Sunday, July 11, 2010

Calgary Stampede Top Ten Announced

C A L G A R Y  2 0 1 0

Fifty-six competitors representing 12 countries have been pounding it out at Calgary, Alberta in Canada for the Calgary Stampede’s 31st annual World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition (WCBC). Three former Stampede champions, including 2009 World Champion Stephen Beane of England, are competing this year.

At stake are $50,000 in cash and prizes, with the winner receiving a $10,000 check, a limited edition bronze trophy, a Stampede handcrafted buckle, and a champion’s jacket. But anyone will tell you that it's more about the title than the prizes.

Saturday night, after accumulating points in eight different forging and shoeing classes over three days, the top 10 competitors were announced for Sunday's semifinal under the Big Top. Squaring off will be Beane, Canada's Colain Duret, Scotland’s Ian Gajczak, Derek Gardner, and David Varini, and three Americans: Jake Engler, Gene Lieser, Chris Madrid, Tim McPhee, and Jim Quick.

The top five from the 10-man semifinal will return immediately for the WCBC’s final round. A World Champion should be announced later Sunday afternoon.

England’s Darren Bazin has won Calgary three times and been second once. “Being a world champion, you get to shoe better horses, and you work with better clientele,” Bazin, 39, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, told Stampede interviewers. Beane also competes in other world-class blacksmithing competitions such as the Royal Show, the International, and the European championships. “There’s a lot of good younger guys competing now, but I rely on experience, really, and there’s a lot of preparation that goes into a competition like this. You can’t just show up and compete--not at this level.”

“Last year, we brought attention to the (WCBC’s) 30th anniversary, and it was an opportunity for past world champions who hadn’t been here for a while to congregate for a special event,” says Blaine Virostek, chairman of the Stampede’s Blacksmiths committee. “But we do continue to see new, younger guys starting to compete at this level, so the talent pool has definitely been growing over the past six to eight years. That shows us we’re going in the right direction.”

Virostek also says this year’s 31st annual competition marks the beginning of a subtle change in proceedings, with a move toward a team concept.
“This year, for example, we’re introducing a two-man shoeing competition,” he says. “When you get back into the industry, farriers do work in teams. There’s a master-apprentice kind of relationship. It’s a real-world application.”

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