Bull riding can be an unpredictable sport and according to Red Deer’s Ashton Sahli, even those who do it professionally have a hard time knowing what’s going to happen once the gate opens and you’re on the back of 2,000 pound animal.
Sometimes the end result is pain, but Sahli said sometimes it’s all worth it.
This weekend Sahli will get the opportunity to do what he does best at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer on Saturday to debut the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canada’s elite Cup Series at the Red Deer Classic.
The 21-year-old said he’s coming off a good start to the year and is looking forward to having some fun competing where he grew up.
“Lots of my family are going to come out and watch and friends I went to school with and it’s just really cool it’s right here at home,” Sahli told the Advocate.
This will be Sahli’s second year competing professionally in PBR but has been riding steer since he was nine or 10 years old.
“Been around it my whole life, kind of a family ordeal but yeah this is my second season with the PBR,” he explained.
His brother also rides bulls in rodeos and his dad Jeff also competed professionally in local rodeo events before PBR was established.
Last year as a rookie the Red Deer product said he finished in the top 10 in Canada and was happy with his results but has his sights set on a bigger goal.
“Looking to chase the number one spot for sure this year, no excuses not to,” he added.
While he was soaking up the experience of being a rookie in the pro circuit last year he tried to learn from fellow bull rider Zane Lambert.
“I’ve been around him all through my steer riding career and he’s still at the top of his game and he’s one of the older guys going. He knows more about bull riding than I’ll probably ever know,” Sahli said.
What makes him passionate about competing he said is PBR in Canada is the elite level of bull riding, the best of the best riders and bulls, and it’s great to be around those types of athletes.
Even though many of the competitors have been taking part in events so far this year, the event in Red Deer, which begins at 7 p.m., will be PBR’s will be the first regular season cup series event of the year. This means riders looking to accumulate national points to become the 2022 PBR Canada Champion will get the chance to in central Alberta this week.
“This spring I was on a run I was down south competing in PBR events for most of the spring and just kind of until stuff fired up back here and now I’ll be here at home for the summer,” he explained.
The event will also feature Dakota Buttar who has returned from a groin injury that sidelined him from last year’s finals.
It will also feature 2o21 PBR Canada Champion Cody Coverchuk, two-time title holder Zane Lambert and three-time champion Aaron Roy.