North Carolina bullrider J.B. Mauney rides a bull named Flight Plan to a score of 89.00 at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
North Carolina bull rider gives one young fan a special souvenir
Somewhere in his North Carolina home, J.B. Mauney has a stash of Calgary Stampede signature bronze statues.
The statue he won Tuesday, though, won’t be making the trip home.
Instead, one lucky rodeo fan got a heck of a souvenir.
“The one yesterday, there was a little boy and he wanted a picture with me and an autograph, so I just signed (the statue) and gave it to him,” Mauney said.
If Mauney regretted his decision in any way, it didn’t take him long to get his hands on another statue. Riding Flight Plan on Day 2 of the bull riding competition on Wednesday, Mauney put on the performance of the day and earned himself an 89.00 score.
That was good for a $5,500 cheque and another statue to go in his already-impressive collection. Mauney’s won the Calgary Stampede bullriding competition twice, picking up $100,000 cheques in both 2009 and 2013 and winning plenty of go-rounds in the years when he hasn’t managed to end up on top on Showdown Sunday.
“They’ve been real good to me up here, I won quite a lot of money coming up here and this is probably the funnest week I have all year, just coming up here and hanging out,” Mauney said. “It’s not a whole lot of hype, it’s just everybody’s here to watch a great rodeo.”
So far in Pool B this week, nobody’s been quite as great as Mauney. With $11,000 in earnings through two days, he’s leading the way — Fabiano Vieira’s $7,000 in prize money has him second — in the driver’s seat to qualify for Showdown Sunday and get another crack at a massive payday.
It hasn’t come easy, though. On Wednesday Mauney was paired with a bull that started bucking long before it was released from the chutes.
“It was kind of a wild start there,” Mauney said. “They said he could get a little bad in the chute and he’s young-acting in there and would want to buck a little bit, so I tried to ease around and when I got on him, boy, he got to bucking in there. I thought the gate-man was gonna get it.
“But once he got clear of those gates, he really went to bucking and it was pretty good.”
With his rides going well and a couple cheques already waiting to be cashed, Mauney can begin to look down the line to this weekend. He’s been around the Stampede block enough that he knows the job’s not done yet, though, and he’s hoping that’ll help him as the competition gets even tougher going forward.
“First time I came, I was a nervous wreck but being here so many times and winning it twice, you kind of know what to expect,” Mauney said. “But the way they have this set up, it’s anybody’s game come Sunday.”
After Mauney gave that answer, the media scrum paused for a second. Speaking with Mauney, he doesn’t give up a nervous vibe, was he really a ‘nervous wreck’?
“I really wasn’t,” Mauney laughed. “It was cool to be here but I don’t get nervous a whole lot.”
Orin Larsen clashes with high-school sweetheart Gypsy Soul
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 Wednesday afternoon date was like two old high-school flames meeting up again.
Awkward at first.
Then, after some comfortable conversation, the run-in ends and, quickly, both parties realize they don’t want to see each other again for a while.
And, after an 86.5-point ride aboard Gypsy Soul — a Girletz horse Larsen used to ride at high school rodeos — the Inglis, Man., native admitted neither have changed all that much.
“She’s grown up a bit,” he said. “But she’s the same old Gypsy Soul, does her thing. She’s pretty reliable.
“It was going to be close. I thought I definitely get a cheque but I’m glad she turned it up a little bit.”
Truth be told, Larsen did his part, too.
Eight seconds aboard his old friend and he earned a $5,500 cheque to bump his two-day total to $8,000.
Larsen just wrapped up the Fourth of July and is currently sitting third in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with $76,827.72.
Not a bad salary but, of course, another few days of day money plus a trip to Sunday’s finals and a chance at $100,000 wouldn’t hurt.
Regardless, the Stampede is always a treat for the 25-year-old who is stationed with his grandparents in Airdrie this week.
“I love coming to Calgary, it’s a little home to me,” he said. “I just finished the Fourth of July. So, it’s nice to stay in one spot and have a little vacay for a while.
“Coming from there to Calgary isn’t that bad. Commuting from Arizona to Oregon is pretty bad.”
Cancer survivor Csabay's philosophy pays off
Nancy Csabay puts in the day's fastest time (17.56 seconds) in barrel racing 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
Nancy Csabay hasn’t always been a live-in-the-moment kind of girl.
But, hey, life throws you a few lessons once in a while.
“All of the experiences I’ve had has brought me to where I am today and how grateful I am for those life experiences,” said the 47-year-old, sporting a brown hat with a single pink ribbon like a badge of honour. “Of course, I thought my world was over. But it really isn’t, it’s just beginning.”
After battling and beating breast cancer two years ago, it’s no surprise Csabay’s outlook has changed.
