Calgary – When Pieter DeMooy asked his daughter Samii if she could lend him a hand, he really meant it. The sheep shearer from Saanichton, B.C. called his 27-year-old daughter in Australia in May with the offer of a return airplane ticket home to Vancouver Island in exchange for that required body part.
“Literally, I needed a hand,” Pieter said with a laugh. “There’s nothing worse than a shearer breaking a hand in the middle of shearing season.”
It wasn’t enough to stop them from becoming the first father and daughter to compete in the 20th anniversary Calgary Stampede North American Sheep Shearing Challenge on Saturday, though. Pieter finished third in the Open Division at the Challenge held at the Victoria Pavilion, while Samii placed fourth in the Intermediate Division.
It was Australia’s Mike Pora, however, who came out on top in the Open Division, defending the title he won in 2015 against up-and-comer Timothy Wright of Hart, Mich.
“It means a lot to win this again,” Pora said, who took the championship with a score of 29.78 to Wright’s 36.23. The veteran shearer gave credit to Wright, 23, who has sheared about 20,000 sheep in his career to date to Pora’s 800,000 head (give or take a few thousand).
In the Intermediate Division, Tony Hodge of Cranbrook, B.C. was named champion for his score of 38.24, while Youngstown, Alta.’s John Beasley took reserve champion with a score of 56.15.
In shearing, a lower score is better. Competitors go head-to-head in the timed and judged event, and are marked on everything from how many passes they do to the quality of the cut. Despite that spiral fracture he got knocking a knuckle on a metal shelf, Pieter helped Team Canada take the International Team Championship over Teams USA and Anza. Pieter’s injury, which required surgery, resulted in Samii taking over the duties at her dad’s operation, Last Side Shearing.
“It’s been awesome to have him here with me,” Samii said in between rounds at the Pavilion on Saturday. “I find it calming. He’ll be in the pen offering me advice or letting me know when I’m doing a good job.”
Samii followed in her father’s footsteps by heading to Oz to learn the craft of sheep shearing. In his twenties, Pieter spent two years in Australia, followed by five more in New Zealand. Samii’s trip started with a chance meeting with a contractor at the Calgary Stampede two years ago. After chatting for a bit, he offered her a job working the sheep-shearing circuit in Australia. She didn’t take it all that seriously.
“I didn’t know him, so I was like, ‘Yeah, okay, sure.’ But my dad overheard and later asked if I was going to do it. I said, ‘I don’t know that guy,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I do. He’s a really good guy.’ ”
A month later, she was on a plane. And “that guy”? That would be Pora. And he’s taking on more young Canadian talent this year, bringing shearers —including Taber’s Dwight Galenzoski, who placed third in the Intermediate Division — back to New South Wales with him.
“It was going to be three or four,” Pora said shortly after accepting his winnings of $2,500. “But it’s likely going to be five or six after this weekend. For young people who want to see the world, there’s nothing like this profession.”
For full results of the event, which awarded more than $11,000 in prizes, visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/results
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 celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
See more at calgarystampede.com