Sunday, July 14, 2013

Paris All-Stars Vs. Team Unicorn

Paris All-Stars 170 - 163 Team Unicorn
June 1st, 2013 - Paris, Gymnase des Fillettes
It was such a huge thing that I needed time to digest and get more objective about it. The UNICORN Double Header was the last home event of the season and we made justice to that long-awaited ultimate game, to our greatest surprise!

A non-exhaustive presentation of the teams is essential:
  • The PARIS ROLLERGIRLS ALL-STARS are currently the best ranked French team, and we did our first bout in 2010. Classy, yeah... but CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
  • The UNICORN TEAM is a non-charted and inter-league travel team, affiliated with the Mad Rollin' Dolls in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, a league that started its first full season BACK IN 2005 (!)

Let's sum up...
They are (mostly) American;
They are (at least) twice more experienced than us;
They are touring Europe;
We are going to be the first French team to meet American players;
People will come from everywhere in France for the occasion;
The venue is sold out with 800 people i.e.1600 eyes that will be watching us;

EXCITEMENT growing as D-Day approaches.
PRIDE to have the opportunity to play such opponents and to mark the French history of Rollerderby.
PRESSURE despite the fact that we have nothing to prove...
Avoiding getting thrashed would be welcome, though. Holding our heads up high and keeping our dignity whatever happens.

...And our bench disarmed the tensions:
"Girls, I have a dream..."
(you know how it goes)

At least it lightened the atmosphere and it put an end to the storm of anxieties the team was putting itself into. We wouldn't dare hoping for it but there was this little spark of dream, a sweet little "as if..." floating in the air.

The opening bout was very symbolic too: it was the deflowering bout of most of our freshmeats. The equivalent of a C-Team had been set-up for the occasion, with a few B-team players to lead the girls on the track and on the bench. The Sans-Culottes did pretty well for their first game, being quite behind the Switchblade Rollergirls of Lille during the first period, then doing an impressive score catch-up, and losing by a whisker on the last jam. 166-177.
Then is the turn of the much talked-about encounter. Skate-outs with attempt at French CanCan and impressive singing of the American Anthem by Captain Allie Gator, answered back by the whole crowd bellowing the Marseillaise (quite impressive too, but not in the same way).

A condensed SUMMARY of the game for lazy people:
A stunning shoot off for the Paris RollerGirls who score 39 points before the Unicorns wake up. The latters shift into second gear to catch up and take the lead a few jams before the break, a lead that we seize back two jams later, 2 points ahead. The second period witnesses the same evolution: we widen the gap for the first half, the Unicorns hold on and stabilize the scoring before reversing the situation in their favor two jams before the end. We finally win on the last jam.


(J1-J5) The Parisian Take-Off

FIRST JAM, I open the ball as a jammer. And the unbelievable happens: Not only do I take the lead, but the opposing jammer goes to the box for a cutting as soon as the first pass. Powerjam with a 19-point harvest to start with! And the dream goes on: Bully Bunker is lead, then Rose Hyène is lead, with another powerjam in our favour as a bonus, which I make the most of in taking the lead too! JAM 5 has ended, the scores are 39 to 0. Where is the scam?

The Unicorns score their first points on JAM 6. 39-4. They get the opportunity of a powerjam thanks to me doing a forearm on JAM 8 (I know, I'm too kind) but it is without taking heed of Oli Barbak and her cramp, who collapses on the track holding her calf. This is NOT what you think. It was a GENUINE cramp.

(J6-J11) The Unicorn Awakening

However the Unicorns wake up and strike back while we get a bit carried away: We find ourselves outnumbered and have to deal with counterpowerjam situations for FOUR jams in a row (J8-J11): JAM 9 starts with ONLY Butch Shan and Millefeuille on the track, I serve my sentence, Bully Bunker replaces me in the box while Allie Gator takes the lead with a nice belt whip. Shebiscuit is offered the end of the powerjam but Sally Broyeur, Rumble Roses, Butch Shan and Roxy Bat Girl drain her in speeding the pace of the pack. We saved the situation. 47-29, though.

(J12-J23) Paris is Back in the Saddle

This is when our Bench coaches, Sailor Blood and Marty McFight, wisely ask for a TEAM TIME OUT. A little relaxation time to "Dancing Queen" is always welcome!

JAM 12. We are back in the saddle with Rose Hyène taking the lead, facing Pigeon who makes a cutting approximately 1 sec. before our jammer calls off the jam. I'm in charge of the powerjam, I get the pinball-in-washing-machine experience, having a hard time passing the pack at first, but I manage to score two passes, ending the jam after a missed apex jump, which enables Bully Bunker to start solo. And she scores A LOT while our pack contains Pigeon, who makes a brief appearance back and cuts again, after having spent 2 passes stuck behind our wall. 77-29.

