The Calgary Stampede is heading into its final few days, and hopeful rodeo contestants have been battling for spots in the Sunday Showdown all week.
Both saddle bronc riding and bull riding are deep into their runs, with hopefuls looking to reach the final.
Pool A has wrapped up in both disciplines, while Pool B is heading into its final day on Friday. The top four from each pool get a direct bye into Sunday’s finals, while the rest will have to fight for a last-chance berth on Wild Card Saturday.
Showdown Sunday and Wild Card Saturday start at 3:30 p.m. ET live on CBC television, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
Thurston looks to make saddle bronc history
Albertans Clay Elliott and Zeke Thurston headline the saddle broncs after roaring into the top two spots in Pool A.
Elliott, of Nanton, Alta., had four consistent runs, earning him first place in the pool. By finishing high man in Pool A, he picks up $14,000.
Meanwhile, Big Valley, Alta., native Thurston posted the pool’s high score of 89 in his opening run and he’ll be looking to make history on Sunday by becoming the first person ever to win four straight Calgary Stampede rodeo championships in any discipline.
No cowboy has won more than three titles in a row. The 23-year-old has earned $13,500 thus far.
Isaac Diaz and Cody DeMoss rounded out the top four, earning $11,500 and $11,000, respectively.
DeMoss won the final run in Pool A with an 89-point ride on a horse called Curly Bill.
“Outstanding animal,” said DeMoss, from Louisiana. “He really had a good day with me. You know, when a feller gets tapped off on a bucker, that’s the funnest thing to do. That was one of them right there. That’s why we ride bucking horses, to get on like that and to ride like that.”
The qualification round for Pool B is ongoing, and it’s being dominated by two brothers from Milford, Utah.
Ryder Wright has a commanding lead through three rides thanks to back-to-back wins with a high score of 92 on his second run and a third-run score of 90.
His older brother Rusty Wright is keeping pace, earning impressive scores of 86.50 and 87.50 in his last two runs to put him second.
Ryder has earned $14,500, while Rusty has $9,000 banked.
Americans Wade Sundell and Jacobs Crawley sit third and fourth, and have earned $8,500 and $5,000, respectively.
Canadians in bull riding mix
Joe Frost finished first in Pool A after a fourth and final ride of 87.50 points on the C5 bull Big Dip. The extra $5,500 gave him the front-runner spot in the pool with a total of $15,000. Cooper Davis of Texas finished second overall with $10,000, followed by Brazilian Fabiano Vieira at $8000, and Ty Wallace with $7500.
Pool B remains a tight race, with only $500 separating some riders.
Canadian Zane Lambert remains in contention, spurred on by an 88-point score in his second run Wednesday. Despite buck offs in his two other runs, he has earned $5,500. The Ponoka, Alta., native currently sits in sixth place in the pool and is just $500 behind fourth.
Jared Parsonage of Maple Creek, Sask., and Edmonton’s Marcos Gloria are the other Canadians in Pool B.
Through three rounds, Parsonage is in eighth place, while Gloria sits right behind in ninth.
Sage Kimzey ($8,500), J.B. Mauney ($8,000), Ramon De Lima ($7,000) and Cody Nance ($6,000) lead the competition with one run remaining.