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Urban dwellers in Calgary and guests from afar get a chance for ten days to appreciate and experience a taste of what pro rodeo competitors live all year long. So the Calgary Stampede does a lot for boosting exposure for rodeo, and bank accounts for contestants, even though there’s only impact on the PBR and WPRA standings from the event.
There’s never a shortage of Stampede storylines, but bull riding attracted probably the most attention this year.
A lot of that came before the final weekend, in a surprise/not surprise announcement by Canadian bull riding icon Scott Schiffner that this would be his last Calgary appearance as a contestant, as his retirement process has begun.
The man who boasts both longevity and success, which can be a rare combo in bull riding, came to the decision during his Stampede week, after much discussion with his wife, Brandy.
Schiffner, who grew up in Stettler, but made Strathmore his family’s home, has nothing left to prove in rodeo. He’s won a pair of gold buckles that say Canadian Champion from the CPRA, plus another one from PBR Canada. He holds the record for the most number of CFR qualifications in bull riding, at 17. He’s been Cowboy of the Year.
But he’s even prouder of their three outgoing, active daughters and the calendar is starting to fill up with their barrel racing and trick riding dates, that hold much more appeal than the long highway trek with his bull rope to places he’s been dozens of times before.
“The writing’s on the wall,” he acknowledged. “The most important thing to me is my family right now. I owe everything I have in this world to rodeo and bull riding, but its time to move on. I’m very aware of it. I very much want to be remembered as a great competitor, great bull rider, not a ‘used to be’ or ‘once was’.”
Schiffner’s original script to close out his career was just to wake up one day and know, and not show up at a rodeo again. That would have been the cleanest, simplest way to leave the sport he loves. But Brandy pointed out that wasn’t being very thoughtful of his loyal fan base, who might want one more chance to connect. Choosing to make his intention public at Calgary was only fitting, since it’s a place where he was also a double victor, plus he even was a steer riding co-winner, along with a recipient of the Guy Weadick award. And the Stampede paused after his last ride on Wild Card Saturday to allow a touching moment of tribute to Schiffner by the fans, the rodeo family, and his fellow bull riders as they shook his hand and he tipped his hat to them all.
Schiffner’s plan is to attend a few more of his favorite CPRA rodeos, emphasis on ‘few’.
“If I do really good, and there’s a shot to make Red Deer, I’m not ruling that out. But I’m not going to chase it,” he related.
“It’s time to quit being a bull rider. I’ll always be a cowboy. But it’s time to be a Dad and carry on from here.”
“By no means am I running away, and you’ll never see me. I’ll be around and always be involved. But I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”
There was another heartwarming story in the bullpen when it came to championship Sunday. All four Showdown finalists bucked off their bulls, so they loaded up the chutes again for a second chance. That was something Marcos Gloria did not take lightly, even though his first bull kicked him in the leg and he had to be helped out of the arena. But the Brazilian raised cowboy was so determined he put aside the pain and stuck it out on an unusual trip by the bull Rattler for the full eight seconds. The 76 mark was all it took, because none of the rest could found the whistle.
Gloria bounded over to the stage and his always infectious grin was as wide as the prairies when he held up that giant cheque for $100,000.
“I’m glad that I had a second chance. I’m happy for everything. I’m very happy with the way everything turned out, for winning,” he stated.
With the help of his translator and friend Andre Portes, Gloria outlined how they’d come to him in the dressing room after the first ride, needing to know if he wanted or was able to ride the second bull.
“I make my way there. There’s a saying in Brazil, all or nothing!”
Gloria was ever so grateful, first paying tribute to Portes for actually bringing him to his adopted country of Canada so he could pursue his bull riding dreams.
“I thank him for everything. I thank God for everything. I choose Edmonton (as) my second home.”
Portes pointed out later Gloria had been very specific about wanting the Canadian flag beside his name whenever he rode. This has become a land of opportunity for the just-turned 28-year-old from a small, rural town in southeastern Brazil. Portes indicated the bonus cheque will now allow Gloria to take advantage of some of the further bull riding invitations his CFR success had generated. So, perhaps more than for any of the other Stampede winners, the Calgary championship will be life changing.
