by Jennifer Stevenson, alias Flash Hottie
The recent Windy City versus Philadelphia bout was incredibly fast, fairly violent, and for the first time in history our WCR All Stars lost on their own track–by one point! The clock ran out eight seconds into the jam, and we were in Dead Time until that one point was scored and Philly’s jammer called it off. The WCR All Stars have met a team that is, on the whole, faster than they are, and strategically a shade better at playing the fast game. Usually our girls are faster than anybody they meet. Clearly Philly has been taking its speed vitamins!
Weirdly, I’ve never seen Chicago’s fans so energized. They were on their feet roaring all the time. Maybe the excellence of play made the difference. Usually we crush visitors like insects–maybe watching our girls have to struggle excited them. Or was it the new 4.0 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules, which trimmed off the flab and sped the game up until there is no break in the action?
Appropriately, today I want to talk about speed. Speed makes a derby team a contender, makes a blocker effective, makes a jammer quick off the line, faster around the track, and elusive through the pack.
In roller skating, speed comes from the crossovers at the short ends of the track. I know, weird. The cheetah in my ancestry says it should come on a nice long stretch of straightaway where you can really dig deep and pull out the extra ergs. (Okay, that cheetah is struggling against two million generations of tortoise ancestors.)
But in the crossovers, you get to use your glutes, the thick muscles of your left leg, and your abs to create a spring that will hurl you forward.
How does this feel? If you’re in shape and not tired, it feels like perpetually falling leftward on a trampoline of your own muscle and then flying forward. If you know what you’re doing and you’re pooped out, it feels like wading through tapioca.
If you’ve never done it before, your quads are gonna kill you and you’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. Quad strength is huge in skating, especially in derby when we do so many crazy things while crouching. Crouching helps keep you stable when big girls bodyslam you, for one.
But the real powerhouse is the tush, that mass of muscle you’ve probably cursed all your life for being too big. Use good posture when skating and you will have a butt that can leap over tall buildings, race a bullet, and tear the seat out of your jeans just by flexing.
So if your quads hurt when you skate, try tucking your tailbone down. This engages your abs and glutes and spares your quads for the straightaway. And then you’ll be grateful for your glutes.
Congratulations. You can fall in love with your butt.