Palermaa goes wire to wire to win Bowling World Cup



    2006BWCChampOskuPalermaa2.jpg For the second year in a row, the winner of the men's QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup led the tournament wire to wire. Last year in Slovenia, it was Michael Schmidt of Canada.

    This year, it was the human pin-shredding machine, Osku Palermaa of Finland.

    2006BWC2ndPetterHansen.jpgTop-seeded Palermaa took the championship back to Finland after a year's absence by defeating third seed Petter Hansen (right) of Norway, 2 games to 1 (258-182, 183-216, 221-204). Ironically, it was the second time Hansen has lost the championship match to a Finn. He fell to Kai Virtanen in Singapore two years ago.

    The usually unflappable Palermaa experienced what was almost a fatal meltdown midway through the second game with Hansen. His usual modus operandi is to get up to the ball return, spin his ball in a towel a couple of times, check his sliding sole and go. Friday, though, he seemed to get a serious case of nerves.

    He flushed beet red, continually wiped sweat from his brow and arms, fiddled at his seat and up at the ball return, and took longer than usual to start his shot. It showed in his score. After opening his first game with eight in a row, Palermaa couldn't pull down more than a double in the second and missed the pocket completely three times in a row in the final five frames.

    "It was so warm in here and I was really hot," Palermaa offered. "Plus, I could feel more pressure today. The rest of the week, it was like I was on vacation, I felt so relaxed. But today, I came in as the top seed and I knew I had everything to lose."

    2006BWCTop3Men2.jpg Palermaa used his final frame in that game to move his line two arrows to the left and change balls. His coach, Sami Luoto of Team Finland, said he went back to the ball he had used all week to roll his record-setting scores.

    "The lane started to get dry in that second game," said Luoto, "and Osku made a couple of bad shots. "Once he made the ball change and moved to the left, he made excellent shots all that last game.

    "Osku then turned to me and said, "It is nice to know when you release the ball, it is going to be a strike."

    A classic understatement. Palermaa opened his last game with a turkey, posted another midway through, and finished with a 221 score—17 pins better than Hansen's best efforts.

    "I'm a little sad, of course, but Osku was the leader all the way this week," Hansen said. "When I lost in Singapore, it was because I made a bad shot. This time, I tried to hunt Osku down all during the match. I woke up this morning feeling a little ill and had some medicine before we started. I pushed as hard as I could, but it wasn't enough. I am very happy to have gotten through the first match to finish second."

    2006BWC3rdMichaelSchmidt.jpgThat first match was the semifinal with defending champion Michael Schmidt. Hansen took that one fairly easily, 2-0 (289-241, 183-179), as Schmidt couldn't find the magic at Centro Nacional de Bowling Mampote on Friday that he had found earlier in the week.

    "I was really nervous today, much more than last year," Schmidt admitted. "The idea of winning back-to-back was in my head. I wanted to do it so much, not just for the sport of bowling, but for Canada. I was loose in practice, but my nerves got to me during the match. I wish I could have given the crowd a better show today. They were great all week."

    Palermaa's two-handed delivery had made him a crowd favorite during the week. Minister for Education and Sport in Venezuela, Sr. Aristobulo Isturis, acknowledged that after the match by telling the Finn that "With your play this week, you have won the love of all Venezuela."

    That warm memory, and a World Cup, will make Osku's 23rd birthday next week one to bask in.

    Osku Palermaa (FIN) def. Petter Hansen (NOR), 2-1
    Game #1: Palermaa def. Hansen, 258-182
    Hansen (81 X 9/ X X 7/ 8(- 9/ X 8/X)
    Palermaa (9/ X X X X X X X 9/ X 8/X)
    Game #2: Hansen def. Palermaa, 216-183
    Hansen (9/ X 5(4 X X X X 9/ X 8/9)
    Palermaa (X 9/ X X 7/ X 7/ X 7/ 8(1 8(1 9/X)
    Game #3: Palermaa def. Hansen, 221-204
    Hansen (8/ 9/ X X 8(1 8/ X X 9/ X8/)
    Palermaa (X X X 9/ X X X 9/ 7/ 72)

    Semi-Final: Petter Hansen (NOR) def. Michael Schmidt (CAN), 2-0
    Game #1: Hansen def. Schmidt, 289-241
    Game #2: Hansen def. Schmidt, 183-179.

    Men's Division - Final Standings