BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Rose City Rollers all-stars skate to third championship

COURTESY: ROSE CITY ROLLERS - The Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice all-star team celebrates Sunday after winning the Women's Flat Track Derby Association international championship in New Orleans.The Rose City Rollers all-stars anticipated something special happening in New Orleans.

"It was this weird feeling that we all had that we knew something great was about to happen," says Bonnie Thunders, a captain for Portland's roller derby all-star team.

Happen it did as the team known as the Wheels of Justice won their third international championship.

Avenging a championship game loss in 2017, the Wheels of Justice beat the Victorian Roller Derby League of Melbourne, Australia on Sunday in the championship match at the Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association international tournament.

The Wheels of Justice scored the first 35 points and beat the top-seeded Australians 144-121 to cap their championship run.

It is the third world championship in four years for the Rollers' traveling team.

The Portlanders, ranked No. 2 entering the tournament, beat Montreal Roller Derby 218-107 in Friday's quarterfinals. Then they defeated New York City's Gotham Girls Roller Derby 150-124 in Saturday's semifinals.

Rochelle Jubert, whose derby name is Gal of Fray, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"She really is a triple threat," says Thunders, whose real name is Nicole Williams.

Thunders notes that Jubert scored points as a jammer, had a couple of timely star passes and was particularly effective as one of the team's key blockers in the final game at Lakefront Arena.

Thunders knows something about MVPs, having won several while helping Gotham Girls win five titles before her move to Portland.

The Wheels of Justice defense keyed the win in the championship match. It was led by veterans Jubert, Taradiehl "Tarantula" Bahgat, Drew Flowers, Morgan Levy, Elicia Nisbet-Smith, Mia Palau and Juniper Simonis. Among newcomers to the Wheels of Justice who helped the defense were Dena "Drone" Lactaoen, Oona "Polygamy Winehouse" Niemensivu and Tenacity Remington.

The Rose City Rollers' three championships ranks second to Gotham Girls' five in the history of the WFTDA, which held its first international tournament in 2006 in Portland.

The championship victory on Sunday avenged a 180-101 loss to the team from Australia.

Victorian had also beaten Wheels of Justice 142-98 in September at a tournament in Denver.

"We played maybe even beyond what we all thought was possible," Thunders says. "I think the key for us is we came out really fired up and really confident and prepared. We executed the strategy we practiced and were able to make the adjustments that were needed."

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