The unstoppable Roller Derby revival strikes France | Olympic Outposts

The unstoppable Roller Derby revival strikes France | Olympic Outposts


This is a sport on wheels
that is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned
with here in France. Roller derby. Known for its intensity
and heavy hit, modern roller derby
wasn’t established until the early 2000s. Since then, roller derby has
awoken fiercely passionate fan base here in France. Today I’ve journeyed to
Paris to explore the passion that is driving
these women to the ring. (OLYMPIC OUTPOSTS.
PRESENTED BY BRIDGESTONE) My name is Michelle Steilen, or better known as my
roller derby name, Estrojen. I played in coach
for almost 10 years and started two
leagues in Los Angeles. And I’m feeling more than
ready to strap on my skates, put on a helmet, and see just
how these French roller girls are realising their dreams. We’re here at the
20th arrondissement, where La Boucherie de Paris
is practising roller derby. And I can’t wait to get into
there and meet those girls! What is it about this sport
that you love so much? It’s a sport that
if you are different, no discrimination,
no thing in the roller derby. That’s very cool. We love everybody. This game is about
momentum and timing. So you want to match the
speed of the opponents that you’re blocking. It takes a lot of
practice and finesse to be able to block people. What is your roller derby name? It’s called Chaque Grin. And what does that mean? Like I’m a bit
grumpy all the time. – Oh, are you?
– Yes. And how long have you
been playing roller derby? Just four years. What was it about it
that got you into it? I used to play
rugby in Barcelona. Because I was really bad
and I was bad at team work. And when I came back to France,
I was looking for a team to play a new sport. So I wanted to try it. Now, it’s like
most of my friends, except for my co-workers,
are girls from this team. It’s my second
family here in Paris. So a scrum starts when
it’s a giant wall. Your team’s trying
to split it for you, and the opposing blockers
are trying to knock you down. And then you’re just
like, trying to get around all these blockers. It’s really fun. As the game’s evolved, it was
harder to slow down the jammer. The sport is much
more strategic. The rules require
more impactful hits. Pump it! We are here with
Stelina and Delphine. Stelina’s a jammer. And Delphine is a blocker. Can you tell us a
little bit about what the differences are in those? Basically, the jammer is the
one who is supposed to score the points
by passing all the blockers. And the blocker is, as the
name indicates, the one who’s supposed to block the jammer. When you’re jamming, what is
it that you’re looking at? What are you thinking of? I’m not really
thinking of anything, I just go where
I see an opening. As soon as I see that I
can, I just go for it. You can be as slow as
that, like, yeah, she can pass like that. Tell me, what is the
most difficult part about being a roller
derby referee? The main one is the
complaining about players. – Who’s complaining?
– Everyone. I think it’s
something you will see in all the Latin parts of
Europe – France, Spain, Italy. They like to complain. Roller derby has a very
soft place in my heart. And I just had a blast out
there doing drills with these girls. Training with the
team was a lot of fun. But now they’re
getting ready to travel 200 miles across France
to Metz for a tournament. I’m here with the
La Boucherie travel team. And we’re all packed
up, ready to go to Metz. We’ve got 2½ hours? Three. Is there like a team
cheer or a song? You said no. But I have a feeling that you’re not telling me the
truth. Visualise your win. It’s roller derby, roller
derby, all weekend. That’s what you’re
looking forward to. Yeah. We’re out, also, we’re
in the same hotel. So it’s always fun
to go back in the hotel, eat together, and eat… So I’ve made it to Metz
and the teams have arrived. And I can’t wait to
get in there and see what the energy is like. Let’s check out roller
derby in France. How do you prepare a team
for a tournament like this? The most important
thing is practice. The players practice
twice a week. And for everything
related to strategy, I would say we watch
a lot of games. We look at what is going
on to try to understand how the game is going to evolve. Would you agree that
the game in Europe is a little bit of a
faster pace than you see in the United States? Defence in the United
States is a lot stronger. I think it slows down
the game and that’s what may make it seem
like the game is slower than it is in Europe. Sometimes here,
when the game gets fast, it is because our defence
provokes the game, the jammers are
able to get through a little more so we
have to reposition and that accelerates the game. So what do you think
that roller derby needs to do to improve
the sport here in France? I would say a junior league. In terms of skating, we still
have a lot of work to do. Well, there’s already
a good level in France, but I think we could do
better, a lot better, with a junior league I wish you the best of luck
in your continued success. – Thank you.
– Give me a high-five. All right, so we are
here in the stands. I sat down next to
a person with a big drum. Can you introduce yourself? Yeah. I’m Stefan. I’m here with my elite
Europa Roller Girls. It’s amazing. So are these all
from all over Europe? All over Europe. That’s Dutch, Netherlands,
and here, Belgium, Portugal, German stickers. All right, well,
we better wrap it up – cos the game’s starting.
– Yeah. All right, we have Paris
up against Metz right now. All right, it’s the second
match of the day for La Boucherie. Let’s see how they do
playing against the home team from Metz. Their jammers are
amazing skaters. They’re jumping the apex,
they’re spinning out of walls, they’re dodging blocks. France is very history rich when it comes to
roller skating. It was very popular
here in the ’80s. Because of their
skating skills, the game is a bit faster here in Europe. I just love that. La Boucherie’s only
30 points ahead, it’s anyone’s game right now. La Boucherie is just
giving it to them! I had an incredible
time immersing myself in the culture of roller
derby here in France. I saw some fierce
competition, and I met some of the most
inspirational women who are the next generation of
roller derby here in France. At practice, they were
practising their strategies. But here at the game,
it was awesome to see it all come together. They had really
high-level skating skills coupled with the strategies. And they won the
games because of it. I’m not quitting roller
skating any time soon. And I can’t wait to
come back to France and see how they’re
doing in the future.

9 Replies to “The unstoppable Roller Derby revival strikes France | Olympic Outposts”

  1. I remember watching roller derby in the 70s as a little kid…it was the most interesting thing to watch. I hope it makes a comeback. I'd like to see more of it. I wonder why we don't see it these days. The women that do this sport are so cool. I wish they had those older style roller derby rings.

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