The World Tenpin Bowling Association’s World Bowling Tour is another premier showcase of the best bowlers in the world but it will be a U.S.-dominated finals telecast when ESPN airs the WBT Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by PBA from the South Point Hotel and Casino Sunday Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. ET.
The WBT Finals will also mark the return of the revolutionary colored lane conditioner with a vivid blue tint that gives fans a visual reference of oil patterns and how players attack the lane conditions. The finals will feature WTBA’s 38-foot Atlanta lane conditioning pattern.
In the sixth of seven telecasts from World Series of Bowling V, the women’s finalists will be a repeat of last year’s field with U.S. PBA women stars Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., and defending WBT champion Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., bowling the opening match for the right to meet No. 1 seed Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., for the title.
Parkin won last year’s title by defeating Johnson, 238-190, in the title match.
In the men’s final telecast, Finland native and 2011 WBT Men’s Finals champion Mika Koivuniemi, who now makes his home in Hartland, Mich., will try to become the first two-time WBT Finals champion as he takes on four-time PBA Tour winner and two-time WBT finalist Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, in the opening match. The winner will take on top qualifier, reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., who is also making his second WBT Finals appearance.
Koivuniemi, the only player to reach all three WBT Finals telecasts, won the 2011 title by defeating Rash, 237-224 in the title match. Koivuniemi finished second in 2012, losing to Chris Barnes in the title match, 244-228.
In the third edition of the WBT Finals, the qualifiers earned their berths based on a rolling two-year points ranking involving WTBA/PBA International Tour tournaments held in 11 different countries.
Also available this week, the sixth edition of The Bowling Center recaps the PBA World Championship won by Dom Barrett for his first major and third career title and ESPN play-by-play announcer and Xtra Frame host Mike Jakubowski talks to four-time Tour winner Ryan Shafer. Xtra Frame’s Jef Goodger and Jason Thomas continue their on-lane rivalry in The Drilling Room segment.