Iceland – land of fire and ice, mountains and lakes, stuffed puffin and fermented shark – welcomes approximately 4 million tourists each year (it says on Wikipedia). Some of these no doubt come for the astounding scenery, the whale-watching or the always-enticing prospect of paying £8 for low % alcohol beer. Last week, however, an intrepid band of tourists from Suffolk came for a different reason. Couples on a romantic break, a family off for an Easter holiday jaunt, a “bunch of moms released for the weekend”: we arrived at Keflavik airport in our little groups with loins girded and ready to experience the land of fire, ice and roller derby…
Quite apart from our tourist excursions to see some of the most incredible geographic sights the Northern Hemisphere has to offer, we were all hugely excited (with a titchy amount of utterly normal pre-bout nerves and trepidation) on Saturday afternoon to get to Hertz Höllin in the small town of Seltjarnarnes, just outside Reykjavik, to take part in Iceland’s first ever roller derby tournament. Coming separately from our apartments, hotels and luxury youth hostels, Team SRD turned up at the sports hall just in time to watch the first game of the tournament: Iceland’s Ragnarök take on British challenge team, Team Unicorn Roller Derby (TURD). It was a well-matched game, with impressive skills shown on both sides resulting in a final score of 176-145. SRD now knew what we’d be up against and we found ourselves hoping that our opponents’ exertions would have tired them out to the point where it would make our game – with only 9 SRD players present – a bit less challenging!
No such luck, sadly. Ragnarök were massively strong competition from the first whistle. SRD jamming heroines Maltese Mayhem #0208 and Hell-Anor Rigby #20 were confronted with tough Icelandic walls and speedy blockers in the first few jams yet still broke through, earning leads and racking up points. Powerful and persistent offence was provided by the ever-offensive Asterisk #8 (she loves a bit of start-line offense). Effective waterfalling, strong hits and fast recycling from SRD blockers meant the Ragnarök jammers did not have an easy ride either. Our small, yet select, crew of blockers ranged from long-time SRD stalwarts, Captain Suffolk Punch #15 and fellow big-hitting blocking veteran Absinthe Minded #42, to rising star Karma Killer #247, making her A-team debut.
No matter the level of experience, though, we pulled together in awesomeness to contain some very nifty Icelandic jammers. Ultimately voted best blocker by the opposition, Bex Luther #91 was hard as nails on track, switching fearsomely between defense and offense, while Mom Squad (Kate Astrophic #81 and Hurricane Ali #13) did their thing with hard hits and booty blocking.
Guess what, though? However strong and awesome a team may be, there’s only so much 9 players can do in the face of 14 badass Icelanders… we weren’t necessarily outplayed, but we were outnumbered and we got tired. But, you know, we had brilliant support from Bench Coach Floorless #404 and LUM Evil Quad-nevil #1973 and our (too injured to skate but not too injured to fetch water, thankfully) cheerleader Mortricia #516. We didn’t give up (although I considered it at one point; it was so hard!) and bravely fought to a totally – in the opinion of this not remotely impartial participant – respectable final score of 218-126, with Ragnarök thrilled by their second win of the day.
And then, after a short break for cake, we only went and did it again: SRD, with the addition of Ice Sickle #32 and Rad-ish #67 on loan from Ragnarök and SnakeBite #64 borrowed (stolen? We don’t care: we love her and we saw her first) from the opposition themselves played TURD. With numbers more evenly matched, and finding reserves of strength from somewhere, we took the win 221-206.
It was a fantastic day; always fun to play as a team together against excellent opponents and one of the highlights of a totally unforgettable trip.
Takk and Bless Bless.
(That’s “thanks: bye!”)
-Hurricane Ali #13
Later, sports fans 🙂