Results & Draws
Ladies Barrel Racing Performance 1 ResultsFriday, 5 July 2013 1:30 PM
|Ladies Barrel Racing|
|619||Walker, Mary||Ennis TX||17.78|
|609||Pierce, Carlee||Stephenville TX||17.83|
|613||Schulze, Kim||Larkspur CO||17.89|
|608||Melby, Jane||Burneyville OK||17.93|
|604||Churchill, Trula||Valentine NE||18.03|
|605||Csabay, Nancy||Taber AB||18.04|
|620||Winters, Jean||Texline TX||18.12|
|615||Smith, Cindy||Hobbs NM||18.20|
|602||Brazile, Shada||Decatur TX||18.44|
|601||Bass, Kaley||Kissimmee FL||23.37|
Pool A Standings
|Competitor||Perf 1||Perf 2||Perf 3||Perf 4||Aggregate||On||Place|
|619||Walker, Mary||Ennis TX||17.78||0.00||0.00||0.00||$5,500.00||1||1|
|609||Pierce, Carlee||Stephenville TX||17.83||0.00||0.00||0.00||$4,500.00||1||2|
|613||Schulze, Kim||Larkspur CO||17.89||0.00||0.00||0.00||$3,500.00||1||3|
|608||Melby, Jane||Burneyville OK||17.93||0.00||0.00||0.00||$2,500.00||1||4|
|604||Churchill, Trula||Valentine NE||18.03||0.00||0.00||0.00||$1,500.00||1|
|620||Winters, Jean||Texline TX||18.12||0.00||0.00||0.00||$0.00||1|
|602||Brazile, Shada||Decatur TX||18.44||0.00||0.00||0.00||$0.00||1|
|605||Csabay, Nancy||Taber AB||18.04||0.00||0.00||0.00||$0.00||1|
|601||Bass, Kaley||Kissimmee FL||23.37||0.00||0.00||0.00||$0.00||1|
|615||Smith, Cindy||Hobbs NM||18.20||0.00||0.00||0.00||$0.00||1|
Stampede Daily Wrap-Up
July 12, 2105 Day 10
A crop of young cowboys harvested a big bounty during the stellar Showdown Round which capped off the 2015 Calgary Stampede, in a day that started with thunder and lightning and ended in sunny splendor.
The most amazing drama came in the saddle bronc riding Showdown. 2013 Champion Cort Scheer was first man to ride and made 90 points on Lunatic Party. But Cody DeMoss came out and was a half point more on Lynx Mountain. Then Wade Sundell was 90.5 on Stampede Warrior. And Zeke Thurston rode Spring Planting… to 90.5! With a three way tie for first, Stampede officials loaded the chutes again with three more horses. Sundell made an 82 point ride, DeMoss was 85 and then young Thurston made the most of the Vold horse Easy to Love, and a roaring, packed Stampede grandstand. He spurred to an 88.5 and the Calgary Stampede saddle bronc championship, in his first year in the open bronc riding competition.
“That was exciting. It was pretty nerve wracking getting on the calibre of horses like that, and three of them in one day!” admitted the ranch kid from Big Valley, who was 88.5 points on Rubels earlier in the day to qualify for the Showdown. “You’re pretty blessed to get one of those horses a few times a year, but having three of them like that, it’s crazy. It gets your blood running for sure.”
It’s already been an unbelievable year for the 20-year-old rookie, who rode his way to $50,000 at RodeoHouston in March. To double that in front of his home province fans and family was something special.
“Houston was pretty exciting, but it’s so far from home. To win Calgary, it’s like in my backyard, it’s unreal, it’s awesome. I was the only Canadian in the bronc riding today, and then I was only guy in there that’s never been to the NFR, so those guys have been there and done that, and they can really ride. So you’ve just got to give ‘er all you’ve got and just go for it.”
It was sweet revenge, with big cash to boot, for rookie bullriding sensation Sage Kimzey in the Showdown. Just Kimzey, JB Mauney and Saskatchewan’s Aaron Roy had qualified bull rides in the afternoon ten-man Finals to advance to the Showdown round. Kimzey was the only one of the trio to make the whistle there, and he made it a good one, with a 92.5 to give him a $100,000 championship in his first appearance at the Calgary Stampede.
The bull under Kimzey’s rope? Bottle Rocket.
“He was my tenth round bull at the NFR last year, and he’s the one that cost me riding nine for ten bulls,” explained Kimzey, who made history by being one of only two bull riders to win a world title in his rookie year. “I had a little bad blood with him. I’ve been waiting, counting down the days to get on him again, ever since that day at the NFR. He’s one of the great ones that we see all year long, and I couldn’t be more happier with my draw and how things turned out.”
“To do it in front of a maxed out crowd here at the Stampede, it doesn’t get any better than that,” grinned the 20-year-old. “It was a storybook ending, and it’s awesome.”
The field of horses and cowboys in the bareback riding Showdown was star studded, but Cadogan’s Clint Laye set the bar high when he spurred to an awesome 88 on the big grey called Virgil, owned by Bar C5. That was better than the 87 from Kaycee Feild, the 84 from Luke Creasy and the 81 from Caleb Bennett.
Moments later Laye was up on stage in front of a cheering crowd, accepting a cheque for $100,000, as the Stampede Bareback Champion.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but this is the hugest win I’ve ever had,” offered the 21-year-old. “My motor’s just rolling right now. It’s the biggest rodeo in the world, and for it to be in my own country, it made me want to win it even more.”
“I was in a four-man (final) this winter in Houston for $50,000, and I’m really glad now that I was in that now. Down there, I kind of got a little nervous and a little too psyched up. Today, I stayed a little bit more relaxed and was talking and laughing with my buddies behind the chutes.”
Laye was grateful to have his family there watching, as he became the third Laye to win a Calgary title. Cousins Billy won the bareback riding in 1991, while another cousin, Mark, took the steer wrestling in 1985, both long before the win paid $100,000.
“All my hard work this year has really paid off, and it’s making me even want to work harder. Comparing myself to my first Calgary Stampede a couple years ago, I’m definitely a lot stronger, a lot faster, way more confident in my riding, and I’m just hungrier. I want to win more.”
When it comes to steer wrestling in Calgary, nobody does it better than Trevor Knowles. The lanky, Oregon cowboy made it back to back victories at the Stampede, collecting his fourth bronze and oversized cheque for $100,000. He had to beat a tough field, but when Tanner Milan didn’t get a qualified head catch on his steer, Clayton Hass broke a barrier, and Kyle Irwin was 4.3 seconds, the smooth 3.9 second run Knowles made in the mud brought him the gold once again.
“Being on that stage never gets old, that's for sure,” insisted Knowles, cheque in hand.
So what’s the secret to his repeated Calgary success?
“I don't know,” he admitted. “A lot of things have to go right at this rodeo. It's hard to get out of your pool and into Sunday. I'd say the pressure side of it is probably what hurts people the most. There's a lot of pressure for $100,000 and, I don't know, it just seems like I can take it. You just go make a run. Kyle made a good run today, and I just had to go make my run, and if it beat him, great, and if it didn't, good for whoever. That's all you can do.”
Along with his laid-back approach, Knowles also credits having former Stampede winner and two-time World Champion Lee Graves in the box as his hazer.
While Knowles likes to hang on to his cash and use it wisely, he might have to crack open his wallet for a new white shirt, since Sunday’s came up full of mud once again.
“This is a dry day compared to 2012. It was water that year. So once in the dirt, once in the mud, whatever you gotta do, I guess,” he grinned.
