PUEBLO, Colo. – 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel still remembers the adrenaline rush and excitement that was running through his veins last year at the Calgary Stampede.
The first-time competitor at the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” looked around the locker room and saw PBR greats such as two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney and three-time PBR World Finals event winner Robson Palermo prepping for the $100,000 bull riding.
Not only did he get a chance to chat and interact with Mauney and Palermo, but Teel also had the opportunity to talk with other PBR bull riders such as Ryan Dirteater, Cooper Davis, Joao Ricardo Vieira and Fabiano Vieira.
“It was quite the experience,” Teel recalled last month. “Well, just being around and getting to know the guys. I had knew who they were and met some before. Being around that kind of atmosphere in the locker room, it started making me think more about going to some PBRs more.”
Teel wasn’t star-struck either at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
Instead, Teel stole the show from the PBR riders and took home the 2016 championship on Showdown Sunday with an 91.5-point ride on Liquid Fire.
It was pouring rain during the championship round, and Teel needed a rider to pull his bull rope with $100,000 on the line.
Who better to ask then Mauney? A two-time Calgary Stampede champion and the richest bull rider in history.
Mauney agreed and then watched on as Teel made one of the biggest rides of his young career.
In the weeks and months following the Stampede, Teel continued to mull over a switch to the PBR full time in 2017.
One year after winning the Stampede, Teel is now leading the 2017 PBR Rookie of the Year race and is ranked 14th in the world standings after making his Built Ford Tough Series debut in February.
“That was the first time I ever sat down around J.B,” Teel said. “I knew I had wanted to go to the PBR eventually, but after that, I knew it was time. It makes you rise up being around those guys in that atmosphere. You rise to the occasion. You are only as good as who you are around.
“I felt that had a lot to do with it, for sure.”
Teel and Mauney are two of the 10 bull riders competing in Pool B at the 2017 Calgary Stampede on Tuesday afternoon.
Coincidentally, the forecast for Tuesday in Calgary calls for a 100 percent chance of rain.
Throughout his first tour on the BFTS, Teel has been able to rely on Mauney for advice while the two bull riders’ wives, Kaitlyn and Samantha, have also bridged a budding friendship.
“I have asked him for a lot of advice since the Stampede,” Teel said. “Simple things, like how it all works.”
The advice Teel has gotten has been less about how to make the 8-second mark, but more so some silly, little things like when he has to be at PBR events or how he goes about getting into indoor arenas throughout the United States.
“Just trying to figure out some of these venues and where the doors are,” Teel said with a chuckle. “Just trying to find where the backdoor is and where you go in. Silly stuff like that. It makes a big difference, especially when you are running late and spit, fumbling around.
Little things like that go a long way. Being a first-year guy, it definitely makes a difference having someone help you out. He has been very helpful.”
Also joining Mauney and Teel in pool play is No. 3 Derek Kolbaba, No. 6 Chase Outlaw, No. 28 Brennon Eldred, Tanner Byrne, Cody Coverchuk, three-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey, Tyler Pankewitz and Brock Radford.
Teel had actually swapped into Pool B so that he wouldn’t have to kill time in Calgary if he were to have ridden in Pool A.
Some could argue that the group of riders in Pool B is stronger than those that competed in Pool A.
“It is a pretty tough set, they are both tough, but there is a lot of big names in (Pool B),” Teel said. “With so many big guys, it is going to be fun.”
Mauney loves the atmosphere of the Calgary Stampede, which brings in over 1 million fans over the course of the 10-day event.
“Every time they invite me, I go every year,” Mauney said. “One, It is pretty fun up there. We don’t get to go to no rodeos normally. Getting to ride up there kind of switches the atmosphere. I like going and it pays good.”
Teel failed to place in the Top-4 of pool play last year and had to dig his way back to the championship through Wild Card Saturday and Showdown Sunday.
Mauney won Pool B last year, but failed to the advance out of the long round on Showdown Sunday.
The format of the Calgary Stampede is different than a standard Built Ford Tough Series 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.
“We are all competitive too,” Teel said. “You may say it is against a bull, but it makes you want to be better. You are not looking at it like you are riding against each other. But at the same time, we make each other ride better. It is a competition and that is just how it is. Nobody wants to see anyone do bad and what not, but it is competitive for dang sure.
That is what makes the sport better. The more better the competition, the better this all becomes. It makes you work that much harder. That is what makes it what it is. The competitive nature of everyone.
“The bar keeps just getting raised higher every year.”
Teel is attempting to become the first back-to-back champion at the Calgary Stampede since Justin Volz (2002-03).
“The goal going up there is to win it again,” Teel said. “You can’t get to far head of yourself up there. It is one day at a time because it all comes down to one-head at the end of the day. Hopefully you are taking that bronze home.”
Meanwhile, Mauney, who is currently fifth in the world standings, is looking to become the first three-time Stampede champion since the rodeo began paying out $100,000.
Gid Garstad (1966, ’65, ’58) is the last bull rider to win three stampede bull riding titles. Jim Shoulders won five Calgary Stampede bull riding championships.
Mauney calls his Stampede championships some of the biggest accolades of his career.
“They are right up there,” he said. “When I was younger, I watched Calgary all the time. To have won it twice, there are not many people that have won it twice before. I will keep going as long as they keep inviting me.”
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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