PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater looked up toward the sky as the quarter-sized rain drop sloshed onto him.
Dirteater wiped his forehead and went to work on his bull rope. With each passing minute, his rope and bull riding gear continued to get soaked as the dark clouds over Alberta opened up at the Calgary Stampede Fairgrounds.
The Hulbert, Oklahoma, cowboy had just ridden Heaven’s Basement earlier in the day for 88 points and the long-round victory had propelled Dirteater into the Final 4 Round on Showdown Sunday at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
It had been 10 years since Dirteater last competed in an outdoor bull riding in a torrential downpour.
However, he was a wide-eyed teenager competing in Australia then. This time the stakes were much higher – $100,000 higher to be exact.
Dirteater was no match for his final bull and was bucked off by Bottle Rocket into a cold, wet mud pit on that dreary Sunday afternoon.
“After last year, I will be prepared for the rain and the weather,” Dirteater said this week from his Oklahoma ranch. “It is going to rain. You just don’t know when. You have to be prepared for that. I am going to make sure I have a poncho. A hat cover so my hat don’t get wet. I am going to make sure I have a rope cover too. I want to make sure I am prepared for it.
“It is going to rain. You just don’t know when.”
Regardless of coming up short of the victory, Dirteater’s 4-for-6 showing at the Calgary Stampede was another marque moment of his career-best, fourth-place finish in the 2016 world standings.
The 2016 World Finals event winner is set to compete at the 105th edition of the Calgary Stampede for the second time this Friday when Pool A action begins.
Joining Dirteater, who is currently 22nd in the world standings, in Pool A competition is No. 4 Jess Lockwood, No. 9 Joao Ricardo Vieira, No. 18 Fabiano Vieira, No. 25 and 2008 Stampede winner Mike Lee and No. 28 Dakota Buttar.
Joao Ricardo Vieira and Fabiano Vieira are the only two Brazilian bull riders competing in Calgary this year.
No Brazilian-born bull rider has won the Calgary Stampede since three-time PBR World Champion Adriano Moraes won the 1994 title.
Non-Built Ford Tough Series riders riding in Pool A are Joe Frost, Jordan Hansen, Timothy Lipsett and Garrett Smith.
The format for the Stampede, which has a combined $2 million worth of prize money up for grabs for the nine rodeo events, is different than a BFTS event.
Riders battle it out for four days in highly-contested pool play with the goal of advancing to Showdown Sunday as one of the pool’s top-four money earners. If they don’t make it, they can then jockey with the remaining riders on Wild Card Saturday for the final two spots.
However, once Sunday arrives, the slates are wiped clean and the Calgary Stampede champion will be the rider who posts the single highest-marked ride in the championship round, featuring the top four riders following Sunday’s long round.
“It is a cool format,” Dirteater said. “They give you every opportunity to win money. You are only riding against nine other guys in your pool. All you have to do is stay on and do your job and the rest will work itself out.”
Pool B begins on Tuesday. The other 10 riders competing in Pool B are Tanner Byrne, Cody Coverchuk, Brennon Eldred, three-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey, Derek Kolbaba, two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney, Chase Outlaw, Tyler Pankewitz, Brock Radford and 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel.
Byrne replaces 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis, who withdrew from Calgary because of a lingering groin injury.
Mauney is a two-time Calgary Stampede champion, while Kimzey and Teel have won the last two Stampedes.
Dirteater is hoping to add his name next to Mauney, Kimzey and Teel as recent winners.
“It is a huge event,” Dirteater said. “It has been around for years and has a long history. To win this deal would be right up there next to the PBR Finals. The PBR Finals is obviously bigger. It would be right underneath it.”
Over 1 million fans attend the 10-day event annually.
Dirteater had never competed at the famed rodeo, which began back in 1886, or even attended the self-proclaimed “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”
“The fans were awesome,” Dirteater said. “I had heard about it for years. I had always thought going to Calgary since I was young. I finally got the opportunity and still excited.”
Being an avid team roper, Dirteater enjoyed being able to watch some of the world’s best ropers compete during the Stampede.
“You got to see a lot of other cowboys and cowgirls in other events,” he said. “I am not used to do that. I am a fan, especially of the roping. I really enjoyed sitting back and relaxing and watching the other events.”
Lockwood is going to be making his Calgary Stampede debut Friday. He remembers competing at the National High School Rodeo Finals during the Calgary Stampede and would try to keep up with how his aunt Lisa Lockhart was doing in the barrel racing competition.
Lockhart has won the Stampede in 2015.
“This is the coolest event ever all summer,” Lockwood said. “If you can win Calgary, that would be the coolest thing ever.”
The Top-6 finishers at the Calgary Stampede will be awarded points toward the PBR world standings like a standard Touring Pro Division event. Riders that place in the Top-4 of a round will earn points as follows: 20, 15, 10, 5.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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