Jasmin Ouschan and Monica Webb team up to win WPBA exhibition Biker Week Showdown

Jasmin Ouschan and Monica Webb

From the get-go, the idea seemed a little . . . difficult to comprehend? Take 16 of the WPBA’s top competitors and set them up to compete in an exhibition Scotch Doubles, 10-Ball event in the middle of the 101st Annual Motorcycle Week in the area of Laconia, NH? The city, with its 2024 population of just over 17,000, plays host every year to over 300,000 motorcycles and the people (often more than one per motorcycle) who drive them there to participate in races, shows, a motorcycle hill climb competition and peripherally-associated activities like riding mechanical bulls.

Like pool players, motorcycle enthusiasts have gone to great lengths to clean up an ‘act’ that in the early ‘60s was characterized by a less than stellar reputation. In fact, as a result of a riot that broke out between motorcycle gangs and local police in the area during the summer of ’65, city officials and local police imposed stricter law enforcement that reduced the event down to a three-day weekend and as a result, witnessed a large decline in the Week’s number of participants. It wasn’t until the ‘90s that businesses in Laconia, looking to boost tourism in the area, negotiated with the Federation of American Motorcyclists to bring the rally back to a full week. Eventually, the businesses joined in a coalition with local motorcycle groups and founded the Laconia Motorcycle Rally and Race Association, which organizes and schedules all events associated with Motorcycle Week, which only in the hearts and minds of attendees, on or off motorcycles, is referred to as Biker Week.

Into this maelstrom of motorcycle activity rode the 16 women of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association, as fearless apparently as the bikers. . uhh, motorcyclists with whom they shared geographic space for about five days. Hosted by Winni Bar & Billiards in Gilford, NH (on the outskirts of Laconia), which housed the actual $30,0000-prize-pool tournament, the nearby Margate Resort (walking distance) conducted a daily ‘meet and greet’ party, at which visitors were offered the opportunity to interact and compete against the women, who would alternate their tournament matches with time at the Resort.

“I think bikers represent that rebellious, free spirit in us,” said WPBA competitor, Monica Webb. “Pool players, same thing. We’re misfits. We understand each other.”

Webb, in partnership with Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan, came from the loss side of the exhibition tournament’s 8-team bracket to down the team of Kristina Zlateva and Bean Hung in the finals of what many of the event’s participants hope will be an annual event.

“As soon as I drew Jasmin’s name (in a random draw), I knew we were going to have a good chance,” said Webb. “We have tremendous respect for each other’s game and I knew that we were going to work very well with each other. We almost didn’t even have to speak to each other.”

The past four years have seen Webb field a cascade of health challenges, including hospitalization for complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis, just after the WPBA’s Iron City Invitational in January. She has been adjusting to permanent elbow damage, which put some of the competition’s tasks on her partner.

“I don’t ‘jump’ as well as I used to,” she said, “and Jasmin broke all of the games.”

After opening with a 6-3 victory over Caroline Pao and Briana Miller, Webb and Ouschan were defeated 6-4 in one of the winners’ side semifinals by Kristina Tkach and LoreeJon Brown, who advanced to the hot seat match. The team of Kristina Zlateva and Bean Hung opened with two 6-victories over Kelly Fisher/Emily Duddy and Savannah Easton/Jennifer Baretta in the other winners’ side semifinal. Zlateva and Hung downed Tkach and Brown 6-3 to claim the hot seat.

The exhibition event featured the current top three, ranked competitors on the WPBA. Two of them, with their partners, had lost their opening round matches. Tzu-Chien Wei (#1) and her partner, April Larson (#14) had lost to Tkach (#5) and Brown (#30) 6-1, while Kelly Fisher (#2) and her partner, Emily Duddy (#16) were defeated by Zlateva (#4) and Hung (#12) 6-2. They also lost their first, loss-side matches; Tzu-Chien and Larson falling, double hill, to Pao (#17) and Miller (#22), Fisher and Duddy losing to Brittany Bryant (#6) and Shanelle Lorraine (#48) 6-4.

Bryant and Lorraine picked up Ouschan and Webb, who defeated them 6-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Pao and Miller eliminated Savannah Easton (#10) and Jennifer Baretta 6-4 and joined them. Ouschan and Webb got by Pao and Miller 6-3 and advanced to their rematch versus Tkach and Brown in the semifinals.

In only the second, double-hill match of the event, Ouschan and Webb defeated Tkach and Brown, punching their ticket to the finals. Hopes for any kind of knock-down, drag-out, double-hill final took a bit of an early shower, when Ouschan and Webb came out gunning right from the start and ran five straight racks. Zlateva and Hung ‘dried off’ (so to speak), chalked up their first and proceeded to follow that with three more to draw within a single game at 5-4.

That was, however, all she wrote, as Ouschan and Webb closed it out with two in a row. Both were elated, but it was Webb who nearly jumped out of her shoes and initiated the four-handed, big-smile-driven ‘high fives,’ two of them.  

“After we suffered our first loss, I was in the pool room two hours before each day,” said Webb later. “Worked out some kinks, warmed up my arm in the sauna over coffee each morning, as well, so altogether I warmed up and prepared my elbow and body for four hours each day, easily.”

“We deserved the win,” she added, “were favored to do so and I am so happy that we did.”

It was, for more than just the winners, a happy experience that they hope to be repeating in the years to come. Ideas were reportedly floating around about taking some part of either the tournament or the ‘meet and greet’ portion of the events outside, onto the streets, closer to where the motorcycle crowd was conducting its own events. 

“It’s just an idea we were kicking around,” said Webb. “I think they’d go hand-in-hand.”

For Webb and a lot of the women, Scotch Doubles is not a generally familiar experience and there’s a lot of things that they learned, collectively, like absorption of the notion that as Webb put it, “you’re not just playing for you, but your partner, as well, and together, you do this sort of ‘dance,’ as you collaborate on runouts together.”

“It was a great time, a great experience,” said April Larson. “Everyone was really happy and looking forward to coming back next year. It was the first time we ever did anything like this  and there’ve been nothing but positive comments about it. And there are things we learned from and (can use to) plan for next year.”

Larson is acting on the assumption that the WPBA will return for an encore performance next year and already making plans to join them. And if everything falls into place, she wants to come back to Laconia on a motorcycle.

“Everybody thinks that my personality would fit right in,” she said. 

Her Dad is the motorcyclist in the family, who, from afar, back in Minnesota, bought a number of raffle tickets for an Indian Motorcycle that was given away on the weekend. He didn’t win it, but April’s roommate back in Texas, who also bought a number of raffle tickets from afar, won a pool table.

The women were back on the move, almost immediately, as they prepared to switch locations and settle in to their more familiar routine of individually competitive pool at the $40,000-added major event of the Soaring Eagle Masters at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, MI this weekend June 19-23. 

In addition to congratulations to all participants, tour representatives thanked event sponsors Shawn Feaster and his Winni Bar and Billiards staff, along with Ron Boucher of Tavern Magazine, Dean Roeseler, and Dr. Pool Promotions, Inc. They also extended thanks to Main Sponsors Viking Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Olhausen, Amoskaeg Brewing, Jameson and Twisted Tea.

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