Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Oklahoma rides to victory in Bull Riding at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Thursday July 14, 2016. (Ted Rhodes/Postmedia)
Sage Kimzey was not happy on Thursday afternoon.
His first score, a mediocre 79.5 points aboard an Outlaw Buckers bull named Dirty Steve who hit the chute gate and stumbled, was not what he was hoping for Day 3 of Pool B competition.
Sure, the 21-year-old Strong City, Okla., native had already pocketed $6,000 for his 86- and 81-point performances.
But part of him knew he could do better.
“I was really happy to get it,” Kimzey said. “There was a little confusion behind the chutes, no one really knew if I had one or if I didn’t. I was kicking rocks about it that I didn’t get one. They came out and were like, ‘You’ve got an option.’”
And, based on the chatter behind the chutes, Chip Shot was a fine Option B.
“Ty Pozzobon was like, ‘Man, that re-ride bull is really good, I just rode him the other day,’” Kimzey said. “‘If you get on him, you’ll win the round.’
“I said, ‘Load him up.’ ”
Contrary to what one might think, a bull-rider doesn’t necessarily always want to take the re-ride option.
For Kimzey, it’s normally a decision approached with business-like logic. But not on this day.
Thursday’s re-ride was a no-brainer.
“In this pool of guys though, there’s so many good riders,” he said. “You can’t be happy with a 79.5 being the third guy out. It’s just not going to hold with the stiff competition.
“I really didn’t have a choice to take it or not.”
So, dealing with a few injuries — a “mashed up” ankle, his riding hand, his riding wrist, “Pretty much my whole riding arm,” his right knee (tweaked on Wednesday) — but “relatively healthy,” Kimzey got at it again.
He delivered a 87.50 re-ride to best Australian Josh Birks and Tanner Byrne, the lanky bull rider from Prince Albert, Sask., who’d posted 86.50- and 86-point rides, respectively.
“For the most part, I came out of it unscathed,” Kimzey said. “Just a little (out of breath).”
“Our rodeo schedule’s been crazy this past month. I’m a little banged up but my heart’s not broke so it’s all good.”
His business decision earned him first-place day money worth $5,500.
Chances are, with $11,500 after three days, Kimzey will be back in Sunday’s final shooting for another $100,000.
Not bad for the 2015 Calgary Stampede champion who also has the title of 2014 and 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion.
Currently, he’s sitting first overall in the PRCA world standings with $88,882.45.
And, likely, one to beat in Sunday’s final.
“Any of these big venues that have the prestige and the feeling that the Stampede has,” Kimzey said. “There’s very few places that we get to go to throughout the year where you just walk in and you’re just in awe of everything about the Stampede.
“Put me in a place like that where there’s a lot of money up for grabs with those bulls to get on, it’ll be pretty hard to beat me.”
Defending barrel-racing champion picks the right horse
Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D., puts in the best time in barrel racing on Day 5 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Cowboys compete for 10 days for a piece of the rodeo's $2 million in prize money. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network
Lisa Lockhart elected to stick with Louie on Tuesday.
And the decision paid off as the Calgary Stampede’s 2015 barrel-racing champion won her second day-money prize of $5,500 in the past three days.
Rainy conditions over the past few days have made the infield at Stampede Park a bit of a sloppy mess and Lockhart thought about giving her horse Louie the day off.
“Definitely muddier conditions,” said Lockhart, who commended the Stampede rodeo committee for getting the infield in the best shape possible. “They asked for our input the night before the barrel racing, so that was very much appreciated that they physically came and asked us what we thought. We all had concerns about the safety of the horses.”
Although she thought about riding her other horse Chisum, she give Louie another shot and it paid off as they stopped the clock at 17.95 seconds, which stood up as the afternoon’s best time.
“I had some reservations today of whether I would use him,” Lockhart said. “I thought maybe it might get worse if it rains more. I opted to stay on him at least one more time. He’s probably going to get the day off (on Friday). We’ll see what the weather does.”
Deb Guelly, of Okotoks, finished second on Thursday in a time of 18.23 seconds, just 1/100ths of a second faster than Vickie Carter, of Richfield, Utah.
Lockhart leads the aggregate standings through three days of action in Pool B with $15,000 in earnings, while Nancy Csabay, of Skiff, sits second at $10,500
Back-to-back day money for Texas tie-down roper
Cory Solomon of Prairie View, Texas takes first place on the day in Tie-Down Roping at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Thursday July 14, 2016. TED RHODES / CALGARY HERALD
Cory Solomon can already boast an impressive list of accomplishments at the Calgary Stampede.
He burst onto the rodeo scene in Calgary in 2012 and took home the tie-down roping title – and $100,000 that goes with it – at the age of 21.
