LETHBRIDGE, Alberta — In 2017, the PBR Canada season began here in Lethbridge and technically concluded with the Monster Energy PBR Canada Finals in Saskatoon in October.
However, in actual PBR competition the season ended with the most intense bull riding ever held in Canada at the inaugural Global Cup in Edmonton at Rogers Place on November 11th.
Since, members of Canada’s third place team have gone on to new heights in the sport. What a weekend it was for the likes of Coy Robbins, Lonnie West, Brock Radford, Tanner Byrne, Zane Lambert, Cole Young and Justin Lloyd among others.
Last year in Lethbridge at the Bridge City Chrysler/LA Towing PBR Challenge at the Enmax Centre we witnessed one of the most emotional opening ceremonies in the history of our sport as a tribute to the one and only Ty Pozzobon.
First means something, no matter where or when it’s used however this event is special in a number of ways. There aren’t many other crowds in Alberta that are this loud and energetic. It’s not everywhere we go that the entire city knows that the PBR is in town.
I love this event and I’m excited that it’s my first event of the year for these picks and the music. I know winter is almost over once we head to Lethbridge too, even if we are supposed to get some more snow this weekend…
This is our first look at a few new bulls acquired over the winter, coming of age and seeing older bulls after the winter break. We’ve seen a ton of great rides here and I expect this weekend to be no exception.
Wacey Anderson ended up doing most of the picks last year and he plans to once again this season. You’ll hear from him on Saturday from Lethbridge. For Friday though, here’s my take.
Aaron Roy vs. 301 Big Deal – How can I not go with Canada’s richest bull rider to ever compete in the PBR? Doing some research for another story this week for PBRCanada.com on Aaron’s return I learned that he’s less than $25,000 from the million-dollar mark in career earnings in the PBR alone. Roy is No.35 on the all-time list which is also an incredible feat. With eight World Finals qualifications to his credit, there’s no betting against this man. Roy is returning from a broken femur sustained at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas from 2016. Big Deal from Cody Strandquist fits this story perfectly. When I asked Aaron about being that close to such a career milestone in the million dollars in career earnings he replied: “I didn’t know I was.” The bull is coming five this year-old that should fake right and go left. Strandquist said two rounds were won on the bull in Regina in the fall. Aaron hasn’t been on a bull since the injury in November 2016. Last time Roy returned he won the PBR Canada Finals in 2014. For most, any of these things would be incredible hurdles, but for Aaron Roy? Big Deal.
Brock Radford vs. 005 Tykro Liquid Fire – Ridden 8 times in 50 outs according to ProBullStats.com, Liquid Fire is a two-time PBR World Finalist from the Wild Hoggs. Radford and the bull have faced each other twice before with the bull winning both times so far. The first bout came in Stavely, Alberta at the Glen Keeley Memorial in 2015, Liquid Fire was marked 45.5 points in a 1.06 second buckoff. The second was around this time last year where the bull score topped 46 points in a 2.68 second buckoff. Despite one rough trip at the PBR Global Cup in Edmonton, Liquid Fire wasn’t ridden in 2017. At eight years old he’s a veteran on the bull side but with how rank Brock rode last year these two could win the round.
Zane Lambert vs. 216 Big Shot – The only bull I can think of that gets rode more to win more money on that Big Shot is another Skori Bull we will see in the Championship Round in Minion Stuart. Zane has to be pumped for this match, ridden 14 times in 21 outs is something a guy doesn’t see very often on the stats. As our reigning PBR Canada Champion, this is the bull a guy like Zane makes look easy where a newer guy might get bucked off. Lambert called his shot to win the title last year on Crooked Nose, I’m calling an 85 for these two on Friday night.
Cole Young vs. 51 Smash – Speaking of bulls that have been ridden more than not, Smash, also from the Skori’s comes in having been ridden 8 times in 15 outs. For a bucking bull I’m totally alright with this, bull riding is already tough enough at this level, it’s alright to have a nice bull here and there. I think these two have danced before but I’m not remembering where. Cole will be pleased to have this one though and should check in around 84 points.
Lonnie West vs. 0-458 Carlier Cartel – At No.51 in the World Standings, Lonnie is the top ranked Canadian bull rider in the draw in Lethbridge. Carlier Cartel from the X6 Ranch is a direct son of Wrangler’s Rock Star from Braithwaite Ranches. An ABBI Canada Classic bull this year, he didn’t have a great futurity season in 2016 but that doesn’t matter much since he’s a bucker now. In December of 2017 the little black bull went right, and Jake Gardner took him down for an 87. Today, Lonnie is 100 points out of the Top 35 and 60 points here could get him on the elite tour for the first time.
Justin Lloyd vs. -316 Bourbon Oak – The first time I remember seeing this Vold Rodeo bull was at the Cluny PBR in July in the Championship Round against World Champion Mike Lee. In his six recorded outs last season, two men were successful in their attempts. Justin has taken most of the winter off and will be fresh and ready to take a shot at the Canadian Title. Bourbon Oak is a bull he needs to ride more than not if he wants to do that.