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World Bowling Tour 2011 Grand Finals
Finn, American crowned champs

18th November, Las Vegas: Mika Koivuniemi of Finland and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, were crowned the Men's and Women's 2011 World Bowling Tour Finals champions on Thursday at the South Point Casino and Hotel.

Koivuniemi defeated Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 237-224 in the Men's championship match to claim the coveted title while Dorin-Ballard defeated Sandra Andersson of Sweden, 207-162 for the Momen's finals.

The World Bowling Tour Finals consisted of the top three men and top three women on the final point list for the 2011 WBT season. Bowlers earned points based on their performance in the season's eight tournaments, including the Brunswick Ballmaster Open, the Bayer USBC Masters, the 68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open, the Brunswick Euro Challenge, the Kuwait Open, the Korean Daejeon International Open, the Thailand Open and the AMF Australian Masters.

Mika Koivuniemi
Mika Koivuniemi winning the men's title

Koivuniemi, the reigning PBA Player of the Year, got off to a blistering start in the men's title match, throwing strikes in seven of the first eight frames. Rash left a 10 pin in a must-strike ninth frame, and his hopes of forcing Koivuniemi to mark in the 10th were dashed when he missed the spare in a losing effort.

"I think I put a little too much pressure on myself the first couple of days of the World Series of Bowling," Koivuniemi said after the win, "But after a couple of days I calmed down. I know I have been bowling good and I am still bowling good, so I just have to focus on making good shots when I need to."

Dorin-Ballard, a member of Team USA, struggled with carry throughout the women's title match, leaving several pocket 10 pins. Once again though, spare shooting was the deciding factor, as Andersson missed single-pin spares in each of her first two frames. Dorin-Ballard's all-clean game of 207 was more than enough to hold off Andersson, who finished with a 162.

Dorin-Ballard enjoyed the unique advantage of having a ball rep who also happens to be her husband, as Professional Bowlers Association and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Del Ballard currently is working as a ball rep for Storm/Roto-Grip, the bowling ball company that wife Dorin-Ballard represents.

Carolyn Dorin-Ballard
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard capturing the women's crown

"Del has sacrificed a lot for me to travel and work, and even when he was sick he still gave up his time to come to the bowling center and work with me," Dorin-Ballard said of her husband, who was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2010. "I'm a lucky person, that's all I can say."

The men's semifinal featured a much-anticipated match between noted rivals Rash and two- hander Jason Belmonte of Australia. Belmonte fell behind early as he missed a 10 pin in the third frame and opened again in the fifth when he left the 2-8-10 split.

He pulled within 10 pins later in the match with a turkey, but needing to double in the 10th for the win he left a solid 10 pin on the first ball. Rash moved on by a score of 214-204.

In the women's semifinal, Andersson took an early lead over a struggling Nina Flack of Sweden, who opened three of her first four frames. Andersson started her game with a double but opened the third frame with a 4-6-7 split and opened again in the fifth. Flack's early blunders proved too much to overcome, however, as she lost 190-160.

The World Tenpin Bowling Association, which is made up of more than 115 bowling federations, governs the sport throughout the world. For more information on WTBA and the World Bowling Tour, visit www.worldtenpinbowling.com.

Story and photos courtesy of Bowl.com.

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Men's Semi & Finals
Women's Semi & Finals
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