Kootenay Kanibelles at the top of the heap

The Kootenay Kannibelles are gearing up for a national level tournament set to take place in Edmonton March 15-17.

The Kootenay Kanibelles derby team is heading to nationals.

West Kootenay Roller Derby’s all-star team has managed to climb to the top of the heap in Canadian Roller Derby, and they’ve done it in a remarkably quick fashion.

The Kootenay Kannibelles are gearing up for some high-calibre derby at a national level tournament set to take place at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace March 15-17.

Belles captain and West Kootenay Roller Derby League marketing and media director Amber Harper, who is best known as ‘Pantsoff’, is excited that what she describes as their “rag-tag troupe of mismatched-jersey-wearing ladies” are getting the opportunity to represent British Columbia in the first ever Roller Derby Association of Canada’s Canadian National Championships.

No small feat, as she explains that they’ve “only been playing for two seasons as a team; most of (them) only just learned how to skate with the birth of West Kootenay Roller Derby, so this is pretty incredible.”

The Belles are ranked sixth in the country (out of 101 travel teams), which earned them a spot in the tournament. However, the blood-splattered team is entering nationals with a new roster, featuring some new all-star players ready to make their mark on Canadian roller derby, bruise by well-earned bruise. Up against some top teams – including E-Ville Roller Derby (Edmonton, AB), Central – Saskatoon Roller Derby League (Saskatoon, SK), Pile O’ Bones Derby Club (Regina, SK), Atlantic – Muddy River Rollers (Moncton, NB) and Fog City Rollers (Saint John, NB) – the Belles are fiercely gearing up for some hard-hitting derby and have their eyes firmly on the gold medal prize.

With an impressive 8-1 record last season, B.C.’s dark-horse team is certainly rolling into this, their third competitive season, hungrier for results than ever. After debuting at the Roller Derby Associations of Canada’s Western Tournament in 2011, the Belles shocked both fans and fellow skaters by finishing fifth after only one loss – a five-point nail-biting triumph by Red Deer’s Belladonnas.

Their competitive appetite not sated, the Belles then went on to take second place in the RDAC Western Tournament in June 2012, after coming out on the losing side of a hard-fought battle against Terminal City Roller Girls’ All Stars, who secured their victory by 84 points.

With this history in mind, it’s no wonder these ladies are approaching this tournament with ferocious appetites for victory.

The team is currently busy prepping for spring, not only on but also off the track as they fundraise to help offset the costs of travel and accommodation (they are also looking for season sponsors).

The Belles are hoping to raise funds through the Fundscript program where they sell gift cards for major retailers and the retailers pay a percentage of the dollar value of cards bought to the team.

“Calling it a “no fuss, no stress fundraiser,” Pantsoff explains Belles are selling gift cards for 100-plus retailers. “No buying useless junk,” she says. “Just get the card for the denomination and retailer you want and we get the kick back from the supplier.”

The Belles hope to see some hardcore fans at the nationals, but at the very least are looking forward to the kick-off of the local season, where some of these savage skaters will be hitting the rink with their home teams.