Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Banked Track Day

Today was banked track day at Blood and Thunder's derby boot camp. We skated on a piece of history. The track, affectionately known as "Grandma", is the actual track that the Bay City Bombers skated on way back when. It is now the practice track for the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls. It was pretty awesome but it did kick my ass! I have muscles screaming at me that I didn't even know I had! My left butt check is especially sore. We were not allowed to hold onto the railing so when we stood up at the highest part of the track, we had to be on the inside edge of our left skate, which worked those muscles pretty damn well. One of the first things we were told was to be careful at the railing because slamming your arm into it could cause a nasty break. So, what did I do? I somehow managed to slam my right elbow into the railing, which hurt like hell. I'm fairly sure I screamed at least a few obscenities before skating on.
Although a lot of what we know from flat track derby translates to the banked track, there are some things that do not. For example, giving an arm whip on the banked track requires you to put your arm straight out and back, unlike flat track where you keep the arm close to your body. Also, you don't have to be fast on a banked track because gravity and momentum make you faster than you really are. You can go faster and use the physics of the track to your advantage. The banked track has an asymmetrical surface. It resists movement in one direction, and assists it in the other between the infield and rail. Modern banked-track roller derby, with its instantly-recognizable ovular track banked towards the middle of the track, has high railings flanking the outer edge. The banked surface allows for players to get greater speed, more targeted hits and consequently more exaggerated falls. And speaking of falls, you really have to get up fast because if you don't, your ass will be sliding right into the infield. It only took me two falls to learn that!
We spent time skating along the rail and kicking it with the side of our right skate. We did this so much that I had white paint on my wheels when I was done today. We spent a lot of time "going to the rail" to practice slamming into it and spinning off, in order to get away from our opponent. We were not supposed to grab the railing as that constitutes a penalty in banked track. You are not allowed to skate or step backward as that also warrants a penalty. Also, the SOUND of wheels on the banked track adds a component to derby that flat track will never experience. Additionally, banked track, because of the higher possible speeds, forces skaters to think faster to maintain their tactical strategies. I very much enjoyed skating on the banked track but am happy to be a "flat tracker" as the banked track takes some getting used to!

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