What’s red, black, has 16 wheels and flies around a flat-track? Roller derby romance.
A pair of Edmonton’s iconic derby dames are days away from getting hitched, hanging up their skates and hitting the road.
Kristie Eklund, 33, and Elena Chalmers, 44, were strangers until January 2007, when they each strapped on skates with the Oil City Derby Girls and took to the oval track for the first time.
What began as a shaky start on eight wheels and a budding friendship in a new, competitive sport, evolved into an unbreakable bond for the derby girls, dubbed Honey Crueler and Jazze Belle.
Having never been in a lesbian relationship, Chalmers said she knew her feelings for her teammate were genuine.
“I never really clicked with any guys, and would just date for the heck of it,” Chalmers said. “I just always wanted to be with her. She’s my soulmate.”
The pair dropped to their knees and embraced in front of their sobbing teammates and hundreds of cheering fans at a bout in December, when Chalmers offered Eklund an engagement ring.
The couple tie the knot on Saturday, each wearing a traditional white wedding gown.
Having sought out same-sex-friendly wedding planning through the Edmonton Pride Centre, Eklund says they’ve realized public opinion on gay marriage has largely, evolved since it became legal in 2005.
“Everyone has been, generally, amazing and supportive,” she said. “There are some people who say ‘as long as it makes you happy,’ but that’s the closest we’ve come to discrimination.”
Packing up their 1974 Volkswagen van, the women are bound for Costa Rica, then Victoria, B.C.; they’re leaving life in Edmonton behind post-nuptials.
“We’re giddy with excitement, starting our new life,” Chalmers said. “I’m marrying my best friend — how much better could it get?”