France, Denmark win team gold medals at 2021 IBF Masters World Championships, USA takes bronze

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Results

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -
For the first time since 2015, there are new team champions at the International Bowling Federation Masters World Championships.

France and Denmark claimed the women's and men's titles, respectively, Friday at the Dubai International Bowling Centre, each defeating Canada to earn the gold medals.

The championship matches featured a best-of-two format. All competition at the IBF Masters World Championships was broadcast live on StrikeCloud.com.

The United States entered the tournament as the three-time defending team champion in both divisions. The Senior Team USA women earned a bronze medal in the team event Friday, and the men failed to advance to the medal round.

France women's team gold at 2021 IBF Masters World ChampionshipsIn the women's final, France only struck seven times, but the strikes came at all the right times for a 2-1 (187-185, 156-179, 50-26) victory.

France didn't strike until the 10th frame of the opening game, but a double and eight pins was enough to take the early advantage in the match. Canada finished the game first, and a six-count on the fill ball allowed France to win outright.

In the second game, France's only strikes came in the seventh and eighth frames, and a 10th-frame split allowed Canada's Lisa Morabito to strike in the final frame to even the match.

The 1-1 tie meant the title would be decided by a ninth- and 10th-frame roll-off.

France delivered a spare and three strikes for the win, while Canada posted a strike and a 2-4-10 split Morabito was unable to convert.

The roster for France included Nathalie DiMartino, Pepita Jacques, Valerie Murat and Francoise Wisniewski. Canada was represented by Morabito, Lauraine Fast, Deborah Lee and Jill Friis.

The men's final also was decided by a roll-off, after Canada let the title slip away with three consecutive open frames at the close of the second game.

The Canadians handily won the opener, 244-170, and started Game 2 with strikes in five of the first six frames.

An unconverted 3-6-7-10 split in the eighth frame, a chopped 2-4-5 combination in the ninth frame and a missed 4 pin in the 10th frame, allowed Denmark anchor John Guldbaek to collect two strikes and seven pins in his final frame to steal the game, 191-186.

In the roll-off, Denmark opened with a strike, and Guldbaek left the 3-6-9-10 combination on his first attempt. He converted the spare and knocked down eight pins on the fill ball.Denmark men's team gold at 2021 IBF Masters World Championships

Canada's first two shots resulted in a 10 pin and a 4 pin. They converted both, and Joe Ciach stepped up needing a strike to win the gold medal. Nine would've forced a tie and an additional roll-off.

Ciach, who was competing in his final event for Canada after two decades with the team, left a 6-7-9-10 split to fall short.

Denmark's roster included Guldbaek, Lars Nielsen, Kenneth Ankerdal and Michael Sorensen. Canada's lineup included Ciach, Michael Snow, Doug Schatz and Conn Casey.

Denmark advanced to the final with a 212-189 win over France, and Canada earned its spot by defeating the Czech Republic, 214-206.

Each event beyond singles this week at the Masters World Championships featured a variation of the Baker format, where multiple players contribute to a single score.

In the four-player version, the leadoff bowler bowls the first, fifth, ninth and 10th frames. The other team members bowl the second and sixth, third and seventh and fourth and eighth frames, respectively.

The team competition this year included 20 men's teams and 15 women's teams.

All teams bowled 10 games of qualifying, and total pinfall determined the eight men's teams and eight women's teams that advanced to Friday's match-play round.

The advancing teams were divided into two groups, each with four teams, and they all bowled three games of round-robin match play.

Points were awarded for each win, and the top two teams in each group, based on points, advanced to the bracket-style semifinals. The semifinals featured one-game Baker matches.

The Senior Team USA women and men both won the team gold medals in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Sweden was the only other country to win the team event, sweeping the titles at the inaugural Masters World Championships in 2013.

The quest for a fourth consecutive team title for the Senior Team USA women ended at the hands of Canada in the semifinals, 206-179.

The teams exchanged fifth-frame splits, and Team USA held a seven-pin advantage halfway through the match.

