Saddle bronc buddies Kolby Wanchuk, Chase Brooks eye Stampede showdown

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Good friends and competitors, Kolby Wanchuk and Chase Brooks don’t mind throwing the odd verbal barb at each other.

In the opening round of Calgary Stampede rodeo Pool B competition on Monday, the pair of saddle bronc riders had identical scores of 87.5 points to tie for top spot.

Wanchuk, of Sherwood Park, Alta., went first and earned praise from the judges for his ride on Alberta Moon. Next up was Brooks, of Deer Lodge, Mont., whose wild ride on Falkland Playboy tied him with Wanchuk as both cowboys had paydays of $6,250.

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“I had to remind him that the old guy’s still got it,” said Brooks, who first met Wanchuk back in 2019. “Just too dang long if you ask me.”

While Wanchuk has come to rely on Brooks for setting his rodeo schedule for the year, he’s not afraid to throw shade his friend’s way.

“He does a pretty good job,” said Wanchuk, with Brooks standing right next to him. “He’s getting old.

“He’s been doing it a long time. He knows the game inside and out. He enters us the way he sees fit and it’s worked good for our whole travel group the last few years. We’ll let him keep doing it, I guess.”

Although Wanchuk, 28, refers to Brooks as old, there’s only a year age difference between them.

All jokes aside, the pair would like nothing more than to qualify to compete and go up against each other during the rodeo finals on Showdown Sunday.

“It would be sweet,” said Brooks, who didn’t win any money on Tuesday after his 77.5 ride on Frosted Brownie. “It’s always cool when you can do something like get your buddy group back to the finals.”

Both have qualified to compete in the championship round in Calgary in different years.

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Chase Brooks
Chase Brooks rides Falkland Playboy for a day-winning score of 87.50, tied with Kolby Wanchuk, during the saddle bronc event of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Monday, July 8, 2024. Photo by Brent Calver /Postmedia

“We both could do it this year,” said Brooks, who’s looking forward to bouncing back with a better performance on Wednesday in the final round of Pool B action. “It would be pretty sweet, especially if you get into that four-man and have a chance to get first and second. I’ve made it to the 10-man and I think that’s about it. I’ve never made it out of there, always been a couple spots out.”

Meanwhile, Wanchuk made it to the final four once, in 2021, but fell short of his goal of winning it all.

After winning Tuesday’s go-round thanks to an 88-point performance atop Double D Dolly, Wanchuk has put himself atop the standings with $13,250 in earnings.

“That horse has been liking rodeoing and been liking good guys getting on him and keeps getting stronger and stronger every trip,” said Wanchuk of his matchup with Double D Dolly. “It felt outstanding today.”

Following his strong performance, Wanchuk was hoping to see Brooks throw down one of his own on Frosted Brownie.

“I thought he could,” Wanchuk said. “That horse was really good in Wildwood and maybe just got in front of that big grandstand and it can change some things. It didn’t quite have the trip we were hoping for. I’m sure he’ll come back strong tomorrow and show something cool.”

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Following two go-rounds, Trenton Burd, of Madison, Kan., and Lucas Macza, of High River, Alta., are tied for second in the standings with $6,500 in earnings, followed by Brooks, who’s just $250 behind the pair.

Thanks to his 87.5-point performance on Mary Lou, Dawson Dahm, of Duffield, Alta., finished second on Tuesday and earned $5,500 to move up to fifth in the standings. Only the top four competitors in each of the three pools will earn a spot to compete in Showdown Sunday.

Sitting quite comfortably at the top of the table, Wanchuk has put himself in great position to make another trip to compete on the final day of the Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.

“Before the Cowboy Channel, this is the only rodeo we got to watch on TV,” said Wanchuk, who has showed off his skills on the big stage for five straight Stampedes after competing in both novice saddle bronc and junior bull riding when he was younger. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in the sport and get to see lots of these rodeos, but this was the big one. This is the one that every kid dreams of being at. To get a two go-round wins here to start this year off, it’s awesome.”

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