Four days, five rodeos and plenty to look forward to.
That’s how C+ Rodeos stock contractor Roy Call is summing up this year’s 90th Williams Lake Stampede where interesting dynamics between rodeo athletes and their animal counterparts will be on display front and centre.
And of all the events, Call said the field in bareback riding is probably the one to watch, and is the event with the most entrants.
“Bareback will probably be the best rough stock event at the rodeo with 39 contestants entered,” Call said. “I’ve been involved 30 years and this is by far and away the best field we’ve produced. There are probably 20 guys who can get out there and win. The bareback will be good every day.”
He said Thursday evening’s rodeo is packed with talent in bareback riding.
“You’ve got Jake Vold (Airdrie, Alta.) on a horse of ours called Graduate,” he said. “[The horse] has been to the Canadian finals three times and Jake is a two-time Canadian champion and he can really ride.”
Also Thursday, Call said Orin Larsen (Inglis, Man.) is a cowboy to keep an eye on.
“He’s right in the top two or three in the world,” Call said. “He’s got an old horse called Billy and he’s going to spur the heck out of him and he’s going to have a big performance, too.
“You’re going to have to score 80 here to place in the money.”
On Friday Teddy Athan (Livermore, CA.) on Christian and Pascal Isabelle (Quebec) on Blue Jeans are rides to watch while Saturday and Sunday will showcase Kyle Bower (Drayton Valley, Alta.) — who grew up in Williams Lake — on Blondie, Ty Taypotat (Regina, Sask.), RC Landingham (Pendleton, OR.), former Canadian champion JR Vezan (Cowley, Wyoming) and former world champion Kelly Timberman (Mills, Wyoming).
“Kelly’s an interesting story. He’s a former world champ and one of the toughest guys you’ll ever see. He’s got arms that look like Popeye’s. He can really, really ride. He missed almost all last year with an injury and just came back at Grand Prairie where he had a horse of ours there and scored 84 on him. He’s back healthy and riding really well so that very well could be the winning ride there in the last performance,” Call said.
In bull riding, 35 entrants will be in for a tough ride, Call explained.
“The Canadian bull riding talent is not super strong but the bulls are really, really good,” Call said.
Thursday night’s highlight will be Darryn Bird of Australia on a bull named Minion.
“He’s a yellow bull with big high horns, really gassy, a real nice spinner and really, really mean,” he said. “Another guy to watch is Tyler Pankewitz (Ponoka, Alta.) on a bull called Black List he could be 85 on, as well.”
Joining Bird and Pankewitz will be Scott Schiffner (Strathmore, Alta.) for Friday’s morning performance.
“Scott has been one of the guys who’s been really consistent this year,” Call said. “He’s been a Canadian champion, been to the PBR Finals in Las Vegas and is just a really sticky guy you can count on to show up.”
On Friday night a pair of Quesnel bull riders will look to bring home some cash when Matt O’Flynn and Lane Cork will draw Crowbar and Ellis’s A-List, respectively.
“[Matt] spent all winter in Calfornia with Gary Leffeww — kind of a bull riding guru — and did nothing but ride bulls,” Call said. “He came back in incredible shape.”
Also of note are Trevor Lulua (Hanceville, B.C.), Bryce West (Cadogan, Alta.), Jackson Scott (Kamloops) and Dakota Buttar (Kinderseley, Sask.) in the bull riding.
Lastly, in saddle bronc riding, call said three or four of the top Canadian cowboys will be in Williams Lake.
“Sam Kelts of Stavely, Alta. has a horse Unleashed on Thursday and he’s had that horse four times before,” Call said. “Chestnut horse that’s been to the Canadian finals a couple of times and Sam has gotten along with him really well. Last time he rode him was six weeks ago and he won.”
Dustin Flundra (Pincher Creek, Alta.) on Bender, Jake Watson (Hudson’s Hope, B.C.) on Alamo, Clinton Cox (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.) on Kiss ‘n Kate, Preston Kafka (Goodwill, OK.) on Patches, Ricky Warren (Hudson’s Hope) Broken Nose and Kaila Mussell (Chilliwack, B.C.) should all put on a good performance.
“Kaila’s a lady whose ridden broncs for quite a while and this will be her first rodeo back,” Call said.
“She broke her neck in Barriere two years ago and she’ll be on Kiss ‘n Kate so that will be interesting on Sunday. She’ll have a film crew there from Los Angeles filming for Red Bull extreme sports so they’ll be following her around all over the place on that last performance.”
Williams Lake Stampede performances go Thursday at 6:45 p.m., Friday at 12:45 p.m. and at 6:45 p.m., Saturday at 1:45 p.m. and Sunday at 12:45 p.m.