Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to focus on the Snowballs, a team that originated in the 2016 Marble League. Read on to find out how this team has chilled the competition!
The Snowballs hail from North America, where they grew up in Hailfern, a small city on the northeast coast of the continent. In their youth, the city was but a village known for its ski slopes, located in the valley a little ways inland of the village. Snowflake, who would later become the team captain, lived on one of the ski slopes in an acacia log house with their parents, who owned the slope and named it after them. Snowflake Slope became a regional tourist destination for marbles who lived on the southeast coast of the continent. It is believed that the O’Marbles family came up there to ski each winter prior to competing in the Fruit Circuit.
Snowflake traveled down the slope and through the valley to attend school in Hailfern each day. They met Snowstorm and Snowblast through the school’s snowtubing club, an afterschool activity where they would travel into the valley and tube for fun. When Snowflake got older, they founded the school’s first ski team. The school practiced on Snowflake Slope and competed throughout the region.
The Hailfern Ski Team was competing in the regional finals in Blancouver when Snowflake received news that their parent had perished in an avalanche. Snowflake dropped out of the race that they were supposed to compete in and returned home. Snowstorm and Snowblast, to raise support for Snowflake, reached out to the other teams competing. The Blancouver Ski Team, headed by Snow and Snowy, donated their fundraising proceeds from hosting to Snowflake and their parent.
Several months later, the Blancouver Ski Team visited Hailfern for a competition. Snowflake had already dropped out of school to help their parent run the ski lift, but they attended the competition in support of Snow and Snowy’s team. The two, along with Snowstorm, visited Snowflake after the competition, and the four rekindled over their memories in the regional finals. They went out to the slopes, where they rolled together, cruising down the hill in sync with each other. As they ascended up the ski lift at sunset that night, they were ecstatic and promised to meet again.
Snowflake’s parent supported their child’s endeavors in marble sports as they got older, which included team competitions. Snowflake eventually rejoined the ski team at school, and upon graduation, was admitted to the University of Snoronto. They attended university there along with Snow, Snowy, and Snowstorm, where the four competed together in a variety of marble sports. Their coalition, which became known as the Snowballs, became rivals with the school’s other major coalition: the Gliding Glaciers, whose members were all from an island city called Guuk.
“It was a friendly rivalry…mostly because they knew that we were better than them,” Snowy explained. “They were more chill. Everyone loved their personalities, but we knew how to dominate the competition.”
The Snowballs became one of the most popular university teams on the continent, bringing international attention to Hailfern for the first time in centuries. The team’s incoming invitation to the 2016 Marble League only added to the excitement surrounding them.
“We were a wildcard pick, plain and simple,” Snow stated. “We had to be. There was no way we were that good, even if we were performing well in the college leagues. It’s like we skipped the major and regional leagues of marble sports entirely.”
The Snowballs were revealed as the fifteenth team coming to the Marble League, and entered the tournament as a counter-pick to more internationally recognized teams like Team Primary, the Rojo Rollers, and the Savage Speeders. They began the season by earning one point in Balancing and five points in the Relay Race, earning a technical bronze medal due to a defect in the top lane of the track. The Snowballs earned only eight points over the next ten events, going scoreless in six of the ten. The team finished their inaugural season in a disappointing fourteenth place.
The team entered the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers with high hopes, only for those hopes to be crushed. Despite placing fifth in the Relay Race and eighth in the Sand Rally, the Snowballs scored no points in the next two events and missed qualifying for the 2017 Marble League in thirteenth place, tied with the Kobalts. After two dismal performances, the team convened to discuss their future.
“It was obvious that we weren’t doing as well as we could have,” Snowflake confessed. “We realized that we needed a lot more professional experience. After watching some of the 2017 Marble League, we competed as an exhibition team in the MFC Championship League, which we had heard of from the Balls of Chaos. That experience prepared us for so much more success in the 2018 season.”
Back home, Snowblast had built up the Hailfern Ski Team to claim its first ever regional title. The championship was amidst a rapid expansion of the village in business. One of the largest tenants included a construction company, Arctic Corporation, that was working on an arena and training facility for the Snowballs. The stadium was named the Arctic Circle upon its completion.
The stadium was located on the opposite side of the mountain from Snowflake Slope, facing the new city of Hailfern. During the fall of 2017, Jelle Bakker and Greg Woods visited the facility during their world tour, after meeting with the Royal Family of Snoronto. They liked the stadium so much that they offered the Snowballs the chance to host the upcoming 2018 Marble League. In their offer, the team would automatically qualify for the tournament and be able to hold themed events. The Snowballs accepted without hesitation, and became the first team to ever host a Marble League.
