With newfound enthusiasm found after their season opener, the primary travel squad of the St. Chux Derby Chix (SCDC) is primed for a very important invitational that takes place in its own backyard this weekend.
The Pack In Black, ranked #69 internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), hosts the fourth annual “Skate To Thrill” invitational held Saturday and Sunday at Lamborghini Gold Coast Athletic Centre (49 Lawrence St., St. Charles, MO.)
The two-day, 12-game flat-track frenzy features eight WFTDA leagues. Returning squads hail from Houston (TX), Columbus (OH), Lincoln (NE) and Champaign (IL) while newcomers check in from Utah County (UT), Kalamazoo (MI) and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Of course, the St. Charles County-based rollers are the focal point for local derby fans this weekend in contests against #49 Houston, #72 Twin City and #78 E-Ville.
The Pack In Black (0-1) lost to #73 Omaha, 203-175, three weekends ago at its home opener but gained a huge moral victory in the process. In the contest, SCDC competed without the skill set of top-flight jammer Jedi Knight-N-Gale, whom normally posts triple-digit scoring, while sporting a 14-skater roster that featured an octet of A-team additions.
In hindsight, a 28-point setback didn’t seem overwhelming for St. Chux as self-discovery was the missive.
With Knight-N-Gale back into the fold this weekend, and with so many aspiring components that were found at the season opener, St. Chux now possesses the firepower and positive mindset needed for “Skate to Thrill” success.
“Jedi returning brings excitement back to the team and boosting enthusiasm is a confidence builder in itself,” said St. Chux Captain ShaKilla. “I believe the confidence hasn’t changed, but the drive has. We’re hungry more than ever.”
With their top jammer’s absence earlier this month, St. Chux got to experiment with a “star-donning” rotation that provided optimism. A-team addition Ankle BiteHer notched 51 points against Omaha while Calamity Cat and Big Red added 46 and 45, respectively. Newcomer Annieville Horror also added 28 on the evening.
The return of the Jedi certainly gives SCDC some options, for now they can insert Big Red, a blocker by trade, back into full-time status into wall formation. That being said, in situations of jammer congestion, they could turn to her for a star pass in order to put heat on the opposition.
Blocking during the weekend will be anchored by the aforementioned St. Chux captain alongside veterans Pixie Dust-Ruction, Dani Disaster, Judy Boom, Slaughterhaus, Whip L’Ash, Blue Bear, Bad Mutha T and Spill Murray.
“Blocking will be an essential component to this weekend’s game,” ShaKilla assessed. “Slow and controlled is our direction. The more time we give our jammers to work with, the more opportunity they’ll have for points.”
SCDC has a significantly higher-ranked opponent in #49 Houston for its Saturday afternoon launch and the locals haven’t tangled with a league that high in the WFTDA hierarchy since they were also ranked in the forties a few seasons ago.
“I’d like to keep our game with Houston as tight as possible,” said ShaKilla of the opening missive. “With them being a higher seed and not competing at that level in a while, it’ll be rewarding.
Saturday night’s finale against newcomer Canadian entry, #78 E-Ville, should be a closely-watched barnburner and Sunday’s mid-afternoon meeting against #72 Twin City marks the first time the two leagues have met in three seasons. In three prior games, SCDC holds a 2-1 edge of the Illinoisans.
“Overall if we keep it clean, maybe get 2/3 wins, and utilize the skills in areas we’ve been working on, that to me is a successful weekend,” said ShaKilla.
Historically in three prior “Skate to Thrill” events, St. Chux has a cumulative record of 5-5, which included last year’s 1-2 finish. The new historic downtown St. Charles venue certainly provided an electric atmosphere for its launch three weeks ago. ShaKilla feels that flat-track familiarity and sustained support from the sight lines will once again help the team at the Lamborghini lair throughout the weekend.
“Getting to know the floor and understand how she dances under your wheels is a great advantage,” the captain said. “We know her quirks and challenges which allows us less room for adjustments. We always enjoy our fans supporting us! The new venue allows a more intimate and personal feeling with our fans and I love every minute of it.”
