Kelowna’s Prospera Place will be full of bucking bulls Wednesday night with the return of the PBR Okanagan challenge, a competition for professional bull riders dubbed “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”
The challenge is one of the eight major events of the 2022 season. Preparation is currently underway at Prospera Place and for one professional bull riding veteran, this year’s Canada cup series may be his last.
“I’m 36. My body’s starting to feel it once I hit the ground,” Zane Lambert said.
Lambert, a 15-year professional bull riding veteran and a two-time Canadian champion, said that as much as he loves the sport, he’s thinking of retiring. Another full-time season would mean a lot of time spent away from his family, he explained.
“I’d like to stay home with my family and my boys a bit more. To chase a title next year would be hard,” Lambert said
“It would be hard to put my whole effort into the sport where it needs to be to win and to compete with these guys.”
PBR, which stands for Professional Bull Riders, isn’t just work for the competitors.
A crew puts in about 28 hours of setup time for the two-and-a-half-hour event. Some of the prep work includes laying down 15 truck loads of dirt. Yet organizers say it’s well worth it to be in front of the fans in Kelowna for the first time in four years.
“We played to zero fans for the 2020 season, just made events for TV,” said Jason Davidson, PBR Canada general manager.
Riders thrive on the presence of a crowd, he said. “You can’t tell me it doesn’t get your motor running — 100 per cent they feed off this crowd.”
Wednesday’s challenge includes two rounds of bull riding. Previous winners, such as Calgary Stampede champion Dakota Buttar, and young rookies, are all looking for the chance to earn 80 national points putting them one step closer to becoming the 2022 PBR Canada champion.
Lambert’s hoping for a strong performance that will move him up the leaderboard.
“We’re trying to put together a season and get points on the board. It’s already sorting out who’s the top dog and who’s chasing who already. By the end of the year we’re trying to get a title,” Lambert said.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Prospera Place. Tickets are available online or at the box office.