CALGARY— Competing back at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cochrane steer wrestler Tanner Milan is grateful to be back fighting on Canadian soil.
“It’s pretty awesome. It is my favourite rodeo. Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of being there,” Milan said. “It’s just absolutely great to be back going and competing there.”
The veteran steer wrestler was placed in Pool A of the Stampede Rodeo starting the week off with a scorching time of 4.0 seconds and finishing off the week with 6.9 seconds, 5.5 seconds and 20.4 seconds, Milan walked away from the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Pool A competition with a fifth-place finish and $6,500 in cash.
While Canadian rodeos have been non-existent during the pandemic, the nation's neighbour to the south has seen its rodeo season in full swing.
Milan has been performing at numerous rodeos in the United States during COVID-19, he said, and the events served to help him prepare for the Calgary Stampede.
The Calgary Stampede marked his first Canadian rodeo since the start of a global health crisis.
While it was great to be back in the Stampede ring, Milan said, he was disappointed with his performance on Monday (July 12).
“I had a couple of mistakes myself that I shouldn’t have,” Milan said. “I knew I had to win some money to advance on to Sunday and I didn’t quite give the steer enough of a head start and broke the barrier … It kind of snowballed all from there.”
The best part of the day was being back in Calgary, his hometown rodeo, and having the chance to connect with family and friends who had the opportunity to head down to the World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo to watch him ride.
“There’s lots of encouragement and support behind me. That damn sure makes a guy feel good,” Milan said.
The cowboy uses Cochrane as his home base, but has spent the majority of the year competing in United States rodeos to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. When Stampede is over, he will be headed back down south to continue on the rodeo trail.
Competing in the United States has been a good experience, Milan said, adding he appreciates the larger crowds on hand to cheer on the cowboys because there are limited COVID-19 public health restrictions.
As he enters United States rodeos, he is hoping to compete with steers that lead out the shoot well with no hesitation and move swiftly in a way that can let him take the animal down quickly.
“I’m just glad they’re [rodeos] finally going up here again,” Milan said. “It’s awesome to be here in Calgary. Everything about Calgary is just great.”
Milan will compete in rodeos in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nampa, Idaho, Spanish Fork, Utah, Ogden, Utah, Cheyenne, Wyoming and a couple of rodeos in Montana before returning to Canada.
Milan added it is still a slower rodeo season as he and other cowboys are waiting for the Canadian rodeos to bounce back from COVID-19.
His next Canadian rodeo will be the Strathmore Stampede taking place from July 30 to Aug. 2. Milan will also be competing in Medicine Hat.
“When the Canadian rodeos are going on we’re even busier. We’re usually crossing the border two to three times a week,” Milan said.