RetRollSpective – Pinkies

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to focus on the Pinkies, a team that has been in all four Marble Leagues so far. Read on to see how they have charmed their competition!

The logo for the Pinkies, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Pinkies hail from an island off the Asian coast that houses one of the most advanced economies in the world and is rich in both historical and natural significance. Their city of origin, Rosaka, is named for the cherry blossom trees that turn rose-colored in the first few days of spring. The blossoms bloom throughout the swathes of forest stretching into the streets as they become dense with roads, buildings, and bright lights. They bloom regally in the park surrounding Rosaka Castle, and they bloom humbly in the field encircling the Pinkies’ stadium, the Ampinktheater.

Before you start asking why the Pinkies had to go with such a poor pun for their stadium name, you might want to know that the team actually met while acting in theatre. The four original members of the team: Pinky Rosa, Pinky Winky, Pinkydink, and Pinky Toe participated in kapinki theatre throughout the city of Rosaka and all over the island. The four officially met while touring in mainland Asia, in the city of Hunluen: performing for the opening festivities of the MFC Championship. The best actors in kapinki were selected to represent Rosaka in the show, and although the four had rehearsed together, it was not until they performed that they felt a meaningful connection. After their show, the four got food and attended the MFC Championship together. Interestingly enough, four other would-be athletes were present at that championship: Anarchy, Tumult, Clutter, and Snarl.

Pinky Rosa, Pinky Winky, Pinkydink, and Pinky Toe became fast friends. Each actor was a part of a different kapinki troupe, and thus had a wildly different schedule. It was not easy to coordinate get-togethers, but when they did, the four would constantly bring up the MFC tournament that they had witnessed in Hunluen. It wasn’t long before they began to wonder if their calling lay not in theatre—but in sports.

            “We will always hold our experiences in theatre near and dear to us,” Pinky Winky assured her fans as she announced her retirement from kapinki. “But there’s something else I want to do with my life…or at least, try.”

            When asked about the amount of criticism they got in the years after they left, Pinky Rosa sighed. “It was far more subdued during our time in the MFC. Our fans grew more vocal as the Marble League went on, especially in 2018. They were beginning to doubt if we were ever really in the right place after all. But we know where we had to be. There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”

They formed a team began competing locally as the Kapinkis, changing their name to the Pinkies upon entering the MFC Championship League. The team did exceptionally well for being new to marble sports, finishing in sixth place in 2014.

            “It just felt right,” Pinkydink recalled. “Not that theatre did not. You can enjoy more than one thing in life!”

The MFC Championship League, although not heavily featured in the news reel describing the rising popularity of marble sports, was mentioned in name and received a decent boost in fans. One particular tournament, however, stood out around the world: the Knikkegen Marble League from Europe. In 2015, the creators, Jelle and Dion Bakker, announced that the tournament would expand to include teams of marble athletes from around the world and would be renamed to the Marble League.

The more I look at this, the more I wonder if this is actually a picture of the Snowballs.

The Pinkies found the idea exciting, but doubted that they would be invited to compete due to their newness as well as their sixth place. They were pleasantly surprised, then, to receive an invitation to the 2016 Marble League in the latter half of 2015, and accepted without hesitation. The team was one of two teams from the MFC to accept the invitation, but the last of six teams invited overall from the circuit. The third spot that would have been reserved for the team in seventh place was discarded and ceded to Team Momo, champions of the Ramen Bowl in Om.

The team debuted just off the podium in the first event, Balancing, placing fourth with a score of 298 centimeters. Unfortunately, the Pinkies peaked early in the season and fell dramatically in the standings with each successive event, earning one point in the Relay Race but striking zero in the next four events. Pinky Toe resurfaced during the High Jump with a placement in sixth, and the team earned two points over the next two events before earning their first medal in Precision Slalom: a bronze.

All three of the teams in this picture have struggled throughout the years, but at least two of those teams aren't the Kobalts!

Although the team had risen to a salvageable twelfth place in the standings, two events remained in the season, and these two events were not kind to the Pinkies. The team did not score during Quartet Diving, and Pinky Toe suffered a worse fate in Hurdles—disqualification. The Pinkies lost three points when Pinky Toe accidentally jumped off his lane during his heat, and finished the season in sixteenth place overall, tied with the Limers in points but below them due to their disqualification. The Pinkies ironically finished their season where the Balls of Chaos had started theirs: in last.

            “We weren’t happy with where we finished, and I’m sure that no one was,” acknowledged Pinky Rosa. “But we were not ready to give up.”

It is safe to say that the Pinkies looked like an entirely different team in the 2017 Marble League, and they had yet to change their uniforms. The team entered the Qualifiers in top form, winning the Relay Race and placing third in the Sand Rally. The Pinkies did not score in Block Pushing, but Pinky Winky’s fourth place in Funnel Spinning ensured her team’s qualification at the top of the standings. Their momentum continued into the main tournament, where Pinky Toe earned a bronze medal in Funnel Spinning, redeeming himself for his mistake in Hurdles and setting the tone for the rest of the Pinkies’ season.