“It’s changed completely. Not just for the money, but it means everything for me. It’s even hard to talk,” said Gloria.
Jordan Hansen of Ponoka was the only Canadian bull rider to make Sunday’s lineup. He did so by winning the Wild Card Saturday round with an impressive 88 point ride on Big Red. He also covered his bull in the short round, but 84.5 wasn’t quite enough for the top four spots available. But Hansen still heads out $14,300 richer, which is quite an accomplishment considering his first bull at Calgary marked his first bull ride since being out for two and a half months healing a back fracture.
One other bull riding note from Calgary sees Canada’s standings leader Jared Parsonage taking an unscheduled break from rodeo. He was a last-minute replacement on the Stampede roster, but then broke some bones in his foot during Pool B action. The good thing for the Maple Creek rancher is that he can still help with haying duties while he’s healing.
Bareback rider Richmond Champion is proving he’s got an uncanny, magnetic connection to ‘the big grey’. For the second year in a row, he drew C5’s Virgil for the Final Four Showdown at Calgary, just two weeks after the two met and conquered the event together at Ponoka. And the results just keep improving. This time they stroked out 92.5 points, to give the Texas cowboy his second straight Calgary win. Fittingly, Virgil was also named Bareback Horse of the Stampede.
“He’s become a staple of my career in a short amount of time,” said Champion. “You’re never comfortable with him. Every time you buck him you’re sorry you asked for him, but you’re excited all at the same time. I had to go with the same game plan I go at everything. To be able to win the Stampede twice – my head’s spinning right now.”
“That was one of my favorite bareback rides I think I’ve ever made in my career.”
In a power packed Showdown, Airdrie’s Jake Vold was on fire for eight on Trail Dust and when the smoke cleared, he was 92 points, just a half point off his traveling partner’s tally. The $35,000 consolation prize wasn’t bad though, a combination of the Showdown bonus and his earlier earnings. Clint Laye was also deep in the mix, chalking up 89.5 on Special Delivery for third place, giving him Stampede earnings of $28,000.
A pair of Canuck saddle bronc riders were chasing Ryder Wright all week long. But in the end the Utah cowboy found an extra three points on Stampede Warrior and the 93 gave him his first $100,000 cheque from Calgary. Zeke Thurston earned himself a tidy $25,000 birthday bonus for second place in the Showdown, for a 90 point ride on the same horse he’d won it on last year, Get Smart. That fit well with the $13,500 from earlier in the week. And Clay Elliott joined in the Showdown fun, finishing with an 84 on Timely Delivery, giving him a $24,000 Stampede.
The maple leafs were flying for another pair in the steer wrestling finale. But when Cody Cassidy recorded a no time and Scott Guenthner broke a barrier to win, the door opened for Matt Reeves of Texas to take first with a 4.7 second run. The $100,000 bonus will fit nicely with the $433,333 he picked up less than five months ago for winning The American at Arlington. Guenthner can make a $27,000 bank deposit from Calgary, while Cassidy got $19,500.
Tie-down roper Kyle Lucas can take home a lot of positives from his Calgary Stampede debut. He received one of the coveted invitations and made the most of it by advancing out of his Pool and then roping his way to the Final Four with a speedy 7.7 second run Sunday afternoon. The Carstairs cowboy missed his Showdown calf but still earned $18,500 and a big confidence boost. Tuf Cooper rode out of town with the second Stampede bronze of his decorated career, after tying things up in 6.8 seconds in the Showdown round.
Hailey Kinsel and her palomino mare Sister have been dominating the barrel racing all season long and Calgary was no exception, as they ran away with the title in their first appearance north of the border. B.C.’s Carman Pozzobon was the lone Canadian to qualify for Sunday’s afternoon round, and she recorded a $18,300 week, which helped her move up to tenth spot in the WPRA world standings this week.
