Everything went right for Dakota Buttar on Saturday, except for the part where he left his rope out in a hail storm.
The Kindersley, Sask., bullrider won his first Calgary Stampede bronze statue Saturday, sharing Day 2 top prize with Brazilian star Joao Ricardo Vieira.
They were both whisked away to the stage with the other category winners moments before all heck broke loose and made it to the safety of the staging area underneath the Stampede stage, before ice pellets started pelting everyone.
“My rope is laying in the rain now,” said Buttar, as spectators above ground scampered for cover.
Buttar rode Buckington and Vieira stayed on Big Rig for 88.0 scores to each take $5,000 away from the day. Buttar trails leader Mike Lee of Fort Worth, Texas by four points in the cumulative standings entering Sunday’s turn (174.5 to 170).
Vieira, who doesn’t speak English and did not have a translator present Saturday, is right behind them at 169.5.
Vieira is currently the top-ranked bull rider in the Professional Bull Riders circuit. He was quoted on the PBR website earlier this week as saying he believed the Calgary Stampede was the biggest event in the world.
“It is such a big event. One, the attendance and, two, it includes all of the rodeo aspects, not just bull riding. That is why to me it is the biggest. I used to think Barrettos (Brazil) was the biggest until I went to Calgary and saw it. It is a lot prettier and it is like 50,000 people a day in attendance,” he told the website.
For Buttar, the Stampede so far has been a continuation of a nice run. He won the showdown at the Ponoka Stampede right before Calgary, which likely leaves him a top the Canadian Professional Rodeo standings, though he didn’t seem too interested in hearing that on Saturday.
“I haven’t checked the standings, but I’m just having fun riding bulls,” he said.
Growing up in Kindersley means the Calgary Stampede has special meaning for Buttar. His entire family was on hand on Saturday and it was expected that the bronze statue he picked up for the day win is headed to his parents’ (Jim and Darlene) living room.
Buttar made his Stampede debut last year, then went on to win the Canadian Finals Rodeo title in Edmonton in November.
“To win around here means quite a bit,” he said.
“It’s a different atmosphere than other rodeos with all the people and the atmosphere and everything going on. It’s pretty amazing to be here.”
It was his first time on Buckington, though he has seen him a few times.
“He leads pretty hard,” he said. “He tends to turn right then go back left, but he stayed right today. He kicks really hard, So I stick my chest out more and keep my chin down.”
The bull riding, which always wraps up the rodeo, concluded about 10 minutes before a major hailstorm hit the grounds, leaving the infield looking like mud soup. The bull riders dodged a bullet — or many ice bullets.
“Our ropes would be pretty wet and slippery and it’d be hard to hold on to them,” he said.