Dirty Ore skaters Daisy Doom (Hannah Barnes), front and back, left to right, Lemon Pound Cake (Erin Kennedy), Bombshell Likes to Tease (Nikole Baudek) and Winter is Coming (Emily Quick ) fight at Eveleth Hippodrome. Photos by Ryan Quick.

Roller Derby is back on the Iron Range!

After a few years off due to the pandemic, your friendly local roller derby team, the Dirty Ores, are back on the track. The team trains twice a week at Eveleth Racecourse, and newcomers are welcome to join in on the fun and the fury.

You may have attended our fights! You may have never heard of us! But we are here waiting to meet you and encourage you to clear those cobwebs and release your inner spirit animal, whatever it is.

We offer limited quantities of roller skates, knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, wrist guards for your skating pleasure. These are available on a first come, first served basis. In the end, the early bird catches the worm. We recommend that you contact us and let us know ahead of time that you are showing up (in case the practice has been canceled due to a holiday or some unforeseen reason). You can also check the Roller Underground Facebook page for updates.

Our last season took a hit. Not as you would expect in the sports world. Not by our opponents in St. Cloud or Duluth. Not from our opponents that we like to face from North Dakota or South Dakota. Unfortunately, our opponent was much bigger than we expected. It was COVID-19!

Left to right: Packa-Punch (Sarah Packa), Winter is Coming (Emily Quick) and in the foreground: Daisy Doom (Hannah Barnes) and Cup-Cake (Jodi Backman) skate at Eveleth Racecourse.

Left to right: Packa-Punch (Sarah Packa), Winter is Coming (Emily Quick) and in the foreground: Daisy Doom (Hannah Barnes) and Cup-Cake (Jodi Backman) skate at Eveleth Racecourse.

It seems that roller derby has been on hiatus for two years and is now coming back to life. Most sports were able to navigate the comeback much faster than roller derby; however, internationally, there are countries that are continuing the break and we hope they will be able to join us soon! Our thoughts are with them and we hope to see them in the 2023 ranking.

History of roller derby

In 1935 Chicago, Leo Seltzer, a filmmaker who owned and operated a production company, scribbled an idea he’d had on a tablecloth. The idea was the fast sport of roller derby. Originally designed as a mixed endurance sport, with two teams competing for thousands of laps around an inclined track. This new sport drew large crowds to watch. In August 1935, twenty thousand spectators filled the Chicago Coliseum to watch such a legendary race.

In 1960, roller derby became a full-contact sport, with a scoring system and some crushing blows. Roller derby became even more popular when it was shown on television. There was a decade of fight-filled arenas featuring the San Francisco Bay Bombers and the Oakland team, often demonstrating how to throw another player over the rails or throw a backhand while skating at speeds maximum.

The seltzer family was in show business. They owned theaters, production companies, and often sought entertainment opportunities. Roller derby was born in the hands of a man who embraced the theatre. The fights of the 1970s were often scripted and rehearsed. Roller derby resembled WWE Wrestling, with many players skating under stage names. Throughout the evolution of roller derby, one thing has remained constant: skaters still use stage names. Even in our own league, our members have creative name choices, such as “Daisy Doom”, “Packa Punch”, and “Schu-Bruise-Ya”.

In the 1980s, enthusiasm for roller derby began to wane with an economic downturn and changing times. But in 2001, roller derby returned to center stage, reincarnated in Austin, Texas! Several leagues claim to be responsible for the revival of roller derby that founded today’s fast, high-impact finesse skating that we all admire and still love to watch.

How to play

Today’s roller derby is played on a flat track, allowing for greater participation across the globe. The Women’s Flat Track Association (WFTDA) is practiced around the world, including Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In 2019, the WFTDA’s top three international champions included the Rose City Rollers and Gotham Roller Derby in the United States, and the Victorian Roller Derby League, Australia.

Flat track roller derby is played on a flat, oval track. The game is divided into two 30-minute periods and, during these periods, into game units called “jams”, which last up to two minutes. During a jam, up to five skaters from each team – collectively called the “pack” – jostle for position on the track. The main point is that one skater from each team, called the “Jammer”, comes out of the pack and outruns all other skaters, earning points along the way.

Roller derby is a full contact sport; however, skaters may not use their head, elbows, forearms, hands, knees, legs, or feet to make contact with their opponents: there is no throwing elbows in the modern roller derby. Skaters cannot make contact with the head, back, knees, lower legs or feet of their opponents. Dangerous or illegal play may result in a skater being penalized. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Roller derby is not dead. It is still very much alive on the iron chain and we look forward to sharing this unique sport with you. We encourage women aged 18-65+ to join us at Hippodrome Eveleth.

We welcome all skill levels and would love to introduce something brave, challenging and epic to your life! We encourage all walks of life to try one of our Monday or Thursday practices. We meet at 6 p.m. and work on our physical skills, game knowledge and conditioning until 8 p.m. Our workouts will continue until the end of August 2022. If you’re looking for something different to do this summer, we’re here! Share with your friends or family members who might also be interested in a unique activity!

As for your friendly neighborhood roller derby team, The Dirty Ores, we can’t wait to start fighting again! We’ve missed fights as much as you’ve missed attending one of our events and watching fast feet and big scores!

Let’s get together to practice, recruit, and Ment’Ore! Thank you for helping us prepare for the 2023 fight season!

Veronica Johnson lives in Hibbing.

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