As she zips around the rink, expertly dodging opponents and executing precise turns, it’s clear that Alexandra Ingvarsdóttir is a force to be reckoned with. Co-captain of Roller Derby Iceland home-team Ragnarök, Alexandra’s teammates refer to her as “Grim Creeper,” and — with fierce determination and quick reflexes — it’s easy to see why. Alexandra is a terror on the track, leaving her opponents in the dust. But outside of her skating endeavours, the exact opposite is true. She’s just a down-to-earth individual with a good sense of humour.
I didn’t like sports as a kid, mostly because I didn’t really have friends and I was bullied. Then, I saw the roller derby movie “Whip It” and I felt really inspired. A year later, a team was formed in Iceland. It took me a few years to actually get the courage to join. But now it’s been almost nine years. This feels like home.
Roller derby is a fast, high-contact sport played on roller skates. Like most sports, it’s about collecting as many points as possible. There are two teams of five on the track — four defensive players and one offensive player who collects points by lapping their opponents.
Our team is under the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association (WFTPA), and it’s open for women and non-binary genderqueer people. No men are allowed — doesn’t matter if they’re cis or trans. There are men’s teams out there, but there hasn’t been one created in Iceland yet. People are hoping there will be one.
There is an age limitation — you have to be 18 years or older, though there is a junior league for 10- to 17-year-olds — but there’s no upper limit. We don’t have any requirement of previous sports experience or even about knowing how to skate — we teach that.
MORE: Watch Iryna’s interview with the Grim Creeper in the Grapevine’s Islanders video series on YouTube.
For me, roller derby is a hobby, but it’s a very serious hobby, because there’s a lot of organising that goes into it. I’m really involved in everything since I am the co-captain and have been for four years. I’m not working towards becoming a professional sports player; that would require me to move abroad.
I think one of my most memorable moments of my derby career is when I was new to the sport and had just started full contact. I thought I was so ready. Then a skate came up behind me and I just lost my footing and took down five people with me. It was just like a domino effect. It was funny and, in hindsight, just normal.
This fall we were competing against Bear City from Berlin. Their team is pretty legendary — like top 20 or 30 in the world. My co-captain Lara Frost and I were both just like, “Yep, we’re going to lose that game. There’s no question about it. That’s fine.” We accepted the game because we wanted that learning experience. But then, it was a really close match. We lost, but it was only by 20 points or something. Which is amazing, because we’ve lost a game by 600 points before!
We’ve actually had some roller derby celebrities come to Iceland to train us, like “Freight Train” from Texas Roller Derby or “Miracle Whips” from the Montreal team. My personal heroes are always the blockers, the defensive players, like “Roxy Dallas” from Gotham in New York and “Blackman” from Denver. The ones that I personally love watching, they are bigger and they are in the top teams. They’re fat and they are some of the best players in the world. That’s what I love about roller derby — there are so many different bodies and people.
This is a very queer friendly safe space for people. We accept everybody that wants to be part of the team. We love getting new people. Personally, one of my favourite times is when we have newbie days where we get completely new people and teach them all the basic skating stuff.
I’m in my final year of Computer Science and Mathematics at Reykjavík University, and I’m in two bands — Börn, a post-punk band Börn and the more hardcore punk band Dauðyflin — and I’ve been working as a teaching assistant. I feel like being comfortable on stage has helped me command the track. Likewise, being more daring on the track has helped me to be more daring on stage.
What keeps me coming are the people and also just being aggressive. This is such a safe place for me to be aggressive, to be proud, and to be cocky as a woman.
The Islanders is our series where we interview interesting people in Iceland about their unique lives. Know someone we should speak to? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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