Three born and bred Alberta cowboys will soon be rodeo royalty.
Scott Schiffner, Jesse Torkelson and Devon Mezei will each ride one bull in a private showing for William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at the Calgary Stampede June 7.
Schiffner and Torkelson were in central Alberta riding at the Ponoka Stampede on Thursday and are more than a little excited about the opportunity that has been afforded them.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and not too many people can say they’ve gotten a chance to meet the Royal Family,” said Torkelson, who hails from Warburg. “Hopefully they have some nice bulls for us to get on, nothing too rank that we might have a chance to get hurt on.”
“When I got the call for it, I thought yeah that would be pretty neat and never put too much thought into it and the more I got talking to people about it, it’s a pretty big deal,” said Schiffner who grew up in Stettler but now calls Strathmore home. “I’m really excited for it and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The first person Schiffner told was his wife, Brandy, who was equally excited about the opportunity to meet the royals — unfortunately he had to let her down easy.
“My wife really wanted to go and they said nobody else was allowed,” said Schiffner.
A couple of days later the Schiffner family received a phone call that got Scott out of the doghouse.
“(William and Kate) decided they wanted kids involved, so one of their people called back and I have a three-year-old, Maysa, and one-year-old, Hadley and they want Maysa to sit on stage with them while they watch the bull riding,” said Schiffner.
Rodeo and family are synonymous and the fact the entire Schiffner family will be able to attend the event made the private showing more special.
“It’s made it even that much more exciting for me. Maysa is really excited and when little kids are excited everybody is excited.”
Schiffner said Maysa has already picked out the spot where she’ll be watching dad in the bull riding exhibition.
“Maysa is pretty sure she is sitting on Kate’s knee for the whole thing,” said Schiffner with a big smile.
Schiffner did his part at the Ponoka Stampede, holding on for eight seconds but the other athlete in the arena didn’t live up to his end of the bargain. He scored a 79-point ride on a Calgary Stampede bull named Paint Ball.
“Anytime I can stay on it’s a good day. I’m not gonna win anything but it’s better than hitting the dirt,” said Schiffner. “That bull was a little off today but some days I’m off a little too.”
There may have been some extra pressure in Ponoka to stay clean with his mom and dad in the crowd but nothing compared to what he’ll feel when a Duke and Duchess are in the audience.
“I definitely want to stay on for them and put on a good show,” said Schiffner.
Torkelson echoed those sentiments.
“It’d be a bonus to stay on and ride but I’m sure deep down they wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of wrecks too,” said Torkelson with a chuckle.
• Kelly Sutherland leapfrogged over Kirk Sutherland and Mark Sutherland into first place after Night 4 of the World Professional Chuckwagons event at the Stampede.
Kelly had the fastest rig on the night putting up a time of 1:13.42 while Kirk was fifth fastest at 1:14.40. Mark Sutherlnad finished back in 16th on the night with a time of 1:15.26.
Colt Cosgrove was second on the night with a time of 1:13.80 and Obrey Molowyko was third at 1:14.11.
Kelly Sutherland now has an overall time of 4:57.96 while Kirk is in second at 4:58.58 and Mark is in third at 4:59.50.