Family helps Nevada bowler celebrate 50 years at 2018 USBC Open Championships

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - For Bud Olriksen of Las Vegas, the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships has been as much about an annual vacation and quality time with his family, as it has been about competition.

His five-decade journey has taken him and his family across the United States and back again, with 47 of his 50 trips to the world's largest participatory sporting event completed by car.

Three of Olriksen's children enjoyed the trips and the sport so much that they each have logged more than a decade on the tournament lanes alongside their father.

OlriksenFamily2018OCForWeb250x140Nicole Olriksen, Ashley Olriksen and Walter Olriksen Jr. all were by his side once again Tuesday at the Oncenter Convention Center as he marched to the lanes for the 50th time, a milestone that earned him a plaque, chevron, diamond lapel pin and standing ovation from hundreds of fans, friends and fellow competitors.

It has been the presence and participation of his children motivating him to continue the journey he began at the 1965 USBC Open Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"It was the enjoyment and camaraderie I had along the way that made me want to share the experience with my kids when they were ready to come bowl," Olriksen said. "They seemed to enjoy coming along with us on the trips, and it's nice that we get to bowl together now. They keep me going, and I'm darn happy I could hit 50. The last 11 years with three of my kids on the lanes with me have been incredibly special."

Nicole was the first to compete, and she made her 13th consecutive appearance this year in Syracuse. Ashley and Walter both have been bowling in the event since 2008 and reached 11 consecutive years together this week.

The brood caught the bowling bug in 1999, shortly after the family moved from Minnesota to Las Vegas. Olriksen then had the opportunity to coach them throughout their high school bowling careers, even helping Ashley earn a state championship in 2006.

Olriksen and Ashley, who later accepted a job transfer and moved back to Minnesota, shared another special moment together Tuesday before making their way to the lanes.

The two were presented with the watches they earned with a third-place finish in Classified Doubles at the 2017 Open Championships in Las Vegas. They came within 28 pins of celebrating Olriksen's milestone as defending champions.

"Receiving those watches and the plaque and having the audience applaud like it did was amazing," said Olriksen, who still bowls league every Wednesday night with Nicole and Walter. "Of course, bowling with six other teams from Minnesota meant a lot, too. I knew a lot of the guys who were here tonight, so that was nice."

Olriksen's two teams were part of a bigger group that include six teams captained by Mike Schmid, a 57-time tournament participant from Arden Hills, Minnesota. The two have known each other since they were teenagers, and they intend to continue bowling together in the future.

With tournament No. 50 now in the books, Olriksen has his sights set on joining the event's 60-Year Club. His children are excited about the possibility of reaching 20 years soon.

"After 40 years, I figured 50 would be reachable, especially with my family bowling with me," Olriksen said. "It means a lot. It's a milestone. There's not a lot of guys who make it to 50 years. My next goal is 60. If these guys keep going with me, I'll keep bowling as long as I can lift the ball."

This year on the championship lanes, the 75-year-old rolled sets of 423 in doubles, 420 in singles and 405 in team for a 1,248 all-events total. In 50 tournaments, he has knocked down 75,420 pins for a lifetime average of 167.6.

Olriksen is one of 15 bowlers scheduled to reach 50 years of participation in 2018.

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