McConnell makes national team 

Whistler skater one of 10 Vancouver Murder players heading to Barcelona

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Pain to spain Whistler roller derby athlete Craig McConnell was named to the men's national team earlier this month.
  • File photo by Dan Falloon
  • Pain to spain Whistler roller derby athlete Craig McConnell was named to the men's national team earlier this month.

Craig McConnell will be Barcelona-bound next year.

The Whistler roller derby player with the Vancouver Murder was named to the national team in an announcement on July 1.

"I was pretty excited. It was a three-year goal of mine to make the team," he said. "Now the real hard work starts."

McConnell said the team will hold five training camps before the team heads to Spain for the Men's Roller Derby World Cup next April. While skaters aren't obligated to attend all of them, with travel costs being a factor, McConnell said he will try to make as many as possible and also do work on his own as well as with the local women's team, the Sea to Sky Sirens.

"I'll kick things up in the gym a bit and then just work as much as I can on individual skills," he said.

Nearly half the team is made up of Murder players, as 10 of the 25 named to the squad have Vancouver as their club team, so McConnell and his teammates can prepare outside of camp.

"I'm pretty used to playing with those guys, so when we're at the camps, we'll be trying to get used to playing with the guys (from) out east pretty quickly," he said. "We play in set lines, normally, and so I hope the lines are guys that are familiar with playing with each other.

"But I haven't seen any of that yet. We're just still in the early stages of getting the team organized."

In preparation, the Murder will keep on rolling. After a big win over Puget Sound here in Whistler at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, the squad went to Eugene, Ore. for The Big O tournament, posting a 1-2 record against top-flight squads from Portland and New York and were later 1-2 at the Wild West Showdown in Kent, Wash. at the end of May up against San Diego, Denver and Puget Sound.

Pulling out the wins allowed for Vancouver to rise to eighth in its division and clinch an automatic spot at the Cymru Clash world tournament in Cwmbran, Wales, this fall. That will allow the Murder to bypass the divisional tournament in favour of focusing on their hosting duties, as the games will be held at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Teams from Montreal, Denver, Indianapolis, Austin, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Bismarck/Fargo, N.D. among others, are expected to attend the Salish Sea Slam.

"It's a lot of work to run the tournament, so if we would have had to think about playing as well, it would have been a lot on everybody's minds," he said.

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