The tie-down roping title went to Texas, as Timber Moore wrapped up his Showdown calf in 8.1 seconds, just a tenth faster than Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy. A slight bobble cost Clint Robinson some time, and he was 10.4 seconds, while Ryan Jarrett’s loop didn’t catch his calf.
“I was wanting to be a little faster,” acknowledged Moore, who was at his second Stampede, but his first time being part of Sunday’s action. “But everything played out just the way I wanted it to in the end. My nerves weren’t too bad. I was just more excited than anything, just to have a chance to rope for $100,000. It was just great.”
When the field was slick and muddy from the early afternoon rain, Stampede officials made some schedule adjustments and did some extra grooming on the ground for safety in the barrel racing. In the Showdown, Alberta’s Tara Muldoon knocked a barrel, adding a five second penalty to her 18.402 second time. Fallon Taylor came around the pattern in 18.293, with fellow Texan Callie duPerier clocking at 18.194 seconds. But Louie and Lisa Lockhart of South Dakota had been tough to beat all week, and they finished off with a smooth 17.907 second run. Unlike some of the other champions, Lockhart isn’t twenty-something, and while she’d been close before, this was her first Stampede win, in her third trip to the Final Four.
“Before we went, I was so nervous, but at the same token, I told myself, 'All to gain. Nothing to lose.' We all get paid just to be in the final four, and to get paid in this atmosphere and have gotten this far is just amazing, so I just tried to take a deep breath and roll with it,” she smiled.
“It feels good. I didn't even hear all the times so I wasn't even sure until my friend Corinna, who was helping me with my horse, knocked my hat off and gave me a hug and was squealing with delight.”
“Your mind's going 100 miles an hour, and when I walked up to the stage, it really hit me. It’s amazing.”
The Calgary Stampede presented the prestigious Guy Weadick award for 2015 to saddle bronc rider ‘Smilin’ Chet Johnson. The top bareback horse of the CFR was Call Me Kendra from Big Stone Rodeo. The Calgary Stampede’s Tiger Warrior was named best saddle bronc, and the Mike Corey bull Bottle Rocket claimed best bull honors.
Story by Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 11, Day 9
Officially, it’s Wild Card Saturday at the Calgary Stampede. In cowboy who haven’t earned their way to Showdown Sunday have one last chance to make it to Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon. Well, actually two chances, because the top two times and rides get the bye.
Curtis Cassidy played it cool. The Donalda cowboy is no stranger to being part of the second Sunday at the Stampede, and he had another chance in both steer wrestling and tie-down roping. This time, it was the rope that brought him back, as he snagged and tied in 7.7 seconds, second fastest behind the 7.1 from Utah’s Clint Robinson.
“I hate coming to try and make it to Sunday on Saturday, but it’s great that Calgary gives us another chance in the Wild Card to make it,” noted Cassidy. “To come out on top and make it is awesome too.”
“This is the third time now I’ve made it in the calf roping on (Wild Card) Saturday.”
Robinson was equally pleased to advance to Sunday, where he’d really like to go one more step.
“I’ve won fifth about four times up here,” he stated. “The crying hole.”
Things couldn’t have been much worse for Robinson Friday, so he was relieved to have a turnaround.
“I got my feet hung in the stirrup and slammed down like I was bull riding. You’ve just got to know it’s going to be your day the next day, and be prepared.”
There was plenty of drama in the bareback riding, where both Dusty LaValley and Will Lowe wound up with outstanding marks of 88.5 points. But then Ryan Gray was awarded a re-ride, and he came out and marked, you guessed it, another 88.5. They all earned $5000, but only two could get a spot. The tie-breaker was the most money won in a round, and that meant the Alberta cowboy, LaValley ($4250), and Gray ($6000) earned their way through to Sunday, leaving Lowe ($1500) to head home.
In a day of steer wrestling that just kept getting faster, when the dust settled, it was Saskatchewan’s Dustin Walker and Montana’s Ty Erickson who edged their way through to another day of Calgary competition. As the third last in the round, Erickson speeded things up with a 3.5 second run.
“That was really fun,” grinned Erickson, competing at his very first Stampede. “I knew I had a pretty steer today. I knew what I had to beat today, so I kind of had to lay it all out on the line, and it worked out good. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Walker was the very next bulldogger to go, and he shaved another tenth off, making a 3.4 second run, to get an extra $6000 cheque.
“It was a good section of bulldogging and it makes you feed off it a little bit,” acknowledged Walker, who’s also a Stampede rookie. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to get to come here. Hopefully I can make it back more years to come.”
It took a full eight seconds and some big scores to make it back in the bull riding Wild Card. Leading the way was Texan Chandler Bownds, who racked up 90 points on a bull called Chuckey. Not far behind him was Brazilian Joao Ricardo Vieira, with 87.5 on Wonder Boy. They became the two to move on to Sunday.
“To be 90 here at the Calgary Stampede means a lot,” confirmed Bownds, who is making his first trip to the event. “Just to get a chance to ride for $100,000 tomorrow will be great.”
The saddle bronc riders rode tough, but they needed to because they were shooting for the moon. At the top of the heap was Jacobs Crawley, who tapped out a pretty 88.5 on the horse called Blue Feather, while Wade Sundell was 88 on his old friend Shoshone Mountain.
“I think that’s fourth time I’ve been on him,” noted Sundell. “We’ve always had pretty good luck. The horse is pretty droppy, and really wants to try and get you pulled down. It’s a dogfight the whole time, but we match up good. I’m glad the whistle came, because he was going to eject me out of there.”
“I didn’t have a day off, so now we’ve got everything rocking and rolling coming into tomorrow, so it will be good.”
“The overall goal was to get to Sunday, and luckily today, that’s what we got done,” added Crawley. “I’m glad to be able to compete for this kind of money, on this stage, and have a shot at tomorrow.”
“I got on one more horse than the (rest of the qualifiers) did, so I had an extra practice day. I’m warmer than they are,” he laughed.
It was the ‘youngsters’ prevailing in the barrel racing. Last year’s WPRA Rookie of the Year, Sarah Rose McDonald from Brunswick, GA rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 17.98 seconds. And much to the delight of her large, rodeo family, 19-year-old Sydney Daines took her horse Flame to Sunday in 17.90 seconds.
“He did good, he tries his heart out evert time,” described Daines of her trusty steed. Daines’ father, Duane, is a past Stampede bronc riding winner, and her mother Cheryl is a barrel racer, so they were just as excited as their daughter.
“I think my Dad is even happier than me, and my Mom too. She got the fist pump out. They were really nervous for me,” she chuckled. “That was our goal, just to get into Sunday, and I think tomorrow is just going to be whose horse comes to run with the most heart. They’re all great horses.”
Hometown favorite Connor Hamilton rode his way to the novice bareback riding bronze at the Stampede, after making an 80 point ride Saturday, to go along with the 75.5 from earlier in the Stampede. The former Junior A hockey player only took up rodeo recently, so it was quite an accomplishment to take the title at his first Stampede. Lane Cust of Ardmore claimed the novice saddle bronc honors in his third Stampede appearance, after making a stellar 82 point on his first horse, and then adding in a 77.5 in the Finals.
Story by Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 10, 2015 Day 8
The bulk of the field is now set for Showdown Sunday, as Pool B contestants secured their berths Friday afternoon. When it came to go-round winners, there were a lot of familiar faces.
But the one newcomer to the awards stage was bull rider Sage Kimzey. The 20-year-old made history last year in Las Vegas as only the second cowboy ever to claim a world championship in his rookie year. He’d been steadily making money at his first Calgary Stampede, and then finished Pool B with a flourish. He was 89.5 on a bull known as Minion Stewart, for $5500, and the go-round bronze award.