Now 25 and in his fifth straight year competing at the Stampede, Solomon accomplished a first for him by winning back-to-back day money prizes of $5,500 on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I think I’ve done first and second back-to-back,” said Solomon, who stopped the clock in 7.2 seconds on Thursday, a day after posting a time of 6.7. “This is my first time to do two in a row.”
Solomon could have actually had a faster time on Thursday, if not for a slight bobble when he was tying his calf.
“You’ve got to finish no matter what goes on, if the leg’s muddy or whatever,” said the native of Prairie View, Texas, who didn’t want to blame the muddy conditions in the Stampede Park infield. “Honestly today I had a string that was a little too long. I only brought one shorter one and I didn’t want to ruin it before coming back Sunday.
“I don’t want to make excuses. It was a mistake that I made and I’ll live with it. I’m just thankful that it worked out. I guess I’m thankful everybody else messed up.”
Fred Whitfield, of Hockley, Texas posted a time of 7.9 seconds to finish second behind Solomon for the second straight day.
Whitfield also placed first during the first day of Pool B action on Tuesday and currently leads the aggregate standings with $12,500 in earnings. He’s followed closely by Solomon at $11,000, while fellow Texans – Stephenville’s Marty Yates ($8,500) and Aubrey’s Timber Moore ($7,500) – sit in third and fourth spots respectively.
It’s not a surprise to Solomon that Texans hold down the top four spots in the Pool B aggregate standings.
“Some of the fastest guys in the world,” he said of the tie-down roping talent in the Lone Star State, especially the further south you get. “It’s just amazing talent down there in south Texas. I’m just thankful I grew up down there. I didn’t have to adjust to speeding up when I hit the road.”
Solomon added that he actually had to learn to slow down in order to post quicker times.
“My biggest deal, I had to adjust to turning down because some runs you slow down and you’re faster,” said Solomon, who prides himself on jumping off is horse Spook and tying the calf he draws as fast as possible. “I just grew up – as fast as you can go. Sometimes that’s not always good. As I get older and get more experienced, I’m learning to try to control it.”
Judging by his performance so far at the Stampede, he’s found a good balance between being quick and accurate.
“Canada’s been great to me and I love Calgary,” he said, while adding that his mom Caralita will definitely like the pair of bronze statues he’s won so far. “My mom is always like, ‘Bring me that trophy and we’ll stick it in the trophy case.’ It’s kind of a cool thing. She’ll be waiting on all my trophies when I get back.”
Bradshaw and Crawley split saddle bronc
Published on: July 14, 2016 | Last Updated: July 14, 2016 8:40 PM MDT
CoBurn Bradshaw of Milford, Utah rides Weekend Departure to a first place tie in Saddle Bronc at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Thursday July 14, 2016. TED RHODES / CALGARY HERALD
CoBurn Bradshaw has had quite the year.
The 21-year-old saddle bronc rider has gone from the National Finals Rodeo to Rodeo Houston to the Calgary Stampede — and has been a first-timer at all of them.
The venues aren’t modest, either. Especially the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“It’s awesome,” said the Beaver, Ut., native. “You couldn’t ask for a better crowd. The arena’s awesome, the weather’s been awesome and the horses have been bucking good.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
There’s a reason for Bradshaw’s optimism.
After splitting first- and second-placed day money with Jacobs Crawley — both cowboys posted 84-point rides on their respective horses Weekend Departure and Goliath — he’s now cha-chinged $9,000 after 24 seconds of work in Pool B competition.
Sitting third in the overall aggregate, there’s a good chance he’ll be in Sunday’s final.
Meanwhile, Crawley tucked $5,000 into his chaps which was his first cheque of Pool B competition. After posting a 77 on Tuesday and an 81 on Wednesday, he was waiting for a big ride.
The money and the solid performance were a relief for the Boerne, Tex., native.
“It hadn’t come together the last two days,” said Crawley, a native of Boerne, Tex. “I was like, ‘Man, my Calgary mojo just hasn’t been working.’
“I was really happy to have a nice horse and get to enjoy some of that Calgary Stampede money. Now it’s time to kick some butt and maybe walk out of here with a really big cheque.”
Nevada steer wrestler making up for Fourth of July
Dakota Eldridge of Elko, Nev., puts in the best steer-wrestling time of Day 5 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Cowboys compete for 10 days for a piece of the rodeo's $2 million in prize money. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network
It’s known as Cowboy Christmas for a reason.
But the only thing Dakota Eldridge has collected during that lucrative stretch of rodeos during the Fourth of July is a few lousy lumps of coal.
“Typical Fourth for me,” said the 24-year-old, shaking his head. “Didn’t win much at all. I won $840 bucks. That’s every year for me, I’ve never had a good Fourth of July for whatever reason.
“Usually the week after is good for me, I usually win $4,000 or $5,000 and catch back up.”
In other words, the Calgary Stampede couldn’t have come at a better time.
