Roller derby is no longer an outlawed sport in Maine.

The sport – in which two teams roller skate around a rink while blocking, bumping and slamming members of the opposing team – has been growing in popularity for years. Maine Roller Derby has women’s leagues in Portland, Bangor, Rockland and Aroostook County.

When participants explored the creation of a youth league, they learned that an obscure 1991 law made the sport illegal in an apparent attempt to limit the liability of rink owners and shift it to skaters.

The law said: “A skater attempting to overtake other skaters shall do so in a manner that avoids collision with objects and other skaters in that skater’s field of vision.”

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, introduced a bill to legalize the contact sport and it became law this week. Gov. Paul LePage allowed it to become law without his signature.

“Police were never knocking down the doors telling us not to roller skate, but that old statute threatened our future. Maine Roller Derby has big, big plans, including buying a venue, hosting tournaments and maybe starting a youth skating program. We can finally feel safe going forward with our dreams now that roller derby is legal in Maine,” said Heather “Hard Dash” Steeves, 28, of Portland, who is a member of the Portland-based Maine Roller Derby league.

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