The Pinkies began their 2017 season on a high note and went higher.

Fans were cautiously optimistic, for they had watched the Pinkies fall from grace the year before after doing so well in Balancing—but the Pinkies did not peak early. The team continued to place in the top half of the standings, with notable fourth place finishes in the Fidget Spinner Collision and the Relay Run. The Relay Run closed out the first half of the season, where the Pinkies stood at a remarkable third place in the standings, and preceded Block Pushing, where they earned a bronze medal and rose to second in the overall standings.

 

            “My heart could not have been more full after that event. We hadn’t even placed above third in an event, but we were so consistent,” remarked Pinky Toe. “I’m grateful to have been a part of that.”

The Pinkies' consistency during the 2017 Marble League was at a level that so many teams dream of reaching.

However, the Pinkies were not close to the Savage Speeders in first, sitting twenty-two points behind them and just one point ahead of the Limers. The team seemed to crack under pressure, posting their first result of the season in the lower half of the standings in the High Jump. They followed up their result with a dire showing in Steeplechase, placing last and shocking themselves and their fans.

The season, however, was not over, and the Pinkies were able to turn their fate around this time, earning twenty-eight points in the final three events. The team finished in sixth place overall with a total of 114 points and two bronze medals. Their 2017 season remains their best performance in the Marble League to this day.

The 2017 Marble League was a tournament that established many of the traditions still present in the series. The Pinkies finishing high in the standings is not one of those traditions.

The Pinkies’ supporters came out in droves to congratulate the team upon their return to Rosaka, with a parade and a dedication ceremony for the team’s Ampinktheater.

            “We are so honored that we have a sports team to represent our city and our way of life,” an official stated at the ceremony. “Pinkies, thank you for telling our story.”

The Pinkies carried their honor into the next season, where they actually changed their uniforms to a more recognizable pink hue to better distinguish themselves against the Snowballs, who were hosting the tournament. The Pinkies used the uniform during their time in the MFC Championship League and had changed to their opaque light pink color in late 2015 to adopt a sleeker look. Funnily enough, the Snowballs had competed alongside the Balls of Chaos in the MFC during 2017 as exhibition teams, and now, all three were back to vie for the gold.

 

The team qualified for the 2018 Marble League rather easily, placing second in Group B with two bronze medals and one gold, with Pinky Winky winning the Snow Race. Pinky Rosa and Pinky Winky opened the main tournament by competing in the first and second events, placing seventh in both. The team then competed in the Halfpipe together and placed sixth with a time of 28,07 seconds. The Pinkies stood at fifth in the standings, which, unfortunately, was the closest they would get to the top.

The stripes on the Pinkies' 2018 uniforms can clearly be seen in the picture above.

Although the Pinkies scored in every event, they did not score well in every event. Only a third of the team’s finishes were in the top half, and only half of the team’s finishes were in the top ten. The Pinkies fell below the top ten in Speed Skating, where Pinky Toe earned only two points, and save for Pinkydink and Pinky Winky’s ninth places in the Snow Rally and Snowboard Cross, did not earn more than three points in the rest of the events. Neither Pinky Rosa nor the team’s new reserve member, Pinky Panther, competed in any of the individual events during 2018.

The Pinkies sparred with the other bottom four teams in the standings to keep out of the “basement”: Team Momary, the Minty Maniacs, the Limers, and Mellow Yellow. The mini-competition narrowed after Team Momary’s silver medal in Curling to focus against the Minty Maniacs, Limers, and Mellow Yellow. Of these three teams, there was the most tension between the Limers and Mellow Yellow due to their history in the Fruit Circuit, and Mellow Yellow and the Pinkies due to their solid-colored marbles, with fans dubbing the rivalry the “Mellow Pinkies”. Mellow Yellow’s strong showings during Ice Hockey and the Sand Mogul Race ensured that they would finish the season above the Pinkies, tying with the Limers’ points haul of 76. The Pinkies ended their uneventful 2018 season in last place with 65 points earned, and returned sheepishly to Rosaka after the cherry blossom season had ended.

The Pinkies were in the back row of the starting gate but finished in the top ten.

The Pinkies participated in both of 2018’s offseason events, with Pinky Winky representing her team in the 100 Meter Water Race and finishing in sixth. The four original members of the team participated in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, but finished last in their heat and placed twenty-first overall. Shortly after the event, the Pinkies decided to hang up their original uniforms and return to their opaque pink colors. When questioned, Pinky Panther, the team’s reserve, explained the change.

            “I was in the supply closet the day before the Amazing Maze Marble Race, and I found the old uniforms that my team used before I joined. When I put one of them on, I realized how much sleeker they were, and I figured they were much more suited for the Marble League than our striped pink, as aesthetically pleasing as it was.”

