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Vancouver’s Luludemon rolls her way to the top (Courier Article)

Some players on the roller derby track are large, brawny and look like they’re in the business of bruising.

Lucy Croysdill, derby alias Luludemon, is not any of those things.

The slim, five-foot-four Croysdill, sporting red-hued pigtails and bangs, is a feisty-yet-friendly East Sider who is, for the most part, in the business of running her own clothing line.

She’s also a roller derby team captain who doubles as Vancouver’s first roller girl to make Canada’s inaugural national roller derby team. Croysdill will represent Canada at the December debut of the Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto.

Not bad for a girl who’d never played on an athletic team before roller derby’s Vancouver inception in 2006.

“I would say that I was bit shocked,” said Croysdill when news came that she’d been selected for Team Canada.

“I wasn’t exactly expecting it. There was a lot of really high-level competition across the country.”

Tryouts for the national team were held in locations across the country. Croysdill and about 30 other skaters from around British Columbia endured a series of strength, fitness, agility, and skating tests in July. She and Coquitlam’s Kim MacKenzie, a fellow Terminal City Rollergirls league member, made the cut.

For the 30-year-old, roller derby has been the perfect sport.

The long-time roller blader and self-described klutz first heard of the player-owned and operated Vancouver league from a 2006 feature on Breakfast Television.

“I’ve always roller bladed, that was my thing,” said Croysdill, who moved to Canada in 2004 from England. “I used to roller blade around London, so it seemed like something else fun to do on wheels.”

So she stopped by the outdoor hockey rink on Sunset Beach with her in-line skates and thought she was ready to go.

Not so fast.

To join the roller derby league, she needed proper attire, safety equipment and roller derby skates.

“I remember going online and looking at these pretty purple roller skates with purple laces.” She soon came to learn the pretty purple skates were only aesthetically advantageous.

“I have a few memories of the first couple of practices,” she said, recalling the cramped, small space at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre where they ran a drill called “last woman standing.”

“The aim of the game was to knock your opposing player in a legal roller derby fashion. Me, not necessarily being a big girl and not used to being hit and hitting people, I remember [a player] gunning towards me and I ‘fell’ before she could squish me.”

Now, Croysdill notes, she has come into her own, much like the sport.

The league expanded last season to include a fourth team and was accepted into the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, widely recognized as the sport’s international governing body that brings increased competition, standardized rules and prestige.

Croysdill captains the All-Stars, a fifth Terminal City team that doesn’t compete for the season championship but challenges teams to bouts, and is part of the league’s experienced coaching staff.

The North American-created sport has expanded to South America, Oceania and Europe. In all, 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Brazil, Australia and Croysdill’s country of birth England, will be competing at the World Championships in two months.

In Vancouver, the league costs about $35 a month to join, not including skates and equipment. Tickets sales for monthly bouts cover the rental costs at the Kerrisdale Arena, which fills with hundreds of spectators drawn to the beauty and brawn of athletes on wheels.

Roller derby is not a sport that receives any government financial support, Croysdill said.

But it’s growing-and fast.

For the woman who started out pretending to fall before her opponents could make her fall, the self-preservation tactic is now an adept avoidance skill she uses to advantage. Croysdill is a point scorer, known as a jammer, who avoids getting hit while rushing to win her team points.

The beauty of roller derby, she said, is that it’s a highly athletic sport that combines performance and a sense of community.

Even the on-track alter-egos, which are unique names branded by each individual player, offer an escape from daily roles-be it accountant, entrepreneur, nurse, or mom-and it’s rewarding to spend several hours each week with friends on the rink, said Croysdill, who quit her day job to start her own roller derby apparel business, Pivot Star near Main Street.

The alter-egos, she said, are not the playful mask of an imagined self.

“I sometimes think the face we put on in our daily lives is the alterego, and who we are on the track is who we really are,” she said. “You come out here, and you can be whoever you want to be.”

Twitter: @kimiyasho

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