Diagnosed shortly after the 2013 Canadian Finals Rodeo, the Taber native caught the disease early and was able to get back on her horse Wicked and compete again the following June.
She qualified for the CFR in 2014 and, a year later, she captured the Canadian championship and qualified for the Calgary Stampede.
And, on Wednesday, she bagged her first victory — ever — at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“I just wanted a nice, clean run,” Csabay said with a grin. “You know I don’t go out and try to win it, I just try to place.
“That’s what I did all last year.”
Simple enough, really.
Staying in the moment, Csabay guided her horse Wicked, the 2015 barrel racing horse of the year, around the pattern on Day 2 of Pool B competition and was even faster than Tuesday’s 17.79-second performance.
Her 17.56-second performance on Wednesday kicked off the 10-rider competition and the rest of the field knew they’d be chasing Csabay’s time.
Turns out she — or, rather, Wicked — was too tough to catch.
“She’s four-wheel drive,” Csabay said. “I think that’s what makes her so fast. It was the same as (Tuesday). I had no trouble. My horse likes to run on harder stuff.
Some girls like to run on deeper, sandier stuff. My horse is used to this.
“It’s Alberta ground, really.”
Following her ride, she embraced her 10-year-old daughter Kate, who was waiting for her behind the family seating area.
“She gave me a lucky rock,” Csabay said, pulling a small rough stone out of her pocket. “She gave me a lucky loonie (on Tuesday) but it was a lucky rock today. She wrote Nancy, Stitch — our dog — Tony and Kate.
Now, with a two-day total of $9,000 after her first victory at the Calgary Stampede, Csabay is set up nicely for the next two days of competition and has a good chance of advancing to Sunday’s $100,000 final.
But she’s not thinking about that today.
“My whole purpose in life is to live in the moment,” she said. “It’s a great feeling, don’t get me wrong and I’m so grateful it happened.
“But my whole goal in life is to be present. If I think about yesterday and the day before, I’m not being present.
“I’m onto the next run (Thursday).”
Slick hands on display as Texan takes top money in tie-down roping
Cory Solomon of Prairie View, Tex., puts in the day's best tie-down roping score (6.7 seconds) 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
Cory Solomon showed up at the Calgary Stampede ready to ride.
The only problem is that on Day 1 of Pool B competition, things didn’t really work out the way the 25-year-old Prairie View, Texas, native had planned.
Despite his best efforts at preparation.
“Me and Fred Whitfield woke up Tuesday and tied the calves at 6:30 a.m.,” Solomon said. “We were the only two that showed up out of the contestants to time. And then, (on Tuesday) I got the (calf) that kicked.
“I knew I roped good, my horse roped good, but then my calf kicked. But you have to take losing and try to win again. I’ve learned that being out here.”
The wise words were meaningful as Solomon, a three-time NFR qualifier and 2015 San Antonio Rodeo champion, took his own advice. He approached Day 2 with the same game plan and, after a lightning-fast tie of his black and white calf, Solomon produced a 6.7-second run.
Wednesday’s flawless performance — which started off the day’s tie-down roping action and would not be beat — was not only better than his 11.6-second run on Tuesday, it was smooth as butter.
Afterwards, Solomon talked about his fast hands and flanking calves quicker than the next guy.
“That’s one thing that speeds my run up,” he said. “I’m not the biggest guy in the field so, since I started … I’ve roped a lot and tied a lot, one of my downfalls was I had to figure out where to be to flank a calf.”
The logic is simple.
A bigger pen of calves is easy to handle if you’re big and have good technique.
But if you’re big and the technique is lacking, it leaves room for slight cowboys with perfect technique to find a way to claim a share of day money.
It’s also easier for Solomon, whose family owns a cattle company in Texas, considering he is used to handling calves every day.
“I’d tie hundreds of calves a week,” he said. “We weren’t a rich family that would have 60 calves at once to tie. I’d have to do 10 one day, 15 the next day. That was one of the things that made me better, I think … (roping) was one of the talents God gave me. I just worked at it and tried to use it to the best of my ability.”
It also helps that his horse, Spook, is well-accustomed to the Calgary Stampede’s massive and boisterous crowds. Solomon has been working with the horse since the NFR in 2012 and rode him at the Stampede last year.
But just don’t read into the name.
“Nothing in the arena ever scares him,” Solomon said with a chuckle. “All the way from the trailer to here, he just looks at everything. From banners to drainage, he looks at everything.
“But you can have the biggest crowd in the world and when you get into the arena, nothing matters. He’s not spooked by anything.”
Spook patiently allowed Solomon to finish his speedy run that was just shy of Ryan Jarrett’s 6.3-second arena record. The calf did its part, too, and didn’t try to kick out of Solomon’s secure tie.
