Northern Lights: Stars Shine in Calgary

The Calgary Stampede’s $1 million Showdown Sunday featured everything that’s right about an elimination-style format in rodeo.

In the tie-down roping, fans relived a little of the magic from the 1997 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo-one of the most entertaining tie-down ropings in the history of that rodeo. It was in the ninth round when Blair Burk first set a new arena record of 7.0 seconds, which bested Ronnie Hyde’s 7.1 from the day before. Minutes later, Fred Whitfield stepped up to tie his calf in 6.9, only to see Jeff Chapman stop the clock in 6.8.

In 2003, Cody Ohl bested that mark with a 6.5. In Calgary, however, Ohl couldn’t topple Chapman this time around.

In the semifinal round at Calgary-which Chapman also won in 1997-six of the 10 tie-down ropers tied their calves faster than 7.6 seconds. Chapman, who was born in Texas, but splits time between there and Alberta, led the field with a 6.7-second time. Then, in the final round, he and Ohl both roped their calves in 6.9 seconds-requiring a rope-off. Uncharacteristically, Ohl missed his calf and Chapman merely had to tie his to win the $100,000 jackpot. He tied that calf in 8.3 and left Calgary $111,000 richer. The Calgary Stampede is not sanctioned by the PRCA, however, so the earnings do not count toward the Crusher Rentals World Standings.

In the bareback riding another sudden-death ride-off had to take place between Three-Time World Champion Will Lowe and Canadian Russ Hallaby. Both posted 88.5-point marks in the final round, however, Lowe rode Kesler Rodeo’s Cool Pieces for 87.5 in the overtime match to best Hallaby’s 83.5. Lowe hauled in $100,000.

The only Canadian to win the event, Lindsay Sears turned the cloverleaf pattern in 17.43 seconds, .07 faster than Tammy Key-Fischer, in the final round to win $113,500. Sears also won the $50,000 jackpot at RodeoHouston in March.

Wade Sumpter also won Houston’s top prize this year as well as the Calgary’s $100,000 check. After local favorite Curtis Cassidy threw his final round steer in 3.5 seconds, Sumpter stepped up with a 3.4-second run. He won $112,500 in sum.

Rounding out the event, Cody Wright, the hottest saddle bronc rider going, scored 87.5 points on Calgary’s Lynx Mountain, edging J.J. Elshere by half a point for the win. Wright, who also won in 2006, cashed checks worth $115,000 in Calgary. In the bull riding, 2004 Professional Bull Riders Champion Mike Lee rode Big Bend Rodeo’s Wrangler’s Rock Star for 92 points-the only qualified ride in the final round-to claim the top spot. In sum, he won $111,000.

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