Elite Sheep Shearers Compete at Stock Show

Elite Sheep Shearers Compete at Stock Show

(April 1, 2013) Nowhere in America could you see better sheep shearing than at the National Sheep Shearing Contest at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, Jan. 27, in Rapid City, S.D.

There were 46 shearers from across the United States and Canada who met to compete for the coveted title of top sheep shearer. Junior, intermediate and professional shearers competed in initial heats with the qualifying contestants moving into the final rounds. The competition was action packed in blade shearing, machine shearing and wool handling throughout the day. Shearers were scored on both speed and quality of shearing, for an overall score.

Loren Opstedahl, 42, of Piedmont, S.D., took top honors this year in the professional category, taking home a belt buckle designed for the honor. Opstedahl says it takes one thing — practice — to win the competition, and he says he gets plenty of it. He estimates that his crew handles about 60,000 sheep a year, serving some 100 or so clients, and runs from November to May.

Winning in Rapid City makes Opstedahl part of a two-man U.S. delegation to the World Sheep Shearing Contest, scheduled for Ireland in May 2014. The other member of the U.S. team at the world contest will be selected later, based on an accumulated showing at various contests still to come. Cheryl Schuldt of Miles City, Mont., who helps tabulate results at the National Sheep Shearing Contest, says some of those points can be accumulated in a shearing contest at the 63rd Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, May 16 to 18. 

Winners in the various divisions include: Blade Division – Kevin Ford (Mass.), first place; Doug Rathke (Minn.), second place; Loren Opstedahl (S.D.), third place; and Emily Chamelin (Md.), fourth place. Junior Division – Logan Crisp (S.D.), first place; Timothy Wright (Mich.), second place; Caleb Moser (Iowa), third place; and Phillip Feucht (Iowa), fourth place. Intermediate Division – Emily Chamelin (Md.), first place; Ben Fitzpatrick (Minn.), second place; Terrance Pelle (S.D.), third place; and Stephen Lusk (Idaho), fourth place. Professional Division – Loren Opstedahl (S.D), first place; Don Metheral, (Canada), second place; Mark Hoogendoorn (Iowa), third place; and Alex Moser (Iowa), fourth place.

This year a wool handling contest was added for wool handlers working the boards alongside the shearers. Speed, as well as accuracy in sorting wool and off sorts, was the primary factor in selecting the winners. Wool Handling Contest – Emily Chamelin (Md.), first place; Amanda Cantrell (Idaho), second place; Doug Rathke (Minn.), third place; and Leann Brimmer (Mont.), fourth place.

The American Sheep Industry Association is a sponsor of the National Sheep Shearing competition.

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