Saturday’s seven-game “Thrill” schedule begins at 8 a.m. while Sunday’s five-game docket starts at 9 a.m.
A single day pass is $15 while a weekend pass is $20. Groups of eight or more can get single day passes for $10 and weekend passes for $15. Children 12 and under get in free for the entire weekend.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.
Here is a capsule summary of the other leagues participating at Skate to Thrill (listed alphabetically):
E-VILLE ROLLER DERBY (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) – WFTDA Rank: #78
Edmonton’s the E-Ville Dead posted a 4-1 record in WFTDA sanctioned play last year. All victories were against lower-ranked Canadian competition and the Albertans (1-0) have an opportunity to notch multiple victories, if not post an rankings upset against St. Chux, during the course of the weekend that could potentially boost their future rank.
Paced by a 13-position jump in the latest rankings, Edmonton collected a 306-73 sanctioned win over #155 Mainland Misfits in late-February to launch their season.
The Missouri trek will be the E-Ville Deads’ inaugural WFTDA-sanctioned caravan outside the boundaries of the Great White North. Tri-captains Tron, Shania Pain and Tuf Luv lead the charge with a strong supporting cast. It’s a pretty monumental weekend for Edmonton and they aim to impress with new benchmarks.
Opponents: Killamazoo, St. Chux, Happy Valley
HAPPY VALLEY DERBY DARLINS (Salem, UT) – WFTDA Rank: #100
As the lowest-ranked league heading into the invitational, Utah’s Happy Valley (1-0) looks to net positive results and push themselves into the double-digits within the WFTDA rankings. A win, or a tight differential, against any of their higher-ranked opponents would make the “Molly Morbids” turn a frown upside down.
The squad finished sanctioned play 9-0 last season over lesser-ranked foes but its solo-point, season-opening victory over #71 Treasure Valley (159-158) in February might foreshadow happy vibes during the weekend.
Captain Olivia Wild Child, Gambit, Venus Von Jett, Thrash’er and Pain in the Nikki have multiple years in the Morbids’ portfolio. An opening day donnybrook against #72 Twin City is projected but a three-game sweep is not out of the question if they play clean.
Opponents: Twin City, Killamazoo, E-Ville
HOUSTON ROLLER DERBY (Houston, TX) – WFTDA Rank: #49
This will be the Texans’ second straight appearance at Skate To Thrill. They finished last year’s invitational win less but were super-close on the scoreboard during their three-game set. Overall, Houston finished 2016 with a 3-6 record but still managed to qualify for the WFTDA Division 2 playoffs, where they finished sixth in the ten-team tourney held in Wichita, Kansas last August.
They have higher-ranked Ohio and No Coast on their docket this weekend, which launches the league’s 2017 campaign. Houston co-captains 2xForce and Kelly Killpowski lead the charge while Slayer Moon, Death By Chocolate and Arrak-Kiss commands the jammer rotation. Returning blockers AcuPunchHer, Betty Watchett, Bustin Beaver, Jeckyll & Heidi and Hot Assets are also primed to make a difference.
Picking up a victory over lower-ranked St. Chux on Saturday night is mandatory for them this weekend. Staying close in score to higher-ranked Ohio and No Coast is the key focus if they desire a rankings’ push.
Opponents: Ohio, St. Chux, No Coast
KILLAMAZOO DERBY DARLINS (Kallamazoo, MI) – WFTDA Rank: #89
Newcomers to Skate to Thrill, Killamazoo had an extremely busy 2016 where they competed in 19 games overall and finished 7-12. They faced a lot of higher-ranked teams last season and, as a result of the tough challenges faced, haven’t won a WFTDA-sanctioned game since April 2016.
To their credit, the squad refuses to back down from meetings against higher-ranked squads as the song remains the same this season. The Darlins (0-1) fell to #69 Grand Raggidy, 152-127, at its home opener in February. That tight differential against a significantly higher-ranked league shows that there is some positive trajectory.
Returnees include Beaver Jam, Beverly Hells, Buns N Roses, Hill-De-Beast, Javelin, Miss Andry, Ophelia Plenty, Protasiewicz, Maggie Walters, Weers Waldo and Zuul.
