RetRollSpective – Snowballs

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. 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 official logo for the Snowballs, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Snowballs grew up in Hailfern, a small city on the coast. In their youth, the city was but a village known for its ski slopes, located in the valley a little way 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 house atop Snowflake Slope where Snowflake grew up.

The Hailfern Ski Team was competing in the regional finals in Blancouver when Snowflake received news that one of their parents 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 remaining parent.

Several months later, the Blancouver Ski Team visited Hailfern for a competition. Snowflake had already dropped out of school to help their surviving 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 surviving parent supported their child’s endeavors in marble sports as they got older, which included team competitions. Snowflake eventually rejoined the ski team at their 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 Glidavik.

“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.

The Snowballs pose for a photoshoot before the 2016 Opening Ceremony.

“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 eighth in the Relay Race and fifth 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 Arctic Circle, photographed upon its completion in 2017.

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 Marble League 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 do so on their home turf?

Snow began the season strongly for the Snowballs, finishing fourth in the finals of the 5 Meter Ice 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 that 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 non-consolation 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.

The Snowballs’ first ever gold medal in the Marble League.

This, combined with Snowy’s fourth-place finish in the Snow Rally, placed the Snowballs 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 afterward. From the Snowboard Cross to the Sand Mogul Rally, the Snowballs earned 30 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, competitively, 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 stadium used for the last event of the 2018 Marble League was adapted from its appearance in 2016 and 2017.

The Snowballs began rebuilding the stadium in 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 great 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 afterward 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 earned 53 points in the Showdown and advanced to Qualifiers at the top of the standings.

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 were represented by Snowy and Snowflake in the tournament. Snowflake’s acacia log cabin and Snowflake Slope itself were featured in the background of the team’s reveal poster.

The official promotional poster for the Snowballs in Marbula One Season 1, designed by Jack Ironhide.

Frostbitten

an addendum by The Emperor

The Snowballs’ debut in Marbula One would be marked with great success, as the “Coldest Comet,” Snowy, snagged a bronze medal at the Savage Speedway GP, becoming a member of the select club of marbles that had podiumed in their first-ever event in a competition.

“I think many questioned my decision to put Snowy in Marbula One, let alone the opening Grand Prix. Snow and Snowstorm had just come off of a successful Showdown season, and Snowflake has been our best Marble League athlete. But I think Snowy’s performance on the track today should speak louder than that,” Coach Blizzard remarked after the race. 

Snowy earning bronze at the Savage Speedway.

A week later in Orlango, the “Looming Storm” would get a respectable sixth-place finish at the O’raceway. Little did Snowflake know that those would be their last points all season. During the break between races, the Snoronto Royal Family held a meeting with the Snowballs organization. The Royal Family was attempting to finish the re-construction of the Arctic Circle, which had still not been fully rebuilt since its collapse during a break in the Marble League 2018. There was a lack of funding for the project, and the team would need to acquire some, and soon if the stadium was ever to be fully reconstructed. Coach Blizzard would stay behind during the next few races in an attempt to scour Snoronto for a manager for the team; one who could stay in Snoronto and help oversee the stadium reconstruction. 

This help would come from Avalanche, a genius marble that had moved to Snoronto recently. Avalanche was from Osnow, a city nearby to Stormholm. Avalanche had worked on designing several facilities and circuits within the area, including the Short Circuit and the Thunderbolts’ Training Facility. They had recently been hired by Mellospace Industries as a professional Marbula One circuit designer but were open to helping the Snowballs organization. Avalanche dedicated a portion of their income to the funding of the reconstruction of the Arctic Circle, and by the end of the Momotorway Grand Prix, it was finished.

“It’s amazing the difference a fresh mind can make!” Snow beamed, remarking on Avalanche’s wonderful turn around of the stadium. “We’ll finally have a great training facility to operate in again, and maybe we can use that to help us qualify for the Marble League this year!”

Meanwhile, Marbula One was still marching along, and Snowflake managed to grab the Snowballs’ first pole position of the season at the Hivedrive, hosted by the Hornets. Unfortunately, after a mistimed exit off of the Conveyor Belt, Snowflake would fall to fourteenth by the end of the race. They would only muster one spot better at the next race, the Greenstone GP.

“We’ve got to get our head back in the game,” Snowy said, following their teammates’ disastrous runs. “Avalanche has given us some blueprints and tips on how to master the Short Circuit, and I’m looking forward to giving their track a shot!”

Snowy did not qualify well for the race, only managing twelfth, but would freeze the competition as the race went along, and earned the Snowballs their first gold medal in Marbula One!

Snowy winning gold at the Short Circuit Grand Prix!

“Words cannot describe what that felt like…” an ecstatic Snowy exclaimed after the race. “What a race that was…I still can’t believe we won…wow!”

