Skip to main content

2024 Flat Track Fever roller derby tournament in Calgary this weekend


The 11th annual Flat Track Fever roller derby tournament is in Calgary this weekend, with 15 teams from across Canada competing.

The sport is described as being similar to hockey, except without the sticks and pucks.

Ice at the Acadia Recreation Complex has been removed to make way for the tournament, which sees players on two teams roller skate in an oval to compete.

"Flat track is a flat ground adaptation of the classic bank track roller derby that a lot of people are familiar with," said Krystina Edwards, one of the tournament organizers.

"Unlike what we've seen from like the 80s, 90s with that roller jam, there's not a lot of hitting with hands or throwing, but it is your full body contacting other skaters."

Edwards says it's a women dominated sport, but this tournament hosts junior women's, women's, co-ed and men's divisions.

"Flat Track Fever has predominantly been for western Canadian teams," she said. "But we take teams from all over North America who are interested in attending."

Jim Bourne, one of the tournament chairs, says the sport took a hit during the pandemic with many teams folding, but it has been gaining steadily in popularity since. 

"We have team from northern B.C., they come from Prince George, but they have skaters from Vancouver," he said.

"We have two teams from Saskatchewan, we actually have two teams from Ontario this year as well, Team Ontario and the Toronto Men's Roller Derby."

Bourne is also a skater and says he enjoys seeing people in the stands cheering athletes on.

He says the sport sees players from a diverse background.

"We have people that have never played sports at all," he said. "We have people that have never played organized sports, we have people that have played rugby, football, hockey… it's really a mix."

In addition to the tournament, the Canadian National Team hosted a tryout for the women's division, where 17-year-old April Willie attended.

"There were 120 people that tried out for the women's team alone, and 20 make that team, as well as some extra people here and there," she said.

"Men's team will probably be about 20, although less people will try out, probably still 100 though, and the junior team will be about 100, and only 20 skaters (will make it) probably."

Ingrid Willie, April's mom, says April was introduced to the sport when she was in Grade 3 and loved it.

Now the entire family all play on various teams.

"It's something that we've all got in common, that we all enjoy.

"Those weekend events where you're following the kids around, we're all involved," she said.

"It's been a really great community, the people that we find who were supporting, who were playing, who are fans, it's been a really great find and it's been fun."

She says she enjoys watching how the sport is making a post-COVID comeback in many centres across the country.

"The community in Alberta is really hopping and it's been really neat to watch how it's beginning to grow through the rest of the country as well," she said.

"Some of those leagues that have been really small are stretching, we're getting more people involved, getting more kids involved, the adults are coming in too."

Naomi Morrell is a 17-year-old player from Victoria playing in the tournament for 'The Betties' from Swift Current, Sask., because they were short players.

She was on the Canadian Junior Women's Team in 2023 playing at the Worlds in Valence, France, and brought home a bronze medal.

"We did really well and we were so close to silver, we were 14 points from silver, and in derby that's nothing," she said. "We held our own, especially in the female team, we're really up there with the rest of the world."

Morrell says she learned about the sport when she was 11 years old from a comic book, and it's now taken her all over the world.

The tournament is open to the public.

More details can be found at Top Stories

Stay Connected