There were plenty of spills and thrills at the 12th annual Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama at the Cominco Arena Saturday as about 1,200 bull-riding fans watched 30 riders buck and battle their respective Brahmas through the long go.
Organizers orchestrated another seamless performance from the exciting riders and bulls, to the lively banter of announcers Brett Gardiner and Brent Bevins, the comical antics of rodeo performer “Slick” Josh Shepherd, and the 16 tough, young mutton busters.
“I think the crowd was real energetic, and it looks like the same type of crowd we’ve been used to, I would love to see more people in the building but I understand, a dollar only goes so far,” said organizer Guy Thompson. “But we’ve got some of the top riders in Canada and some of the top bulls here and you’ve got to go a long way to see bull riding like you saw here in Trail.”
The bull riders didn’t disappoint with 10 holding on for the full eight seconds to make it to the short go. Headlining the event were veteran riders like Steven Turner, Tyler Thomson, and Devon Mezei all vying for the coveted golden spurs, but it was a 20-year-old rookie, Corey Waterson from Australia, that would prevail on this day.
Waterson showed he was no slouch by winning the long go with an 85.5 on Franklin Rodeo’s Red Bull, and he would need to post a similar score in the short go to ensure the win.
Mezei stumbled in the short go, while Thomson had a wild ride, scoring an 86.5 putting him momentarily in the lead. However, Turner was determined to improve on his runner-up finish in last year’s event, as he hung on for the full eight on Franklin Rodeo’s State Trooper, scoring an impressive 87.5 to take the lead with a combined total of 170.
It all came down to the last rider and the final bull.
The Australian just landed in Canada a month ago and now rides out of Strathmore. He was teamed up with Franklin Brahma Team Paige, and as it bucked and whirled, Waterson refused to be ejected, maintaining his unwavering focus until the eight second buzzer sounded and the rider flew dramatically into the air, crashing into the dirt, while posting an impressive 85.5 and a combined 171 to win the Bull-a-Rama championship.
“I’m stoked, I mean I haven’t been riding too good since I got here, and tonight I turned it around, so I’m stoked,” said Waterson after accepting the spurs from Thompson a former Trail resident.
It was the rookie bull rider’s first win on the Canadian Bull Riding Association circuit, and as far as employing any special strategy, Waterson says it’s all about just enjoying the ride.
“You just got to be cool and calm and focus on what you got to do,” he said. “You sort of just block everything out and just have fun really.”
Waterson took home a cool $4,685.35 for his win in the long go and overall champion, while Turner made out okay as well pocketing 4,679.60 for winning the short go and coming in second overall. Thomson picked up the third place with just over $2,500 in earnings.
It was the second year in a row that the Cochrane rider Turner finished runner-up, losing last year to his older brother Jody.
“He made a good ride, I mean he deserved to win,” said Turner. “My bull just wasn’t as strong as his on the first one or second one so he came out really good.”
It was a wild and entertaining ride for Bull-a-Rama goers, but as far as returning next year, Thompson remains predictably noncommittal.
“I don’t want to go there yet,” he said with a smile.