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A Continental Celebration
|Ouschan won gold in 14.1 and 9-ball, giving her 29 career victories.
Mateusz Sniegocki's coming out party started last year, with his win in the all-Polish final of the World Pool Masters. And with a strong showing in the 10-ball division at the European Championships, the 28-year-old proved he's going to be a title threat for the foreseeable future.
Sniegocki was rarely challenged in his march through the single-elimination bracket of 64. He survived his quarterfinal match against countryman Karol Skowerski, whom Sniegocki defeated in the Masters final, 8-3. A strong 8-5 win over Francisco Sanchez Ruiz in the semifinal put Sniegocki in the final opposite Russia's Konstantin Stepanov.
The Pole jumped out to an early lead in the final, grabbing leads of 5-1 and 7-2. While Stepanov managed a second rack, Sniegocki clinched his first gold since 2002.
"I think I did not give many chances to my opponents today," he said. "Maybe that was the key for my success."
The success for his country wasn't limited to the men's side. Oliwia Czuprynska, an 18-year-old from Ostrowiec, Poland, was a bit of a surprise winner in the women's event. The junior gold medalist in 9-ball last year, Czuprynska survived a number of close calls in single-elimination play, including a hill-hill thriller against Belgium's Kamila Khodjaeva in the semifinal. In the final, she met Finland's Marika Poikkijoki, who pulled off an impressive 6-4 upset of Ouschan in the other semifinal.
The final, though, would be the end of Poikkijoki's good fortune. Czuprynska pulled ahead from the start and took the title, 6-2 - a win that left her a bit speechless. "I really don't know how I feel," she said. "I think I'm still nervous."
The 8-ball event went to veteran stars, with Spain's David Alcaide ousting Jim Chawki, 8-4, in the men's final. The women's event featured Poikkijoki pulling another semifinal upset win over Jasmin Ouschan, by the same 6-4 score. But, again, the Finn couldn't keep her momentum in the final. She was quickly dismantled by Norway's Line Kjorsvik, 6-1.
As the long slog of the European Championships came to a close, the Dutch seemed energized in the later event. Niels Feijen played widow-maker for a number of rising stars. After edging French vet Stephan Cohen, 9-7, in the quarterfinals, the Netherlander eliminated Albin Ouschan, 9-7; Sniegocki, 9-4; and finally Zoran Svilar, 9-6, in the final. When he buried the clinching 9 ball, Feijen immediately dedicated the win to his 2-year-old daughter, Lina.
"This is for my meisje!" he said, meisje being the Dutch word for little girl.
Jasmin Ouschan returned to her winning ways in the last of the women's events. She avenged her two previous losses to Poikkijoki in the quarterfinals, then survived a tough 7-6 challenge from Russia's Anastasia Nechaeva. She throttled Caroline Roos, 7-1, in the semifinals, and then out-lasted Kjorsvik, 7-4, in the final.
The final event, new to the European Championship this year, was a team competition. The men's competition features three-player teams playing 8-, 9- and 10-ball with the first team to two sets advancing. The Dutch trio of Nick van den Berg, Feijen and World 10-Ball Champion Huidji See recovered from a group-stage loss to England to take the title. After ousting the Brits in the semifinal, the Dutch edged the upstarts from Finland in the final, with Feijen burying the final 9 ball of the event.
On the women's side, a surprising squad from Sweden took the gold, with Caroline Roos and Louise Furberg blanking Bulgaria's duo of Kristina Zlateva and Marya Levova in the final.
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