All-around cowgirls take Ponoka by storm

The first ever Ultimate Cowgirl Challenge, held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre Dec. 30

The first ever Ultimate Cowgirl Challenge, held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre Dec. 30, ended in a sudden death ride-off between the two top-scoring contestants.

As the night progressed, 16 cowgirls battled each other in goat tying, breakaway roping, cow riding, pole bending, barrel racing and team roping, for the title of Ultimate Cowgirl.

By the end of the cow riding event, Leah Dolstad and Chelsea Moore were tied for first place. Neither girl had been on a steer before, and both were nervous—although they thought they’d be riding only once.

Moore had seen the challenge advertised but wasn’t going to attend the night. “When I saw the cow riding I said no way I’m entering that.”

However she received so many phone calls from different people wanting her to enter, in the end she couldn’t refuse.

“It wasn’t harder than I expected. It was really fun, I’d do it again,” said Moore.

Riding the steer was also Moore’s favorite part of the evening. “After the first cow I knew I could do it.”

However, as Moore came off her final steer she landed on her wrist, badly injuring it. But in true cowgirl fashion Moore stuck around and graciously accepted her award and words of congratulations with only ice and a sling.

“It was really fun right until the very, very end,” said Moore. “It’s nice to have these things, being in North America we’re pretty limited.

Olstad, who learned about the challenge on Facebook, says the cow riding wasn’t going to stop her from entering. “I was nervous about the cow riding in the beginning, then I ended up riding two. But they gave us good cows.”

Like Moore, the cow riding was Dolstad’s favorite part of the night; and although she placed second she isn’t disappointed. “I could have done a little better in breakaway roping and poles, but I think I did pretty good.”

Dolstad isn’t the only one who feels the cowgirls roped hard and rode harder. Announcer Tim Edge is already looking forward to seeing the competition at the 2013 challenge. “I think it’s a heck of a deal, and we’re going to make it a little bit bigger.”

“I think the girls performed awesome … and they put their heart and soul into it,” he added.

Event organizer Scott Wyzykoski is also looking ahead to next year. “I think we can make a couple of improvements for sure but I think it was a very fair and challenging contest.”

Wyzykoski was also blown away with the support and interest the challenge received. “I was expecting to learn from our first experience. I thought we needed to put it on to see what level of interest we had in it. I was thrilled with tonight. I didn’t know what to expect.”

Although countless hours were put in by Wyzykoski, as well as the team of people he had working with him, he says the response is worth it.

“The highlight for me was the quality of the people I have to work with, the event went very smooth. I thought the quality of our contestants was very high, and then it came down to the showdown.”

For Wyzykoski holding the event was a no-brainer. “I love rodeo. I absolutely love the Ponoka Stampede and I started my career here. I knew it was the right place for an event like this.”

Another aspect he loved about the event is the proceeds are going to the Broncs Rodeo Academy “to promote youth involvement in rodeo,” as well as athletic programs in the Wolf Creek School Division.