• April 1, 2020

RODEO: Canadian saddle bronc riders make presence known in Odessa - Odessa American: Sports

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RODEO: Canadian saddle bronc riders make presence known in Odessa

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Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2020 8:10 pm

The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo brings competitors from all over the world searching to get a good start on the season and for some, a chance to represent their country.

Taking advantage of that chance Thursday were four saddle bronc riders from Canada — Chase Bourque, Chase Zwiefel, Hunter Sawley and Nicholas Patterson.

Bourque and Zwiefel make their home in Saskatchewan while Sawley and Patterson come from Alberta, but they all appreciate getting a chance to showcase their talents in the United States.

“It’s nice to see that diversity in the sport,” Bourque said. “Different people coming from all over the place and we meet so many people. It’s just great to see the sport progress into different areas and see new faces.”

Zwiefel added that having role models in fellow countrymen and saddle bronc riders like Jake Watson and Dawson add some extra motivation.

“Even with rodeo being an individual sport, it’s cool we still got a sense of a team,” he said. “Canada has an awesome pool of young saddle bronc riders as well and we all back each other up and are super supportive.”

Aside from coming from the same country, another thing the riders share in common is how they got their start.

All four mentioned that they began riding in their teenage years and said watching the Calgary Stampede had a big influence on them as well. Because of those common interests, that’s helped the four develop a strong connection wherever they travel.

“The group is fantastic and everyone is upbeat and positive,” Patterson said. “We all motivate each other to keep going and keep pushing hard. If you have a bad day, they help you get past it and move on to the next one.”

“We all have each other’s backs,” Bourque added “It’s basically a brotherhood so we’re going to be there for each other through thick and thin.”

Patterson and Sawley were two of those new faces competing in Odessa for the first time this week as both riders are starting out on their pro careers. Sawley, who finished with a score of 68 Thursday, said he enjoys the experience of competing somewhere new.

“It’s pretty cool and definitely different,” said Sawley before his ride. “We’d been down around this area before and kind of knew what to expect a little bit, but it’s dang sure a hell of a lot for us for sure.”

While the rookies were getting a chance to get their surroundings straight, Thursday’s performance was particularly special for Zwiefel.

Thursday’s showing marked a return home for the former Odessa College saddle bronc rider. He last competed with the team in 2018 and said before his ride that it was the first time stepping foot in the Ector County Coliseum since his college days, bringing back a lot of great memories in his words.

“Pulling into town and it felt like I was here yesterday, honestly,” Zwiefel said. “It was my home for a while, so it was nice to kind of come back and get back in the groove and enjoy the weather.”

Zwiefel wanted to put on a good performance in his first trip back to the Permian Basin and finished as one of three riders who had qualifying rides on the night, despite only finishing with 58 points. Sawley finished with 68 points in his qualifying ride behind Dean Wadsworth of Buffalo Gap with 73. Patterson and Bourque did not record a score.

It is early in the season and the hope for Zwiefel and the rest of the Canadian riders is that they can use what they learned in Odessa through the rest of the season.

“I just really want to set a good tone for the season,” he said. “It is the beginning of the New Year and I want to make a really good run for the finals. When March comes around, we’re all going to head back up north to make a run up there and go back and forth.”

Patterson shared a similar sentiment.

“I want to try and enter as many (rodeos) as I can, try my heart out and see where it takes me,” he said. “We’re all trying to shoot for the finals but we just want to try harder and have a lot of fun while doing it.”

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