Australia's Belmonte vs. Finland's Palermaa prove all two-handed bowlers aren't the same


    2011-12 PBA Tour #2

    PBA's premier two-handed players have grown and prospered worlds apart, literally and figuratively

    201112PBA05JasonBelmonte.jpg201112PBA05OskuPalermaa3.jpgJason Belmonte (pictured left) and Osku Palermaa (right9 aren't the only two-handed bowlers to make waves in bowling, but the fact that they have risen to the top of the game at virtually the same age, but half a world apart, is too ironic to ignore.

    And while their stories are similar in many aspects, they remain worlds apart as competitors and bowling stylists.

    For starters, Belmonte grew up in Orange, New South Wales, Australia. Born on July 29, 1983, he's the older of the two by 112 days. "Belmo" is 5-foot-10 and weighs 185 pounds. Palermaa, who also is 28, was born on Nov. 18, 1983 and grew up in Espoo, Finland. He is 6-foot and weighs 200 pounds.

    "It's pretty weird how our stories are the same, and we're the same age," said Palermaa. "We just happened to live, one here and the other on the other side of the globe. The only difference is (Belmo's) father owned a bowling center and mine worked at one."

    Both naturally migrated to the two-handed technique as tots, far too young to be able to pick up a bowling ball and throw it with one hand. So they independently learned to roll the ball using two hands. Neither had mentors teaching them the technique because it just wasn't the way you were supposed to bowl. But for them, it worked.

    201112PBAOskuPalermaa.jpgAnd even though they both engage both hands in their delivery, they don't think they bowl the same, at all.

    "We actually throw the ball quite a bit different," Palermaa (left) said, "but there are similarities as well. I guess I'm a little more powerful. I have a little more speed and more revs. I've been working on getting the revs down and I think he has been, also. I'm also working on slowing my speed. With the bowling balls we have now, it's not an advantage to have 500, 600 revs."

    Belmonte agrees.

    "Just like one-handed bowlers, no two two-handers will throw the ball alike," he said. "It's kind of frustrating to put us all into one category, that we throw the ball the same, because we're different people, we're different bowlers.

    "Osku has his skills and I have mine. It's like saying Pete Weber and Walter Ray throw the ball the same because they throw the ball one-handed. It's a really ridiculous comment. And what about Brian Valenta (another two-handed PBA Tour player who lives in Lockport, Ill.)?

    201112PBAJasonBelmonte.jpg "I could keep going. Of every two-hander I've ever seen, no one throws the ball like me, and I don't throw it like them, and I've never seen two who are alike.

    "It's just another style," Belmonte (right) said, "and you put your own spin on it – your own touch, your own personality. Unless there are two people who are identical in every way, shape and form, then perhaps they could bowl the same. But as far as I know there are no two bowlers who are alike.

    "There are a lot of things (Osku and I) have in common. Our rev rates are high, our ball speeds are high. But Osku's tilt on the ball, his hand position, his feet are a lot different than mine. I can't quite throw it a million miles an hour like he can, but we also share a lot of traits.

    "We have really quick steps, we're both very much over the ball at the release point, our follow-throughs are very close, right in front of our faces. There are a lot of similarities, but we're a world apart, too."

    The bottom line for Belmonte is, he no longer feels like an oddity. He and Palermaa and a handful of others have provide the two-handed style is a legitimate, effective way to bowl, and it appears there are a growing number of young people who are embracing the high-revolution, pin-scattering technique as their way of playing the game.

    "Seven or eight years ago, you didn't see a single person bowling two-handed. Now you see Osku, and Brian Valenta, and Cassidy Schaub, and others. I get all kinds of e-mails from people who want to learn how to do it. It's really an inspiration."

    Belmonte and Palermaa will meet in a PBA Tour televised contest for the third time when ESPN airs the finals of the Chameleon Open Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

    In their two previous meetings, Palermaa has won both times, defeating Belmonte, 182-176, in the 2010 GEICO Shark Championship semifinal match and 10-6 in a one-ball roll-off after they tied at 203-203 in round one of the PBA World Championship elimination finals, knocking Belmonte out of title contention in that event.


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