The four-day Pool B competition — which started on Tuesday — allows him to park and rest his horse Rusty, instead of dragging his outfit all over the mid-West.
“Hauling horses, I feel bad for ’em,” he explained. “Hauling them from St. Paul, Mobridge, South Dakota, Belle Fourche, Cody, Wyoming. I feel bad for the horses. I always think, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this. I should have two rigs and flying back and forth.’
“Next year, I’m going to change my game plan.”
Also included in Eldridge’s near future?
A proper sit-down meal.
“After running around and stopping at gas stations, trying to find something halfway healthy and eating burgers and stuff … you’re ready to come up here and go down to the Keg and have a good steak,” he said with a grin.
The glamours of the road are also not cheap.
So, Eldridge plans on making up for his dry Cowboy Christmas at the Calgary Stampede.
Maybe it’s greedy.
But the Elko, Nev., native is fine with it.
“I think a guy rodeoing needs to be greedy and not try and back off when you think you’ve got enough money,” he said. “You spend so much money rodeoing, you’ve just gotta try and win everything you can.
“While I’m still young and healthy, I need to bear down and win as much as I can.”
On a cloudy Thursday afternoon — Day 3 of Pool B competition — Eldridge slopped through the muck and threw down a black and white steer in 4.1 seconds.
He narrowly beat Trevor Knowles who has won the Calgary Stampede the past three of four years and was looking like the cowboy to beat with a mud-filled 4.2-second performance.
“The ground was a little sticky, not bad, but I knew I was probably a short-four,” Eldridge said. “It just felt a little slower because the ground was a little slicker and wasn’t as fast.
“You kind of have to slow down. You can’t get in a hurry.”
And Eldridge isn’t in a hurry to go anywhere.
After three days of saddling up — with stellar times of 4.1, 4.3, and 4.1 — he’s made $13,500 which is likely more than enough to qualify him for Sunday’s final.
There, he’ll have a shot at $100,000.
And a few more Keg-sized steaks.
“I think after (Thursday) I’m in for sure now,” Eldridge said. “It’ll be nice to be in one spot for a few days and hang out and eat a good dinner and have fun with all my buddies that are here.”
Manitoba bareback rider claims second bronze
Orin Larsen of Inglis, Man., puts in the day's best score (86.5) on Gypsy Soul in the bareback event on Day 6 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alta., on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Cowboys compete for 10 days for a piece of the rodeo's $2 million in prize money. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network LYLE ASPINALL / LYLE ASPINALL/POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Orin Larsen’s cheering section at the Calgary Stampede rodeo includes his current billets – who just happen to be his grandma and grandpa.
For the second straight day, Larsen’s grandparents Dennis and Maida Wearmouth cheered him on to victory in the bareback competition.
“They’re probably jumping up and down and all excited,” said the 25-year-old cowboy from Inglis, Man., who’s staying at the Wearmouth’s place just west of Airdrie while he competes in Pool B at the Stampede. “I’ve got my whole family here and my girlfriend came up with me, so we’re pretty excited.”
The way things are going, Larsen will undoubtedly have to extend his stay with two of his biggest fans.
“I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch – fingers crossed,” said Larsen of putting himself into position to finish among the top four competitors in Pool B who earn automatic berths to Showdown Sunday. “I’m happy with everything going so far. Just hopefully I keep going the way I have been to Sunday. It’s going according to plan so far. We’ll see.”
Thanks to an 84.5-ride aboard Bittersweet – Thursday’s best score – Larsen pocketed $5,500 to increase his haul over three days to $13,500.
Richie Champion, of Dublin, Texas, and Steven Peebles, of Redmond, Ore., split second- and third-place money after posting identical scores of 83 points on Thursday. Champion sits second in the aggregate standings in Pool B with $12,500 in earnings, while Peebles is right behind him at $11,500 with one more day of competition left on Friday.
“All those guys are phenomenal bareback riders and phenomenal athletes,” said Larsen. “I’m just really fortunate to be in the same locker room as them.”
As for his ride atop Bittersweet in muddy conditions, Larsen said he knew he’d be able to post a good score.
“I saw him a little bit throughout the summer last year,” he said. “I knew he was just a big soggy hopper to have fun on, so I was pretty happy.”
Although his grandfather never competed on the rodeo circuit, he likes to break down his grandson’s rides back at home.
“He’s like, ‘What happened there, what could you have done?’,” explained Larsen. “Not really critiquing, just kind of curious about the whole thing. He’s got a lot of questions, so that’s alright.”
And Larsen likes having his grandpa in his corner.
“He’s probably one of me and my brother’s biggest fans,” said Larsen, whose older brother Tyrel was invited to compete at the Calgary Stampede as a saddle-bronc rider. “He (Tyrel) was supposed to be competing here, but he broke his leg. He’ll be watching. He just had a baby boy about two or three months ago. He’s at home being a dad.”
