Calgary Stampede Team Penning Open Finals

From left, Jody Elliott of Lacombe, Alta., Skylar Hansen of Calgary, and Skylar’s father Lonnie Hansen of Calgary won the Calgary Stampede’s Open Class Team Cattle Penning competition on Sunday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Victory for the trio was worth $10,266.

A penning associate of Lonnie Hansen figured it was time for a little good-natured, post-victory ribbing. All in fun, you understand.

“Even a chicken gets a kernel every once in a while, eh, Lonnie?” she chuckled. “Or should we say a wrinkled-up rooster?”

If Hansen has been waiting a long time to win a Calgary Stampede buckle in Team Cattle Penning, his 15-year-old daughter Skylar may well be the Stampede’s youngest winner in history in the Open Class, the highest-caliber of competition contested annually at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

The Calgary-based pair did it together on Sunday evening, though, winning the Open along with Lonnie’s longtime penning pal Jody Elliott of Lacombe, Alta. Victory for the trio is worth a cool $10,266 and three of those coveted, gold-and-silver handtooled Stampede buckles.

Lonnie Hansen and Elliott have been trying their luck in the Stampede’s Team Cattle Penning for almost as long as the competition has been around.

“Sweet. For Jody and me, it’s been coming a long time,” said Lonnie Hansen. “And with my daughter involved . . . I can’t think of two other people I’d rather celebrate this win with.”

A race against the clock, Team Cattle Penning gives a team of three riders on horseback 60 seconds 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. Teamwork is key, with all three riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen.

After beginning the competition with two rounds of preliminaries, along with 57 other triumvirates, on Thursday at the Okotoks Agricultural Society, the trio arrived at the Saddledome on Sunday sitting seventh overall among the elite 20 entries heading into the third round and championship final.

After runs of 37.35 and 43.01 seconds, on a night when the cattle were particularly rank, their performance stood up for victory. Hansen, Hansen and Elliott’s winning aggregate time for 12 head of cattle was 139.99 seconds, one second and change better than the 141.14 turned in by Travis Kaiser of Ontario, Wisc., Ken Kresbach of New Prague, Minn., and Russell Armstrong of Armstrong, B.C., who collected $6,844 as reserve champions.

“You’re sitting on the fence watching the clock for the other teams,” said Elliott. “You don’t want to wish bad luck on anyone else, but you’re still hopin’. You just wait and see.”

Skylar Hansen has been penning since she was four years old. So what will this 15-year-old Stampede champ do for an encore?

“Maybe come back and win it again next year,” she suggested with a laugh.

The third round and final in the 7 Class, the last of the four Team Cattle Penning divisions being contested at the Stampede, begins today at 5:30 p.m. at the Saddledome.

To follow the action live on the Internet, please visit our home page and click through to the live coverage.


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