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Nicole Sanders sets the pace in women’s qualifying at European Champions Cup


2016ECCCajsaWegnerCajsa Wegner of Sweden averaged 228.13 for eight games to take the early lead in the women’s qualifying of the 39th European Champions Cup which got underway this morning at Bowland Bowling Center in Olomouc, Czech Republic, with the first of two eight-game blocks.

2016ECCHeidiThorstensenPictured above are the top 3 of B squad: L-R Maria Bulanova, Nicole Sanders and Solene Goron.

The younger sister (right) of newly-crowned World Cup champion Jenny Wegner, started A squad with her low game of 199 and added 245, 235, 202, 228, 215 and 222 before she closed with a huge 279 game, the highest game in the competition so far, to lead the 36-player field with 1825 total pinfall.

2016ECCDanniHopcroftHeidi Thorstensen (left) of Norway, who led the 18 bowlers of A squad heading into the last game, had to settle for second place with 1757 (219.62). Danni Hopcroft (right) of England was the only other player in the morning squad who surpassed the 1700-mark taking third place with 1709 213.62.

2016ECCNicoleSandersNicole Sanders (left) of the Netherlands and defending women’s champion Maria Bulanova battled it out for the lead in B squad. Bulanova had the better start into the event with 224, 224, 226 and 248. Sanders countered with games of 245, 246 and 268 to take a five-pin lead heading into the last game.

2016ECCMariaBulanovaNeeding a 237 final game to overtake Wegner by one pin for the overall lead, the Dutch closed with 262 to lead the women’s qualifying after 8 of 16 games with 1851 or an average of 231.37. Bulanova (right) toppled 235 to finish day one in third place with 1819 (227.37), just six pins behind second-place Wegner.

2016ECCSoleneGoronSolene Goron of France was third in B squad with 1762 (220.25), including a high game of 266 and six games between 211 and 236, to sit in fourth place overall. Thorstensen and Hopcroft slipped to fifth and sixth place, respectively.

As qualifying has reached the halfway point, Ksenia Apanyakina of Russia holds the 16th and final spot to advance to the next stage with 1547 or an average of 193.38.

The 36 women from 35 countries will return on Thursday for the second qualifying block before the cut to the top 16. A squad will take to the lanes at 1.30 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST) and B squad will conclude qualifying starting at 6 p.m.

2016ECCLogoThe 39th European Champions Cup will take place from October 24-31 at 18-lane Bowland Bowling Center in Olomouc, Czech Republic featuring the men’s and women’s national champions or point ranking leaders of the European Tenpin Bowling Federation (ETBF) member federations.

Men and women compete in separate divisions. All players, including defending ECC champions, Maria Bulanova of Russia and Joonas Jähi of Finland, will roll two eight-game blocks of qualifying Wednesday through Friday on a 42 feet lane conditioning pattern.

The top 16 men and 16 women will carry over their qualifying pins into Round 1. After another eight games the top 8 will advance to Round 2. Pinfall will continue to carry over. Those 8 will bowl four more games to cut to the top 4 who will determine the champion in best-of-three games matches. In the semi-finals, No. 1 will meet No. 4 and No. 2 will take on No. 3.

Full European Champions Cup rules can be found in the ETBF Constitution (Chapter 7; pages 47 and 48). For more details on the 39th ECC 2016 read the Bulletin.

Photos Max Bulanov.

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