“There’s very few events we get to go to that have the prestige and the history of the Calgary Stampede,” commented the Oklahoma cowboy. “Just getting to come to be a part of it is awesome, much less have some success. Me staying on my first four bulls, it can’t be any better. The people up here are incredibly nice. It’s just a fun place to come compete at.”
“It lives up to every expectation.”
The bonus for Kimzey is collecting $16,500 for riding all four of his bulls, and getting a day off before Sunday’s Showdown round. Joining him there from Pool B is JB Mauney ($11,500); Stetson Lawrence ($11,000); and Wesley Silcox ($7500).
Barrel racer Lisa Lockhart collected her third bronze of the week, as she and Louie again bested the field in the barrel racing, this time with a 17.48 second run. That pushed the South Dakota cowgirl’s Stampede earnings to $16,500 as well. Also advancing from Pool B barrel racers are Tara Muldoon ($16,000); Callie duPerier ($16,000); and Sherry Cervi ($10,500).
It was two in a row for steer wrestler Cody Cassidy, who turned his week around in a big way. This time, he was last man out in the round, and accomplished what he needed to do for the round win, and to be top four in the pool, with a 3.8 second run.
“I knew I had to come with guns-a-blazin’ today, because I didn’t want to go tomorrow, because I’ve never had luck on Saturday here. I needed to stick with Sunday,” he confessed.
Trevor Knowles still topped the Pool B steer wrestlers with his $13,000 tally, followed by Luke Branquinho ($12,500); Cassidy ($11,000) and Clayton Hass ($9000).
In the bareback riding, Orin Larsen was able to capture his second bronze of the week, after he made a stellar 88 point ride on Vold’s Dancing Queen. It’s still hard for him to fathom how his world has changed with the phone less than a week ago, inviting him to ride at Calgary.
“It quite hasn’t hit me yet,” admitted the Manitoba man. “It’s pretty surreal. I’m just really fortunate to be a part of it. It’s beyond words I can describe.”
“Everyone down in the dressing room said this was the horse to have, and I’m glad I got her. It was a really nice horse, and I’d get on her again anywhere.”
Larsen was the high man among Pool B bareback qualifiers, with his $14,500; but the others to make it straight through to Sunday are Tim O’Connell ($13,000); Kaycee Feild ($11,500) and Caleb Bennett ($11,000).
And yes, Cort Scheer also added to his Calgary bronze collection by making it two firsts in a row. This time he was putting his saddle on The Ritz, and they had an eight second 88.5 point dance.
“That was just a young horse, with a pile of heart. He ain’t very big, but he bucks like he weighs four thousand pounds. He’s a nice horse,” credited Scheer. “You’re throwing a young colt up against NFR bucking horses, which is like throwing him to the wolves, but he came out on top, which was pretty cool.”
Scheer’s double duty shot him to the head of the class of Pool B bronc riders, with $13,500; followed by Jake Wright ($13,333); Taos Muncy ($9500) and then Zeke Thurston ($8000). Chad Ferley had the same money, but Thurston advances by winning the most money in a round.
There was a tie in the tie-down roping, when a pair of Texans, Timber Moore and Fred Whitfield, made matching 6.8 second runs, for $5000 apiece.
It was Moore’s first bronze, but the second this year for Whitfield.
“I sure enough knew I needed to win money today to be able to qualify to move straight to Sunday, so there was a little bit of pressure,” stated Moore. “I knew I had a calf good enough, and just as long as I did my deal, everything was going to work out for me.”
Meanwhile, Whitfield’s confidence continues to grow, as he sets his sight on one job. Making his triumphant victory lap, he pounded his chest and pointed to the stage.
“I was jacking with those announcers, because every day they’re talking about my age. Age has nothing to do with it. This is the heart of champion. There’s guys in there half my age, and they’ve been getting it stuck on them, and handily this week. I mean no disrespect to them but I mean, I’m a winner. I love to win and I love to compete. Period.”
“I’m here for that hundred thousand, I’m not gonna lie to you,” affirmed the eight time World Champion. “I’ve let it get away a couple times. And it won’t happen this year.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Whitfield was number one in Pool B with $15,500, followed by Timber Moore ($12,500); Cade Swor ($10,250); and Matt Shiozawa ($10,000).
Also on Friday, bullriders gathered to thank bullfighter Scott Byrne for his years of great service in cowboy protection. Byrne has decided to spend more time at home in Manitoba, and has said this will be his last Stampede.
Grady Smeltzer left no doubt about his desire to be the 2015 Calgary Stampede steer riding champion. While a 71 point ride got him to Friday’s Finals in that event, only he and Owen Berreth made the whistle on their second steer. Smeltzer, from Claresholm, made an exceptional 86.5 point ride on his, to claim first overall.
Story by Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 9, 2015 Day 7
Cody Cassidy didn’t like the blank beside his name on the rodeo program. It meant he hadn’t won a dime yet at the Calgary Stampede, and he was halfway through his Pool B opportunity.
So the Donalda cowboy changed that on Thursday. He was first man out in the steer wrestling, and made the field chase his time of 4.0 seconds. No one caught him, so he dashed away with the $5500 for first, and was mighty glad to do so.
“I’m not used to coming to Calgary and not winning money,” confessed Cassidy. “It’s nice to pay bills at the end of the end of ten days, and hopefully have a chance to win a hundred thousand.”
“At least I have a chance.”
Cassidy admitted after the frustrating 15.5 second marathon he’d had on Wednesday’s run, he headed straight to the gym.
“It was just to level out your head and remind yourself you can only do so much. We’re dealing with farm animals and they don’t always do what you want them to do.”
Cassidy was matched up with a steer in Thursday’s round that had a more favorable track record.
“I just had to do my job and let the chips fall where they may, and they fell in my favor. A couple of guys maybe stubbed their toe just a bit on some better steers, but I’ll take it,” he grinned.
Calgary Stampede has meant summer fun for him and his family for decades, and he can remember coming here as a child when his father, Greg, competed in the timed events.
But he can also remember, still with a tinge of regret, the 2004 Showdown, where he merely had to get a steer caught to claim the top prize in a tiebreaker.
“I missed my steer. I’ve missed steers for $500, and for $50,000,” he laughed remorsefully. “That was the first year that it paid $25,000 for second, and as a 23-year-old kid, the $25,000 I won that year made a big difference for me for a couple of years. So I was grateful I won second. But it’s still a little bit resentful that I knew I could’ve had it so easy. That’s rodeo for you. Anybody can win this.”
“There’s surprises at the Calgary Stampede every year. That’s what’s so neat about it and the format. Anybody has a chance, and that last day is really exciting.”
Cassidy has one more shot to win enough for a Sunday bye, but Trevor Knowles placed again, so he’s in front for Pool B with $11,500.
Revy pulled into an even faster gear when she and Tara Muldoon entered the arena on the seventh day of the Stampede.
“She worked great, and she’s been working great all week,” bubbled the Hinton cowgirl, about her speedy mare. “She tends to get faster and faster when I’m in the same arena.”
As the lone Canadian in Pool B, Muldoon is a fan favorite and the crowd held its breath when a barrel wobbled. When it stayed upright, there was a cheer, followed by an even bigger roar as they made their way down the home stretch.
“I was sure glad the crowd let me know that first barrel stayed up. I looked back and saw how far I tipped it, and I could hear the crowd cheering that it stayed up, and that was awesome because then I just kept going,” Muldoon smiled. “I looked back and saw that it was teetering, and I thought it was going to go over, so I think when the crowd cheered, it willed it back up or something!”
