Track Queens: Helsinki Escapes Crime City, 199-190

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BERLIN, GERMANY — A Nordic battle took the ice off the Arena Berlin for the first bout of the day. A back-and-forth first half saw the Swedes mostly in the ascendency, but a strong second half from the Finns saw Helsinki progress over Crime City 199-190.

Helsinki saw a 41-point lead evaporate in the final minutes as they committed a number of unforced errors to let Crime City back in, but in the end it was a catastrophic mistake from the Swedes that lost them the bout–they had a one-point lead with seconds remaining, but failed to field a jammer in the final jam of the bout.

It didn’t start well for Helsinki: Heli Runteli was all too eager to get the bout started and handed Ankefar a power jam straight out of the gate when she was boxed for a false start after failing to concede her advantage. That let the Crime City jammer slide through for a 19-0 at the start of a dominant period for the Swedes.

Curlie Håår took the star for Crime City in jam two, but it was Tiina Kimari for winning it for Helsinki — she managed to score on two passes, but just edged the jam 5-4 as she struggled with the Crime City pack on both passes.

That lead stayed around 20 points for the first ten minutes in a game typefied by fairly loose packs, high speeds, and very few penalties. A two-minute jam at the ten-minute mark let Fisherman’s Fiend eat into the Crime City lead as Curly Håår hit problems with Linda Vidjeskog in the Helsinki pack to make it 43-31 Crime City.

Five minutes of consistent Helsinki pressure and Runtell took the lead for the All-star Ninja Turtles as JJ Fury picked up Crime City’s first jammer penalty of the day — she put up a 25-0 to give Helsinki a 70-50 lead with 12:58 on the clock as Crime City called a much-needed time out.

A quick 4-0 for Ankefar made it look like the break had worked its magic on Crime City — but Curly Haar was boxed after Fiend had already put up a natural grand slam. Fiend didn’t make Crime City pay for their mistake, though — she got hit to the infield just before a no-pack call on the first scoring pass of her power jam and proceeded to cut the entire Crime City pack and was boxed herself. That let Curly back in to make it 82-64 with under ten minutes left in the half.

Fiend was boxed on a fourth minor in the next jam after being released, and JJ Fury put up ten unanswered points, struggling to get through a slow-moving Helsinki defensive line. A 9-0 Ankefar polished off the power jam and gave Crime City a one-point lead. Runteli got lead in the next jam and looked likely to retake the lead — but got held up on her scoring pass and didn’t call the jam until Curly had completed her pass, leaving the margin unchanged.

Kimari made no such mistake next time out with a quickfire 2-0 to make it 88-87 to Helsinki before Ankefar grabbed a 4-0 for the third lead change in four jams. Curly got lead over Kimari in the half’s penultimate jam to make the lead a rather precarious five points — but her pack were filling the box as she did it.

That let Runtelli end the half on a high for Helsinki–she took advantage of there only being two Crime City blockers on the track to start racking up points–she had a chance to take the lead for Helsinki, but again let the jam run. However, Curly was boxed on a major low block when she took out a Helsinki blocker at the ankles as she botched a spin as she hit the back of the pack. Runtelli called the jam after finishing her pass, though, leaving Crime City with a 101-99 lead at the half, but almost a full minute of jammer penalty to serve at the start of the second period.

Kimari wasted no time retaking the lead as she started the second half unopposed with a 4-2 pack advantage — but her 18-0 opening would have been much worse for Crime City had it not been for the blocking heroics of captain Misty Muffdivah as she came out of the box.

Crime City got three lead calls in a row, but only had five points to show for it — and that advantage was erased in a long 9-2 jam when Helsinki broke the run, with a last-ditch block to the outside from recent Paris transfer Pooky Balboa saving a few of Crime City’s blushes.

JJ Fury lessened the gap next time out despite losing lead and points to Fiend after Fiend was boxed on a major cut after stepping in from another infield hit. Fiend went down holding her face when she got out of the box calling that jam to be whistled dead prematurely with Helsinki holding a 134-118 lead with 20 minutes to go.

Seven points from three lead jam calls for Crime City looked to be edging them back into the bout before Ankefar cut her way to the box. That gave Runteli a 14-2 jam to again undo Crime City’s good work in a single jam.

Another power jam for Runteli over Ankefar followed a low block call on the Crime City jammer several jams later — but Runteli stuggled to make an impact on a full Crime City pack, and called it early after growing tired of hitting the floor. Leeloo Dallas finished off the power jam and had no such problems as the Crime City blockers picked up multiple out of play major calls to leave Helsinki with a bout-high 41-point 180-139 lead with 9:36 left to play.

Crime City edged closer over the next five minutes, and called a timeout with 4:05 left on the clock and a 185-158 deficit, looking to work out how to get the big jam they needed in the closing minutes.

Immediately after that Helsinki attempted a star pass off the line, but it went horribly wrong for the Finns. Curly put up a 30-0 over two minutes as Leeloo Dallas sat in the box in the aftermath of the botched pass to give Crime City their first lead since the opening seconds of the period with 1:38 left in the bout.

A late call from Runtelli turned what should have been a lead-changing 4-0 into a 4-3 to make it 190-189 in Crime City’s favour. However, that made no difference as an enormous error by Crime City all but handed the game to Helsinki in the final jam. Crime City failed to field a jammer while holding a 1 point lead, and Helsinki’s Kimari put up a 10-0 before calling it as time expired.

Helsinki finished 199-190 winners, and proceed to play London at 6.30 pm CET this evening.

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