They face significantly higher-ranked Ohio this weekend and notching an upset might be realistically out of reach but a chance to top comparably-ranked E-Ville is a possibility and if they outlast lower-ranked but surging Happy Valley, there is the possibility of a 2-1 weekend overall, which would be ideal, darlin’.
Opponents: E-Ville, Happy Valley, Ohio
NO COAST DERBY GIRLS (Lincoln, NE) – WFTDA Rank: #34
As the highest-ranked league competing this weekend, No Coast, who swept their three games at last year’s Skate to Thrill en route to entry into the WFTDA Division 1 playoffs, seeks a similar result as they start WFTDA-sanctioned play.
Anyone that has followed the Mad Maxines (0-0) over time will find almost no variations to this year’s roster. Long-time veterans Andrea Tarnick, Megan Harrington, Emily Epperson, Christy Johnson, Beth Kempf, Anna Cassube, Andrea Thompson, Meshelle Wilson and other returnees aim to claim a trifecta.
Their Saturday 4 p.m. game against side-by-side Ohio might be arguably the most-watched kerfuffle for derby fanatics this weekend. No Coast should be able to handle lower-ranked Twin City and Houston. The Mad Maxines are 5-1 lifetime at Skate to Thrill so becoming the highest winning team overall is the prime objective.
Opponents: Ohio, Twin City, Houston
OHIO ROLLER DERBY (Columbus, OH) – WFTDA Rank: #35
The Columbus-based faction (0-1) is the other team appearing at “Skate to Thrill” with WFTDA Division 1 experience in their portfolio. Ohio finished last year with a 9-6 sanctioned record that included a 2-1 tally at the 2016 Skate to Thrill and a ninth place victory (over the aforementioned No Coast) at the WFTDA D1 playoff held in Madison, Wisconsin last September.
OHRD fell to #31 Naptown (162-149) this past Saturday to launch its WFTDA-sanctioned calendar.
Tenured skaters Lora “Outta My” Wayman, Jesse “Ava Tarr” Fox, Kitty Liquorbottom, Amy Spears, Bigg Rigg, Blitz Lemon, Zee “Loraine Acid” Gulertekin, Paige Bleed and KloverKill are primed to collect a three-game sweep this weekend.
While their games against lower-ranked Houston and Killamazoo should provide challenges, their intended target is comparably-ranked No Coast. If they top the Mad Maxines, who have yet to record a game yet this season, they have an opportunity to leapfrog the Nebraskans in the WFTDA Division 1 hierarchy.
Opponents: Houston, No Coast, Killamazoo
TWIN CITY ROLLER DERBY (Champaign/Urbana, IL) – WFTDA Rank: #72
With two prior Skate to Thrill appearances (2014 and 2015), the Evil Twins have an overall 3-3 record at the invitational. Twin City kicks off their WFTDA-sanctioned campaign this weekend and the challenge will be difficult but the Central Illinoisans prefer it that way.
Co-captains Regina S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Houchebag lead the charge while Anthrobrawlogist , Black Eyed Betty and Dame Sangre also provides solid play.
Sunday’s breakfast game against #36 No Coast might be a little overwhelming but their other contests against long-time foe St. Chux and Happy Valley is more within their wheelhouse.
Opponents: Happy Valley, No Coast, St. Chux
For more information on the St. Chux Derby Chix, go to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
Arch City Sports will be on-site for the event and will have a full report on Monday.
SKATE TO THRILL INVITATIONAL
Lamborghini Gold Coast Athletic Centre – St. Charles, MO
SATURDAY, MARCH 25
8 AM Houston vs. Ohio
10 AM Killamazoo vs. E-Ville
12 PM Happy Valley vs. Twin City
2 PM ST. CHUX vs. Houston
4 PM Ohio vs. No Coast
6 PM Killamazoo vs. Happy Valley
8 PM ST. CHUX vs. E-Ville
SUNDAY, MARCH 26
9 AM Twin City vs. No Coast
11 AM Happy Valley vs. E-Ville
1 PM Ohio vs. Killamazoo
3 PM ST. CHUX vs. Twin City
5 PM No Coast vs. Houston
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.