New era underway at USBC Women's Championships April 11, 2014 RENO, Nev. - A new era in United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships history was ushered in Friday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center as the 2014 event got underway.The 95th running of the world's largest participatory sporting event for women welcomed four-player teams for the first time and saw the introduction of new average-based divisions, while the tournament made its return to an all-scratch format. The 2014 event also marks the first time the USBC Women's Championships is being held at the same venue in consecutive years.The 81-day event is making its record ninth trip to The Biggest Little City in the World and will run until the final ball is thrown June 30. A total of 39 teams competed on the opening squad, and the 44-lane venue was filled with friends, family members and bowling fans.Hundreds were in attendance to participate in the Opening-Day festivities, which included a ribbon cutting, traditional Mass Ball Shot Ceremony and live entertainment from the Eldorado's "Ring of Fire," a musical based on the career of American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash.Two of the members of the Fabulous Four, Shannon Thompson of Spring Creek, Nev., and 1999 Classic Team titlist Barb Demorest of Bellingham, Wash., threw out the ceremonial first balls, and both managed to strike to help signify the official beginning of the 2014 event.The Fabulous Four experience gave four breast cancer survivors the chance to tour the headquarters of Susan G. Komen(r) and the International Bowling Campus and finish the experience by competing in Reno at the Women's Championships. The four were selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants, who submitted essays for the contest."I've bowled off and on, so I kind of knew what to expect, but I never bowled in a venue that had been built specifically for it," said Demorest, who made her eighth Women's Championships appearance. "I was thrilled to see the venue, but to be part of the opening ceremonies was the best. To be able to throw out one of the first balls was an honor and privilege I never expected, and I will treasure it forever."Competition at the Women's Championships will continue with doubles and singles Saturday morning but take a break for a few days between April 14-18 to welcome the XBowling Intercollegiate Team and Singles Championships to the RSCC. The top men's and women's collegiate programs and individuals will vie for national titles, and all qualifying action will be shown live on BowlTV. The finals will be nationally-televised, airing on Tuesday nights in May at 8 p.m. EDT on the CBS Sports Network.Reno also is home to the 2014 USBC Open Championships, which kicked off at the National Bowling Stadium on Feb. 28 and will conclude July 13. The USBC Queens, Senior Queens and Senior Championships also will take place at the 78-lane NBS in late June and early July.Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open/Women's Championships page.Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.