The team did not appear at the Draw or at Qualifiers, which were held in the Arctic Circle. They recruited Snowblast as their fifth member for the Friendly Round, an exhibition tournament new to the ML that year. The Snowballs dominated throughout the tournament, earning first in both the 5 Meter Ice Dash and in the Halfpipe against series mainstays Savage Speeders, O’rangers, and Mellow Yellow. Could 2018 be their year to shine, and on their turf?
Snow began the season strongly for the Snowballs, finishing fourth in the finals of the 5 Meter Dash, and Snowstorm followed up their performance with a ninth-place finish in the Ski Jump. The team fell apart during the Halfpipe event, getting dead last in an event they had dominated in during the Friendly Round, and attempted to resuscitate their fall in the Bobsled event, an event in which the team placed seventh. The Snowballs dropped further to thirteenth place.
The team hung their hopes on Snowflake for Speed Skating, an investment which turned out to be more than worth it. Snowflake earned their first bronze medal against Ruzzy from the Raspberry Racers, which happened to be the team’s first medal ever. The team rose to seventh place in the standings and faced Team Pursuit next. The event was on the same course as Speed Skating and was a team event, requiring the cooperation of all four team members for the third marble to pass. The team put Snowy in front and Snowflake just behind, making Snowstorm the third marble with Snow as the back marble. Their strategy and speed led the team to their first gold medal.
This, combined with Snowy’s fourth place finish in the Snow Rally, placed the Snowballs in second in the overall standings. These higher finishes during the middle of the season allowed the Snowballs to remain in the top half of the standings and as championship contenders, although the team did not return to the podium after the eighth event. From the Snowboard Cross to the Sand Mogul Rally, the Snowballs earned thirty points to finish the 2018 Marble League in seventh place. They were tied with the Raspberry Racers in points but had a gold medal advantage over the team, and were just two points below the Hazers in sixth place.
The Snowballs’ improved season was marred by tragedy. During a blizzard in Hailfern, an avalanche slid down the mountain and caused major damage to the Arctic Circle, destroying the stadium and severely damaging the Snowballs’ training facilities. The avalanche occurred during a break in the 2018 tournament, which meant that no marble was present in the stadium. Upon surveying the damage, Jelle Bakker and the committee decided to use the Bakker Bowl as a temporary stadium for the final event, the Sand Mogul Race.
The Snowballs began rebuilding the stadium during early 2019, after participating in the two offseason events. Snowflake placed twenty-first in the 100 Meter Water Race and did not finish the race; they were the first marble to DNF. The Gliding Glaciers, notably, finished third in the race, but announced their retirement from the Marble League shortly after. The Snowballs also participated in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, but failed to get past the initial heat and placed second-to-last overall. Things were not looking the best for the Snowballs leading up to the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers.
All of the team’s struggles throughout the offseason manifested at the end of January 2019. The team earned only seven points throughout the first three events of Qualifiers, sitting in eighteenth place. Snow placed eighth in the Underwater Race, earning eleven points, but it was not enough to save the team. The Snowballs finished the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers in eighteenth place with eighteen points and did not make the cut for what would have been their third Marble League. The team’s accumulation of skills seemed to have melted.
“It’s something we really tried to prepare against, but we ultimately couldn’t overcome. We know we can do better than that.” Snowflake paused, seeming as if they were deep in thought. “Maybe if the conditions were fairer…”
This comment drew scrutiny from the Oceanics, who were upset that the Snowballs were blaming them for their poor performance. The Snowballs dropped the charges after being advised to do so by the Royal Family of Snoronto, who negotiated with the Royal Family of Dunduei on the topic.
The team learned shortly afterwards of the Marble League Showdown and began training for the tournament in their training facility, which had already been repaired. The public heard little from the Snowballs until the 2019 Marble League Showdown, where they were set to compete against the seven other unqualified teams, two fan-voted teams, and two Hubelino teams. The Snowballs had a lot to prove in not a lot of time, and most fans were expecting the Snowballs to fall by the wayside in favor of the Rojo Rollers, Hornets, and somehow, the Shining Swarm.
The Snowballs’ Showdown showing was one that seemed to flash-freeze the competition. The team earned three medals, one in every event but Collision. Snowstorm earned a bronze medal in the Sand Rally, Snow took the gold in Funnel Spinning, and the team earned a silver medal in Balancing. The team won the Showdown and secured a spot in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.
While training for 2020, the team received an official letter from the JMRC, inviting the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The Snowballs accepted and will be represented by Snowy and Snowflake in the upcoming tournament. Snowflake’s acacia log cabin and Snowflake Slope itself were featured in the background of the team’s reveal poster.
In RetRollSpective, the Snowballs are a team that has come a long way since their first season to win the Showdown. They have experienced loss and tragedy that life brings, but chosen to fight through it all towards victory, all the while having “snow much fun” doing what they love. Best of luck to the Snowballs in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!