Ponoka, Alberta bullrider Zane Lambert rides a bull named Sweat and Regret at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Saturday, July 9, 2016.
BY IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN
Considering how Zane Lambert’s season ‘kicked’ off, the finish is going great, regardless of what happens over the next couple of months.
Back in May, the Ponoka bull-rider took a stomping at a rodeo in Stavely, Alta., knocking him out of action for only nine weeks, remarkable considering the damage it did.
After recovering from five broken ribs and a collapsed lung, the 30-year-old made a triumphant return to the Calgary Stampede, working his way into the top 10 Sunday in his first event back.
Lambert wasn’t exactly 100 per cent during the summer’s biggest rodeo, but he will have managed to compete in 35 events before the season is done, including Saturday’s PBR Monster Energy Canada Tour stop at the Agrium Events Centre.
“It’s been a good season since,” said Lambert, who was bucked off a small but shifty bull named Still Water on Saturday night. “It’s ended up finishing off being not a bad year. It’s not a complete loss. I knew I had to turn around because I wouldn’t have had a shot (at championships).
“I have some momentum going, obviously better than what I had out of the injury. I’m feeling stronger lately.”
Brady Sims of Holt, Mo., won the event with an 89 in the final round, earning himself a bonus ride on Liquid Fire, but he was bucked off quickly and couldn't cash the $15,000 cheque.
There are two PBR events left after the Calgary stop, but Lambert came into this weekend sitting 33rd on the money list because of the time he lost early in the year.
He won’t have a chance at the PBR Canada title he took home in 2013, but there were other goals.
He got on his horse and hit the rodeo tour hard. Actually, it was a matter of hopping in the truck with fellow Ponoka natives Tyler Pankewitz and Wacey Finkbeiner and getting on as many bulls as he could.
This weekend was a good example of the life he and his travelling mates endure. He was in Brooks Friday, Calgary on Saturday and then off to Hanna on Sunday.
The grind has paid off, because his fourth-place spot in the standings means he’s qualified for his sixth Canadian Finals Rodeo, which will be in Edmonton from Nov. 9-13. For someone trying to make a living eight seconds at a time in a different town most nights, earning a spot in Edmonton can make or break a year.
“Getting into the CFR is great,” Lambert said. “You work all year and make about $20,000, and then at the CFR alone, you can pull $60,000. It’s worth your time to get there, otherwise it doesn’t pay much in a year.”
Lambert has felt much better in terms of health lately, although there are reminders about his wreck in Stavely, which is understandable.
“My shoulder is sore, and rib one and two have been bothering me,” Lambert said. “I dropped my collarbone a little bit. I’m just making sure the socket is really strong as I’ve had to make a change in how I work out. I’m trying to make those muscles really strong.”
Because the bull stepped on his back and head, Lambert doesn’t remember much about the event. He was rushed to the Claresholm hospital then taken by Stars Air Ambulance to Calgary, where he spent the next 10 days in Foothills Hospital.
For the next six weeks, it was nothing but chiropractic appointments and rehab, but he credits the sports medicine doctors with getting him back as quickly as he did.
This certainly isn’t the first time the bull rider has had to recover from a bad injury, but the Stavely incident give him a chance at one first in his life.
And it’s the one part he does remember.
“I came to when we were getting into the helicopter,” Lambert said. “It was a new experience for me. It’s not the way I envisioned taking my first helicopter ride.
“I did get to see it, though. It was cool looking back. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it.”