Join the rush to the rodeo

This rodeo is billed as the Great­est Out­door Show on Earth, and for once the hype might just be right, writes Rob Mcfar­land

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - STAMPEDE CALGARY -

I AM2­m­away from a man with one of the world’s most dan­ger­ous jobs. A day in the of­fice for 24-year-old J.B. Mauney in­volves hop­ping on the back of one tonne of mus­cle, hoofs and horns and try­ing his hard­est to stay there for eight sec­onds. Af­ter which he has to get off with­out be­ing tram­pled or gored to death.

To psy­che him­self up, he’s hit­ting him­self, hard and re­peat­edly, in the arms, legs and head. It’s an un­usual but ef­fec­tive tech­nique. He’s won the event for the past two days run­ning.

The gate opens and Mauney and his ride, the omi­nously named D Bomb, cat­a­pult into the arena in a writhing blur. It’s hard to know what’s more in­cred­i­ble – that a bull of that size can buck and thrash so vi­o­lently or that a man can pos­si­bly hang on us­ing only one hand. But he does, for the req­ui­site eight sec­onds, and scores a re­spectable 80.5 out of 100.

But it’s taken its toll. He limps off the field, winc­ing. I pre­sume this means he’ll have to re­tire, but he’s back on an­other bull the very next day.

There are many rea­sons to visit the Cal­gary Stam­pede, an an­nual 10-day rodeo that bills it­self as the ‘‘ Great­est Out­door Show on Earth’’.

There’s a daily ice-skat­ing show fea­tur­ing two Olympic gold medal­lists, an ex­treme motocross dis­play, more than 40 thrill rides, a hyp­no­tist, a high­dive show and a hu­man can­non­ball.

For those with a cul­tural bent, there’s an enor­mous art show with live artists’ stu­dios plus an In­dian vil­lage com­plete with teepees, in­dige­nous art and dance per­for­mances by First Na­tion tribes.

Party an­i­mals will find a casino, beer tents and Nashville North, a cav­ernous mar­quee in which lead­ing coun­try bands play late into the night.

GO­ING DOWN: Tyler Cor­ring­ton of Min­nesota loses his bout with Blue Too at the Cal­gary Stam­pede. Pic­ture: AP

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