In the world of European bowling, there are few names that resonate as strongly as Martin Larsen. With a career defined by extraordinary skills and an unyielding dedication to the sport, Larsen has become a true icon in the sport of bowling. Dealing with some problems with his body, a six-time world championship medalist had a rough PBA Tour season this year, which was the primary reason why his name was not called during the 2023 PBA League Drafts.
Despite having a lot on his plate, Larsen is brimming with excitement and contentment, as his focus is currently on organizing one of Europe's most significant bowling competitions under his name.
The Storm Lucky Larsen Masters, gathering world's finest bowling professionals at the Olympia Bowling venue in Helsingborg, Sweden, from September 1st to September 10th, will stand as the sole European bowling tournament to feature in the 2023 PBA Tour.
'BowlingLife' sat down with Martin to talk about the preparations of Strom Lucky Larsen Masters, the special collaboration with 'Storm' in creating a limited edition reactive bowling ball exclusively for the event, what big names are set to grace Sweden in September and what pick surprised him the most during the 2023 PBA League Drafts.
In terms of football, every World Cup has its match ball, which instantly becomes a technological innovation and a symbol of each event. This year, SLLM, in partnership with Storm, released a brand new limited edition reactive bowling ball. What is the story behind the creation of this bowling ball, and why is it destined for success?
To be honest, it's something we have been thinking about for a while but not really done more than the thinking. This is not something Storm does for everyone asking, but last year when Tyler Jensen and Tim Mack sat down with us to discuss what we can do to help the SLLM become the biggest event in Europe and get back on the PBA tour, the idea of making a Special Edition SLLM ball quickly became the subject of the meeting. We surely hope the bowlers are interested in this limited edition ball and that they understand it will support the event and hopefully make it grow. Then we will bowl for even more money!
The Storm Lucky Larsen Masters limited edition bowling ball will be a new special release of Storm Phaze II. What are the reasons behind choosing Storm Phaze II?
Over the years, I have been infatuated with a couple of balls more than others. I've been very loyal to the Storm Hy-Road and the Phaze II. So when we started to discuss what type of ball to create for SLLM, I was pretty straightforward that I'd like it to be a new version of the Phaze II. Since the tournament logo has Swedish blue and yellow colors, the choice of ball design wasn't too hard, and adding the blueberry fragrance and reacta gloss polish just felt like icing on the cake. It smells great, looks super sharp, and rolls super nice.
The Storm Lucky Larsen Masters is the only international bowling event included in the 2023 PBA Tour. What can bowlers from around the world expect when coming to this event?
We're working hard to create a playing environment where multiple playing styles can score, but nothing is given for free at the SLLM. The playing field is strong, and the pattern normally plays on the harder side. On top of that, we try to add an extra atmosphere around squads as well as give the players a good opportunity to enjoy a great city with several excellent restaurants and possibilities for golf or the beach.
SLLM can be a great opportunity for youth and less skilled players to compete side by side with their bowling idols. Can you share some big names coming to the SLLM?
That is sure one of the big reasons we work so hard on this event; all youth athletes need idols. That's in any sport, idols will get young up-and-coming bowlers to fight harder and boost their will of becoming great. Bowling, in my mind, hasn't been promoting the best bowlers well enough. Having a good tournament is the best way of getting the best bowlers over here. This year, SLLM will have many world-class bowlers like Kyle Troup, Anthony Simonsen, Kris Prather, Jesper Svensson, Sean Rash, Francois Lavoie, Verity Crawley, Danielle McEwan, Chris Barnes, and many more.
What other activities, besides SLLM, await the participants and spectators during their stay in Helsingborg?
On Wednesday the 6th, we will have a golf event in the morning and a special side event in the evening. Stay tuned for more info on that!
Seven European bowlers were selected during the drafts. That's one more than in the previous PBA League season. Were there any surprising picks for you?
The PBA league is a super cool event, something I've been fortunate to bowl in and even win one year. I did have a terrible year on the lanes this season, so I can't really say I was surprised not to get picked myself. The only pick that really surprised me was actually Norm's pick of one of the best all-time, Mr. Chris Barnes. Not surprised because he's still a great bowler, but Norm has some history of picking up some young and unproven bowlers before, and Barnes didn't fit in that category.