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Stampede Rodeo Revisit

By Rodrigo Verney August 5 2022

Another year, another edition of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. The Calgary Stampede is an amazing yearly event that unites people from every corner of the world and presents them with a celebration of Calgarian history, Indigenous culture and six rodeo events with the best of the best competing on an internationally loved stage. After the 10 days of action, it’s time to dust off your recently stored cowboy hat and put your boots back on as we revisit the rodeo.

The Calgary Stampede is back to its former self after the event’s cancellation in 2020 and subsequent restricted 2021 edition. Calgarians couldn’t be happier to have the parade, shows and the rodeo itself headlining at the GMC stadium. Tourists and investors alike were thrilled to be returning after the restrictions have been lifted. Needless to say that after the backlash against Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney’s controversial speech surrounding last year’s restrictions being lifted, only to maintain it as it was, every political figure was thrilled for an event that brought $540 million to the province annually.

Now that it blessed us with 10 days of exciting displays of extreme sports, it is time to recap how this year’s edition unfolded. For those that are just now figuring out their lassos, the Calgary Stampede presents the best riders in six distinct categories: Barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc and bareback. Each aims to show one aspect of the cowboy life with an extreme twist to it. 

Barrel Racing is a race against time to circle around three barrels and make it back to the scoreline. A precision run in which a hundredth of a second is all it takes to separate the greats from the rest. This category saw Kassie Mowbry from Dublin, Texas as the winner with a fantastic time of 16.977 seconds, just enough to beat the second place by 0.137 seconds. Mowbry made sure that the pressed acknowledged who the real winner was.

“I just feel so proud of my horse for holding it together like this. I just feel like he’s livened up with this crowd and ran so hard every time he heard it cheer,” said Mowbry.

Bull riding, arguably one of the most famous categories out there, consists of trying to maintain your body and hand position on top of a raging bull for eight seconds. 50 points get awarded to the rider and 50 go to the bull himself. The rules are simple enough. The better the bull kicks, spins and breaks, the more points are awarded to the duo. One of the most electrifying competitions ended up in the most spectacular way — tie between two veterans. Dakota Buttar and Shane Proctor posted 88.5 points in a bonus round after the pair fell off their bulls in the final round. They split the cash prize of the first and second round and exchanged some words highlighting the importance of this result in their careers.

“Shane’s a good guy, I’ve looked up to him for a long time,” said Buttar. In response to what that meant for Shane, he said “We got to have a showdown and it was fun. We’re not the young guys in the locker room, so it’s kind of fun — a lot of the guys are 21 or 22 and we’re a lot older.”

Tie-Down Roping is one of the oldest tasks in ranch life. The rider is mounted to a horse of his choice and must chase after a calf that gets a 10 feet head start. After being released from the rope barrier, the cowboy will race for his best time to rope the calf, dismount on the run to reach it, and tie three of its legs after turning it on its side. The clock stops when the cowboy puts his hands up. Whoever does this sequence in the shortest amount of time wins. Caleb Smidt from Bellville, Texas, the 2019 winner, was able to do it again this year with a fantastic time of 6.8 seconds.

Steer Wrestling is as exciting as the name would suggest. The concept shares some similarities with tie-down roping. However, this time around the steer has a 12-foot head start and there is no rope to be found in the rider’s hand. He has to throw himself off the horse to bring the steer to a halt with his bare hands while tumbling the animal on its side. The winner will be defined as the one who can do it in the shortest time. This modality saw a first-time champion with Will Lummus from Byhalia, Mississippi, with an incredible time of 3.6 seconds — beating the second place and also his traveling buddy by 0.4 second.

“I’ve been here one other time [in 2019], and I was in the final four and didn’t really draw the steer I wanted. I knew I had a chance — they had won a round with him earlier.” said Lummus

Finally, we have to talk bareback riding. The name speaks for itself — like bull riding except without a saddle. The rider has to maintain a good hand and torso position as he tries to remain on his horse for eight seconds. In total, 100 points are awarded, half for the rider and half for the horse. So the higher it kicks and jumps the better your overall score. The winner this time around was an 18-year-old prodigy Rocker Steiner from Weatherford, Texas with 91.5 points atop Yipee Kibitz. This amazing performance was all it took to surpass the reigning champion, Tim O’Connell from Zingle, Iowa, to win the top prize.

“This is the best group of bareback riders there’s ever been and definitely the strongest group of bareback horses. To be winning like I am against the greatest group that there’s ever been means a lot,” said Steiner.

Regardless of the results, the excitement lingers on. For an event with so many variables, one thing is certain after every edition. We can’t wait for the next one.

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