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Sports This Week: Coverchuk signed as free agent by Texas Rattlers

Meadow Lake bull rider has been on something of a run of late in terms of advancing his career.
Cody Coverchuk June 20 Courtesy Andy Watson Bull Stock Media
Cody Coverchuk attempts to ride Chad Berger/Oilfield Outlaw's Bucking Bull's Yellow Feather during the first round of the Bismarck PBR.

YORKTON - Meadow Lake bull rider Cody Coverchuk has been on something of a run of late in terms of advancing his career.

Entering the final day of the 2021 PBR Canada finals at Rogers Place Coverchuk was number two in the nation, 55.66 points behind then number one Dakota Buttar also a Saskatchewan rider out of Kindersley.  

When Buttar was unable to finish because of an injury the door opened for Coverchuk. 

In the final round Coverchuk was matched against 2019 PBR Canada Finals Bull of the Year Finning Lil Shorty, and the battle went to Coverchuk as he made the eight second buzzer for an 89.5 point ride to surge to No. 3 on the event leaderboard, and clinching the 2021 PBR Canada Championship earning a career-best $67,343.75 payday, finishing the season 23.34 points ahead of runner-up Buttar.   

Then earlier this year Coverchuk was one five riders for Team Canada at the PBR Global Cup, a selection he said he was “really honoured by” calling in it “pretty exciting.” 

And, now the two-time Canadian champion has signed as a free agent with the Texas Rattlers.

The Rattlers, based out of Dallas-Fort Worth, are set to compete in the inaugural PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Team Series.

“I was surprised after I didn’t get drafted,” Coverchuk told Yorkton This Week Monday.

Teams in the new series each drafted a core of five riders, and when Coverchuk was not picked, he looked north.

“I was kind of focusing on Canada,” he said, adding he had “entered a bunch of rodeos in Canada.”

Then the Rattlers called, and he signed with them as a free agent.

While Coverchuk will still ride in a PBR Canada event in Regina, Wednesday (June 22), and ride at the Calgary Stampede, his focus will also be on the Rattlers which he noted will have him competing “right up to November” when the team series finals are slated for Las Vegas.

Coverchuk said he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the team concept.

“It’s always just been rider and bull, a very individual sport,” he said.

But, the team concept grew on Coverchuk quickly.

“After going to Bismarck (N.D.) and competing with the team I really like it,” he said.

The Bismarck event was held June 17, as a pre-season warm-up.

Among the eight teams competing, two featured Canadian riders. Blake Smith (Abbey, Saskatchewan) and Griffin Smeltzer (Claresholm, Alberta) rode for the Austin Gamblers, Coverchuk competed for the Rattlers.

Coverchuk was bucked off by Oilfield Outlaw’s Yellow Feather. 

While the first outing was not a personal success, Coverchuk said it was enough for him to recognize the unique situation of riding for teammates, which added pressure, but also provided the support only a team can give. 

In terms of pressure “you want to hold up your end,” said Coverchuk, adding teams will take seven riders to each of the 10 team events, but only five will compete on a given weekend, so you need to ride. 

You could even get left home if not performing. 

“As a bull rider you don’t want to be watching on TV,” said Coverchuk. “… Hopefully I can hold up my end of this.” 

It helps too that the Rattler coach is bull riding legend Cody Lambert. 

“A co-founder of the PBR, Lambert is a true rodeo legend. Qualifying to the PBR World Finals from 1994-1996, Lambert remained intimately involved with the PBR following his retirement from competition, becoming the organization’s Livestock Director, a role he’s held for the past three decades, selecting the bulls that are an essential ingredient for the PBR’s explosive growth,” notes a PBR release.

“In addition to being one of the inaugural inductees into the prestigious PBR Ring of Honor, Lambert is also a member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame.”

“He knows every single bull that goes out every night,” said Coverchuk, adding the insights into the bulls Lambert will provide will be a real asset as a rider. 

Coverchuk is joined on the Texas Rattlers by Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil), Cody Jesus (Window Rock, Arizona), Brady Oleson (Blackfoot, Idaho), Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland, Australia), JC Mortensen (Chino Valley, Arizona), Ednelio Almeida (Cacoal, Brazil), Rafael Jose de Brito (Potirendaba, Brazil), Marco Juarez (Anthony, New Mexico), Travis Wimberley (Las Lunas, New Mexico), Ednei Caminhas (Indaiatuba, Brazil) and Jake Morinec (Mokena, Illinois).

The 10-event regular season begins July 25 with neutral site games in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and culminates in the championship tournament in November.