Ponoka to welcome New Year with another rodeo

The Rodeo Masters Ultimate Cowboy Challenge is returning for its second year to the Calnash Ag Event Centre;

The Rodeo Masters Ultimate Cowboy Challenge is returning for its second year to the Calnash Ag Event Centre; this time with some changes to the line up and running of the competition.

This year there will only be eight vying for the title of Ultimate Cowboy, rather than 2012’s 14. However, 14 will still compete in each of the six rodeo events. “They’re just playing for a side pot,” said event organizer Scott Wyzykoski, referring to the other six competitors.

“It’s almost like a bonus round for the top six guys in Canada from last year,” Wyzykoski added.

The cowboys are competing for twice as much money as last year, $10,000, with the Ultimate Cowboy receiving $4,000 and next three following in a 30, 20, 10 per cent pattern.

“It should be a little higher quality and a little more money, too,” said Wyzykoski.

This year a large replay screen has been added to the event and Wyzykoski says it’s thanks to Landcore, a Ponoka-headed rathole drilling and pile driving company, that the upgrades to the event were possible.

This year, the competition will also be run match-up style with the top six Canadian roughstock animals from each events also contending. “They’ll be competing in a competition against Vern MacDonald Bar C5 Rodeo,” said Wyzykoski.

Three of MacDonald’s bulls will compete against three of Nanson Vold’s, his saddle bronc horses will go hoof to hoof with Frank Wyzykoski’s and his bareback horses are up against those of Weatherly brothers’ Big Country Rodeo.

Based on last year’s ticket sales, Wyzykoski says he’s not holding the Ultimate Cowgirl Challenge again this year, but thinks he may try again in another year’s time. “Sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on.”

Confirmed entrants are: Jake Vold, Kyle Bowers, Trygve Pugh, Logon Hodson, Devin Mezei, Jesse Torkelson, Clay Elliot and Travis Reay.

Last year’s champion Jeremy Harden is returning for another go, along with his brothers Josh and Colter.

Not returning to the chutes or alley is last year’s second and third place tie winner Steven Turner — who provided the largest laugh of the evening after a video of him being bucked off a team roping horse found its way to YouTube — because of a hip surgery six weeks ago. However, Turner will help judge the event this year.

Vold is also hosting a bull riding futurity Dec. 28 in conjunction with the Ultimate Cowboy Challenge.

Last year Wyzykoski attempted to bring a rodeo school to the event, which fell by the wayside. However, this year the idea’s been picked up by Rod Hays and Wyzykoski expects much better results from this. Another futurity will follow on Dec. 30.

Tickets for the Ultimate Cowboy Challenge are being sold online, at Jones Boys Saddlery and Western Wear and Vold Jones Vold auction mart. Children will be accepted to watched the rodeo but will be asked to leave right after the competition as they can’t attend the following rodeo dance and cabaret.