Top ath­letes

Bulls born and bred in Prince Al­bert area dom­i­nate Cana­dian Cham­pion fi­nals

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHUR WHITE-CRUMMEY

Al­berta’s Zane Lam­bert added a shiny new buckle to his belt on Satur­day, after win­ning Pro­fes­sional Bull Riders’ Canada Cham­pi­onship.

He racked up big point to­tals on two bulls at Saska­toon’s Sask­tel Cen­tre, the site of the tour’s fi­nal round. But there was one an­i­mal he couldn’t con­quer: Evil Ge­nius, a bull raised by Prince Al­bert’s own Fly­ing Four Buck­ing Bulls.

Lam­bert said Prince Al­bert is pro­duc­ing some fine bovine ath­letes. Over two nights of fi­nals, Evil Ge­nius was just one of eight bulls com­pet­ing from the Fly­ing Four ranch.

“They’re cood cow­boys,” Lam­bert said. “They know a good buck­ing bull and how to raise ‘em. It’s pretty neat to see guys with pas­sion rais­ing these good buck­ing bulls and keep­ing this sport go­ing.”

The new cham­pion said he had trou­ble stay­ing on the same rhythm as Evil Ge­nius, who seemed to go down ex­actly as Lam­bert tried to go for­ward.

“He’s tricky,” Lam­bert said. “I hope to get on him again and fig­ure him out.”

Prince Al­bert’s Byrne fam­ily runs the Fly­ing Four ranch. Tan­ner Byrne, who also com­petes as a pro­fes­sional bull rider, was at the Sask­Tel Cen­tre on Satur­day tak­ing care of the fam­ily jew­els.

He said it was an “hon­our” to see Evil Ge­nius se­lected as the fi­nal bull to go buck­ing on Satur­day night.

“He’s our cream of the crop, he’s our best,” Byrne said. “That’s why he’s in the cham­pi­onship round, the last bull out.”

He called Evil Ge­nius a “showy” bull with “a lot of kick.” That’s part of what the Byrne fam­ily looks for when breed­ing their cham­pion bulls. Byrne said the best bulls com­bine a few key “at­tributes”: a pow­er­ful kick, dizzy­ing spin and a whole lot of in­ten­sity.

“A bull that has all the at­tributes is one that re­ally blows in the air, re­ally kicks out,” he said. “You’ll see his hind legs way over the top of his head, as high as the pan­els, and he’ll be spin­ning fast. You’ll know when you see the good ones. You’ll think, whoa, that’s an ath­lete.”

Evil Ge­nius cer­tainly fits that bill. And an­other Fly­ing Four bull seemed to bring ex­actly the same gusto to the arena on Satur­day. Fin­ning Milky Chance is only four years old, and was com­pet­ing in his first full sea­son this year.

“He’s just kind of get­ting go­ing in the (Pro­fes­sional Bull Riders) world, un­der these big bright lights and the loud mu­sic,” Byrne said.

Milky Chance bucked off his rider well be­fore the eight sec­onds were up. But he wasn’t nearly done buck­ing. He chased three bull­fight­ers and a rodeo clown for what must have felt like an eter­nity more – out there on the dirt – un­til a cow­boy cor­ralled him back to­ward his pen.

Byrne seemed to rel­ish that show of en­thu­si­asm. “As you can see from his buck­ing, he got stronger and stronger and stronger as he went,” he said. “He was hav­ing a hey­day out there; de­cided to do a lit­tle dance and show every­one he was in town to buck.”

BYRNE PLANS RE­TURN TO COM­PE­TI­TION

Pro­fes­sional Bull Riders’ Global Cup is com­ing to Ed­mon­ton next month, and Byrne ex­pects to see some of his bulls buck­ing the best riders in the world. They won’t be the only Prince Al­bert ath­letes in com­pe­ti­tion. After a stint on the side­lines, Byrne plans to join them.

“The top bulls that we’ve got go­ing here should be rolling into Ed­mon­ton,” he said. “That’s ac­tu­ally where I’m go­ing to make my re­turn to rid­ing too. So it’s go­ing to be a pretty cool deal in Ed­mon­ton… I can’t wait.”

Byrne said 2017 has been “a year of in­juries and prob­lems.” He took first place in the Cal­gary Stam­pede in July. But he’s also earned a bro­ken shoul­der blade, a torn groin and a bro­ken wrist. The groin in­jury on its own took him out for six months.

He said he views the Global Cup as a “fresh start” to kick off the 2018 sea­son.

“I feel strong and in real good shape,” Byrne said. “I’ve been work­ing and train­ing to get back.”

The Global Cup will see riders from Canada, the United States, Mex­ico, Brazil and Aus­tralia form into na­tional teams. Four­teen riders will com­pete with Team Canada, with seven cho­sen through a qual­i­fy­ing round just be­fore the tour­na­ment.

Five oth­ers get in by virtue of their place in the world stand­ings. That will se­cure Lam­bert his spot on the ros­ter, and it’s also good news for a rider out of Tis­dale. Justin Lloyd’s heavy sched­ule of com­pe­ti­tion has made him the fifth high­est ranked Cana­dian in the Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ing stand­ings.

“Ev­ery week­end I’ve gone to wher­ever I could to get on the best bulls avail­able, to work my way up,” Lloyd said.

The Canada Cham­pi­onship fi­nals were hard on Lloyd. He was thrown face first into the dirt during his first ride on Satur­day.

“I was glad I was wear­ing a hel­met, be­cause I was sur­prised by how hard my face hit the ground,” he said. “I’ll have a bruise on my fore­head from that one.”

Lloyd has been rid­ing for nine years, but he still has a healthy re­spect for the an­i­mals. He looked on as the Byrne fam­ily’s Milky Chance went on his buck­ing tour around the arena Satur­day. The last time Lloyd rode that bull was in Ni­pawin, he re­called. That was a wild ride.

“These bulls are no joke,” he said. “They’re get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, stronger and stronger.”

RIGHT: Milky Chance be­gins his “dance” around the arena floor, just aft­ter buck­ing off Jack­son Scott of Kam­loops, BC.

ARTHUR WHITE-CRUMMEY/DAILY HER­ALD

LEFT: Zane Lam­bert rides Evil Ge­nius, a top Prince Al­bert bull, during the cham­pi­onship round Satur­day.

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