Roller Derby skaters ready for the best

derby girlsThe competition circuit for Leaside synchronized skaters has begun, and Mel O’ Drama, Wack ’em Wilson, and Parks N’ Wreck are ready.

They are members of the Synergy Novice team, who use roller derby names and personalities at practice and on social media.

“It’s all helps the girls get into the spirit of the program,” says Meredith Tutching, their coach, preparing them for Skate Canada’s national competition Feb. 20-22 in Burnaby, B.C.

The novice team is one of four in the Leaside Skating Club.

The most advanced team, Synergy Junior, is heading to Rouen, France to compete internationally in the French Cup. The team also hopes to win one of the top two spots at the annual Winterfest competition to travel to the Worlds, held this year in Italy.

Both teams have been practising for months, all for a few moments in front of Skate Canada judges. And it really does seem like moments.

“It’s a sport where a team like ours practises 10 months of the year for a three-minute and 30-second presentation, or a total of one hour of competition over three months,” says Tutching.

Tutching’s career started at the Leaside Skating Club. She has coached the novice team, ages 12-18, since 2001. A Level 3 coach (Level 4 is Olympic), her teams have won three silvers and two bronze medals at Skate Canada’s annual national synchronized skating competitions.

Last year’s silver medal win in the competitive category was a particularly proud moment.

“The challenge in recent years,” says Tutching, “is to beat Quebec. Last year was the second time in the last five years that a team from Ontario was even on the podium.”

All four Leaside synchronized skating teams practise weekly at Leaside, something the Junior team hadn’t been able to do in the past because the old rink was  too small for their level of competition. Minergy Elementary (under 12 years) and Synergy Juvenile (under 15) also compete December through January, leading up to regional championships.