By Mort Luby Jr.
(Webmaster’s Note: The 46th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup took place just outside Toulon on the French Riviera. Between sips of sublime blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, retired Bowlers Journal Editor & Publisher Mort Luby Jr. found time not only to cover the tournament, but also to fill up his reporter’s notebook.)
The lane man noticed some crud on one of the lanes in the brand new addition to Bowling de Provence. After cleaning the next lane, he looked back: more crud. He looked up, horrified. There were cracks in the recently plastered ceiling. Officialdom rushed to the scene. A structural engineer was called in. The verdict: The ceiling was probably secure, but it would be better to err on the side of safety. The offending area was curtained off, large metal supports were installed and the tournament was halted for a day. The BWC’s lane allotment dropped from 32 to 28. Qualifying was cut from 20 games to 16. Lane assignments were juggled. A few bowlers and coaches complained. But the rest of the tournament went on without a hitch.
The contestants from 91 nations were housed in an Olympic village-style complex high on a woodsy hill overlooking the Mediterranean. The reception area included some pool tables, which were busy until the wee hours. There was a bar and wi-fi access. Outside, a huge swimming pool beckoned to the brave. A reporter for a Toulon newspaper happened by one night and was fascinated by all the camaraderie. His report on the convivial bowlers was featured in the next day’s paper.
A side-trip to St. Tropez — the town made famous by Brigitte Bardot, Colette and Anais Nin — was a welcome midweek diversion for most of the contestants. After a two-hour bus drive through quaint costal towns and lush mountainside vineyards, they disembarked and found themselves in the midst of a mad commercial melee: St. Tropez’s annual sidewalk sale. After four hours of haggling with the proprietors of assorted designer shops, they re-boarded the buses with their discounted treasures.
Brit Phil Mison, the BWC television coordinator, said that the finals of this year’s tournament will be beamed to 80 countries. The edited, one-hour show will be translated into 20 languages as it is transmitted via EuroSport, Pan Euro, ESPN Star and various other networks. “This year’s World Cup will have the biggest global reach of any bowling event,” said the 59-year-old television veteran who is in his fourth year as a QubicaAMF contractor. Mison and British bowling star Zara Giles will provide the English version commentary.
The Bent Petersen Country Award, named for the retiree who ran AMF’s international operations for many years, was settled even before the finals began when two Brits — Fiona Banks and Matt Miller — advanced to the ultimate round. The award is designated for the nation with the best combination of finishes in the men’s and women’s divisions. It’s rare that two players from the same country advance to the final three.
The destination for BWC No. 47? Nobody has a clue. The announcement of the following year’s tournament venue used to be the climax of the final night victory party. But after the collapse of 2010’s presumed host city, Zagreb, and the relocation to Toulon, the BWC staff was playing it close to the vest about 2011. An assortment of rumors floated around the hotel complex. The United States was largely ruled out because of fierce travel restrictions, especially for Middle East bowlers. There were whispers about the Bahamas, but the Bahamian competitors laughed that one off: The islands don’t have a center that’s large enough. QubicaAMF, over the years, has tried to maintain a genteel balance among the continents for its big show, but it has become increasingly difficult because of economic and political issues.
Hero Noda, long-time proprietor of a center on the outskirts of Tokyo, celebrated his 25th anniversary as the BWC’s official photographer in Toulon. Noda and his exotic collection of Canon cameras and lenses have traveled all over the globe to record the competition and social events of the tournament. Each year, he produces more than 5,000 images and supplies them to bowling periodicals worldwide.
Overall scoring was more restrained than in some recent years when perfect games gushed to the point of embarrassment. Pig-tailed, stocky Burak Natal of Turkey rolled the best game of the tournament, 299, while Vanessa Timter of Germany rolled the high women’s score, 286.
* For archived daily coverage of the 2010 World Cup, click here.
* Mort Luby Jr.’s profiles of tournament winners Michael Schmidt of Canada and Aura Mirey a Guerra Lopez of the Dominican Republic will appear in the December issue of Bowlers Journal International.