packs. Beware of their frontwards trappings. Stop running behind to help the jammers: makes their task even harder. Banalities in the whole.


This is when it really gets rock'n roll. It's all mixed up in my head so I sum up the twitter feed: The LRR take the advantage soon after the break thanks to a powerjam. 84-87. We are neck-and-neck for a few jams until another powerjam puts us in a difficult position. But soon, we get our lucky powerjam and change the lead. 115-96. The Londoners claw it back, jam by jam. 2 minutes to go, the LRR are hot on our heels, 1 point behind. 133-132.

In my memories, the second period goes like that:

The LRR must have taken the lead and I had no idea if we changed lead or spent the period catching up. The public was crazy, it was how I concluded that the game was tight. There was not much public but they were cheering as if they were twice their number. The atmosphere was as fair-play in the audience as on the track. They were obviously supporting their team – yet, we had a handful of people shouting 'Allez les Bleues' – but everybody knew how to recognize a good action. Let's not forget the conductor, great El Toupée at the mic, who helped a lot galvanize the crowd.

We had a few powerjams, both in our favor and at our expense but our packs made an impressive job holding the jammers back and minimize the impact. We had our unfortunate but ritual messy moment, queueing for the box and deserting the track. And we resisted the storm of downfall, still standing after its crossing. We lost a jammer by the end of the game due to a bad fall which awoke pain from a previous bad fall. Not serious but better not court disaster, and we still had one main jammer and two flexible skaters who could do the trick.

Last jam.

I find myself given the jammer pantie “Now, go for it! There's 37 sec remaining, it's the last jam.” “Uh okay [checking the scores for the second time in the game] but... DUDE IT'S A TIE, we're 135-135. That's a bit of pressure, thanks!”

On the line, against Jack Attack. Big packs on both sides. Rose Hyène pivoting. We've got a trick in stock to secure our backs. Whisle blow. We struggle, we juke, we push... And I get the lead hardly half a track in front of Jack Attack. I reach the pack, pass one blocker kneeling down, free point. Let's go get one more point for security. The pack is entering the bend, I take the outside, pass two blockers with my hips, get deported outside, call it. My jam ref takes some time to stop the jam, the pack blocking his sight between me and him. She may have seized one point, maybe two. Hopefully I should have three.
My jam ref says 0, opposing jammer's says 3. Hip passing must have been too subtle or even not have happened from his point of view (bends are tricky). I tried. A bit disappointed.

Cherry Lielie and Hooligan, Captain and Co-Captain, challenge the decision, the action took place in front of our bench, they ask for 3 points. Follows a looong discussion. 7'30'' containing the crowd pressing around the track: their minds didn't seem to be able to control their bodies anymore, badly wanting to cross the line. 7'30'' to congratulate the opposing team, and wait all together, both teams forming a circle. It obviously derived into a dance battle. *Some* Londoners are *pretty flexible* (!)


And the verdict is given. 137-137. DUDE IT'S A TIE. AGAIN! One more full 2-min jam to decide between us. Back from scratch. 60 minutes of game erased, replaced by a 2-min performance. We didn't expect that and I find myself on the jammer line. Again. Backed up with the most reactive blockers to the announcement. No Plan B this time. Jessica Rammit on the jammer line next to me, tough pack in front. Promissing!

Whistle blow launches the ultimate 2-min marathon. The first pass seriously draws on my energy stock. Rammit is out first. She is one pass ahead. I follow her quite far behind. My pack gets thinner as seconds go by. Can't expect help, they have to focus on slowing Rammit down so that I can catch up, despite the opposing wall recycling on me with delight. I lose track of Rammit's actions, focusing on passing and sparing myself. I see the few Parisian supporters going hysteric on the side. I see my team mates shouting to go faster and catch up (!) – I would love to, but I DO WHAT I CAN – behind the message yet it's the whole team sending you good vibes not to give up.
To be honest, I was obsessed with two things 1) can I ask how much time there is left because I can't lift my head to check the board right now 2) can someone in the public throw me a water bottle PLEASE.
At some point I find myself one meter behind Rammit. No power left in my legs, only my arms propelling me. She seems as exhausted as me. TUTUTUTUT. Relief!

We lost, did we? Pride.

We lost. Damn first pass. But did we? The final scores are announced: 149-150. One point. One meter to pass the other jammer... and we would have made a tie. AGAIN!! Thanks god I didn't ^^ /joke/

I am very proud of the scores, of the double tie, of the extra jam, of our autonomy challenge.
Of course and again, with a bench coach we would have been probably more reactive and efficient to implement counter-strategies, to check the points given at each jam, to disarm the (few) conflicts on the bench, etc.

Let's also note that according to the forecast of DerbyData, we were supposed to lose by a good bunch of points (300-125), being #24 and LRR being #9. WE LOST BUT WE WON!


Congratulations. To the skaters, to the refs, to the public. Honor laps. Hugs. Love. Photos, photos, photos. Tidying of the track. MVPs announcement. Meryl Strip-Her (#00, PRG) arrived late wrapped in a towel to get her Best Blocker Award because she was showering, Hooligan (#93, PRG) was treated to the Best Jammer Award, and the MVP was granted to myself (#B612, PRG), which really moved me – girls laughed because of my bewildered face but I was not faking it! For London, Von Bitch (#35, LRR) got the Best Blocker, Jessica Rammit (#6, LRR) the Best Jammer, and Deadly Devito (#0.5, LRR) was MVP. Personal congrats to Jack Attack (#101) who was both a real pain in the axx and a pure delight to jam against, and Robscene (#46) for that ultimate hit.


Cleansing our war paints. Showering. Taking pictures of naked team mates in common shower!!! (made their day). Packing our stuff. Chatting. Taking the bus. Destination Stratford for afterparty in great typical bar. Food, drinks. Wasp getting drunk, stinging Bully, Millefeuille taking the dart out, me asking for vinegar at the bar, Sally sucking out the poison (she got stung at the wrist, don't go fantasizing). Everything under control. Guards freaking out facing army of drunk rollergirls making human pyramids. Limbo (won a great ladybird water pistol -- which I just tried on the cat. Works pretty well). Best clothes swaping: Watzé trying Rose Hyène's skirt which she had already swapped with a friend. More drunkenness. Paris Rollergirls are superstars. Macarena dance to Gwen Stefani. More suggestive dancing. Dude, we missed the last metros. Buses and taxis back home. Short night sleep. Team meeting for brunch at train station the morrow. Jumping on Paris train. THE END.


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