Quebec sweeps singles bowling crowns in Sudbury
by Randy Pascal
Quebec bowlers set the tone on day one of the 2017 Canadian Open 5 Pin Bowling Championships. By the end of the week, things had come full circle,
as a pair of athletes from La Belle Province swept the ladies' and men's singles crown, as play wrapped up Saturday at Plaza Bowl in Sudbury.
In his very first game of the tournament, Francis Cloutier of Quebec bowled a 433 (450 is a perfect game), helping the mixed team take six points
right out of the gate from Northern Ontario.
That score would stand as the high score of the week, and while the Quebec mixed team fell just short of qualifying for step-ladder playoff action,
members of both their ladies and men's team emerged as the top two singles bowlers in the country.
Isabelle Sogne of Gatineau came from behind to secure the top seeding heading into the step-ladder series, averaging 258.0 over the course of 21
games, with Jennifer Baker of Newfoundland (257.4) and Bonnie McDonald of Alberta (257.0) hot on her heels.
The seeding would prove critical in a step-ladder format that qualifies the top five finishers after the preliminary round of 21 games, but forces the
fifth seed to work their way up the ladder in single game showdowns.
The benefit, for Sogne, lie in the fact that the #1 seed must be beaten twice in order to relinquish gold. When Baker prevailed over McDonald 291-285
in an outstanding semi-final encounter, the stage was set for a top two final.
Baker remained red-hot, knocking off Sogner 305-203 in game one, only to see the 28 year old two time fourth place finisher at YBC (Youth Bowling Council)
national events bounce back with a 226-209 triumph.
The Quebec champion noted that there was only a minimal amount that could be drawn from her previous experience at YBC Champiosnhips. "It's completely
different," she said. "We don't have a step-ladder like this. It's only a qualifying round, that's it, that's all. This is so, so stressful. But it's a
good experience, the best experience I've had in my life."
With the first game of the final sliding in more than fifty points below her championship average, Sogne had to quickly get her act together. "I bowled
terrible," she said of game one (203). "I just needed to focus, take my time, have a deep breath, go on the lane, keep my eyes on my spot and watch my
timing. That's all I had to do."
With the first half of the Quebec singles sweep in the books, 35 year old Guillaume Charbonneau from Cantley, just outside of the city of Gatineau, was
entrusted to follow in the footsteps of his teammate and friend.
"I am a very sentimental guy and I coached Isabelle at the Masters last year," said Charbonneau, who broke down in tears moments after completing his
victory, in the final, over Mike Christmann of Alberta. "I was so happy with her to finish first, it gave me confidence."
Like Sogner, Charbonneau had showed the way in the standings at the end of the preliminary round. Making his sixth trip to Open Nationals and having
earned a silver medal in 2011, the sports reporter at Radio Canada had created some separation from the field.
His 21-game average of 280.30, which included seven games of 300+ (363 was his high game), easily outdistanced Matt Innis of Ontario (267.5),
with the logjam occuring directly behind this duo as Ian Sylvester (Manitoba - 258.9), Christmann (258.5) and Mike Maloney (Newfoundland -
254.7) battled their way in to the playoffs.
And like Sogner, once again, Charbonneau had to overcome a game one loss to Christmann, who had bowled games of 277, 358, 241 and 299 in order to get the
#4 seed to the edge of victory. "The first thing I thought to myself is that Mike is tough to beat," admitted Charbonneau.
"He wasn't giving me any space at all. But my coach told me I was bowling great and not to change anything." In fact, the eventual gold medal winner had
laid out a 292 score in game one that Christmann bettered by just seven pins. Thankfully, he had one more win in the tank.
"I fought all week for that privilege, to be able to lose one game, so why not use it," he said with a smile. Making a point of calling his mother before
conducting his post-game interview, Charbonneau acknowledged both her impact on his game, as well as the importance of his Canadian crown.
"My mom was the one who brought me bowling Saturday mornings with YBC," he said. "I have thrown balls since I was four. I know that a silver medal (in
2011) is a lot, but when you lose gold, it's very, very hard to appreciate the silver medal. That's why this gold today meant so much to me."
In team play, many of the usual suspects worked their way to the front of the pack once again. The Alberta men defended the title they captured one year
ago, taking down Alberta 7-1 (points) in the semis, and then beating Ontario twice by scores of 5-3 and 7-1 (one point is awarded for each of the five head
to head matchups, with another three points awarded to the team with the highest total pin fall).
"We got on a big roll and then we were able to keep it going," said Alberta coach Mike Lacoursiere. The challenge, he maintained, was making it
through a long and gruelling stretch of 18 games, as Ontario topped the standings after preliminaries (with 83.5 points), followed by Alberta (77) and
"We weren't really great and we weren't really bad, we were just a solid team," Lacoursiere contended. "There was still room for improvement coming into
today, and the cards fell into place and off the boys went. It was fun to watch."
"Our goal was to make step-ladder, because once you make the step-ladder, anything can happen. You've got to be in that top four, and you have to work
to get there."
Following are a few more details from the three team events:
Gold - Alberta - Adam Weber, Freddie Tofflemire, Adam Kemp, Tim Wiseman, Sean Heller, Evan Lacoursiere
Silver - Ontario - David Biscardi, Ian Gawel, Doug Brock, Jim Head, Bobby Torraville, Bob Beaucage
Bronze - Quebec - Guillaume Charbonneau, Maxime Lafreniere, Luc Duguay, Frédéric Martel, Patrick Carroll, Frédéric Martin
Gold - Northern Ontario - Katie Bonnie, Alyssa Bonnie, Sam Sitar, Devon Hook, Amanda Melanson, Ashley Bjorklund
Silver - Alberta - Michelle Hoyle, Rose Gigliuk, Michelle Heidinger, Caity Hicks, Halea DeSutter, Julie Orobko
Bronze - Quebec - Isabelle Sogne, Hélène Godmaire, Isabelle Savard, Kelyanne Beauchamp, Sabrina Jean, Natalie Trudel
Gold - Manitoba - Christy Wilson, Laura Tycoles, Cathy McPhee-Langlois, Brandon Mansell, Ken Wilson, Kevin Fisher
Silver - Alberta - Susan Anderson, Christine Pocza, Christie Wright, Harvie Pocza, Mark Polivchuk, Rick Heinrich
Bronze - Saskatchewan - Aimee Fleming, Sara Thiemann, Coral Nichols, Joel Mamchur, James Ogilvie, Mike Bursic