Less than a second more on the bull and it would’ve been the best outcome possible for organizers, but it wasn’t meant to be.
This is the first year the Ponoka Stampede took over organizing the pre-Stampede Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event, including a pair of local cowboys on the roster, and it turned out to be an excellent show.
Local product Tyler Pankewitz on Shakin Hands put up a big score on the night – an 87.5 – early in the qualifying round, besting Ponoka’s other bull rider Wacey Finkbeiner, who got the night started off right as the first rider by putting up a score of 86.
Both men made final top 10, however just one rider made good on his ride and it wasn’t either of the locals.
The only rider to stay on in the final was Jordan Hansen of Okotoks, who posted the highest score of the night of 89.5 right before Finkbeiner was setting up for his ride.
Finkbeiner didn’t last long, leaving Pankewitz as the last man standing and with a legitimate chance for victory if he could stay on for a good ride. Only, it literally slipped right through his fingers.
“It was that close,” Pankewitz explained afterwards, demonstrating just how close by holding the thumb and index finger of his right hand a centimetre apart.
“My rope didn’t stick as well as I had thought and I lost my hand about four to five seconds into the ride. From then on, I just tried to see if I could hang on long enough. Unfortunately, I just missed staying on.”
That gave Hansen the title as well as the in top prize money, making it one of the richest events on the PBR tour in Canada..
“It was awesome, definitely, to perform in front of my hometown crowd at such a great event,” added Pankewitz, who along with Finkbeiner will be competing in the bull riding at the Ponoka Stampede this week hoping to earn some day money and have a shot at the big money in the Shootout on Sunday, July 3.
Meanwhile, Stampede director Keith Kjenner was pleased with the turn out for the event, considering the economic conditions facing Albertans and the fact they went with a bit of different format – with a rock concert following the bull riding – that has not been tried in the past.