Muldoon hasn’t been at the Stampede since 2006, and this was her first go-round win, worth $5500. But because of Revy’s steady performance, they’re now at the top of the Pool B list, with $13,500 in earnings.
“I figured she’d like this arena. I really wanted to get here. You’ve got to be top four in Canada to get here, and I thought if I could just get here, she’ll love this arena, and I was right, thank goodness!”
Stetson Lawrence of North Dakota made it two days in a row for a trip to the awards stage. The 26-year-old tamed a B2B Bull known as Big Red for another high mark – 89 points. He’s got $11,000 gathered up, but so has Sage Kimzey from Oklahoma from his steady riding, so they share the Pool B lead.
Four-time world champion bareback rider Kaycee Feild has been a Calgary Stampede champ twice. But he doesn’t get tired of the winner’s circle, especially in a year like this. Feild was 89.5 points on Calgary’s Turkish Whiskey, to take over top spot in the Pool with $10,000 overall. It’s impressive because Feild didn’t return to his rigging until June 26th, after being out for hip surgery at the end of March.
“You have no idea how good it feels,” grinned the Utah cowboy. “I was a little irritable during that six weeks I had to stay at home, getting restless. But being here in Calgary, getting on good horses, a lot of money on the line, a great atmosphere, I couldn’t be any happier.”
“I’ve seen that horse a lot, but have never been matched up with him. When I saw the draw, I hardly slept!”
In a stellar pen of saddle bronc horses, Cort Scheer drew the one he didn’t know, but Franklin’s Just My Luck proved to be just the ticket. The two teamed up for an 87 and $5500, to push his total to $8000. But he’s still chasing the leader Jake Wright, who has $12,000 already.
Matt Shiozawa is another cowboy who knows how to win in Calgary, and got his black calf snagged and wrapped up in just 7.1 seconds Thursday, to push his Stampede earnings to $10,000, just $500 behind leader Fred Whitfield.
“This is a constant process of trying to improve and get faster and faster,” commented the cowboy who calls Chubbuck, ID home. “I feel like the way I scored and got it on one today is on the right path I need to be at, to be able to excel on Sunday.”
“I haven’t tied one in six yet. We’ve only seen one six in our set. I think a guy needs to be able to be right on that mark to expect to try and win on Sunday.”
The novice bareback leader is now Montana’s Cole Snider with a 77; it’s still Lane Cust of Ardmore first in novice saddle bronc with his 82; and Weston Davidson of Saskatchewan leads steer riding with his 78.
Story by Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 8, 2015 Day 6
Wednesday was another day in the spotlight for newcomers to the Calgary Stampede. In fact, Orin Larsen only got the call Saturday to bring his bareback rigging to Stampede Park. He was a last minute replacement when Steven Peebles was badly injured at a Montana rodeo.
“It was bittersweet to get the call,” acknowledged Larsen. “My thoughts and prayers go out to Steven for a speedy recovery. He’s one of the best bareback riders in the world.”
“But I did my little happy dance in the van when I got the call,” he admitted sheepishly. “I was pretty excited.”
Larsen heard from Stampede officials when he was nearly at Greeley, CO to compete in the Finals of a rodeo there. He turned that excitement into adrenaline, winning $7300. There was one more rodeo in Prescott, before he hopped a plane to come to Calgary, while his parents also hustled to get there to watch him. He placed third in his opening round in Calgary.
On Wednesday the two-time national college champion was matched up with Kesler’s Mile Away for eight seconds of spurring flash and shine.
“It was pretty surreal. I heard a lot about that horse and was pretty happy to have him here. I just thought I’d stick to the basics, and nod for 90 or go down swinging!”
He didn’t quite get 90, but he did get 88 points, which was enough for first place, $5500 and a bronze award moment on stage. He’s now leading Pool B with $9000.
Larsen, who grew up on a ranch in Inglis, MB, has done most of his pro career south of the line, after attending college in Idaho and Oklahoma. Both his brothers ride as well; Tyrel in saddle bronc and Cain in bull riding.
“When I was really, really little, I remember watching the Calgary Stampede with my younger brother, and I told him ‘you know one day I want to do that’. It’s definitely a dream come true, and I’m really, really fortunate with the way things have gone.”
Zeke Thurston got the invitation to the Calgary Stampede shortly after his big saddle bronc riding win in Houston this winter. Although it’s his first time in the open bronc riding, the 20-year-old is no stranger to the arena. He’d competed in steer riding, novice bronc riding, and had even performed in Calgary in front of Prince William and Kate, doing his trick roping.
So the young talent from Big Valley wasn’t too nervous when he drew the decorated paint from the Vold string known was Awesome.
“Man, he bucked today, ol’ Awesome, and he felt good,” grinned Thurston, after he rode out the storm, and gained the judge’s admiration to the tune of 89 points, collecting $5500 for the win.
“A couple jumps into it, he was kind of wanting to raise me up (out of the saddle), hitting me in the back when he was kicking, and I was ‘oh man, just keep your chin down and keep lifting, and going at ‘em’. Luckily it worked out.”
Growing up in a rodeo family, Thurston’s dad Skeeter helped him Tuesday, but he had to head off with his scoreboard to another rodeo.
“My younger brother Sam helped me get on today. He’s pretty in awe hanging around all these guys he looks up to. He’s just starting out riding broncs and was in the novice Monday. He’s having a heyday back there.”
Zeke, himself, has graduated from being in awe, to believing he can ride right with the game’s top guns.
“It’s still pretty cool to be around those guys. But now they’re your competition, and you like to see yourself more as a peer to them and as a good friend.”
Jake Wright is the overall Pool B saddle bronc leader with $8000.
Another cowboy making his debut at the Calgary Stampede is Stetson Lawrence, but the North Dakota bull rider looked right at home when he tapped out an 89.5 on Seven Dust, to win the round and $5500. Wesley Silcox of Utah is the Pool B leader with his $7500.
The tie-down roping was speedy again in Round 6, but just like the previous day, the first man out was the fastest. Only this time, that honor went to Cory Solomon, and the time was even faster – just 6.8 seconds, for the Texan’s first $5500 payday of the Stampede.
“I was first out at San Antonio’s short go, and that was the biggest win of my winter. Seemed like every time I’ve been first this year, I’ve won first, so maybe being first might be my deal,” grinned the 2012 Stampede champion.
But it’s his neighbor and mentor Fred Whitfield who leads Pool B standings, with $9000.
World Champion Luke Branquinho showed no signs of rust as he wrapped around a steer in 4.3 seconds to win the second round of Pool B and bump his earnings to $8000. The California steer wrestler dislocated his shoulder in April and had to take five weeks off to rehab it.
Trevor Knowles is still on top overall, now with $9000.
Make it two in a row for Lisa Lockhart. She and her buckskin horse Louie blazed around the barrels, smooth and clean and within two ticks of their fast time the day before, stopping the clock at 17.32 seconds.
“It’s one day at a time for me. I’m thrilled with the win, definitely, because you know there could be not another one here after. You take what you can get and hope for the best. I don’t really get too far ahead of myself,” said the South Dakota cowgirl and mother. She’s pulled out in front of the barrel racing pack, with $11,000 in her account.
Lane Cust is the novice saddle bronc leader with an outstanding 82 point ride; Connor Hamilton is on top in novice bareback with a 75.5; and Weston Davidson is the frontrunner in steer riding with a 78.