Team USA anchor Tish Johnson left a 6-7 split in the ninth frame and struck to start the 10th frame, before leaving a 7 pin on her second shot. Canada's Morabito closed the game with four consecutive strikes to secure the win.

Johnson was joined in the effort by Debbie Ayers, Tracy Calfee and Sharon Powers.

"I threw a good one in the first frame, had a little trouble with my footing and just came around it on the two bad shots, instead of staying up the back of it like I did all week," said Johnson, who has bowled in all five editions of the tournament. "I feel bad for my team. The coach put me in that position to do it, and I usually do, or at least put it there. I threw two pretty good shots in the 10th. If I carry the second one, it puts a little pressure on her. I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

In the other women's semifinal, a missed 3-10 split in the final frame from Finland allowed France to double in the 10th frame on the way to a 233-224 victory.

Team USA men Day 2 team at 2021 IBF Masters World ChampionshipsThe run for the Senior Team USA men ended in match play Friday morning, as they posted a 1-2 record, despite averaging 239 in the three matches.

Chris Barnes, Parker Bohn III, Tom Hess and Bob Learn Jr. started the day with a 279-250 win over the Czech Republic but fell to Norway (244-218) and Denmark (244-220) to earn the early exit from the event.

Entering the final game, all four teams in the group were 1-1, meaning the two winners would represent the group in the semifinals.

Heading into the last two frames against Denmark, Team USA had a max score of 258, while the best Denmark could do was 246.

Hess missed the headpin in the ninth frame and left the 1-2-10 washout, which he was unable to convert. Denmark took advantage of the opportunity and struck three consecutive times for the victory.

"Right now, I'm feeling absolute heartache," said Hess, the 2021 Professional Bowlers Association 50 Tour Player and Rookie of the Year. "I don't think failure is the right word, but to not come through hurts. The team believed in me and put me in that spot for a reason. It is a team effort, but to be in that situation and not come through is so hard. If I could give up my gold medal to get four for the team, I absolutely would. The ending was so hard, but I just have to remember all the amazing things that happened this week. "

Hess picked up the lone gold medal for the United States, winning singles to start the tournament. He added a bronze medal in doubles with Barnes.

The journey to the Masters World Championships for the Senior Team USA members was one that began with resume submissions and a selection process.

Hess, Barnes, Calfee and Ayers all participated in the event for the first time, while Bohn, Learn, Johnson and Powers were part of the team's past success on the world stage.

Since being notified of his selection, Hess has talked about the opportunity being a dream come true. With the way it ended, he's even more motivated to work toward a return trip.

"It'll drive me, for sure," Hess said. "I'll work hard to get the opportunity to represent the country again. It got my heart going like no other. It meant the world to me to come bowl with this team in this venue and represent the country, and I absolutely want to be back to do it again."

Johnson also reached the medal round in singles but fell in the semifinals, claiming the first of her three bronze medals for the week. She and Powers reached the doubles semifinals.

In the new mixed team event, Bohn, Learn, Calfee and Powers were bronze medalists.

With the Senior Team USA women reaching the medal round in the team event, Ayers earned her first career medal, and all eight team members will go home with at least one.

"Senior Team USA worked hard to prepare and perform during this competition," said Stephen Padilla, USBC Director of Coaching/Team USA High Performance. "Though we did not reach all of our goals, everyone is bringing home at least one medal and priceless memories. We represented ourselves and our country proudly during this event, and we're already looking forward to the next opportunity."

Two dozen countries were represented at the Masters World Championships, and they competed across two age classifications - 50 and older and 65 and above - though Team USA only competed in the 50-and-older division.

In the 50+ categories, the United States and Finland topped the medal table with six medals apiece. They were followed by Sweden (five), Canada (two), Denmark (two), France (two), Germany (two), Czech Republic (one), Kuwait (one) and Malaysia (one).

The Masters World Championships was the last of three events being held in Dubai.

The IBF Super World Championships kicked off the stint in the United Arab Emirates and was joined by the inaugural Para Bowling World Championships.

IBF provided livestream coverage and complete results at StrikeCloud.com.

For more information about IBF, visit bowling.sport.