The team traveled next to Tumbletown, home of the Razzway. After a track invasion by the now infamous streaker known as Razzputin, Snowflake could not keep the teams’ momentum going, however, as they would place thirteenth again at the Razzway GP, knocking the team out of championship contention. But Snowy was undeterred nonetheless and secured their third medal of the season at Midnight Bay, home of the Midnight Wisps. This vaulted the Snowballs to fourth overall, and Snowy to second in the racer’s championship. Snowflake, in contrast, would only finish twenty-seventh.

“I just never felt like I could catch up to Snowy throughout the season…” Snowflake said. “Nonetheless, I’m thrilled to have been a part of this Marbula One team, and seeing Snowy on the racer’s podium brings tears of joy to my eyes! I just hope one day it’ll be me up there…” they said, nervously.

Snowy on the Racer’s Podium at the end of Marbula One Season 1!

The team returned to Hailfern during the offseason to marvel in the glory of the rebuilt Arctic Circle, which they wasted no time in starting to train in for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. Snowflake looked to redeem themselves in the Qualifiers and would be selected to participate in the Sprint. However, their shaken confidence was revealed in full during the Qualifiers, where the Snowballs failed to qualify after their captain’s shaky performance in the 5 Meter Sprint.

“Three events into the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, and they were in a comfortable seventh place overall. As far as they were concerned, they had made it,” former JMRC Member Stynth remarked. “The starting gate lifted in the 5 Meter Sprint, but Snowflake lost their balance early on and was all out of sorts. The captain of the Snowballs placed dead last in the event, and the team fell to fourteenth overall.”

            “I am so embarrassed,” Snowflake admitted, as their voice began shaking. “It was just like Marbula One…I just couldn’t do as well as Snowy. I know I’m the reason we didn’t qualify this year, and I will never forgive myself for that.”

The Snowballs, disappointed with their result in the qualifiers, decided to start their “ColdForGold” campaign with the Minty Maniacs, and supported them during the 2020 Marble League, starting a friendship between the teams.

The Snowballs fans donning a Minty Maniacs sign.

“I had only seen before the heat began that some of the Snowballs fans decided to support our team.” Minty Drizzel said in an interview after funnel endurance. “It gave my teammates and me a sense of motivation that we have grown and are ready to compete with the big teams like the O’rangers and Savage Speeders not just for gold but for a championship. Once I got to the finals, let alone the final funnel, I knew what I had to do.” The Minty Maniacs would end up finishing 2020 in third place, their best Marble League performance to date with seven medals (four of which were gold).

The Snowballs would once again be competing in the Marble League Showdown in 2020, where they opened the season off with a fourth in the Relay Race, after Snowflake stumbled in the anchor leg, causing the team to drop.

Snowflake botching the anchor leg for the Relay Race, costing the Snowballs a podium.

This would be the Snowballs’ closest opportunity for a podium, as they did not fare well in the next three events, placing twelfth, eighth, and ninth in the final three events. The Snowballs would finish the Showdown in tenth and be under the presumption that they would be relegated for the next season until it was confirmed otherwise in 2021.

“I’ve been further considering relinquishing my role as team captain to Snowy,” a disheartened Snowflake said. “They’ve proven themselves a great athlete…and maybe we can do something in team events under their leadership…”

The team returned to Hailfern during the offseason. Following their disappointing Showdown season, the team unanimously decided to take a vacation to Winterpeg for a breath of fresh air. During their trip, they were joined by Stynth, who interviewed the team members on their recent performances.

            “It was amazing to do so well in Marbula One, but we felt all of this pressure after the tournament to qualify,” confessed Snowy. “As a team, we don’t do well under that kind of pressure, and we have accepted that.”

“The team made me realize that I was too hard on myself during this year’s Qualifiers,” Snowflake added. “I didn’t feel like I could lead the team when I was competing at my worst. But knowing failure is the best motivator to work towards success, and that has been the main goal of my leadership this offseason.”

            “We’re not giving up,” Snowstorm promised. “We did well in last year’s Showdown, and we’re aiming high this year as well. We’ve been making great progress on the Relay Run, which we didn’t do well in during 2019 Qualifiers.”

Shortly before the start of the second season of Marbula One, Snowflake officially appointed Snowy as the new captain of the team, hoping for a fresh new start and a good result in Marbula One. The team would select Snowy to compete again, and would this time be joined by Snowstorm, “The Unrelenting.”

The official promotional poster for the Snowballs in Marbula One Season 2, designed by Jack Ironhide.

Before the season’s start, Avalanche, the team manager, received a phone call from Jelle Bakker, asking whether or not the Snowballs would be interested in hosting a Marbula One race. Avalanche accepted the offer and would get to work on designing their best track yet: The Arctic Circuit.

