Several local cowboys continue to shine on the rodeo trail and that includes the recent Calgary Stampede.
Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston came out with yet another big time rodeo win while others came close.
The victory was the third Calgary Stampede title in a row for the 23 year-old, something that no other saddle bronc rider has done.
“They say great things and success happens when preparation and the opportunity meet and I guess that’s just what that was today,” said Thurston, who is the current world champ.
“A lot of guys would go their whole careers and never win this rodeo. To win it three years in a row is unbelievable.”
Thurston was the lone Canadian victor in the $2-million Calgary Stampede, which dates back to 1905 and is one of the richest in the sport of rodeo.
“To be able to ride one bucking horse for $100,000 whether you do it or not, that’s awesome. I wish there were more rodeos like this,” Thurston added.
Thurston’s father Skeeter was also a saddle bronc rider and a six-time qualifier for the world championship.
“You’re probably going to have to go stick a knife in his chest to deflate it,” Zeke said. “I bet he’s walking around here proud as a peacock.”
Ponoka native Jake Vold along with Brock Butterfield, Layton Green of Meeting Creek and Donalda’s Curtis and Cody Cassidy were all players on the final day of the Stampede and left with a good amount of money in their wallets — even though none were able to land that big cheque and the prestige that goes with being a champion.
Vold made the Sunday showdown bareback long-go by winning $9,000 in his pool and added another $10,000 to that even after being bucked off on the final ride of the short-go July 16, despite having put up a 91.5 score to give him a chance at the $100,000 championship.
As for Butterfield, he qualified in the steer wrestling by virtue of his $9,000 in earnings from his pool, only to be bumped out of a shot at the title when his 4.7 second run wasn’t quite fast enough.
The Cassidy brothers were also part of the steer wrestling mix, with Cody getting through to the final by taking $7,500 in his pool and Curtis winning the wild card on July 15 after earning $3,500 earlier in the week.
However, Curtis — who put up a time of 4.2 in the long go — was left behind in the chase for the title by Cody with a top time of 3.4 in the last run. Unfortunately, the championship eluded Cody by two-tenths of a second, though his 4.0 run still got him another $25,000.
And it was deja-vu for Green, who was once again left in the infield dust by his buddy from Big Valley in the saddle bronc.
After piling up $13,000 to win his pool and directly qualify for the final, Green came out close behind Thurston.
Green wound up second in the long-go with an 89, as Thurston put up a 90. That meant, just like in Ponoka two weeks earlier, the pair would be up against each other for the big money and it was close once again.
Riding Wild Cherry in the $100,000 showdown, Green had the lead with a 91.5 but then Thurston thundered out of the chute on Get Smart and scored a 92.