Justin Armstrong, Travis Kaiser and Tom Thorlakson display their winning buckles while Calgary Stampede staff present their winnings of $18,695 for team penning cattle. (Calgary Stampede photo)

Armstrongs golden in Calgary

Brothers from Armstrong, along with Vernon’s Thorlakson, clean up at Calgary Stampede penning

North Okanagan cowboys have rounded up some top spots at the Calgary Stampede.

The best of the best came to lay down smoking times in the elite Open Class Team Cattle Penning Championships at the Calgary Stampede Saturday night. The cattle, however, had other plans.

In the first run of the final, four of the top five teams posted no time after an animal crossed the penalty line, ending those teams’ Stampede journey. In the second run, four of the 10 teams suffered the same fate. But ornery cattle were all in a night’s work for penner Travis Kaiser, who ended the evening sitting pretty on the Champion and Reserve Champion teams.

“You want them to be challenging. That’s how we want them. You’ve got to get in there and get them. Staying behind your cow is the biggest thing,” said Kaiser, who hails from Wisconsin but is a frequent competitor north of the border. “You let the time work out for itself.”

Kaiser partnered with Tom Thorlakson (Vernon, B.C.) and Justin Armstrong (Armstrong, B.C.) — two members of 2016’s Open Class winning team — to take home the coveted Calgary Stampede Champion belt buckles and a cheque for $18,695. They posted an impressive aggregate time of 129.280 with 12 head penned.

Kaiser also got a slice of the winnings as a member of the Reserve Champion team along with Russell and Graham Armstrong of Armstrong, B.C., Justin’s brothers. Their time of 145.640 with 12 head penned earned them $12,463. An Armstrong rode on five of the top 20 teams.

“Thom and Russell usually decide who rides with who. I am the odd man out so I just go where they want me,” Kaiser said with a laugh out back of the Saddledome after the cheque presentation. Makes sense, seeing as each of the Armstrong brothers have at least one Champion belt buckle to their name. Saturday’s win was No. 3 for Justin.

In Team Cattle Penning, teams have one thin minute to separate three specifically identified cattle from a herd of 30 and direct them into a 16-foot-by-24-foot pen at the opposite end of the arena. It’s a fast-paced dance between the riders, their mounts and the cattle they’re aiming to pen. Teamwork is paramount, with all three riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen. The four classes in Team Cattle Penning are based on relative skill and experience — in ascending order from 7 Class, to 10 Class, to 14 Class, to the trainers and travelling professionals of the Open Class.

This year, a record 819 teams faced off over three days of qualifying in the Silver Slate Arena in Stavely for the 20 available spots in each class. That increase catapulted the overall prize money to $400,032. The Open Class, with 105 teams entered, boasted a prize purse of approximately $63,000. Consistency over the four runs is key to getting to the top 10, and Thorlakson said a bit of luck helped them along the way.

“We had some good cattle tonight. They wanted to run nice for us. Those cattle we had last night (riding in the 14 Class final) gave us so much trouble,” he said.

Just Posted

Interior Health managers voice discontent

Negative comments about work culture aimed at CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Kelowna - Students were unaware of resources on campus

Video: Bulky bobcat goes for a stroll

Bob Lindley shared a video of a sneaky bobcat strolling through his yard in Vernon.

Cops report explosion in number of thefts from vehicles in Central Okanagan

In just the first 2 1/2 weeks of 2018, the number has nearly tripled in Kelowna and West Kelowna

Kelowna and West Kelowna’s unsolved crimes of the week

RCMP are searching for a fraud suspect and vandal suspect in this week’s unsolved crimes

Kelowna’s Ursel to coach host team at Olympics

Bob Ursel is headed to the Olympics with South Korea’s national men’s curling team

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

EDITORIAL: With harassment allegations, students deserve better at UBCO

The lack of communication with students isn’t good enough for the Kelowna campus

Physical altercation turns to online threats in Celista

Police were called to a Shuswap ice rink after a group of men physically fought each other

Arson suspect heads to court

Vernon man suspected of starting a string of 2014 fires in Vernon

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

Most Read