Roller derby was taken to a new level for three local players who donned the red and white and strapped on their quad skates for the first official Men’s Roller Derby World Cup earlier this month.
Curt Carbonell of Cold Lake, Devon Bieganek and Calvin Ziegler, both of Red Deer, all play for the Springbrook-based men’s roller derby team, The Dreadnaughts, and were hand picked for the 20 member Team Canada.
Their team went on to earn third place against France by a score of 196-111 after losing to title champions Team USA in the semifinals 127-307. Team England came in second.
It was the turnout they were expecting, said the three Albertans.
“It was definitely the best derby in my life,” said Ziegler, 24, echoed by Bieganek and Carbonell of the championship that took place March 14-16 in Birmingham, England with 15 teams across the globe going head to head.
“We could have come in second if the bracket had been set up differently — if we’d played against England that would have been the best game of the tournament probably, the closest score wise,” Bieganek, 26, said.
The team had only played together on the track a couple times before the tournament, practicing in Montreal just days before heading to England.
The men’s first game against Belgium was a little “scatterbrained,” said Ziegler, as the team was still learning how to work together.
“So it came down to learning to trust our team mates and not trying to do everything ourselves,” Carbonell, 32, said.
“That game against Belgium was the hardest physical game that we played — those were some big, strong dudes. Wales, too. They were hard to move,” Bieganek added.
The deciding game against the USA also gave them a tough, non-stop workout, they said, noting the Americans are very “technical, sound and amazing individual players.”
At the end of it all, the Canadians said they were proud of the camaraderie they seen over the weekend, with all teams supporting each other and helping out the underdogs, especially after a player from Argentina broke a collar bone and another player from Ireland broke his leg.
“We heard lots of comments from the announcers that we were the best team out there, that our teamwork stood out,” Bieganek said.
They had 25 shirts to sell at the games and sold out within 10 minutes and fans from Germany started a Team Canada roller derby fan club after they’d all returned home.
The Canadians became known as “the gentlemen,” especially after a few team members helped out the struggling group from Japan, the Ninjapan Rollers, who had just started playing the sport three months ago.
“It was Japan’s last game and they took them aside and showed them a few things to help stop their trend of penalties from happening and how to improve their game,” Carbonell said.
“I thought that was so cool. That’s what it’s all about. We’re all a family.”
The men are back skating hard for the Dreadnaughts, a part of the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) and have a tournament in Colorado coming up in May.
Anyone interested in trying the sport is welcome to come out to the regular practices on Sundays at the Springbrook gymnasium from 5 to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the Dreadnaughts’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RedDeerDreadnaughts.