The Snowballs would choose Snowy to represent the team at the opening Grand Prix; Minty Mania. After a disastrous qualifying and first half of the race, Snowy climbed into fifth place and earned twelve solid points. Snowstorm would have an up-and-down race at the O’raceway, climbing to third before falling to eleventh at the race’s end.

Here comes…Snowstorm!

Snowy would score again at the Honeydome, placing seventh in the race. Snowstorm would pick up the team’s first DNQ of the season, failing to qualify at the Aquamaring.

Snowy and Snowstorm enjoying the views in Dunduei, captured by The Emperor.

Snowstorm would fail to qualify again at Tumult Turnpike before Snowy was chosen to represent the team at their home track, the Arctic Circuit.

“I just feel like this is such a monumental occurrence!” Snowy said before the race. “We haven’t hosted any competitions here since the stadium collapsed during the 2018 Marble League. And now we’ve got the crowds back in the stadium, it just feels like a new beginning for us all!”

The Snowballs’ fresh start wouldn’t be met with much success, as Snowy only scored one point with a twelfth place at the Arctic Circuit. At the end of the first half of the tournament, the team sat in fifteenth overall, with 23 points and no medals earned.

Avalanche’s Arctic Circuit Grand Prix, portrayed by Spex.

At the end of the first half of the season, it was revealed that the Marble League Winter Special would be occurring over the midseason break, however, the Snowballs would not be hosting the tournament. That duty would fall to the Minty Maniacs.

The Snowballs would start the tournament with a respectable sixth in the Ice Dash, where Snowy earned the team ten solid points. Snowstorm would not keep the momentum going, however, with a paltry fifteenth in the Snowboard Cross. In another edition of Coach Blizzard’s questionable coaching decisions, Snow was selected to represent the team in Speed Skating; an event that Snowflake had medaled in back in 2018. The inexperience showed, and Snow placed fourteenth.

Snow in the gates, ready to race on the Speed Skating track!

Following a fifteenth in the Bobsled and eighth in Ice Hockey, the Snowballs would place dead last in the Winter Special, earning a measly 22 points.

“It was very demoralizing,” Snow said in a press conference following the conclusion of the league. “We came in as favorites due to being a snow-themed team and having hosted the last Winter League…and came out on the bottom once more.”

The Snowballs at the Closing Ceremony.

During the Winter Special, manager Avalanche had been busy at work designing one of the most complex Marbula One circuits yet: The Raceforest. The track had been built on the beach, meaning that it was extremely unstable, and its foundations were always shifting.

“I think it’s going to be a heck of a race, if I do say so myself,” Avalanche said, blushing. “With so many complex corners, it will make the best racing marbles shine, and I can’t wait to watch it!”

Snowstorm would represent the team at the Raceforest GP, and after qualifying dead last on the grid, they had their best race of the season; scoring 12 points and gaining 11 positions.

“It was a thriller!” Snowstorm exclaimed. “I cannot express how happy I am, to finally be living up to my teammate’s reputation, and score solid points!”

Snowy would look to continue the momentum at the Momotorway GP, where they qualified third. They’d finish the race in eighth. Snowstorm would fail to qualify once more at the Palette Park GP. Thankfully for the team, this would be the final time that the Snowballs failed to qualify, as they scored points in all of the final three races, with the majority of them coming from Snowy’s seventh-place finish at Midnight Bay. The team would finish the league in twelfth overall, with 57 points.

“It certainly wasn’t a spectacular season…” Coach Blizzard said. “But I think it was a good effort on the team’s part nonetheless. After our other recent performances in both the Showdown and Winter Special, a midpack finish is…quite welcome.”

The team returned to Hailfern as the season concluded, and trained their hearts out at the newly rebuilt Arctic Circle. Avalanche had built extra training facilities inside of the stadium, and the Snowballs wasted no time getting to work with them.

It was during one of these training sessions that Coach Blizzard interrupted the team with some breaking news. It had been confirmed by JMR that the Jawbreakers would be retiring from the sport, and would be replaced by the team’s old rivals from university: the Gliding Glaciers!

The Snowballs and Gliding Glaciers would soon clash at the Wave in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers.

“I can’t believe it!” Snowblast said. “Based on what coach is telling me, the former team members won’t be competing anymore, but Glide has taken the reins as the team’s new coach! Oooh, this is so exciting!!!” They exclaimed, overjoyed.

As the build-up to the Qualifiers began, the Snowballs were invited to take place in a practice race between the teams. Snowstorm was chosen to represent the team and finished the race in a respectable sixth.

“I’m happy with myself and that performance.” A triumphant Snowstorm told the media after the race. “We’re feeling good about the Qualifiers this year…I know we won’t let our fans down again.”

In RetRollSpective, the Snowballs are a team that has come a long way since their first season win in the Showdown. They have experienced the loss and tragedy that life brings, but chose 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 future, keep on rolling!

Special thanks to Bobert/Snowster for helping craft the “Frostbitten” addendum to this article!

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