No one was faster — not even his training partner and Tuesday’s go-round winner Whitfield, who pulled off a 7.8-second run worth fourth-placed money ($2,500). The Texan collected a first-place cheque of $5,500.
So, it was easy to see why Solomon was grinning from ear to ear when he finished his victory lap and greeted the media.
“It was a tough group of ropers,” said the father of a five-year-old girl named Kortee. “The guys here today, any one of them can break any record at any time. It’s tough. No one knows guys are behind you — you can’t hold anything back.
“You have to take chances here in order to win first. I took one (Wednesday) and it worked out.”
Casey Martin rides to victory in steer wrestling
Bulldogger's Cody Cassidy and Casey Martin share the victory lap after the tie-down roping event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
Casey Martin wasn’t going to miss the Calgary Stampede.
But the Louisiana native definitely wasn’t going to miss the birth of his seventh child, either.
With his wife Shawna due to give birth on July 8, this presented a little bit of an issue. Just not an issue that he hadn’t dealt with before, so Martin called up Jake Rinehart and asked if he could ride one of his horses.
Rinehart said yes, and the rest has been history.
“I’ve had a bunch of summer babies, which is a terrible time for rodeo,” said Martin, who won Wednesday afternoon’s steer wrestling competition with a time of 4.0 seconds. “But I haven’t missed one (birth) yet, so I’ve been fortunate.”
Martin and his wife welcomed their son Newt into the world on July 2, giving him plenty of time to drive his own horse up to Calgary. But he’d already booked a flight and figured that spending an extra couple of days with his family sounded awfully nice.
As a result, Martin is riding Rinehart’s horse Rio this week at the Stampede, and with a first place finish on Wednesday and a second-place on Tuesday, the decision is paying off.
He’s currently in first place in the Pool B standings with $10,000 in prize money to his name, while Dakota Eldridge is directly behind him in second with $8,000.
“I grew up riding different horses,” Martin said. “In high school rodeo I rode a different horse just about every weekend, just depending on which buddy was there with a horse.”
Utah rider finally gets his statue Wednesday in Stampede saddle bronc
Jake Wright of Milford, Utah, rides Major Cover to the day's top score in saddle bronc 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
Pretty much since the moment he was born, Jake Wright was destined to one day have his hand raised at the Calgary Stampede.
When you come from the Wright family, of Milford, Utah, that’s just what you do. But while Jake was winning at rodeos all across North America, he somehow never quite managed to win a go-round during his first three trips to Calgary.
On Wednesday afternoon, though, he finally got it done, as Wright rode Major Cover to victory on Day 2 of Pool B saddle bronc competition when he rode to a score of 85.50.
“Heck yeah, I’ve been waiting,” said an excited Wright after the win. “I’ve been saying it for the last three years that I’m gonna get one of them statues and finally I got ‘er done. I drew a good good, really good today, I couldn’t be happier.”
The Wright name has long been synonymous with championship saddle bronc riding, and Jake is built in the same mould as the family members who’ve come before him.
With 13 kids and a family ranch that overlooks the Zion National Park in Utah, the sons of Bill and Evelyn Wright grew up on bucking horses and have largely dominated saddle bronc over the past 20 years or so.
In 2014, they made history when Cody, Jesse, Jake and Spencer all qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. It was a record for one family, but not necessarily a surprise. Cody had won the world title in 2008 and 2010, while Jesse won in 2012 and Jake finished second in 2013.
Somehow, though, that success didn’t translate into big paydays when the 27-year-old came up to Calgary.
“I’ve been here four times. I didn’t get any money the first year, I didn’t get any money the second year,” Wright said. “I’ve watched my brothers do good here for a long time and it’s awesome. I’m ready now, and the sky’s the limit.”
The win puts Wright in a nice position to qualify for Showdown Sunday, as the $5,500 cheque he collected for Wednesday’s victory brings his two-day total to $7,000 and puts him tied for second place in the Pool B aggregate standings behind Wade Sundell, who has earned $8,000.
Wright is tied with Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston.
The week hasn’t gone quite as well for Wright’s younger brother, Spencer, who has yet to pick up a top-four finish, so hasn’t had his name written on a cheque just yet.
Jake’s not worried about Spencer, though, although he’s happy to offer up any advice that his younger brother might ask for.
He knows how much a cowboy can be affected by the high-stakes of competing at the Stampede, after all.
“I just want to do so good and the last couple years I’ve just tried to relax and have fun,” Wright said. “That’s what I told my little brother yesterday and he went out today and was fixing to beat me but that horse just threw a roll in there and he rode outstanding. I told him, ‘Just relax and have fun, you’re a champ.’ ”