The Calgary Stampede wraps up Sunday and those in the rodeo are looking forward to their final events where they have a chance to win some big bucks.
While many of these cowboys risk their physical health for a sport they love, one man from southern Alberta has developed an orthopedic device to help keep them a little safer.
“Five years ago, I was approached by former Canadian champion Kyle Bowers to make him an elbow brace,” said orthotist Tracy Duce on Saturday.
From that request, Duce discovered a need and started making custom elbow braces for cowboys all over North America.
“I was having a lot of trouble with [my] riding arm. My elbow and all the tendons in there were getting really tight and I saw some of the veteran guys wearing this elbow brace, and I kind of looked into it and I’ve been riding with one ever since,” said Richie Champion, a professional bareback rider.
With the word about these braces spreading rather quickly, more and more athletes began using them.
“Now all top 20 in the world are using our elbow brace and 18 out of the top 20 in Canada are using our elbow brace,” Duce said.
It’s an impact he is glad to see, as he continues to honour the man who first introduced him to the sport.
“My dad’s name was Bob Duce. He was [a] six-time Canadian bareback champion. He passed away when he was 37 years old,” said Duce.
He was killed in a vehicle crash in 1966, and Tracy, then six years old, was devastated.
In 1988, Bob Duce was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Inspired by his father, Tracy turned to the rodeo. After starting a family of his own, he introduced the sport to his daughter, Cristy Duce.
After competing in barrel racing for several years, Cristy now works in the rodeo industry and supports her father’s passion for helping riders.
“Rodeo with my dad means a lot to me. We have some pretty cool memories. As a teenage girl, you don’t always have so much in common with your dad but we always got to spend a lot of time together practicing and competing,” said Cristy.
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