New East Digital Archive

Bad to the bone: meet the fearless women in Poland’s first roller derby team

9 March 2017

Roller derby began as an endurance skating race in 1920s America. By the late 1930s it had evolved into a full contact sport played by two opposing teams on quad roller skates on an elliptical track. Both fast and furious, it combines the endurance of a race and the aggression of rugby. Today, it is alo the fastest-growing contact sport among females in the US and across the world, a phenomenon that inspired the 2009 girl-power flick Whip It starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page. “I am a person who loves to compete and I have always tried to be the best at everything. I used to play tennis, basketball, dance, ski and I’ve loved rollerskating since I was young. Then my friend told me about the film Whip It, we started practicing and that was it,” says Weronika Krawczuk, who started the first roller derby team in Poland while studying Photography at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań in 2013. Named after the team, her photo series Bad to the Bone follows the players on their weekly practices and socials. “Everybody fits. It doesn’t matter if somebody is skinny, fat, tall or short. It’s a sport for the young and those more mature. Despite how aggressive it may seem, there’s no hate between the teams. After a game it’s not unheard of for players to hit the bar or club together and party till morning,” the photographer explains. What started as a photo diary for Krawczuk has now developed into a way of redefining the image of women in contemporary Poland to include qualities like strength and teamwork — as well as the odd graze and bruise.