July 7, 2015
Tuesday was Western Heritage Day at the Calgary Stampede. As Pool B contestants made their debut, it seemed those with a past history of winning in Calgary were at it again.
Like Fred Whitfield. The Texas cowboy with eight gold buckles to his name is one of the most well-known pro cowboys in the world. Despite being on the long end of his successful career, Whitfield proved he can still be as fast with a loop as the tie-down ropers half his age. In a round where they had to be faster than eight seconds to even place, the three-time Stampede winner was darn proud of his 7.1 second run.
“Bet you guys didn’t expect to see me here,” Whitfield taunted reporters waiting for some winning comments, with a smirk. “On August 5th, I’ll be 48, and you can write that down!”
“With Tuff, and Shane, and Clint and Cory, and Matt Shiozawa…” Whitfield listed off the impressive pool of ropers he’s up against. “Shoot, I’m just lucky. Still pretty good, but lucky.”
There’s no doubt that Whitfield excels in the Calgary Stampede atmosphere, and even though he’s been here some 25 times, he still gets excited about participating.
“I love it here. The thing about it is, I was on pins and needles waiting for the call (to come). And then I got the call, and I said ‘you know you’ve got to start preparing yourself for Calgary’. The start’s quick, the calves are good, the competition’s great, and I was just blessed for me to come out on top today. The calf I had I knew was pretty good. That’s always a bonus to rope down a little ways, and you kind of see what’s going on, and you can see what the competition is doing.”
“It’s been a lot of fun coming up here roping. I say every year that, as long as they invite me, I’ll come back. But there’s going to come a day when I’m not able to tie calves in seven. So I try to make the most of it. I got a good opportunity this year to win some money, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Whitfield opened his Stampede bank account with a $5500 deposit already.
Roping against the young wolves of the game doesn’t intimidate Whitfield, in fact he thrives on it.
“I like the competition to be tough because it takes away the mental lapses. Whenever it’s toughest is when I’ve been my best over the years. They’re all here, and if I can beat ‘em, it’ll be a bonus for me,” he grinned.
“Do I feel welcome here? That’s a silly question. More than any place in the world.”
Another three-time Calgary champion was first man out in his event in Pool B, and hadn’t had much sleep over the last week, but none of those factors fazed Trevor Knowles. He just went out and wrestled his steer in 3.9 seconds, and that was a time, in a pen of hard running steers, that went unmatched.
“It’s always great to come here,” stated the Oregon cowboy. “For one, it’s after the fourth of July and a guy needs to sit in one spot and catch up on some rest for a while. And two, the money’s good and it’s a great rodeo. I’m really happy to be here.”
Knowles is really looking forward to sleeping in a bed after a busy run that included a Prescott, AZ stop Sunday, and then on to Pasco, WA Monday to collect horses for the all night drive to Calgary to compete Tuesday.
“It’s been pickup seats and airplane seats, but we’re here. That’s part of the job.”
Knowles figured he maxed out the speed on his steer, but he was happy to collect $5500 for first in Day 1 of his Calgary appearance.
“We’ll take it. The first day everybody kind of gets the jitters out. It should get tougher than heck the rest of the week, I’d think.”
Taos Muncy knows how to win in Calgary, as a past $100,000 champ. The New Mexico saddle bronc rider has been travelling this season with some of the ‘kids’ of the sport, and he credits their enthusiasm with keeping him fresh. He felt right at home on Calgary’s horse Simply Marvellous for 87.5 points, to top round one in Pool B and collect his $5500.
Even though she’s never won the big cheque at Calgary, Lisa Lockhart has earned plenty of cash in this arena. She and her great buckskin horse Louie eased up the alley and got their race off to the right kind of start, sizzling around the pattern in just 17.32 seconds, setting a new fast Stampede time for this year.
“I tried not to over-ride him or push him too hard,” explained the four time Canadian champion, who lives in Oelrichs, SD. “When you do that, you don’t know if you’re going to be an 18.3 or a 17.3. I’m very surprised at my time actually. I know he felt great, but I didn’t hustle him like I normally would.”Past performance was also an indicator of future success in the bull riding, where a PBR World Champion showed familiar electricity on a bull called Radioactive. JB Mauney of North Carolina wasn’t about to be tossed down, and the eight seconds of muscle magic were awarded 89.5 points by the judges, for his first $5500 payday of the 2015 Stampede.
“He tested me,” admitted the 28-year-old, who’s won the Stampede twice. “He kind of had some rolls in there, leaping up in the air and was a little wild and western. But I get along with those bulls like that. I like ‘em when they’re wild and don’t really have a set pattern.”
“I hadn’t been on a bull since May. I’ve been at home, recuperating, letting my body heal a little bit. Hadn’t been on any practice bulls or nothing. I just came up here and that was my first bull back. I was kind of wondering how it was going to go, and boy, that made it feel a lot better, right there!”
When it comes to ‘wild and western’ Caleb Bennett had a day full of that. Right from the opening of the performance where he was one of the cowboys to fly into the arena from high above the grandstand, to an outstanding 87.5 point bareback ride on Knight Rocket, to his victory lap, it was an exciting day at the office.
“I was just having fun with it. That’s what this is all about, it’s meant to be fun. It’s a different line of work, and if you can’t have fun doing it and enjoy what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t be out here,” grinned the 26-year-old Utah cowboy.
“I’d never been on that horse. I always wanted to strap to her, and what a time to get on a horse like that, right here in the first round at Calgary. It was awesome, fun ride, fun horse, and it worked out.”
“She’s the icing, the cake and the cherry on top for a horse, I think.”
When the horse for his victory lap wouldn’t stay behind the flag girls, Bennett used that as yet another opportunity for a little fun.
July 6, 2015
It was a Monday - Fun Day for some of the Pool A contestants at the Calgary Stampede, who experienced a turnaround in their fortunes.
Kassidy Dennison’s first Stampede didn’t start the way she’d imagined, when her horse Eagle slipped on the first barrel on the first day. She came off, and the two walked out of the arena without completing the pattern.
But that disappointment was overshadowed when the two proud warriors came out and flew through the barrels with the fastest time of Day 4, a 17.41. It was also the fastest time so far of the Stampede.
“It took a good prayer, and a lot of motivational speaking from my family to cheer me up and get a good run in,” revealed the 23-year-old, from Tohatchi, NM. “Actually Eagle and I just got over our hump, and basically, ran out there and showed why we were here, why we’re competing at the Calgary Stampede.”
“You fall sometimes, but it’s about how you use your downs to get back up and rise above your adversities.”
Dennison hadn’t won a dime in Calgary before she entered the arena Monday.
“To be honest, I was feeling very frustrated. My sister had to talk to me. She said ‘OK, you’re the one person that’s super inspirational and you know how to win. Go look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you’re a winner and go do it’”.
That proved to be just the encouraging poke Dennison needed.
“That was the best thing she could’ve told me. I’m just super blessed to have people like my family with me out here to support me.”
Dennison was the first Navajo cowgirl to win a title at the National High School Finals Rodeo, and she’s a seven time Indian National Finals Champion. The First Nations community that’s so much a part of the Calgary Stampede has really adopted Dennison, offering plenty of support as well. In fact, she visited Indian Village at Stampede Park Sunday and did a Friendship Dance.
“It must have worked so maybe I should go do another dance!” bubbled Dennison. “It’s special connection. It’s like I’m in another country, but I’m right at home.”
Dennison collected $5500 for the win, but that wasn’t enough to put her in the top four of Pool A. Mary Walker topped the Sunday barrel racing qualifiers ($17,000), followed by Fallon Taylor ($16,000), Carmel Wright ($12,500), and Nancy Hunter ($8500).