While he appreciates all the support he’s getting from his family, Larsen isn’t planning on giving away either of the two bronze statues that he’s won so far to any of his relatives.
“My little two-year-old nephew claims he gets to keep them,” said Larsen. “He’s going to have a little rude awakening when I go home.”
Scott Cruickshank: Calgary Stampede's bronc-busters relish their eight-second rush
Jacobs Crawley stretches before competing in saddle bronc at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday July 12, 2016. Leah Hennel/Postmedia LEAH HENNEL / LEAH HENNEL/POSTMEDIA
For eight – or fewer – seconds, his actions are in full view.
But the bronc-buster’s workday includes more than that sliver of seat time.
For starters, there’s pre-buck preparation, taping and stretching and meditating. And travel, with competitors grinding their way from burg to burg. Perhaps even daily chores.
Too, those occasional bouts of steam-blowing. You know, knocking the foam off a couple of cold ones.
So it makes sense that a cowboy, post-whistle, might find himself a tad spent.
“Hell, no,” Kaycee Feild was saying last week, minutes after a bareback spin at the Calgary Stampede. “I’m riled up. I want to get on 10 more.”
What about the sheer relief?
The sweet release of leaving the arena on two feet, more or less in one piece. Surely, the experience of getting through another go-round unsplinted must be like yanking an emotional plug.
Feild shakes his head again.
“It’s just like a UFC fighter,” he says. “You land a punch and you want to back it up – land another one, land another one. It’s physical. It’s just like a fight. If you go in there just la-di-da, well, you’re going to get beat.”
Hard to believe that la-di-da is even an attitudinal option for these gents.
Before the nods, read their facial expressions, their body language, in the chutes. Consider them charged to the max.
And this kind of jolt isn’t likely to lift in a matter of seconds, eight or otherwise.
“You get on a real bucking horse and you’ve done all the preparation beforehand,” Steven Peebles says shortly after posting Tuesday’s top bareback mark. “The hours to get ready to stay ahead of a horse that’s 10 times stronger than you and could buck you off at any second … and you’ve outsmarted him, out-timed him? You’ve conquered a rank bucking horse of the world, your adrenaline is firing, you’ve got 20,000 people standing on their feet for you, it’s a cool feeling. It really is.
“That’s what draws us to this thing. It’s what addicts you. It’s just fun. A lot of fun.”
Rush or not, the eight-tick tussle is not always a breeze.
Once in a while, it does feel like work.
“When it’s more of a fistfight,” says Jacobs Crawley, a saddle-bronc ace who, with CoBurn Bradshaw, pulled Thursday’s biggest scores. “Those situations where it’s 105 degrees, it doesn’t work out, and it’s like, ‘Man, I need a breather and a bottle of water.’ ”
Consider those circumstances rare.
Because Orin Larsen would love to do strap in all day – and share the feeling.
“You just want more and more and more of it until you literally just drop from exhaustion,” says Larsen. “I’ve never done drugs in my life, but if I could put bareback riding in a little vial, I could make millions off it.”
Bradshaw agrees: “It’ll cure anything. If you’re not feeling very good, you’ll feel great when you get off. You can’t explain it.”
Minutes and hours leading up to the critical moment are nothing special, according to the cowboys.
After all, superstitions aren’t superstitions – they are simply routines.
“There’s enough ways for a guy to fight his head or mess up a ride,” says Peebles. “Just one more B.S. loophole to worry about. I try not to believe in any of the stuff, but a lot of guys do.”
A lot? Not a bronc-busting soul talking this week.
“I’ll eat chicken on game day,” he says, laughing. “I’ll put on either boot first. My hat sits wherever it wants to sit.”
Crawley does check the phone – his wife always texts – before heading to the chutes. He also makes time for stretching and visualizing.
“My deal is being in the right state of mind,” he says, “and having a one-and-a-half-second game plan – that initial start of aggression that builds the ride. If you don’t take that initial punch, you’re playing catch-up.”
Or, as Larsen calls it, “a mental dress rehearsal.”
Quickly, then, comes the high.
Eight seconds of bucking fury.
The cowboy hits the turf. Fist-pumps or chucks a handful of dirt. Gets his score. Grabs his hat. Departs.
“Pretty much a normal day at the office,” says Larsen.
Peebles is asked to describe the post-ride vibe.
“Fired up. Happy. Pumped.”
Really, how could it be any different?
“You’ve got your motor running and your blood’s going,” says Zeke Thurston, boy wonder of the saddle-bronc scene. “Man, you could crawl on one right then if they had another bucking horse there.
“If I don’t do the greatest, I dang sure will be mad at myself. But you shake it off. By the time you’ve changed behind the bucking chute, it’s over with. There’s another one the next day.”