Friday, July 04, 2014

Calgary Stampede Opening Day: Blacksmiths in the Sun, Shatner in the Parade, Champions All

Last chance to be the World Champion: 60 farriers from around the world were entered for the 35th and final World Champion Blacksmiths Competition at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this week. (Photo © Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center by Sandra Mesrine)

The 35th (and final) World Championship Blacksmiths Competition at the Calgary Stampede entered its second day today, although it was technically the opening day of the Stampede itself.

Preliminary scores from Thursday's events, shared Friday by Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center, suggest that Ben Casserley of England was in the lead, followed by former world champion Darren Bazin, 2013 reserve champion Matthew Randles, and Jon Atkinson. All are from the United Kingdom.

This is the last forge-weld in Calgary, so to speak; the Stampede will not host the championship after this year.

(Photo © Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center by Sandra Mesrine)

Blacksmiths are known to be the descendants of Vulcan, the god of fire. A friend of the intergalactic tribe of Vulcans is on hand this week in Calgary and hopefully the farriers will be able to spend some time with him. Actor William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame (and more recently, Priceline commercials) was the grand marshall of the Stampede parade today and is well-known to be a horseman and he'd probably be right at home with our friends, who are all a long way from home.

Here's the Stampede's clever announcement of Shatner's appointment as co-marshall, along with Canadian Olympian speedskaters Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio.

After the parade, more than 32,000 people visited the Stampede today--up more than 5,000 from opening day last year. But it's still far short of the record 89,000 who showed up in 1992. (I was probably one of them.)

Calgary has a theme of "champions" this year. The swan song factor of the last-ever world championship, which is lead-sponsored once again by Mustad, drew a who's who of former world champions from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland: Steven Beane, Darren Bazin, Billy Crothers, Grant Moon, Paul Robinson, and David Varini.

Leave it to the Stampede to hire everyone's favorite voiceover artist, Sam Elliott, to westernize a fun video that seems appropriate for champions with hammers:

After 35 years, we know quite a bit about champions at Calgary. Whoever wins this year will certainly deserve the title of the World Champion; let's just hope that even if he or she may be the last champion in Calgary, they won't be the last in the world.

The Hoof Blog will attempt to report on the farrier events at the Stampede but communication is difficult and there is no livestream video for the farriers this year. The Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page may have additional news as (and if) it is available.

Thanks to Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center and Sandra Mesrine for the use of two of Sandra's great photos.

To learn more: Flip through the championship brochure for more information on the event:

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