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Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 12:27 am

Skaters roll into Springfield for roller derby extravaganza


On Aug. 29 and 30 the Prairie Capital Convention Center hosts Springfield’s first-ever roller derby convention, The Great Midwest Mashup. Hosted by G.H. None Productions, the two-day convention is open to the public and offers an exciting glimpse into the fast-paced world of flat-track roller derby. The convention provides skaters from many different teams the opportunity participate in mashup tournaments and open skate sessions. As of press time, nearly 100 men’s and women’s skaters from all across the Midwest have registered for the weekend, including skaters from Kansas City, Fargo, Chicago, Peoria and more.

Roller derby’s popularity exploded in 2001 with the advent of flat-track courses. Flat-track courses can be set up on any skateable surface and are less costly than banked (raised) tracks. Roller derby’s DIY ethic enables leagues to shape and build team personalities that are reflective of the surrounding community. Currently, there are more than 400 sanctioned roller derby leagues worldwide.

Roller derby first appeared on the Springfield scene in 2011 with Midstate Mayhem, a coed roller derby team. Local skaters responded enthusiastically and the city is now home to two roller derby teams: the women’s Midstate Mayhem and the men’s Capital City Hooligans. Catch our hometown Hooligans in an MRDA-sanctioned bout at noon on Sunday as they face-off against Fargo’s Rock City Riot. Midstate Mayhem will be represented throughout the weekend during the women’s mashup tournaments.

Flat-track roller derby is a fast-paced contact sport requiring a high level of skill, speed and athleticism. Each game of roller derby is called a bout. Each bout lasts 30 minutes and is played as a series of 2-minute jams, each followed by a 30-second break.

The two teams begin each bout with four blockers and one jammer on the court, for a total of 10 players across two teams. The eight players lined up at the top of the straightaway comprise the pack of blockers. The two jammers, recognizable via starred helmets, begin each jam at the back of the straightaway, behind the eight blockers. The goal of the jammer is to skate past the opposing team’s blockers to score points. Each jammer must pass all four of the opposing team’s blockers once before they may accrue points, one for each blocker passed legally. Blockers are tasked with preventing the opposing team’s jammer from skating through while simultaneously protecting their own jammer from the blockers on the opposing team. Blockers may use their hips, rear and shoulders to prevent a jammer from passing through. Although roller derby is a contact sport, the only legal contact zone is on the front of the body, between a skater’s shoulders and mid-thigh. Any other attempt to hit or knock down a skater results in a penalty. The team with the most points at the end of the 30-minute bout wins.

Aside from the 12 bouts which occur every hour-and-a-half from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, there is a wealth of other fun to be had at The Great Midwest Mashup. Attendees will enjoy watching mashup and MRDA-sanctioned teams run drills and practice skills before bouts. Other entertainment includes on-site vendors, halftime shows and a Chicks in Bowls demo on Saturday at 4 p.m., hosted by Capital City Hooligans coach and Prairieland Punishers skater Bambi Bloodlust. The VIP lounge will host music and dancing on Saturday night from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., with Prairieland Punishers’ player DJ Ladyscratch and up-and-coming EDM producer/DJ Evan Dorosheff. Skaters of all levels of experience can participate in a Sunday morning open-skate session with DJ Ladyscratch from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The women’s championship mashup bout will occur at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

A variety of packages are available for those who want to catch the action. A weekend wristband is available for $10. A one-day spectator pass is available for $5. Weekend skater passes are available to skaters (boarders, bladers and rollers) for $10, and grants all the special privileges awarded to the weekend wristband plus participation in an open-skate session on Sunday and skater-only games, contests and door prizes. A weekend VIP pass is available to 50 people on a first-come, first-served basis and includes access to a VIP lounge with seating plus an outdoor patio for the duration of the event, free catered food and drink, Saturday night’s VIP after-party, a Great Midwest Mashup T-shirt and VIP souvenir badge. The VIP pass can be purchased in advance online at http://thegreatmidwestmashup.com. All other packages can be purchased at the PCCC starting Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. For more information about The Great Midwest Mashup, contact Greg Harvey with G.H. None Productions at 816-4392.

Nan Bulli can be reached at nbulli@illinoistimes.com.


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