The weather got a little wild Wednesday afternoon at the Ponoka Stampede, when a storm system blew in with a gale force wind, and scattered rodeo fans in search of coats.
But if you’re in the habit of paying money for the privilege of strapping yourself to a 1,400 pound mean meat machine, not much can deter you from the task at hand.
Jesse Torkelson didn’t let the weather bother him. He didn’t even blink when his first bull fouled him at the gate, and he was given a reride.
Nope, he just hustled over to the chute where another bull was being loaded, dried off his bull rope, and wrapped his hand in again.
Then the Winfield bull rider nodded his head and went to work on Northcott’s Spanish Fork.
“He was a real wild bull out through there,” said the 26-year-old. “He kind of stumbled on his front end, it felt like. Once he got himself gathered back up, he just went to spinning into my hand, and it was real good. He darn sure made me work for it.”
The crew of judges observed the effort, and rewarded both parties for it, with an 88.5 score, to set a new lead for the bull riding at the Stampede.
“The first bull just got me warmed me up for the second one,” said Torkelson, or ‘Tork’, as he’s known in the truck with his buddies.
“You go to bull ridings all year long, and plan on getting on two bulls. This is a little bit quicker than I usually do it, back to back. I didn’t even take my glove off to reset it.”
Torkelson is getting used to high numbers, in his eighth year as a pro.
“Things have been going great. It’s the best season I’ve had so far, first in the standings, I guess. Hopefully, I’ll keep rolling the rest of the year.”
“I’ve been travelling with good people, Beau Hill and Scott Schiffner. I’m tired of sitting back and watching them win. It’s my turn to step up, I guess,” he smiled. “I was scared they might kick me out of the truck!”
There couldn’t be a better place for Torkelson to pick up his bull riding socks.
“I’ve had terrible luck at Ponoka. This is one of the first years that I’ve done good. I think I’ve only made the short round once maybe in the last six or seven years I’ve been here.”
Ponoka is practically a hometown event for Torkelson, since the home place near Winfield is only about 45 minutes up the road.
“I’ve got lots of friends and family here watching me. It’s good to do good in front of them.”
The youngest of the steer wrestling Milan boys from Cochrane moved to the front of the pack in that event. Straws Milan wrestled a pair of steers in 12.2 seconds. But his second run in the performance, was a touch western as the steer rolled right over top of him, as he worked to get it rolled in the right direction.
“I had a real good start, but I got off a little early,” explained the 230-pound plus bulldogger.
“My feet landed beside me, and when you’re going that fast, that’s about the only option. I just had to hold on, hustle up and get him tipped over.”
But it was a tough morning for Straws’ older brother Tanner. He blew his knee while competing in the morning round of action, and was watching from the stands on crutches in the afternoon.
“Through the (Pro Rodeo) Sports Medicine, I’ve got an appointment for Friday morning at the U of C in Calgary,” said Tanner Milan. “But the doctor figured I tore my MCL for sure, and she wasn’t really sure about ACL or anything else. They said if it’s not torn all the way off, I probably don’t need surgery on it. But I’ve just got to wait until Friday and see.
“It’s a little heartbreaking right now.”
Some central Alberta steer wrestlers had a much better day. Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy is next in line behind Straws Milan, with his time of 13.3 seconds on two runs. He’s followed by Brock Butterfield of Ponoka, at 14.2 seconds.
In the tie down roping, Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa moved into a three-way tie for second place, by roping his two calves in 16.6 seconds. Tuf Cooper still leads there with 16.1 seconds.
Despite a big crosswind that came up just before they went, Brett and Justin McCarroll of Camrose made fast work of their steer in the team roping, with a slick 4.9 second run. They’re leading for that round, but missed their first steer in the morning. Riley and Brady Minor of Ellensburg, Washington are still the best on two runs, at 10.7 seconds. Lindsay Sears remains way out in front in the barrel racing with her running time of 17.29 seconds. The best bareback ride of the afternoon was turned by Kelly Timberman of Wyoming, who won the Daines Ranch title just two weeks ago. He was 82.25 on Navajo Warrior, to move into seventh place, with Bobby Mote the man on top yet with his 86.5. The best saddle bronc ride was an 82.5 from Ryan Mackenzie of Oregon, on Lurking News. He moves into fourth, but Luke Butterfield stayed safely on top with his 85.75.
In the pro chuckwagon racing Obrey Motowylo had the fastest run of the night at 1:17:68 seconds to pull him into second overall with an aggregate of 2:34.48, while Eckville’s Codey McCurrach is still the overall leader at 2:33.73.
The Canada Day performances at Ponoka are 1 p.m. for the rodeo, and 6:30 p.m. for the chuckwagons. The Stampede Finals and Showdown go Sunday.