Calgary – It was a phenomenal three-peat for Zeke Thurston in the saddle bronc riding. The Big Valley talent met up with an old friend, the Northcott Macza horse Get Smart in the Final Four.
“Every jump I thought I was going to get bucked off,” puffed Thurston, moments after a thrilling 92 point ride. “That horse bucks so hard. He’s probably only 800 pounds, but that’s one of the strongest horses I’ve ever been on.”
Thurston, who just turned 23 on Saturday, hasn’t thought too much yet about inking his place in the history books as the first saddle bronc rider to notch a hat trick with the $100,000 paydays.
“That’s crazy to me. You know, a lot of guys will go their whole careers and maybe never win this rodeo and to win it three years in a row, that’s unbelievable.”
Thurston’s takehome from Stampede was $110,000, with the cash he won earlier in the week; while Green gets the $25,000 bonus to go with his earlier $13,000 take. Taking the third place bonus of $15,000 for a 90 point ride on Stampede Warrior was Taos Muncy, with Sterling Crawley getting a $10,000 bonus for his 89 point ride on Magic Carpet in the Showdown round.
For the second time Sage Kimzey rode out of Calgary with a giant cheque and a beautiful bronze for his efforts in the bull riding, capped off by a 91 point ride on the bull Night Moves.
“This is my third time in Calgary and to be a two-time champion already, it really is a dream come true,” smiled the three-time World Champion. “These are the ones we grow up dreaming about, getting to come here and be 91 points to win the rodeo. So it’s pretty special.”
“A hundred thousand is a lot of money for anybody, much less just a rodeo cowboy. There’s hardly ever we get to see this much money in one place. It’ll definitely start paying for the ranch I’ve always dreamed of.”
Adding to the bull riding saga was the fact Idaho’s Garrett Smith made a grand ride himself on Compton Bound. He was 90.5, just a half point behind Kimzey. But he’ll take home $25,000 as a consolation prize. Both Jess Lockwood and Joao Ricardo Vieira bucked off their bulls.
Bareback rider Richmond Champion was not about to waste an opportunity when he drew the C5 outlaw Virgil in the Final Four, turning in an awesome ride on the grey for 90.5 points and his first Stampede title.
“This is unreal,” bubbled the Texas cowboy. “That’s a horse I’ve always wanted. You think about getting on the best bucking horses in the world and then you imagine them somewhere at a place like this, but that’s just usually something you see before you go to bed at night. To have it really happen is just unreal.”
Champion’s Stampede cheque total $114,833, including his earlier winnings. Taking the runner-up bonus of $25,000 was Stampede newcomer Mason Clements of Utah, who was 89.5 on Special Delivery. Manitoba’s Orin Larsen will get $15,000 after a rough go on Spilled Perfume for 70.5 points, while Jake Vold takes home $10,000 despite being bucked off by Shadow Warrior in the Final Four.
Louisiana’s Tyler Waguespack only took two years in Calgary to make his way to the big stage for a steer wrestling bronze. He got his steer over in 3.8 seconds to be fastest in the Final Four round, and $100,000 richer.
“This is incredible,” confirmed Waguespack. “Last year I lucked up and got to come to this rodeo on an invite. This year, I qualified in. I won second last year, first this year.”
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” he added. “I’ve never won a cheque this big. I always said I wanted one of the big, pretty, Calgary bronzes so I finally got that, and the cheque’s awesome too.”
“I just bought a house down home, so a lot of it’s going to go into that.”
Cody Cassidy came in second, with a 4.0 second run, so he’ll take home a $25,000 bonus to Donalda. Stockton Graves finished third with a 13.7 second run, for $15,000 while Riley Duvall also broke a barrier, but gets $10,000 for his time of 14.7.
It was during the barrel racing that the once sunny skies opened up and added some theatrics to the day. But that didn’t deter Showmance from doing his job. Tiany Schuster hung on for the ride, and their time of 17.032 seconds was best of the bunch, to give her a big Stampede victory.
“I’m just shaking all over. I’m just at a loss for words and I’m normally not. I’ve never won a major event, never, never, ever.”
“The thing about Showmance and the thing about (my boyfriend) Edwin is they’re always there for me, and I know I can always count on them.”
Nellie Miller cashes in for $25,000 for finishing second with her 17.080 second run, with $15,000 going to Stevi Hillman for a 17.207, and $10,000 to Emily Miller for her run of 17.263 seconds.
Cory Solomon knew the path to the Calgary Stampede stage, and while it’s taken him five years, he made that walk again. All it took was 6.7 seconds – the time he posted in the tie-down roping Final Four round which no one could match.
“I just wanted to get a good start, and get my rope around the calf,” said Solomon, who credits mental preparation for his success, along with his good rope horse Twinkie.
“I did it in 2012, and I thought ‘it doesn’t get much better than this’. I came back here in the Finals a couple of times, and came up short. To do it again is like a dream come true.”
“I love this rodeo, and it’s been great to me.”
Taking second place in the Final Four was Timber Moore, who tied his clf in 7.2 seconds, and he’ll take home $25,000. Marty Yates will get $15,000, for being just a bit slower, at 7.5 seconds. And even though Matt Shiozawa missed his calf, he’ll still get an extra $10,000 for his Sunday’s work.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
See more at calgarystampede.com