Ty Taypotat seemed to be on a run of bad luck. He’d had more than his share of re-rides over the last few weeks, and a horse at the Ponoka Stampede Finals fell with him on, and left his leg black and blue. But the skies cleared for the Regina cowboy when he drew the Calgary horse Global Rocket on Monday. Taypotat put his spurs to work, and judges gave the eight second trip 84 points, worth the go-round win, and $5500.
“I knew he was a bucker, a real strong horse,” commented the 23-year-old member of the Cree nation. “I went out there with the mindset to let ‘er all hang out, and it paid off.”
The payday pushed Taypotat’s earnings to $10,000, and most importantly, put him among the top four qualifers, at his first Stampede as a pro bareback rider.
“It’s something I’ve dreamt of – winning a round here, and just making it here. I’m pumped to be here, and pretty happy,” he grinned.
Taypotat’s travelling partner, Clint Laye, won the most money in Pool A ($13,500). The two of them are joined by Kyle Bowers ($12,500) and Luke Creasy ($10,000) in the ride through to Sunday’s Showdown.
It was another Wright day in the saddle bronc riding, when young Rusty went onstage to claim his third straight Stampede go-round bronze, for another 89 mark. This one came on Kesler’s Southern Lights. The Utah teen finished number one in Pool A by a long shot ($16,000), followed by his father Cody ($13,000), and then Chet Johnson ($9500) and Cody DeMoss ($9000), to round out the qualifiers.
It was a happy birthday for Marty Yates. He got a $5500 21st birthday present from the Calgary Stampede, and it only took 7.5 seconds to unwrap it. Or rather, wrap it up, as in his calf for the tie-down roping. Yates made the top four, but it was veteran Blair Burk who was the biggest winner ($18,000), joined by Ryan Jarrett ($15,500) and Yates’ travelling partner, Hunter Herrin ($10,000) as the roping qualifiers for Sunday from Pool A.
Seth Brockman was still in search of his first ever Calgary Stampede money, but finally Monday, he found some. It only took him 3.5 seconds to nail it down by being fast man of the day, and while the Wyoming steer wrestler still needs to come back for Wild Card Saturday, the $5500 he finally earned will come in handy.
“It’s been great up here. Just the opportunity to come and have a chance at that $100,000 is great,” noted Brockman. “The week’s been slow, but today it paid off. Still, you have a chance to come back through the Wild Card to get to Sunday. In rodeo, just as long as you can keep having chances, that’s all you can ask for.”
“Just as long as I’m in that four man (showdown) Sunday, however it takes to get there, that’s where I want to be.”
It’s tough to claw any cash away from Tanner Milan these days, and the Cochrane champ placed again Monday, pushing his deposit from Calgary all the way to $19,000. Also, going through to Sunday from Pool A steer wrestlers are K.C. Jones ($10,500), Nick Guy ($10,000) and Kyle Irwin ($7000).
Again, only three bull riders made the whistle in Round 4, and again, Tanner Byrne was among them. The Prince Albert, SK PBR competitor rode Sugar Smack to 88.5 points. But that tally was equaled by Brazilian Fabiano Vieira, on a bull called Nearly Departed, giving each cowboy $5000. Byrne was best among Pool A competitors in the end ($13,000), but also making the cut for Sunday was Mike Lee ($12,500), Aaron Roy ($8000) and Dakota Buttar ($7500).
Weston Davidson remains on top in steer riding with a 78, while Kolby Wanchuk, Kole Ashbacher and Ricky Warren all share the lead now in novice bronc riding. The trio had identical 76.5 marks in Monday’s action.
By Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 5, 2015
It was a day for Tanners, veterans and family success during the third performance of the Calgary Stampede.
Tanner Byrne had planned to take a well-deserved break from competing stateside in the PBR Built Ford Tough series to head home to Prince Albert for a little R&R at the lake. Instead, he found himself digging out the bull rope, after the Calgary Stampede phoned last week to invite him to join the party.
There was no hesitation from Byrne in accepting the back-to-work call.
“I wasn’t prepared but I mean, it’s bull riding, so it’s no different. You still have to ride that bull,” said Byrne. “I’ve been here before. I know what it’s about. I love it here, because the people are so behind you, and it’s in Canada and you’ve got the whole country behind you. It’s a fun place to be.”
Sunday afternoon he strapped that rope on a bull called Silence Reins, and made the crowd roar when he stayed firmly in the middle and earned an 85 score. It was highest of the three lone marks made in the round, giving Byrne a $5500 payday.
“That definitely was the bull I wanted today,” confirmed the lanky, red-headed cowboy. “When I got the draw last night, I was pretty excited about it. I’ve seen him a few times this year, and he looked like he’d fit my style really well. Today was a bit of a different trip for him, but I picked him up good. I got a little bit out of shape at the end, but he bucked hard enough, and I rode him good enough for that long, that it worked out for the round win.”
It’s not Byrne’s first win at Calgary.
“I was actually the 2005 junior steer riding champion at the Stampede,” laughed the 23-year-old, who’s here in bull riding for the third time.
“In 2013, I won second and that was pretty cool. It just kind of fueled my fire to win now, so I’m ready to roll.”
Texan Mike Lee was another of the trio of rides Sunday, and he now leads Pool A standings with $12,500, while Byrne’s $8000 total is second.
Still in the ‘Tanner’ category, the Milan one is riding a tidal wave of momentum as he picked up his third steer wrestling bronze of the Stampede, after winning the round in four seconds flat. The Cochrane cowboy is now up to $15,500 in earnings, and is a lock to be among the top four in Pool A to advance straight through to Championship Sunday.
Tanner Milan is finally convinced of that.
“It feels a lot better, but I’ve got to just keep going at ‘em and hopefully keep building that bank account,” he grinned.
Rodeo can be a young man’s game, but Sunday a few of those on the longer side of youth proved they’ve still got what it takes. Kyle Bowers was matched up with a horse called Zip Code, and he dialed right in to deliver a performance the judges weighed in on with 85 points. That was enough to beat the crew of youngsters he’s with in Pool A.
“It feels awesome,” puffed Bowers, moments after the victory lap. “Best show on dirt, how do you get any better than this - to get out of here with a first place bronze, with the competitors here.”
At 38, Bowers is the ‘senior’ of the bunch, but that doesn’t intimidate him.
“I mean, these guys are awesome. These young guys are definitely riding better now than I’ve ever seen them. It feels great to be ‘the veteran’, or whatever you want to call it, and to still be able to compete with them – let alone actually beat ‘em one day here and there – is amazing.”
Bowers, who was raised in Brooks, but recently moved to Drayton Valley, admits a little surprise on how the round turned out.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t think 85 was going to win the round today. On paper, to me, it looked like 85 might pick up fourth or fifth hole. That’s the way I thought it would be. But that’s the joys of live action and cowboys and animals. Anything can happen.”
The $5500 Bowers added, to make his total $10,000, puts him in second place in Pool A standings. But Clint Laye of Cadogan came in second place for the third straight day with an 84.5 point ride. That means his take is now up to $13,500 at the top of the heap.
Also in the ‘well-experienced’ category, Blair Burk kept up his lightning fast run in tie-down roping, scooping and wrapping a calf in 7.1 seconds Sunday. This time no one could match that, so he claimed the biggest cheque, and bumped his Stampede earnings to $13,500, the highest of the field. Fellow Okie Ryan Jarrett also placed again, and he’s second with $12,000.
