Riders share spotlight and spurs at Kootenay Chrysler’s 2014 Bull-a-Rama

The 13th annual Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama delivered its share of guts, glory, fire, and fury on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.

The 13th annual Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama delivered its share of guts, glory, fire, and fury on Saturday at the Cominco Arena with two riders from Bull Riders Canada Inc. (BRC) sharing top spot.

When the dust settled, about 1,200 bull-riding fans watched 20-year-old Cody Coverchuk of Meadow Lake, Sask. and Miles Pennington from Stettler, Alta. finish with identical scores of 165.5 after the long and short go to share the coveted silver spurs.

“It was good, they road quite a few bulls, and not every score got back to the short go, and the bulls  performed for the most part, so it was good,” said Pennington who has competed in the Trail event for a number of years, but was happy to earn his first win.

Ten of 30 riders hung on for eight seconds in the long go, and Pennington’s modest score of 78.5 on the bull Role Model just squeezed him into the top eight. But the veteran rider came back with a brilliant 87 in the short go on Canadian Diesel to claim the short round money and tied for the highest average for a total earnings of $4,047.50.

“I really enjoy coming out here, it’s always a good time, and it feels good to get my first win here,” said Pennington.

Vernon’s Cody Moore won the long round with an 84.5 and just over $1,200, but couldn’t quite hold on for the short go. Justin Loyd of Tisdale, Sask. was the only rider other than the two champions to stay on for the short go, scoring a total of 155.5 to take home third-place prize money of $2,401.

Coverchuk meanwhile scored an  80 in the long go before putting together a great ride of 85.5 to tie Pennington for high average. It was Coverchuk’s first visit to Trail, and the victory puts him in top spot on the BRC circuit with 840 points and over $8,000 in winnings.

“I love it, it’s an awesome bull riding event, and I’ll be back next year for sure.”

Coverchuk has been riding bulls for four years and is coming off his second straight win of the season after taking home the money at the Easter Bull-a-Rama in Taber, Alta. last week.

“It’s been going really good so far, and hopefully it keeps going that way,” said Coverchuck who claimed a total of $3,736.50 in winnings on Saturday.

Bullfighters Curtis Smyth and Dawson Northcott were not only entertaining but heroic, as they kept bull riders from harm despite some close calls, and one particular scary moment when the rider;s hand was stuck in the bull rope. As the bull bucked and reeled, the rider tried desperately to stay upright, and the bullfighters kept the bull contained until the cowboy’s hand came free and he emerged safe and relatively unscathed.

“There’s a lot that goes on, that as a fan of the sport, the more you watch, the more you understand what’s happening,” said Russell Friend, BRC president. “Again it’s body awareness and motor skills . . . you notice that cowboy stayed on his feet, you have to do that, you don’t want to be under the bull.”

BRC is in its second season as a pro bull-riding organization and Friend is happy with its early evolution and particularly with Trail’s organizing committee led by Guy Thompson.

“It’s fantastic, the reception has been phenomenal,” said Friend. “Last year was our inaugural year and we had 26 events, which made us last year the largest Canadian owned bull-riding company in the history of Canada.”

With a focus on community involvement and local prosperity, this year the BRC will host close to 40 events.

“It’s a new era, and so we’ve tried to make our focus more centered around the family, and so for example today the mutton busting was included, we had a fantastic clown act; keep the people engaged and make it a family type of show.”

BRC boasts a mix of veteran and rookie riders, predominantly  from the four western provinces, but also cowboys coming from as far away as Mexico, Australia, and Ireland.

“Part of our mandate on the bull riding side . . . is that we want to build bull riders,” said Friend. “We want to have world finalist qualifiers. That’s what we’re looking to do. They can learn from the veterans and the veterans can learn from the young guys too.”

CBR is also filling a void left by the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) which pulled its affiliation from bull-riding-only events.  The CPRA made a decision to sponsor only full rodeos, leaving smaller venues out of the loop.

“The industry changes, but at the end of the day, committtees are having events, but as fans do we care what flag they’re flying under? No. We want to see an event so first and foremost, that not only Trail, but every community decides to have an event.”

BRC makes a concerted effort not to schedule its bull-riding events on the same day as the CPRAs, giving riders and contractors the opportunity to compete in as many events as possible, says Friend.

“It’s the last thing we want to do. I guess you can say we are competing with the CPRA but we don’t look at it that way, we’re trying to dovetail the CPRA and any other association to work together.”

The Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama is one of the BRC’s richest events, handing out $12,000 in prize money. However, it may have been the last dance, as the City of Trail will again consider its future.

“This is a fantastic venue, and I’ve been here at least 10 times over the years, I mean I like coming here, I hope we are back,” said Friend. “Number one, regardless of whether its us or somebody else, have an event. Have a bull-riding event, raise some money for the hockey team or the charities that are doing the work and give something for people to come out and enjoy themselves.”