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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cowboys in for tough test

Cowboys in for tough test at Cody Snyder Professional Bull Riders Invitational

Only 40 bulls are standing between one cowboy and top prize money at the Cody Snyder Professional Bull Riders Invitational in Swift Current on Saturday.

A field of 30 cowboy competitors will face off against 30 bulls during the qualifying round of the May 28 sold out event, with the top 10 riders qualifying for the finals and a champion crowned as a result of their two-ride average. Over 15,000 in prize money is up for grabs, and the top payday will go to the rider with the best score during their 16 seconds of high octane excitement aboard their bucking stock.

Event organizer and two time Canadian National Champion champion bull rider and four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Cody Snyder was somewhat surprised the event sold out in just days after tickets went on sale.

"Yes, it's a pleasant surprise that they sold that fast," Snyder said leading up to the event. "But there's never been a PBR event there before and there's not a lot of bull riding and rodeo events within the vicinity there."

With the skyrocketing popularity of bull riding, the veteran bull rider and promoter said spectators are quick to snap up tickets to see their heroes in action.

"Professional bull riding is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. People love seeing great bull riding. PBR is the biggest bull riding organization in the world," Snyder said. "If you're going to do a golf tournament then you bring the PGA to town so you're getting the best of the best. And that's what this is about. PBR that's what people identify with it and they know the calibre of events that we've put on for the past 17-18 years.

"We've always prided ourselves and we go above and beyond getting the best bull riders that are available at the time, and we always get as good a pen of bulls together as we can possibly bring.

"When you put those elements together, people know that they're going to see a top notch professional event - something they've never seen before in Swift Current."

Snyder highlighted that Saturday's event is not just about the action in the arena.

"It's more than just bull riding. It's entertainment. People are going to come out and have a great time, we're going to have a lot of fun. We've got the big dance after. So it's a full night of entertainment."

He adds that the entertainment factor of the event is second to none, and the after event Party in the Dirt featuring Canadian Idol standout and country music rising star JayDee Bixby will round out an event full of fun for those in attendance.

"Our show designer is Peter Gebraad (Pro FX Inc.) who does the Calgary Stampede stage show, he did the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, he's done many NHL/NBA all-star games. He's the best in the business."

The bull riding athletes attending the event in Swift Current are among the best there are, and they have worked hard to perfect their riding abilities.

"You take a guy like Aaron Roy from right there in Saskatchewan, he's travelled all over the world riding bulls. He's been in Australia, he's been to Brazil, he's been in Mexico riding. He's been all over every State in the U.S., rode in Madison Square Garden, and for a kid coming from Asquith, Saskatchewan, what more can you ask than to have an opportunity to be on the world stage."

Regarded as the best during his days as a competitor, Snyder said success in the arena does not just happen overnight. He captured his first World Bull Riding Championship in 1983 at the age of 20. He still holds the record for the most Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) qualifications in bull riding (nine), as well as for the highest scored ride in Canadian Rodeo History (95 points) in 1983. He was a four-time National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifier.

"It starts from when you're a kid. As you grow up and that's what you want to be is a professional bull rider. It's no different that when you're a kid and you want to be a hockey player, and you grow up dreaming of being a hockey player, and you do whatever it takes to get to that level. And professional bull riders are the same. Most guys have been dreaming about being a bull rider, and they've watched it on television, seeing their boyhood heroes doing it and they want to emulate them. And it takes a huge commitment, and a lot of effort, and it's dangerous. Not everybody out there has the constitution to do it."

Snyder, who has riden during a Swift Current indoor rodeo in the 80s, and was a frequent entry in the bull riding event during Frontier Days, is looking forward to his return to the city on Saturday.

"We're excited to come to Swift Current, and to bring an event of this calibre to Swift Current is very exciting for us. And the economic impact these events have...there's going to be a lot of people coming from all over Saskatchewan and southern Alberta to come and watch this event and it brings a lot of money into the community."

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