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Wheels of Justice trio also invited to play in World Cup



In roller derby, jammers are the scorers, the players who make points happen. They stand out and wear stars on their helmets for a reason.

So, yeah, a little bit of pressure comes with being the jammer, as Hillary Buscovick, Jessica Peiffer and Loren Mutch of the world champion Wheels of Justice team find out every match. There also are rewards — scoring points and being the center of attention.

“You could write an entire article on that dynamic alone,” says Buscovick, aka “Scald Eagle.” “I’d like to think it’s confidence more than ego. As the only scoring position, it does attract attention, it sticks out. You’re the lamb among the wolves.

“I try to be the fox. I can bite back. ... You gotta be ready to take on the world.”

COURTESY: ROSE CITY ROLLERS - Hillary Buscovick, aka 'Scald Eagle'Buscovick was MVP of last year’s Women’s Flat Track Derby Association championships, in which the Wheels of Justice, the all-star team of the nationally renowned Rose City Rollers, captured its first title. The WOJ team is back to defend its title here in Portland, Nov. 4-6 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Portland is home to not only the defending WFTDA champs, but also three of the best jammers in roller derby in Buscovick,

Peiffer (aka “Licker N Split”) and Mutch (“Mutch Mayhem”). All three have been invited to play for Team USA in next year’s Roller Derby World Cup, along with teammates/blockers Jessica Chestnut and Jes Rivas. Portland has other jammers on the team, but these three definitely stand out.

“They took 25 skaters, and it’s crazy that three jammers from one team are among the seven on Team USA,” Peiffer says.

“I feel like we’re definitely an awesome trio.”

If you attend the WFTDA championship you’ll watch skaters circling a track. Watch for the player with the star on her helmet. She’s the jammer.

Jammers, who take to the track in rotation or by strategy, score points by passing opponents during “jams,” or periods in roller derby. Blockers can help the jammers along, or they can work to prevent the opponent’s jammers from passing and scoring points.

A jammer can be physical and push through defenders, or “jukey” and get around them.

Buscovick, a tad under 6 feet tall, reigns as the most physically gifted jammer.

“The best jammers out there strive to have balance of brute force, but elusive, reactive type of stuff,” she says. “Juking is a tactic, and, sure, brute ramming is a technique. We can slam into those walls (of players), but can you last for 60 minutes with that style? No.

“You want to juke and skate and have control, and be able to stop on a dime and have pickup speed. Mutch’s pickup speed is incredible.”

Says Mutch about Buscovick: “She’s definitely unique. Nobody else skates like her. She’s 6 feet tall, and she has amazing control of herself and she’s really precise. She has really creative moves. It’s really hard to defend against her.”

COURTESY: ROSE CITY ROLLERS - Loren Mutch, aka 'Mutch Mayhem'The 5-4 Mutch has some power, but “most people would call me a jukey style. But, you have to hit and create your own holes.”

Peiffer, a bit bigger than Mutch, a bit smaller than Buscovick, calls herself “more of a pusher. Pushy and spinny. I spin out of things.”

Adds Mutch: “She’s pretty tenacious. She’s strong, she can push and be jukey. This season she has been more jukey.”

The jammers actually have their own coach, George Moore, aka Shreddy Mercury (yes, it’s a Queen reference).

“It’s a difficult job and can be isolating,” Buscovick says. “The fact that we lean on each other is awesome.”

Peiffer and Buscovick worked their way up through the Rose City Rollers ranks to reach the top team. Mutch moved here from Seattle.

The three call themselves best friends. Sometimes, Peiffer says, jammers on teams don’t get along as they battle for roster spots, but these three do.

“We pump each other up and teach each other things,” she says. “We’ve never been competitive with each other. We help each other. We call ourselves the Jammer Sisters. We’re there for each other.”

In fact, the three room together on the road. They like to have fun. At the recent playoffs at Columbia, South Carolina, hotel security had to be called three times to their room. “We get pretty loud, listen to loud music,” Peiffer says.

Peiffer, 36, is a mother of three boys, who she proudly says play football, basketball and baseball. She’s from Salem originally.

While Mutch, 23, is from Seattle, Buscovick, 29, moved here from Gunnison, Colorado, years ago and led the way as Wheels of Justice won the 2015 WFTDA title.

“She seemed hungrier,” Mutch says. “Not that we weren’t before, but the year before it was our first time in the (championships) situation. We were more prepared. She went out there way more confident.”

COURTESY: ROSE CITY ROLLERS - Jessica Peiffer, aka 'Licker N Split'Peiffer has been a blocker and a jammer. She looks forward to skating on her home track, helping WOJ defend the title. She says the jammers have to avoid penalties, which would limit scoring.

“I don’t try to go into it too mental. If you go in mentally screwed, you won’t perform,” she says. “We train for nine months. It’s time to put it to work.

“Jamming is more mental when you get to our level.”

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