© Herald Photo by Perry Bergson
Cody Ford of Hermiston, Ore., goes flying during the final round of
the ninth annual Clunie-Cooper Memorial PBR at the Art Hauser Centre
on Saturday evening.
Those were sure some nasty bulls at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday.
Of the 25 bull riders competing in the third annual Clunie-Cooper PBR competition just seven were able to hang on for the glorious eight seconds to garner points and in the championship round just one of the 10 competitors managed to outlast his animal.
In the end it was Scott Schiffner from Strathmore, Alta., claiming the title, his second since the event first came to Prince Albert in 2006.
“This bull riding event is second to none,” said Schiffner to the near-capacity crowd after he was presented with a set of spurs by the Clunie and Cooper families.
Saturday’s event was the conclusion to an exciting weekend that started on Friday when Schiffner topped the field with a score of 174. In his first ride on Saturday, aboard an animal called Smoke Ring, Schiffner hung on for the eight seconds and received a score of 84 from the judges.
Cody Ford of Hermiston, Oregon, had the best ride in the preliminary round on Saturday scoring an 87 on Slash Baby while others to get the better of their animal included Josh Birks from Coonamble, Australia, (87), two-time Canadian champion Chad Besplug from Claresholm, Alta., (85), Tyler Bingham from Honeyville, Utah, (84.5), Stetson Lawrence from Williston, ND, (84.5) and Jordan Hansen from Okotoks, Alta., (83.5).
Defending champion Zac Petersen from Velva, ND, was two-tenths of a second short of the eight-second target and failed to qualify for the championship round.
Joining the seven successful riders in the championship round were Clint Johnson from Hines, Oregon, Tyler Pankewitz from Ponoka, Alta., and Justin Lloyd from Tisdale. Just Hansen was able to hang on in the second round, but his score of 88 left him short of overtaking Schiffner for the overall championship. The 34-year-old Schiffner went on to win the Canadian championship later in the year after his first victory in Prince Albert and while he admits he is a “bit longer in the tooth now” he will certainly use this victory as a springboard to hopefully more success later in the season.
Winning the junior championship was Logan Beaver (hometown unavailable) after he successfully completed his ride with a score of 82.5.
Organizers of the event did a great job of making it a celebratory and entertaining outing.
Prior to the start of the competition, the 25 riders came out onto the riding area amidst fireworks and spotlights and from there they joined in the recognition of the namesakes for the event – Max Clunie and Wade Cooper, two local rodeo enthusiasts who tragically lost their lives with three others in a plane crash in northern Saskatchewan almost three years ago.
The public address announcer asked the large crowd to give Clunie and Cooper a standing ovation rather than have a moment of silence and that enthusiastic response set the tone for the night.
Prior to the singing of the national anthem the PBR did another great service when it honoured the veterans of the Canadian and American armed forces for their efforts in protecting our countries during peacetime and times of conflict. Representing the veterans was 94-year-old Marvin Byrne, who happened to be the grandfather of two of the bull fighters – Scott and Bo – who worked the event on the weekend.
Another Byrne was also honoured later in the evening when Rusty Clunie, the father of Max, presented Jesse Byrne with the prestigious Max Clunie Memorial Ring of Honour award via videotape as Byrne is presently in Colorado competing in the Built Ford Tough Rumble in the Rockies competition.
“Whether you met him once or a bunch of times he was in your mind forever,” said an emotional Jesse Byrne in accepting the award from and equally as emotional Rusty Clunie.
Byrne joins last year’s recipient Colin Steele and the inaugural member of the Ring of Honour Blaine Fyson. All three were selected for their contributions and enthusiasm for the sport and their character traits that embodied what Max Clunie is all about.
A final tribute had the crowd given the opportunity to sing along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin, which seemed a perfect ending to a perfect evening.
The PBR 3D Bull Riding Tour will head to Nipawin next weekend with a long list of stops taking place this summer, including the Wade Redden Challenge in Hillmond, Sask., in June and Curtis Leschyshyn Classic in Langham in August, before the tour concludes in Saskatoon in November.