CALGARY - Canadian cowboys held their own on Showdown Sunday, winning three of six events at the Calgary Stampede rodeo.
Scott Schiffner of Strathmore, Alta., capped things off at the 10-day event by posting an 89.5-point ride atop Mr. Buddy to win the bull-riding competition in front of an appreciative crowd of approximately 25,000 rodeo fans.
"It's a special day," said Schiffner, who edged out fellow Canadian bull rider Ty Pozzobon of Merritt, B.C., who scored 88 points aboard I'm a Gangsta. "I'm pretty proud of Canada and I'm really proud of our cowboys. We can compete anywhere in the world."
For his efforts, Schiffner accepted a cheque for $100,000, which is $50,000 more than when he last won at the Stampede in 2001.
"I love inflation," Schiffner said. "There's not much I can say that everybody else hasn't already said about how great this rodeo is. An opportunity to ride for $100,000, life's pretty good on a day like this."
Schiffner was also impressed to see Morgan Grant of Granton, Ont., win the tie-down roping competition with an impressive time of 7.0 seconds in the finals.
"To watch us win in the calf roping, to me, that's the biggest statement right there," Schiffner said. "The calf roping is definitely dominated by, not only Americans, but Texans. To come into that field and to beat these guys, he better be pretty proud of himself. I know I am."
Grant won $120,000 in total on Sunday as he also finished tied for second in the steer wrestling finals by posting a time of 3.8, which was just 3/100ths of a second behind winner and three-time Stampede champion Trevor Knowles of Mt. Vernon, Ore.
"I'm on top of the world," said Grant, a first-time Stampede competitor who celebrated his win in tie-down roping by running across the stage waving a giant Canadian flag to the delight of the fans. "This is amazing. It's hard to even fathom how awesome this is and how much this means to me. It'll probably sink in in a couple days how amazing this is. I'm just on cloud nine right now."
Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alta., needed a buck-off to beat Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa, in the saddle bronc championship showdown.
After Flundra and Sundell each posted scores of 89, they both prepared for their third rides of the afternoon. Flundra then scored 87.5 points atop Holly Blues to narrowly edge Sundell, who had an 86-point ride on Rubels.
"It was a little more work than you expect," Flundra said. "You come here and you know that if you're going to win $100,000 you're going to have to ride two horses at least. The third one wasn't that much more of a stretch. For $100,000, if they would have let us, me and Wade would have kept getting on all day long."
Flundra was ecstatic to win his first Stampede title in front of a boisterous crowd of supporters so close to his hometown.
"This rodeo of all of them, it's one to win since I was a little kid in the backyard riding on the bucking barrel," he said. "Nothing motivates you more than knowing that the crowd's behind you and wants you to win too. That's why we do it."
In the bareback finals, Kaycee Feild of Spanish Fork, Utah, won by with a score of 92 aboard Mucho Dinero.
"This rodeo's amazing," said Feild, who added another title to the one he won two years ago in 2012. "I haven't felt that good on a bucking horse for a week or two. I was pretty dang excited."
Dusty LaValley, of Bezanson, Alta., who finished second to Feild two years ago, wound up placing fourth on Sunday to win $10,000.
In ladies' barrel-racing, Kaley Bass of Kissimmee, Fla., posted the fastest time of 17.61 seconds to edge out a pair of competitors — defending champion Jean Winters of Texline, Tex., and Fallon Taylor of Whitesboro, Tex. — by 1/100ths of a second.
Later in the evening, Kurt Bensmiller of Dewberry, Alta., won the 2014 Rangeland Derby Dash for Cash. Bensmiller guided his chuckwagon around the Stampede Park track in a time of 1:11.75 to beat Rae Croteau Jr., of Bonnyville, Alta., by 6/100ths of a second.
Croteau won $25,000 for finishing second, while defending champion Jason Glass, of High River, Alta., finished third to earn $15,000. Gary Gorst, of Meadow Lake, Sask., placed fourth to win $10,000.