2012 Women's Championships underway Aaron Smith April 14, 2012 RENO, Nev. - The 2012 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships kicked off with a bang Saturday as the first of more than 30,000 bowlers took to the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium.Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority Chairman of the Board Dwight Dortch and local and bowling-industry dignitaries helped welcome the participants and their guests back to The Biggest Little City in the World. The festivities featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the traditional Mass Ball Shot and live entertainment, which included "The Man in the Mirror," a theatrical tribute to the music of Michael Jackson. The show will be running at Eldorado Hotel Casino throughout the duration of the USBC Women's Championships. "We look forward to bowling on the opening squad every year and had a lot of fun today," said Vella Edwards from Azle, Texas, who made her third tournament appearance. "I really enjoyed the performance. It was very entertaining and memorable."The opening squad saw 74 teams make their way down Center Aisle to usher in the 2012 event, which will run for 86 consecutive days, concluding July 8. During that time, more than 6,100 five-player teams will compete in the 93rd running of the world's largest participatory sporting event for women.USBC Hall of Famer Flora Mitchell, who will be making her 50th Women's Championships appearance Sunday, rolled out the ceremonial first ball. The bowlers then participated in the Mass Ball Shot Ceremony, and 74 bowling balls simultaneously rolling toward the pins signified the official start of the tournament.The Women's Championships is making its record seventh appearance in Reno, with six of those being held at the 78-lane Stadium. "It's always a great feeling to get the event underway," Women's Championships Tournament Manager Eric Pierson said. "The ladies were energetic and ready to hit the lanes and have a good time. Our staff is excited and ready to welcome all of the bowlers back to the tournament."The Women's Championships includes three average-based divisions and a 100-percent handicap format. The divisions are: Diamond, for bowlers with averages of 180 and above (handicap is based on 220); Ruby, for averages of 150-179 (handicap based on 180) and Sapphire, for averages of 149 and below (handicap based on 150). Prizes also will be awarded for the top overall scratch scores. Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.