Cody Nance had a long drive to Calgary, but an eight second Flight Plan proved to be a quicker way to cash.
And what an eight seconds it was! The yellow Kesler bull by that name name burst out of the chute with a high leap into the air as it spun and twisted and jumped again. But Nance held fast to his bull rope, racking up a huge 89.5 point score, unmatched throughout Saturday’s second go-round of the Stampede.
“That was a really nice bull,” said Nance, a rider on the PBR circuit. “I didn’t know anything about him other than what my friend Dakota Buttar messaged me last night. He said ‘he’s a bucker, he’s right out of the gate into your hand and you can win the round on him’. I just came out here and did what I know how to do.”
“It was a lot of fun. It seems like the harder they buck, the easier they are to ride, as long as you’re in the right spot. Keep your hand shut, keep your faith up, and just believe, and see what happens.”
Nance has been at Calgary before, and even was the top money winner in Pool B last year. But it was the first time he’d made it to the winner’s stage in a go-round.
“I’m just thankful God blessed me with this win. I’ve always wanted to win one of these bronzes.”
The win was also worth a tidy $5,500, which comes in handy for a family man who was ‘off the job’ for eight weeks, after he dislocated his hip at a bull riding in Kansas City. He’s been on the comeback trail and that included riding at the Ranchman’s event at Calgary earlier in the week.
“I’ve had five bulls under me so far this week, and I’ve ridden three of them, so I’m above fifty per cent and hopefully we can stay above that!”
It took Nance and his family more than 24 hours to drive from their Tennessee home.
“We paced ourselves. We brought our camper, and I’ve got my wife and three kids with me, so they’re motivation too. I want to inspire my kids. My wife, she believes in me, more than I do myself. I love the family oriented events like this. It just brings everybody closer together.”
Jared Parsonage caught a piece of the fourth place bull riding cheque Saturday, so now leads Pool A with $7500.
There was a tie… in the tie-down roping on Saturday, when Jesse Popescul and Caleb Smidt both wrapped up their runs in just 7.3 seconds.
“This is awesome, as good as it gets right here,” grinned Popescul, who hails from Wood Mountain, SK, and is at his first Stampede.
“You’ve just got to go have fun, don’t think about it too much, and just let your hair down and rock on.”
“It’s great. Mom and Dad and my wife are here and her family. I’ve got lots of guys from back home watching, lots of support.”
Smidt, the reigning World Champion, knows the drill around Calgary but was relieved to have his horse on track at the barrier, in the mount’s first trip to this town.
“It’s so fast here. If you miss the barrier, you have to run them far. Like you saw today, you’ve got to be a short 7 to win a good cheque. It’s good to be close to the barrier and get it on ‘em fast. They’ll be tying ‘em in six before the week’s over, I’m sure.”
It’s the second straight payday for the current World Champion, putting him second in the aggregate ($7,500) to fellow Texan Jake Pratt ($9,000).
There was a serious case of déjà vu on Day 2.
Airdrie’s Jake Vold was back to his usual antics in the bareback riding, bringing his collection of Stampede day bronzes up to seven after he spurred to an 86 on Kesler’s Mile Away, for his second straight win.
“On paper that was a good, solid horse, among the buckers they put out today. But I’ll tell you what, that horse has been around a long time,” said Vold. “He’s a heluva horse. He handles conditions good, it’s deep out there and a little sticky. He just knows what to do, he knows his job. I was pretty tickled pink to have him beside my name.”
Vold came into the Stampede ‘hungry’ for some good rides, after having to sit out some good ones due to a sore shoulder over the busy first weekend in July. Two great rides, $11,000 later and his appetite is far from satisfied.
“It feels good to get a couple wins, that’s for sure. But I still have my eye on the prize here. I haven’t won Calgary yet and that’s something I’d love to win. We’ll see what happens.”
For the second day in a row, Craig Weisgerber got to make a victory lap, after he won the wrestling match with his steer in 3.8 seconds. But he had to share the honors and the cash with Texan Hunter Cure, who was excited to make his first trip around the arena when the event was done for a matching time, giving them $5,000 each.
Craig Weisgerber on his victory lap!
“Right now, how do you not feel great?,” bubbled the Ponoka cowboy about his second straight win, and Pool A leading $10,500. “Confidence is roaring. We just want to keep putting the pedal to the metal and giving ‘er. Let’s keep doing this.”
“I’ve been having fun everywhere in Calgary. This is the best thing. Man, I worked for 15 years to even get the invite to this rodeo and I’m just taking it all in and having as much fun as I can. I guess I have a reputation for having a lot of fun so I’d better keep that up.”
Weisgerber’s excitement must be infectious, as Cure came around the front of the grandstand going full speed for his victory lap.
“It’s my first bronze. I’ve been coming a few years. Been the bridesmaid but never the bride,” grinned Cure.
The third man to make it two in a row was Chase Brooks, who this time took an 86.5 on Kesler’s Breakaway to the front of the class in saddle bronc riding, after splitting the day before with Zeke Thurston.
“I think Calgary likes me. It’s a good place to have on my side,” said the Montana rider, now leading Pool A with $10,500.
“That was just a really good horse. I got on her actually when I was on my permit my first year rodeoing, and she made pretty short work of me so it was nice to get a little rematch.”
There’s not a lot of awards Nellie Miller and her great horse Sister have missed out on. They’ve even won a lot of money in Calgary, but so far the big bronze has eluded them. The duo was in fine form Saturday, speeding around the pattern in just 17.32 seconds, for the biggest payout of the day at $5,500, giving them first in the Pool with $9,000.
“The ground dried up from yesterday and my horse just really felt confident in the ground and she really worked hard today,” said Miller, from California. “The crew here just works their butt off on the ground every year and we really appreciate that. We can tell the difference for sure.”
“This crowd is amazing. We don’t get to run in front of this many people that often. So to come here is always super exciting for us and a whole experience.”