Thurston Rules Calgary

Zeke Thurston shows his winning bronc riding form on Flying 5 Rodeo’s Spring Planting. Photo by Mike Copeman.

For the second year in a row, Zeke Thurston won the saddle bronc riding at the Calgary Stampede. In an arena literally awash with rain, the young cowboy rode Wayne Vold’s Awesome to an 87 and advanced to the Final Four. Then he drew the great Spring Planting.

“She’s one of the buckingest horses going, and one that you want everywhere,” says the young cowboy who turned 22 during Stampede week.

Thurston rode the veteran mare for 89.5 points in the championship round, and for the second time in a row won the $100,000 — plus another $12,000 earlier in the week in day money.

“I was spurring but she was bucking so hard, it felt like I didn’t even know if I was going to get bucked off. I was just lucky to weather the storm.”

Thurston invested his first $100,000 wisely, purchasing some cattle, renting some pasture, and getting started on a house to be built this summer. His approach won’t likely change.

“I’ve been very blessed to have had some success, especially at the biggest rodeo in the world.”

Earlier in the week, Thurston confessed winning his first Stampede championship had helped prove his $50,000 win at Houston last year was no fluke. So this second one?

“Shoot, this was all for fun. I love doing it, and riding bucking horses. I was just thankful for the opportunity.”

Thurston was the only Canadian to ride away as a 2016 Calgary Stampede Champion.