Several of Canada’s top tenpin bowlers gathered at Centre De Quilles 440 (440 Bowl) in Laval, Quebec for the Canadian qualifier of the QUBICA AMF Bowling World Cup on the March 21-23 weekend. Included in the talented field this year were two of Canada’s most distinguished bowlers: Caroline Lagrange of Montreal (two-time and reigning World Cup Champion) and Winnipeg’s Michael Schmidt (Canada’s first and only other two-time World Cup title holder).
Lagrange won her first World Cup Title in Malaysia in 2009, her first and only other World Cup appearance. She had to qualify as the Quebec representative last season to make it to the 2013 qualifier in Woodstock, Ont., last March. At that event, she bowled an awesome tournament, leading both the women’s and men’s fields from the gate and never looking back.
Capturing the 2013 Canadian Title qualified her to represent Canada once again at the Worlds, this time in Russia. Her success in Siberia earned her entry into the exclusive group two-time Bowling World Cup champions. She is only the fifth woman to reach this distinction in the event’s 49 year history, and the eighth person overall (three men have won two or more titles).
As the 2013 Canadian Defending Champion, Lagrange was ceded into the 2014 Canadian qualifier this past weekend. Eager for another opportunity to qualify for the worlds, still running hot off her success in Russia, and now performing before a home town crowd, she did not disappoint. After a tough 18-game qualifying round she went into the stepladder semi-final in second place, pitted against Southern Ontario’s representative Miranda Panas of St. Catharines.
Panas had a strong qualifying round, bowling a 213 average through 18 games and earning the 2014 event’s first perfect 300 game (game nine of the 18-game qualifying round). In a close semi-final, however, Lagrange ended the match with a strong finish to move on to the final with a 258 to 226 victory over Panas.
In the final, Lagrange was up against the event’s No. 1 qualifier in the preliminary round, East St. Paul, Manitoba’s Lynne Gauthier, who carried the highest average (226) through the qualifying round. With the stepladder final requiring a double knock-out to upset the number one cede, Lagrange came into the match knowing she would have to beat the scoreboard leader over the weekend and a veteran of the Canadian Finals competing in her 12th consecutive appearance, in two consecutive games.
As she often does, Lagrange found a way, with victories of 256 to 203 and 265-231. The very strong performance in the Stepladder Final brings Lagrange her third Canadian World Cup Title and her third opportunity to win at the Worlds this November (location yet to be announced).
Two-time World Champion, Schmidt captured his eighth World Cup Canadian Qualifier gold medal, and earned the opportunity to represent Canada once again on the world stage.
Lagrange and Schmidt will team with Montreal’s Tyrel Rose, Canadian World Cup Team coach, and together they will be wearing the red and white at the 50th Annual QUBICA/AMF Bowling World Cup. With some 90 countries taking part at the World Cup, the final is the world’s largest annual international sports championship in terms of number of participating nations. Canada has participated annually since 1966 and has produced 10 world champions.