Monday was fun day for Calgary Stampede rodeo contestants, but it was also a reckoning day for Pool A. Only the top four in each event earned a trip directly through to the richest day in rodeo, Showdown Sunday.
Kirsty White celebrates
You’d be hard pressed to find a more excited person anywhere on Stampede Park than Kirsty White. The cowgirl from Big Valley and her sorrel mare Racey ran first Monday and made full use of the opportunity, flying through the pattern in 17.33 seconds, a time no one could touch. It’s her first Stampede daily bronze trophy and as a ‘local’, it means so much to be able to capture such an honor here.
“I can’t even believe this is happening,” exclaimed White, still breathless after many congratulatory hugs. “Go Canada! I love Calgary!”
“It’s my home province, it’s two hours from my house. Everybody identifies so big with Calgary.”
“I kind of felt like I was on a bit of a hot seat, because I was splitting third/fourth to come back, which is no big deal. I was happy with the week already.”
But Racey wanted more, and the Round 4 win made it a $15,000 week for them.
“If I do my job, she just so does hers. She feels really good in this arena. It took her a few years to get this way. Now she’s 11, and she just seems like she’s getting way more versatile, very dependable.”
To have earned a bye right through to Sunday is like a dream come true for White.
“This is my first time. This is a total career high. This rodeo is really hard to qualify for, and then to actually have a good week when you’re here, is just icing on the cake. It’s so surreal. I’ve never even won a go-round before!”
White knew exactly where she was headed for the next five days.
“I’m going home right now, and I’m getting her back in her grassy pen, and I’m just going to baby the heck out of her for a few days, and myself- I’m going to get some sleep,” she laughed.
White ended up second in Pool A ($15,000) while Oklahoma’s Emily Miller’s consistent placings put her on top of the race ($16,000). Also qualifying in the barrel racing were Kimmie Wall ($13,000) and Nellie Miller ($10,500).
On a day with only three qualified bull rides, they were each impressive in their own way. Ryan Dirteater of Oklahoma became the only cowboy to ride all four of his bulls, turning in an 81.5 point ride. Brazilian Joao Ricardo Vieira was 88 points on the super spinning Wounded Warrior bull. But then the rookie sensation from Montana, Jess Lockwood, came out on a bull called Blue Stone. It was a whirling, spurring, athletic, dynamic eight seconds of pure grit on the part of both bull and cowboy. Check out the leg position in the photo! Lockwood racked up 90.5 points. When you consider he became the poster boy for the bullfighter rescue squad from his get off Sunday, the feat was even more incredible.
“I had a great bull, and it just ended up working out again,” grinned the 19-year-old, clutching his third trophy bronze in four days, at his first Stampede.
Ok, and now for the rest of the story… including the chapter from Sunday.
“I kind of got off the side of that bull, and my hand popped out, but the tail of my rope wrapped around my hand and drug me right underneath him. He stepped on my arm pretty good, and both my legs,” he admitted.
“We’re a little sore, but that’s part of bull riding. If you can’t deal with that, you better just pack your bags and go home.”
“I’m not the too stubborn type of bull rider. If something’s hurt, I’m going to go to Sports Medicine and have them fix me up, and try to feel as good as I can.”
As for the Monday ride that was pure magic….
“He was good. He pulled me down and almost had me. But I spurred my way back there.”
Lockwood topped Pool A bull riders ($16,500), followed by fellow qualifiers Ryan Dirteater ($14,000), Joao Ricardo Vieira, ($11,500) and Garrett Smith ($10,000).
Jason Thomas steer wrestling.
Jason Thomas has been steer wrestling up a storm all week long. But he’s been overshadowed by the powerful performance of Tanner Milan. Until the fourth round. Hometown favorite Milan had an unfortunate miss with a head-raising steer, and that opened the door for the Arkansas cowboy to move up to the number one spot, which he promptly did with a snappy 3.5 second run. As fast man, he scooped up another $5500 and pushed his Stampede tally all the way to $19,000, which wound up top of the heap.
“It’s been a good four days, that’s for sure,” confirmed the tall, bearded hand. “They placed on him the first time out, and I knew he was a good, honest steer. I just had to get out of the barrier, and make a good run.”
With Thomas, also a Stampede rookie, getting job one done, it’s back to work for him before Showdown Sunday. He was jumping in the truck to head to rodeos in Sheridan, Laramie and Casper, WY before returning to Calgary.
Thomas’s victory lap was a little shortened, when he found himself on a mount ready to enjoy the cool weather and kick up his heels.
“He didn’t want to let me lope around there. I kind of looked like a child, hanging on to the saddle horn,” he chuckled. “But that’s better than falling on your face out there, that’s for sure!”
Joining Thomas from Pool A as qualifiers were Milan ($16,500), Riley Duvall ($12,000) and by catching the last place paycheque Monday, Brock Butterfield ($9,000).
It was a total deja-vu in the tie-down roping, when Shane Hanchey snagged first place for the second straight day, and he did it with the identical time of 6.7 seconds.
“It seems I’ve won a little bit over the last two days,” said Hanchey. “I did what I set out to do. If you’d have told me after round two that I was going to win $11,000 in my group and advance, I’d have probably told you you were darn crazy. It just feels good to be back for Sunday.”
Ryan Jarrett was the high man among Pool A qualifiers ($15,500), followed by Hanchey and then joined by Cory Solomon ($9,500) and Marty Yates ($8,000).
It was another double day win in the bareback riding, as Caleb Bennett added to his collection of Stampede day award bronzes. This time he was 87.5 points on a young Calgary horse called Zastron Acres.
“First two rounds were maybe a little warm-up, got myself back in the groove, and these last two have felt awesome. I’m feeling good too,” commented the Utah cowboy, who credited the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team for making him feel far better than he did when he arrived, despite getting on four strong horses this week.
Richmond Champion managed to keep up his placing streak, and wound up first in Pool A ($14,833), followed by Bennett. Alberta cowboy Ky Marshall also had a consistent week of winning, and will be straight through to Sunday ($11,000) along with Canadian champion Jake Vold (9,000).
In the saddle bronc riding, Utah’s CoBurn Bradshaw had the ride of the day when he turned in a textbook spur ride on Calgary’s showy Shoshone Mountain, for 86 points. The $5500 helps his bank account, but he’ll get another opportunity to earn some money when he returns for Wildcard Saturday. Advancing from Pool A are Layton Green ($13,000), Clay Elliott ($12,000), Allen Boore ($10,250) and Taos Muncy ($9,000).
Pioneer of Rodeo 2017 inductees: Judy Kesler, wife of Greg Kesler, Greg Cassidy and Chanse Vigen on behalf of his grandfather, Ralph Vigen.
Another highlight of Monday was the annual Pioneers of Rodeo luncheon. This year the Calgary Stampede paid special tribute to three renowned
Stampede pioneers: stock contractor, the late Greg Kesler, represented by his wife Judy; competitor Greg Cassidy, who won both steer wrestling and tie-down roping at Calgary; and Ralph Vigen, represented by his grandson and current driver Chanse Vigen.
Pool B qualifiers begin their Calgary Stampede 2017 competition on Tuesday.