Pain Conductors ride out big first-half lead

Helter Smelters’ comeback falls shy in Bout No. 1 at Chapman Hill

Bruising hits, broken bones – literally – uptempo action and two teams waiting with baited breath for the final score to be tallied makes for high drama.

The Durango Roller Girls didn’t disappoint a near capacity crowd in their first home bout of the year, and the Pain Conductors held off a furious rally from the Helter Smelters to win 146-140 in an intrasquad roller derby bout Saturday night at Chapman Hill.

The Pain Conductors built a 90-35 lead at halftime behind stout blocking and strong performances from their jammers, which are the only players who can score points. The Pain Conductors’ jammers earned the precious lead jammer status 15 times in 21 first-half jams.

“It was mainly our blockers. ... Our blockers were pulling up and working together as a team,” said the Pain Conductors’ Wicked Wagner, a registered nurse who’s real name is Katy Wagner.

But the Helter Smelters adjusted at intermission, pecking away at the lead and waiting for a big break. When Wagner was sent to the penalty box in the 16th jam of the half, Helter Smelters jammer Jesstroyer took advantage of the power jam. With a huge assist from her blockers and some shifty moves, Jesstroyer racked up 24 points to cut the lead to 112-99.

“What goes through my head is I own it, and I trust in my blockers, and I skated as hard and as fast as I could to score as many points as I could in the time we had that power jam available,” said Jesstroyer, a manager at Durango Mountain Resort who’s non-Derby name is Jessica Schum.

Wagner, however, would atone for the miscue, using a power jam to push the Pain Conductors’ advantage back to 134-108.

But it was a power jam for the Helter Smelters’ Kill Eatcha that caused everyone to hold their breath waiting for the final tally. Her 14 points in the final jam brought the Smelters close – but not close enough.

The only damper on the evening for both fans and participants was the injury to the Pain Conductors’ Gigi Homewrecker. In the fourth jam of the night, she reportedly broke her tibia.

After the final tally, the Pain Conductors rejoiced as the PA system blared Gogol Bordello’s song “Start Wearing Purple,” appropriate given the victors’ purple and silver attire.

It capped a nice week for Wagner, who got engaged to boyfriend Mint Henk after Thursday’s practice.

“A whole entourage came in with a big sign and all dressed up,” she said, smiling through her decorative face paint.

Schum said the intrasquad bouts hold a special place, taking on the air of a familial battle – lots of love and a heightened will to win.

“We love each other so much, and we can hit each other as hard as possible, and we can all go have beers afterward,” she said.

rowens@durangoherald.com