• January 18, 2021

RODEO: Pandemic, travel restrictions kept Alberta’s Solberg sidelined - Odessa American: Sports

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RODEO: Pandemic, travel restrictions kept Alberta’s Solberg sidelined

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Posted: Monday, January 11, 2021 6:59 pm

Canadian bareback rider Mike Solberg, like many other cowboys, has seen his participation at competitions around the United States and Canada shrink over the last 10 months due to the pandemic.

In a regular calendar year, Solberg will ride at around 60 to 70 rodeos.

Last year, he was limited to 16.

The Alberta native, however, hasn’t allowed the lack of competitions deter him from achieving his goals.

With the drop in competitions, he says as long as he’s getting to compete at any rodeo, he’ll be fine.

“I think I’m more fresh,” Solberg said. “Everyone is more fresh. You have to be.

“If you enter a small rodeo, the top 50 guys are going to be there and you have to do your best no matter what.”

He’s has previously competed at the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo and returned Saturday for the second performance.

“I’m happy to be here,” Solberg said. “It’s good to be here. I get tired of being at home. It gets boring. Once I get on the trail, it feels really good.”

The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo is one of the first competitions he’s ridden at this year. He was also in Texas at the Heart O’ Texas Rodeo in Waco back in October.

With the pandemic forcing some restrictions, including a closed border, travel can be a little tricky. Solberg said he flew across the border but that once he gets back, he’ll have to do a mandatory quarantine when he returns home to Sunnynook.

“Just getting down here wasn’t too terrible,” Solberg said. “It’s more going home where it’s a pain. We have to quarantine when we get home.

“That means we have to stay home and can’t go to any more rodeos. I live in the middle of nowhere on my ranch. I don’t see too many people. It wasn’t a huge difference.

“But now they have the rapid testing in Calgary and Vancouver where we can get a COVID test. Flying back, we have to take the more elaborate COVID testing when we get home, within 72 hours of getting home.”

Solberg isn’t the only Canadian competing in the Permian Basin and says there’s no competition between him and his American friends.

“I don’t think there’s any competition,” Solberg said. “What I’ve learned from my 20 plus years of rodeo is that the only person you compete with is yourself.

“It’s a mental game and if you’re off your game, that’s bad. It is what it is. You’re never too old to follow your dreams.”

Sunnynook is about 125 miles east of Calgary, home to one of the largest outdoor rodeos.

Solberg said he has had the honor of competing at the Calgary Stampede a couple of times in his lifetime.

“That’s one of my favorite rodeos in the world,” Solberg said. “The last time that I went was in 2012.

“I made it back to showdown Sunday and the electricity there is second to none. I don’t think you can find anything else like that around the world.”

The last time he made the trip back home to see his family was just last month for the holidays.

“I don’t travel with my kids as much,” Solberg said. “It’s hard on them to fly with me.”

He’s next rodeo will be in Rapid City, S.D. which will take place Jan. 29-Feb. 6.

“I’ll have a few more weeks of travel,” Solberg said.

After that, he intends to head back to Canada before competing at more rodeos.

“I have to go back soon,” Solberg said. “I’ll probably be going back in the next month and then get back here after 14 days.”

He’s hopeful that he can compete at more rodeos this year than last year.

“I’m not too sure,” Solberg said. “I’m on the board of directors up there in Canada (CPRA). We’re anticipating a lot more this year than last year but the COVID stuff has been tough on everyone.

“It’s tough to get that put together and to get all of the money together for that. We want to get rodeos back.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAmichaelba

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