The team’s request was approved, despite the fact that the Snowballs were still competing in Qualifiers. The Pinkies were not expected to qualify after their dismal 2018 season, but, for what it was worth, the team placed consistently in the middle of the twenty teams competing, with a notable eighth place in Block Pushing and a sixth place in the Relay Race keeping the Pinkies in tenth place overall. The Pinkies (and six of the other original sixteen teams) had qualified for their fourth Marble League.

 

As they prepared for the 2019 Marble League, Coach Pinky Promise was hired to direct the team. She donned the Pinkies’ 2018 uniform as her coaching uniform and got to work, taking a very active role in training and racing with her team members. Pinky Promise’s goal was to break the rut that the team had fallen into during 2018, and as such, the team’s routine leading up to the main tournament was more rigorous than in past years.

The Pinkies dance around Pinky Rosa during the 2019 opening ceremony.

Judging by the Pinkies’ results in the first nine events, it seems that they were not responding well to their new coach. Pinky Winky debuted in the Underwater Race and placed last, confirming the worst fears of Pinkies fans—they were still in their rut. Until the tenth event, the team placed below the top ten in every event except the Relay Race, where they placed seventh after losing a tiebreaker with the O’rangers. As they headed into the Hubelino Maze event, Pinky Rosa, who was now the team’s captain, had placed last in Hurdles, stranding her team in last in the standings.

The Hubelino Maze was a different event than most others in the Marble League: a tactical event that required strategy as well as perseverance. It was an event that a lot of teams had trouble understanding. The Pinkies were not one of those teams.

            “I was always into strategy games, like Tetroll,” described Pinkydink. “It was a puzzle to figure out how to get to the bottom, and a lot of the newer teams didn’t catch on. We give a lot of credit to the Hazers and Green Ducks for even getting to the semifinals.”

 

The team was not deterred, and they excelled in the face of uncharted territory, advancing to the finals alongside the Hazers, Savage Speeders, and Oceanics. The stadium roared with cheers for the Oceanics, who hadn’t medaled in over a year. Neither had the Pinkies, and they persisted, earning their first silver medal—ever—in the Marble League.

The Pinkies brought excitement to the midseason of the 2019 Marble League, in the few events where the tournament would have otherwise dragged.

The Pinkies remained in last place because the Oceanics had reached the finals and earned twelve points, but they drew positive attention from the first time since the 2017 Marble League. The team had broken a streak of twenty-six events since earning its last medal, and had earned its first medal besides a bronze medal, at that. The question remained as to when the team would earn its first gold medal, but Pinkies fans were as happy as they could be.

That question would be answered three days later, when Pinky Toe competed in the Dirt Race, another new event for the Marble League. The course was not smooth like a sand rally, but was wrought with sharp turns, obstacles, and shallow banks. Anything could happen. That said, there weren’t many people that expected the Pinkies to come out on top.

            “I had a funny feeling going into that race, though,” said Pinky Toe, addressing the clear doubt from his fans. “It was another event in uncharted territory.”

Pinky Toe competed in the second heat and crossed the finish line first, dominating for the last half of his heat despite slowing down in the final stretch. He began the final in last, passing Indie, Shore, and Smoggy as they rolled off the track. Pinky Toe, with a big burst of speed, lurched ahead of Jump, Rozzy, and Ducky into second place, eyeing first place.

 

            “Out to the outside! In to the inside! Savage Speeders block ‘em. Several length lead, Savage Speeders trying to stay off the wall, they’re not gonna do it! The Pinkies, up to the lead with the finish line in sight, can they hold on? Yes they will…and that’s the first gold medal ever for the Pinkies!” commentated Greg Woods.

Marbula One athletes reportedly studied Pinky Toe's overtakes in the Dirt Race during their training.

            “It was the most surreal moment of my life—the moment where everything I had worked for had fallen into place. I took a deep breath, and it all rushed in. I nearly fainted as I rolled down from the top of the podium,” recalled Pinky Toe. “But I was in that moment. It was like—no, it was better than—the applause we’d get after a kapinki theater performance.”

The Pinkies rose from the basement of the standings and did not return. The team began posting results in the top half of the standings, with a seventh place in Rafting following the Dirt Race. Unfortunately, Pinkydink’s last place finish in the Elimination Race and Pinky Rosa’s fourteenth place in the Sand Rally ensured that the Pinkies would remain in the lowest quarter of the standings. The team finished the season in fifteenth place with 97 points.

In RetRollSpective, the Pinkies are a constant in the Marble League, even if they have not posted the best results. They are a team that is looking to be better, especially under Pinky Promise’s leadership, but hasn’t gotten there yet. Nevertheless, there is an opportunity for the Pinkies to bloom, as the cherry blossoms do in Rosaka. Best of luck to them in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Kobalts

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to roll over to the

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