Mary Walker and her famous horse Latte read the ground right and zoomed around the barrel pattern in 17.77 seconds, to gather her first go-round win. But their consistent work has given them $12,500 altogether, the same amount Carmel Wright has collected. But it’s World Champion Fallon Taylor who sits number one in Pool A with her total of $13,500.
There was a logjam of saddle bronc riders with $5000 in Pool A heading into Day 3, so the father and son duo of Cody and Rusty Wright joked ahead of the round they’d just have to go out and be first and second to earn their way to Sunday. And they did just that. For the 19-year-old youngster Rusty, it was a thrill to get on the storied Calgary Stampede horse Lynx Mountain.
“I told my Dad that would be a nice one to have because she’s getting old and I don’t know how much longer they’ll buck her. That’s the one I wanted, just to see how she felt,” said the junior Wright. “My Dad won the $100,000 on her here one year. I was really excited to have her, but at the same time I was scared to death, because I didn’t want to mess her up, because she’s so good.”
“You know you’re sitting on greatness in there in the chute. You know it’s one of the best horses Calgary’s got, and it’s kind of nerve wracking.”
“When I jumped out there, that first jump, it felt like I was falling off, and I was like ‘heck no, I can’t fall of this one’! So I had a second effort, got me sat back down and everything worked out.”
Both horse and rider turned in a stellar eight seconds, and the result was an 89, so Rusty Wright was first, followed by his Dad with an 85. They now top Pool A with $10,500 and $9500, respectively.
Steer riding started Sunday, and Weston Davidson leads with 78, while Calgary’s Connor Hamilton is first in novice bareback with 75.5 and Reginald Lecourt is the only novice saddle bronc rider yet with a qualified ride.
By Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman
July 4, 2015
It didn’t take long for some first-timers at the Calgary Stampede to find their way to the paywindow. In Saturday’s second round action, newcomer Marty Yates made short work of his longhorn calf, wrapping him up in just 6.8 seconds, just a tenth faster than veteran Blair Burk.
“I’ve always wanted to come up here and be able to go fast,” quipped Yates, who turns 21 on Monday. “They said it was a fast set-up, and they tie ‘em in six, and that’s just how I like it.”
But it did take the talented Texan one go round to get the feel of the speed required in Cowtown, especially when he was the first roper out in the first performance, and found himself with an empty loop.
“Yesterday I wasn’t having much fun. I’d never even seen a calf ran here before. Everybody can tell you it’s fast and you’ve got to get out of there (the box). But you don’t understand how fast it is until you watch a couple guys go, and then you actually run one.”
“It was a big help today to be last, to watch all those guys go.”
Yates focused on getting a sharper start, but still felt he was a little late. However, with the help of a cooperative calf and last year’s rope horse of the year Rambo (owned by Hunter Herrin), Yates was able to find the sixes himself, along with $5500. Yates, whose cowboy bloodlines run deep, made an impressive debut at last year’s National Finals Rodeo, winning his first-go round en route to a $58,000 NFR.
“You don’t ever know how good you are until you can go and beat the guys you’ve always looked up to and always dreamed of roping against. Then when you beat them, it’s just that much better.”
Yates will have to be fast a couple more times if he wants to get a bye into Sunday’s Showdown round. His travelling partner Herrin leads the Pool A standings with $8500, while Burk and Ryan Jarrett aren’t far behind.
Carmel Wright came to Calgary with plenty of uncertainty. Her main mount SweetHeart Special was ailing, and she wasn’t sure if the eight-year-old mare would be able to run.
“My mare’s been out for two months. She re-injured an old suspensory injury,” explained Wright. “We’d been dealing with that, and then a couple of other issues which we finally got settled about two days ago.”
“We were living on the edge for the last two months because we knew this was coming up.”
‘Tweety’, as she’s called, looked in fine form as she made a smooth run in 17.72 second pattern run, which was best of the bunch. That earned Wright a $5500 cheque, to go along with the $3500 they won Friday. Wright and Fallon Taylor are tied at the top of the Pool A barrel racing standings with $9000 apiece.
It’s not Wright’s first time at the Stampede, but it’s been a while. In the 1980’s, Carmel and her husband David journeyed to Canada from their home in New Zealand to rodeo, and she competed at the Calgary Stampede. After about four years, they went back ‘down under’, and had a family. Just over a decade ago, they returned to North America, settling in Montana. Doing well at the Stampede could have a big impact on Wright’s season, since earnings for the barrel racers do count towards their world standings.
“This has been our driving goal, to make it to the big leagues. This is another step along the way for us. This is unreal. It’s been thirteen years in the making. We moved to the States with goals of having a run at the NFR. This is huge, especially after having to sit out the last two months.”
Tanner Aus nearly ignored an incoming call on his phone a few weeks back because he didn’t recognize the number. But it’s a good thing he did pick up, because it was the Calgary Stampede offering him the opportunity to ride bareback horses. The Minnesota man made the most of it Saturday with an 86.5 point ride on Calgary’s Rum Flavored, giving him his first Stampede cheque of $5500. But Cadogan’s Clint Laye was second for the second straight day and he’s now the overall Pool A leader with $9000.
It was Rusty Wright’s turn in the saddle bronc riding spotlight Saturday, after his Dad’s win in round one. The 19-year-old marked an 87.5 on Texas Cherry, but he had to share the spoils with ten time NFR qualifier Cody DeMoss, who also was 87.5, on the veteran Calgary horse Gross Beetle. DeMoss has picked up $24,000 in Canadian cash over the last week, and then added Saturday’s $5000 Calgary cheque to his tally. There’s a log jam of bronc riders sharing the Pool A lead, all with that $5000 amount.
There was a three way split in the steer wrestling, with Kyle Irwin, K.C. Jones, and Tanner Milan all tipping one over in 4.2 seconds, earning $45000 apiece. But that means Milan, from Cochrane, is the frontrunner for his Pool, with $10,000 already earned.
And it’s a good thing there are lots of the trophy bronzes, because they needed a pair to give away in the bull riding too. Brazilian Joao Ricardo Vieira made an impressive 88 point ride on the spinning bull Big Rig, but Canadian champion Dakota Buttar of Saskatchewan equaled that on Buckington, to give them each $5000. However, Mike Lee placed again, and he’s on top for the Pool with $9000.
Some claimed it was a ‘hail’ of a performance when the skies opened up seconds after the last bull bucked. But even that didn’t dampen the Stampede spirit!
July 3, 2015
The sun was intense, and so were the Alberta cowboys during the first day of Calgary Stampede 2015.
Jake Vold got the momentum rolling when he turned in a flashy 89 point bareback ride. It came courtesy a C5 horse by the name of City Sites.
“I didn’t really know what he was,” confessed Vold. “I’d seen him in Sundre, and Jess Davis got a good cheque on him there.”
The Canadian Champion had a little extra motivation to make his spurs fly in Friday’s first performance of Pool A contestants. Just two days earlier, Vold had been bucked to the ground, and hard, by the Calgary Stampede horse Special Delivery. It was a costly mistake because the combination was a favorite to win the lucrative Ponoka Stampede Showdown round.
“I was pretty ticked off from the other night in Ponoka. I just had to cool down again, get grounded and try to go out and make a good, solid ride today.”
“Going through the middle there, it felt pretty wicked,” he grinned.
“I honestly don’t really know what happened at Ponoka. I had a game plan in mind and it just totally went out the door right off the get go. But I’ve been on that Special Delivery three times now, and I got him good the first two, so I figured he just owed me one anyways!”