(J15-J23) The Unicorn Rises

JAM 15. It's a powerjam for Hooligan, but our pack makes management mistakes and she ends up cutting out of tiredness, while Pigeon is back in the game! From that jam on, the Unicorns are going to redouble their efforts and finally reverse the game on Jam 21.

JAM 17. Me jamming against Shebiscuit. It is one of the jams I liked the most for its improbability. A giant pile-up of skaters. Everybody keeping on falling and getting up and falling and getting up. It was not of great sport interest but it was fun. 81-46. Pigeon gets the lead against Bully who goes to the box on JAM 18, they make the most of it and score 17 points in the next jam. The Unicorns impose themselves on JAM 21 thanks to an unlucky backblock by yours truly while getting up after a hit. Pigeon is lead, the pack panics, she scores 19 points.

Yet they don't have much time to rejoyce as Hooligan manages to catch up two jams later. The first period finishes with a score of 102 to 99 in our favor.


(J24-J32) Paris in a Good Phase

The second period starts with 5 jams in which we are sober but efficient: lead, pass, (pass), call... Until the arrival of Trisha Smackanawa (hadn't jammed yet) who breaks the tendency: She takes the lead, passes and calls. At JAM 32, after two jams without any scoring on either side, Bully Bunker manages to widen the gap by 10 points, helped by her pack containing Shebiscuit. 137-104.

(J33-J38) The Unicorns Stabilize the Motion

Team Unicorn asks for a TIME OUT. We are in difficulty with only two blockers to help our jammers on the next two jams, a pretty good opportunity at scoring for the Unicorns: 141-117.

Oh I almost forgot to mention that dance-off moment during the official time-out the jam after the Unicorns' time out. Pigeon Vs. Me. We shared: I won the dance-off, she won the jam. Fair enough.

Then the scores don't change much for 4 jams (no scoring at all for three jams in a row): either the two jammers being neck-and-neck at their first pass, or the packs being effective at containing the lead jammer on her second pass, forcing her to call.

(J39-J47) The Unicorns' Comeback on the Last Straight Line

The Unicorns are hot on our heels. Allie Gator takes the lead while Hooligan goes to the box, a powerjam that offers 15 points to the Unicorns. 147-138. And they keep on coming closer. 138, 142, Tic-toc. Only 10 minutes left. JAM 44. I manage a good operation, doing a 4-pass jam which leads us to 161-148. It gives us a little more room to breathe, but let's not rest on our laurels!

Shebiscuit makes an attempt at feeding Rose Hyène for a -1 pass but it doesn't work out. Unfortunately, after having successfully countered that, Rose Hyène makes a cutting which offers the unhoped-for occasion for the Unicorns to catch-up. 161-159. And Amanda Jamitinya completes the shoot off in taking the lead. 161-163. I'm next on the line. I take the lead but have to call off because the other jammer is too close.

(J48) The Last Jam: Rose Hyène Vs. Pigeon

The first pass is a mess of a pile-up, which Rose Hyène makes the most of to take the lead. (Public's on fire.) Over-excited on the bench: She is ½ a track ahead of Pigeon, if she scores the full pass, we win! She enters the pack, passes 3 blockers (WE'RE GOOD), opposing jammer is approaching the pack, she calls it off... and she gets a forearm on the call (Public goes NOOOO), she is skating toward the box while at the same time, on the same action, Pigeon enters the pack and gets a low block for tripping Butch Shan, before scoring on the pass. (Outpouring of joy in the public.)

Rose Hyène has hardly sat on her chair that she is sent back to the track. She is stuck behind the opposing wall who heavily recycles on her. Pigeon goes for an apex jump. She is passing the pack, she is scor—falls on Butch Shan and goes to the box for a low block (there's a feeling of déjà-vu). Rose Hyène holds on and remains clean until the end of the jam. The final four whistles blow. WE WIN 170-163.


Butch Shan (#3, PRG) and Allie Gator (#18FT, Unicorn) receive the Best Blocker awards, Kozmic Bruise (#B612, PRG) and Shebiscuit (#409, Unicorn) get the Best Jammer, Meryl Strip-Her (#00, PRG) and Val Capone (#89, Unicorn) are elected MVPs, and Sally Broyeur (#72, PRG) and Trisha Smackanawa (#42, Unicorn) are elected Sexiest on the Track.

* Not sure about the awards. If any corrections needed, please contact me!


We had FUN.
There was pressure, excitement, suspense, good vibes, admiration, respect, bonding, love, strategy, concentration, challenge, pride, passion and FUN.

*WARNING: the comments are erroneous.

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