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The more Lewis Feild talked about it, the more excited Dan Mortensen became.

Feild, a former PRCA world all-around champion, was discussing his participation in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

The event of rodeo was showcased as an event in Canada, giving visitors from abroad a taste of the Western culture.

“Lewis Feild talked about it and he went on and on what a big thrill it was,” recalled Mortensen of the conversation. “Some of the guys even got to be friends with members of the Russian hockey team. They would come watch the rodeo, then they would all hang out together.”

At Calgary, rodeo was a complete member of the Winter Olympics, with competitors receiving their medals following their bobsled counterparts.

Rodeo great Joe Beaver said it was one of the highlights of his storied career.

Now it’s Mortensen’s turn to be part of the Olympic experience.

Mortensen is part of a 40-member team from the United States that will compete in the Winter Games at Salt Lake City against Canada in the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo, the North American Challenge.

There will be five competitors in each event from each country.

The three-day rodeo begins Friday and is being held in Farmington, Utah, located 12 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Along with competing for medals, cowboys and cowgirls will be competing for $160,000 in prize money.

“That’s cool,” Mortensen said of his participation.

The five-time world saddle bronc champion from Billings is one of three Montanans competing for the United States. Clay Tryan of Billings will be in team roping with partner Caleb Twisselman, of Santa Margarita, Calif., and Alzada’s Larry Sandvick will be in the bareback riding.

Molly Swanson-Powell, a Canadian native, will be competing for her home country in barrel racing as will calf roper Chad Johnson. Johnson, who has family in Cut Bank, lives in Del Bonita, Alberta, Canada. Swanson-Powell recently moved to Alpine, Texas, home of her new husband, Turtle Powell.

Sandvick will also be showcasing his leather-making skills. He hand-crafted the chaps for all of the rough stock competitors.

It will be three separate rodeos, with the winner determined by total points. There is no additional average money being awarded.

Mortensen qualified by winning the saddle bronc title at the Copenhagen Cup Finale this past August in Dallas.

“I was second at Pocatello (Dodge National Circuit Finals) and they take the winner,” said Mortensen of his qualifying quest. “I was third at the Copenhagen Cup in Las Vegas … and they take the winner.

“So had I had missed my first two chances. I was pretty happy to qualify.”

Mortensen’s participation at the Winter Olympics will be a welcome pause in a very busy schedule. Since Sunday, he has ridden saddle bronc horses in Rapid City, S.D., San Antonio, Texas and El Paso, Texas.

He is currently second in the world saddle bronc standings won with $17,885. A year ago, he won a total of $10,000 for the entire winter rodeo season.

“We know absolutely nothing of what is going to happen,” said Mortensen of Olympic protocol. “I’m just going to play it loose and cool and get in as much as I can.”

However, one drawback is the rodeo competitors do not get to stay at the Olympic Village with the rest of the athletes.

“I’m staying at the Super-8,” Mortensen replied with a good laugh.United States competitorsBareback – Larry Sandvick, Alzada; Rocky Steagall, Clovis, Calif.; Kelly Wardell, Bellevue, Idaho; Clint Corey, Powell Butte, Ore; Lan LaJeunesse, Morgan, Utah.

Steer wrestling – Trav Caldwell, Oakdale, Calif.; Jason Lahr, Emporia, Kan.; Jeff Babek, Granite, Okla.; Rope Myers, Van, Texas; Bryan Fields, Conroe, Texas.

Team roping – Clay Tryan, Billings-Caleb Twisselman, Santa Margarita, Calif.; Speed Williams, Jacksonville, Fla.-Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas; Reese Kerr, Cotulla, Texas-Michael Jones, Stephenville, Texas; David Key, Ledbetter, Texas-Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif.; Frank Graves, Poplarville, Miss.-Monty Joe Petska, Turlock, Calif.

Saddle bronc – Dan Mortensen, Billings; Dan Erickson, Manzanola, Colo.; Bud Longbrake, Dupree, S.D.; Tom Reeves, Stephenville, Texas; Billy Etbauer, Edmond, Okla.

Calf roping – Shawn Franklin, Wetumka, Okla.; Blair Burk, Durant, Okla.; Stran Smith, Tell, Texas; Jerome Schneeberger, Ponca City, Okla.; Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas.

Barrel racing – Delores, Toole, Manter, Kan.; Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz.; Kelly Yates, Pueblo, Colo.; Kappy Allen, Austin, Texas; Janet Stover, Rusk, Texas.

Bull riding – Cory Check, Eastman, Wis.; Cody Hancock, Taylor, Ariz.; Vince Stanton, Weiser, Idaho; Blue Stone, Ogden, Utah; Lee Akin, Weatherford, Okla.Canadian competitorsBareback – Kenton Randle, Fort Vermillion, AB; Bill Boyd, Olds, AB; Darrell Cholach, Hanna, AB; Kyle Bowers, Brooks, AB; Davey Shields, Hanna, AB.

Steer wrestling – Todd Maughan, Nanton, AB; Lee Graves, Calgary, AB; B.J. Zieffle, Consort, AB; Curtis Cassidy, Donald, AB; David Gibson, Hardisty, AB.

Team roping – Daryn Knapp, Mayerthorpe, AB-Dwight Wigemyr, Brooks, AB; Murray Linthicum, Glentworth, SK-Rocky Dallyn, Manton, AB; Travis Gallais, Olds, AB-Chad Johnson, Del Bonita, AB; Mel Coleman, Phoenix, Ariz.-Wayne Skocgopole, Big Valley, AB; Dale Skocdopole, Big Valley, AB-Ronald Schmidt, Barrhead, AB.

Saddle bronc – Rod Hay, Wildwood, AB; Rod Warren, Big Valley, AB; Guy Shapka, Alix, AB; Denny Hay, Mayerthorpe, AB; Billy Richards, Cochrane, AB.

Calf roping – Al Bouchard, Altario, AB; Curtis Cassidy, Donalda, AB; Darren Shaw, Cardston, AB; Marty Becker, Cardston, AB; Guy Smith, Elnora, AB.

Barrel racing – Molly Swanson-Powell, Simms; Jill Besplug, Claresholm, AB; Carol Barr, Cowley, AB; Joan Hager, Wainwright, AB; Deb Renger, Okotoks, AB.

Bull riding – Scott Schiffner, Stettler, AB; Kelly Armstrong, Big Valley, AB; Rob Bell, Water Valley, AB; Robert Bowers, Brooks, AB; Luke Ellingson, Weyburn, SK.

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