“Hopefully, I’ll draw him again here later on this week.”
After a slower spring, Vold has been having one of the best Junes of his career, cashing in for some $20,000 over the last few weekends. He’ll potentially add another $5500 for the Stampede first go-round win to the pot, but the bareback results aren’t finalized yet, with one more re-ride to be taken during the second performance.
Tanner Milan is another cowboy as hot as the temperatures this summer. The Cochrane competitor was the first Pool A steer wrestler to nod his head Friday, and he set a rapid pace by getting his animal to the ground in just 3.6 seconds. No one was able to beat that, so he collected the $5500 and bronze for first place.
“That was excellent. You can’t ask for a better way to start off day one of Stampede,” bubbled the two-time Canadian champion. “Ever since I was little, I’ve looked up to the guys competing here at the Stampede. It’s one of the best rodeos in the world.”
Milan first started coming to Calgary as just a youngster, watching his father Murray competing. He and his bulldogging brothers Baillie and Straws, the 2011 Calgary champion, got an early start on their Stampede ambitions in the backstretch.
“I remember burning around here, tearing stuff up. We used to have a lot of fun. We’d steal Dad’s back number, and it’d be a fight who got to wear it,” he chuckled. “We’d be out playing rodeo, and thinking that we were in the Finals here, and winning it.”
Times have changed, and Dad’s cheering from the sidelines as the boys compete now. But the dream of being on stage on Showdown Sunday has only intensified for Tanner Milan.
“That’s what we’re here for. It would darn sure be a big checkmark off my bucket list.”
Speaking of fathers and sons, it’s a treat to see Cody and Rusty Wright compete in the saddle bronc riding. Cody, who’s 38, is a Stampede veteran, but his son Rusty, who’s 19, is making his first appearance in the open competition. He won the novice title in 2013. But it was Pops who showed Junior a thing or two Friday, turning in an 85 on Witless Margie.
However Wright had to share the top purse with Alberta rider Jim Berry. He matched that 85 tally on a horse called Maiden Chick, meaning both earned $5000.
“This is the greatest rodeo there is,” insisted Berry. “It’s fantastic to be here. This is my first go-round win. I’ve been second a couple times, but to be able to win a go-round here is pretty unbelievable.”
Berry is no stranger to Stampede trophies. He’s won the Novice Saddle Bronc, Guy Weadick award, and even the Wild Horse Race. But he’d dearly love to capture the one that’s eluded him so far – the saddle bronc riding bronze.
There was also a tie for first in the tie-down roping event, when a pair of Oklahoma cowboys showed their stuff. Hunter Herrin (Apache) and Ryan Jarrett (Comanche) both roped their calves in seven seconds flat, to earn $5000 each. Texan Mike Lee topped a strong bull riding section when he and Moe teamed up for an 87 point performance, for a first $5500 deposit in Lee’s 2015 Stampede bank account.
Colorful Fallon Taylor delighted her legions of supporters when she and Baby Flo raced around the pattern in a sizzling 17.65 to take the biggest cheque ($5500) in the barrel racing event. Dressed in a blazing orange outfit selected by her fans, she also became the first barrel racer to wear a helmet while competing, giving her extra protection for a past head injury.
Cassian Haudegand of Cadogan leads the novice bareback riding with a 69.5.
Photos by Mike Copeman Story by Dianne Finstad
When the gates open for the 2015 Calgary Stampede, all rodeo contestants walk in equal. Whether it’s a rookie or a cowboy with gold buckles galore, everyone starts from square one. And all know there’s a lot of work ahead to reach the prize at the end of the ten days – being on the stage to receive a bronze and a big cheque for $100,000.
Dustin Flundra is one of the cowboys who, as a kid playing rodeo in the back yard in Pincher Creek, AB, first imagined himself as a Calgary Stampede champion. In 2014, that goal was accomplished.
“It’s the rodeo at the top of everyone’s bucket list that you want to win,” confirmed the three-time Canadian saddle bronc riding champion. “To get there and realize a dream you first had as a kid is pretty neat. It was then, and still is now.”
“Not a day goes by when I don’t walk by that bronze sitting on the table and think about it.”
“Now that I’ve got one, I’d like to have a couple!” grinned Flundra.
Winning $100,000 meant a lot for Flundra and his wife Niki, a talented horse trainer and rodeo entertainer. While son Ridge joined Dustin on stage last July, they welcomed another son, Shade, born in December.
“It’s definitely helped set us up for the future after rodeo. It made rodeoing last year a lot easier, and takes a lot of stresses off, in lots of ways. In rodeo, there’s no guarantee of your next paycheque.”
Time at the top is often temporary in the rough and tumble world of rodeo. Flundra will be looking for some paydays when he rolls into the Stampede this year, after being sidelined for the Cowboy Christmas run. At a rodeo in Sisters, OR in June, Flundra was excited to draw one of the queens of bronc riding world, Kool Toddy. But that’s when things started to go south. First the flank fell off, so the horse was brought back to give Flundra another chance. The second time, she stalled and then jumped into the front of the chute, bumping and scraping Flundra’s entire right side on the gate, yanking him right out of his saddle. The judges ruled he was fouled at the gate, and gave him another reride.
“The night just kept getting worse. My third one wasn’t very good. We got into the fence and I came off, and was hanging by the stirrup for about three jumps. Somewhere in there I got stepped on or kicked.”
When they got the blood cleaned up, there was a dislocated shoulder, twisted ankle and a small head wound, but no concussion. Eventually, Flundra was able to get home and that’s where he’s stayed, healing up to be ready for his turn in Pool B at the Stampede.
“The shoulder is starting to feel pretty good now. It will be a touch on the sore side, but it’s nothing I can’t manage,” insisted the 34-year-old.
“I’m sure there will be questions, and the odd doubter, but I’ve rode coming off injury before and have won. Mentally I know how to handle this kind of stuff. Two years ago, I was in the exact same boat and I just missed the Final Four round by half a point.”
“I’ll go in there and be ready.”
Calgary’s 2014 Tie-Down Roping Champion Morgan Grant is looking to this year’s Stampede to turn a chilly season into a hot one. He delighted fans last year with his contagious excitement over the win, and all it meant for a kid from Ontario with cowboy dreams.
Grant admits it took a while for the reality to sink in.
“I don’t know if it ever has,” laughs the cowboy who will celebrate his 26th birthday on Saturday. “I still see the bronze up there, and it’s like so cool that I got to win that. It was such an awesome experience.”
In the past year, Grant has gotten engaged and is looking to put some of his $100,000 down on land near Didsbury, where his fiancé Gillian Shields was raised.
“It was like a Cinderella day for me. I had the feeling that nothing could go wrong. I think it was that mental attitude that really helped me.”
“I’m thinking it’s a place I’m going to rope good at, hopefully, for the next couple of years. I feel confidence going in there, and hopefully that will lead to me roping sharp, and having some good runs.”
Action kicks off with Pool A contestants at the $2 million Calgary Stampede Rodeo July 3rd.
Saddle bronc rider Bradley Harter:
“Calgary’s one of my favorite rodeos all year. My two kids and wife are flying up, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them. That’s one of the great things about Calgary – it’s a family affair. We’re in the same place for a week solid. We get to ride bucking horses and hang out with the family. We don’t get to do that anywhere else all year because we’re on the go.”
Steer Wrestler Hunter Cure:
“I’ve only got to compete here one time. Last year I missed it due to back surgery. I’m healthy and ready to go now, and I’m glad they gave me an invitation.
By Dianne Finstad
Photos by Mike Copeman