The lone stop on the Canadian pro rodeo calendar on the weekend is a favorite one for so many contestants, because of the great northern hospitality they receive at the Teepee Creek Stampede.
With only two qualified bull rides, the biggest cash collector from the event was Garrett Green, who was the man on top with an 86 on Kesler’s Anything Goes. He got $2,242 for the win, plus another $1,962 in ground money, for the bump up to top five in Canada. Local favorite Linden Rohloff of Bezanson had the other successful bull ride.
B.C. saddle bronc rider Jake Watson recorded the big northern win for his 86 on Kesler’s Summer Trip ($2,053) but he also pulled $1,440 out of Sheridan, WY and $519 from Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo at Colorado Springs.
Curtis Cassidy was the fast man in steer wrestling at Teepee Creek ($2,162) but he also collected at Pikes Peak ($1,688).
Good ‘ol Alley Trail was just what bareback rider JR Vezain was looking for and the veteran paint mare helped him win $1,863 from Teepee Creek. Right behind him was Pascal Isabelle ($1,531), who placed as well at Wolf Point, MT ($1,653).
Innisfail’s Sydney Daines ran away with the Teepee Creek barrel racing honors ($2,088) while Wyatt Hayes of Val Marie, SK impressed with a smooth 7.7 second tie-down roping run for first ($2,205) Turns out 4.6 seconds was a popular time in the team roping because three teams registered it, so they all got a share of first: B.C.’s Jace Lambert and Nick Texeira; Dawson and Dillon Graham of Wainwright; and just to keep their placing streak alive – Tristen Woolsey and Denver Johnson. They each collected $1,072. The amazing Woolsey and Johnson now have twice as much won as their next closest competitor at the top of the Canadian heading and heeling standings.
In the ‘hitting the jackpot’ category south of the line this week, Ty Taypotat is an easy winner, after he claimed the bareback championship at Pikes Peak, for an 84.5 point ride on Seguaro in the Gold Buckle Round, to make his Colorado haul a whopping $18,949. Taypotat threw in another $1,980 for finishing fourth in Laramie, WY.
Still in Colorado, bronc rider Tyrel Larsen was third at Estes Park, for $3,148, plus he threw in a little from Sheridan, WY ($533) to crack top 20 for the world. His counterpart Zeke Thurston split second in Sheridan ($3,046) and won a bit from Vernal, UT ($510). Dawson Hay factored in the placings at Casper ($1,517) and Sheridan ($1,066). Clay Elliott was second in the average at Casper ($2,202) and placed at Laramie ($572).
Team ropers Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler got to the paywindow at Sheridan ($1,192 each) and Laramie ($1,630) while Kolton Schmidt and his partner Cole Davison split the second round at Casper ($2,481 each) with Kasper Roy and Brady Tryan winning the second round at Wolf Point ($1,480).
Steer wrestler Harley Cole got $1,842 from the Pike Peak show, while Joe Guze earned some go-round money from Casper, WY ($1,184). Bareback rider Luke Creasy was second at Cheney, WA ($1,479) with Connor Hamilton catching some of last hole at Sheridan ($734).
There’s a pair of Finning Pro Tour stops in Canada this week, and both pay well. The Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition has four performances July 19-22 at Morris, while the K-Days Rodeo at Edmonton is back with its $50,000 purse, offering three 6:30 pm performances July 20-22. There’s also the White Lightning Pro Cowboy Crunch in Oyen July 18th for bull riders and steer riders. The Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo in Kennedy, SK has two performances, July 21-22.
The ‘grandaddy of ‘em all’ Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is getting underway this week, while action wraps up on the weekend at Nampa, ID.
The National High School Finals Rodeo is on in Rock Springs, WY and Canada is well represented by a crew of next generation competitors.
There is sadness in the Canadian rodeo family over the passing of Iloe Flewelling. Not only was she actively involved in her late husband Bruce’s bucking horse outfit, but she was also a timer at the Canadian Finals Rodeo eight times. As well, she worked for many years as a hair stylist in the movie industry.