Big Val­ley cow­boy brings home $100,000 prize

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Allie Ruck­man The Drumheller Mail Zeke Thurston

The vil­lage of Big Val­ley has some­thing to ya­hoo about.

Twenty-two year old Sad­dle Bronc rider Zeke Thurston of Big Val­ley rode his way to the grand prize at the 2016 Cal­gary Stam­pede.

What is even more ex­tra­or­di­nary is that this is the sec­ond time Thurston has won the ti­tle, the first time be­ing al­most ex­actly one year ago.

“To win a rodeo that big and to com­pete against the best, on the world’s best stock and to win it two years in a row, is crazy. It was awe­some. You can’t ask for a bet­ter rodeo. There is a rea­son they call it the great­est out­door show on earth,” says Thurston.

Not only is the Cal­gary Stam­pede one of the big­gest rodeos in North Amer­ica, it was also very close to home for Thurston.

“You know, me be­ing from Al­berta, and to be con­sid­ered a home­town boy is a re­ally cool ex­pe­ri­ence. It's cool to rep­re­sent your coun­try, es­pe­cially on home soil. My fam­ily was there the whole time. I had lots of friends come out. Also my grandma, mom, dad, sib­lings, and my girl­friend came to watch, so I had a big en­tourage.”

Thurston was raised in the vil­lage of Big Val­ley and can­not re­mem­ber a time when he wasn’t on a horse.

“Both sides of my fam­ily have a strong rodeo back­ground. My mom and dad both did it. My dad rode pro­fes­sion­ally for twenty-some years. He had a re­ally suc­cess­ful ca­reer and rode in the Na­tional Fi­nals, and in the Cana­dian Fi­nals. So I just kind of grew up in it. I can’t re­mem­ber learn­ing to ride, I just grew up with it,” says Thurston.

This year’s Cal­gary Stam­pede fore­cast called for one thing only, and that was rain. This caused the in­field and track to be­come a muddy, sloppy mess for the cowboys and cow­girls of the stam­pede.

“The con­di­tions weren’t the best. It was kin-

To win a rodeo that big and to com­pete against the best, on the world’s best stock and to win it two years in a row, is crazy. It was awe­some. You can’t ask for a bet­ter rodeo. There is a rea­son they call it the great­est out­door show on earth.”

da nasty. You had to make sure to keep your equip­ment dry. Stay dry as best you can and stay on. Ev­ery horse is dif­fer­ent. It doesn’t af­fect the cowboys as much as the horse.”

In the Cal­gary Stam­pede fi­nals, Thurston met his third match up with buck­ing horse Spring Plant­ing, and left the au­di­ence in awe with an im­pres­sive 84.5 point ride win­ning the cham­pi­onship prize.

“I knew she was go­ing to do good, she has been around for a long time. She is an older horse but she is solid and de­pend­able.”

Thurston plans to con­tinue com­pet­ing in rodeos in the United States this sum­mer, chas­ing af­ter the grand prize.

You can see Thurston com­pet­ing in the up­com­ing Strath­more Stam­pede on July 29-31.

cour­tesy of the Cal­gary Stam­pede

Zeke Thurston of Big Val­ley shows off his $100,000 cheque af­ter be­com­ing the 2016 Cal­gary Stam­pede Sad­dle Bronc Cham­pion.

cour­tesy of the Cal­gary Stam­pede

Big Val­ley 's Zeke Thurston claims his tro­phy af­ter win­ning the Sad­dle Bronc event at this year's Cal­gary Stam­pede.

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