It's been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Marc Skier of Pasadena began his journey to Israel with a four-step approach in a youth league in Chicago and returned from the Maccabiah Games with bronze and silver medals.
"It's the first time that the United States has been represented in the Maccabiah Games, and only the second time that the Maccabiah Games have had bowling," Mr. Skier said.
The Maccabiah Games have been held 14 times, every four years, drawing Jewish athletes from across the globe. The competition is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, and this year athletes from 40 nations competed.
Fourteen of those countries sent bowling teams for doubles, triples and team events. Mr. Skier and his teammates qualified for the Israel trip by topping the field in national Maccabiah Trials in Maple Shaded, N.J.
His teammates were: David Epstein of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Randy Gold of Columbus, Ohio; David Lacoff of Stony Brook, N.Y., Kenneth Moskowicz of Melbourne, Fla.; and Dave Hagan of Greendale, Wis.
"We were in Israel for three weeks. Competition was held two weeks and the third was for a tour of the country. And that was fantastic," Mr. Skier said.
Singles events were held in a 22-lane center in Haifa, and the doubles, triples and team events were in another 22-lane center just a little south of Tel Aviv.
Israel has only five bowling centers. The largest has 24 lanes.
"We stayed at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel the first week and that was just a half block from where Iraqi Scud missiles landed, and that gives you a sense of history," Mr. Skier said. "At the opening ceremony at Tel Aviv and the closing ceremony at Jerusalem ,the emotions were unbelievable, the friendships that were forged will last a lifetime.
"It's the first time that I've ever bowled in singles competition and had the bowlers I competed against give me high fives! Everyone was saying the same thing: 'My home is your home any time you're in my country'; 'We'll see you again in four years.' . . . There wasn't a dry eye in the whole bunch."
It was no fluke that placed Marc Skier on the first United States team to compete in the Maccabiah Games. He was a member of the 1990 Team USA, a team for which 27,000 bowlers tried out. Twice he has scored 800 in a three-game series, and two of his 12 perfect games were bowled back-to-back. In 1990, he carried a 223 average; today, in two leagues -- Thursday Late Niters at Southdale and Tuesday Eastern Liquors Scratch at Brunswick Crown -- his average remains well over 200.
Until last year, Skier was employed by Fair Lanes as a bowling center manager.
"It just wasn't any fun any more," Mr. Skier said. "Now I'm managing a Blockbuster video store in Annapolis and trying to keep my game sharp."
His game was pretty sharp in Israel. He picked up a bronze medal in the triples, bowling with Randy Gold and Dave Lacoff. He won his silver medal in the prestigious All Event category.
"I thought I had the gold," Mr. Skier said. "In the last [team] event I knew I was in good shape, I thought I had it wrapped up after I strung strikes from the eighth frame on for a 234 game, but the guy in front of me and the guy in back of me did the same thing, struck from the 8th frame right off the sheet.
"I missed the gold medal by 16 pins and took the silver by just five pins."
The 10-pinner from Anne Arundel County returned with two medals, holding his own with some of the finest amateur bowlers in the world.
It's little wonder that Mr. Skier summed up the experience with two words: "Absolutely awesome."