Ty Erickson lives by the slogan “Do What It Takes,” and uses the hashtag #DoWIT on social media posts to remind his fans that is exactly what he is doing. This year, he has been doing what it takes in a big way.
The steer wrestler from Helena, Montana, got his 2017 season off to a great start with a tie for second place at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver in January. He watched his traveling partner Clayton Hass (Weatherford, Texas) win the event. His tie was with his other traveling partner, Tyler Waguespack from Gonzales, Louisiana., who is the reigning world champion. Altogether, the three athletes left Denver with $29,163 in earnings.
Then, Ty won money at Fort Worth, Rapid City and capped off the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association building run with a $21,604 win in San Antonio, Texas. By the first of March, he had won $64,453, less than $30,000 away from what he earned during the regular season last year when he entered the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in first place.
With less than two months left before the cutoff for the 2017 NFR, he again leads the world standings with $138,163. He will be making his fourth consecutive trip to Las Vegas in December. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that he will be wearing a gold buckle as a world champion steer wrestler. When that happens, he will be the first Montanan to accomplish that since the legendary Bill Linderman was the world champion steer wrestler in 1950.
It’s hard to say if that gold buckle would mean more to Ty, or to Montana who watched Rod Lyman from Victor come up short 16 times in Las Vegas. And then there are the fans, of which Ty has many including his parents Sid and Janet and girlfriend Cierra Kunesh. The duo is often seen on the pages of magazines and websites as models for Montana Silversmiths. Ty also has a brother, Josh, who has special needs, and loves rodeo, especially barrel racing.
Favorite movie: Dumb and Dumber – I really like comedies and we find ourselves quoting that one quite a bit.
Favorite current TV show: I don’t have regular television at home or on the road. But we do watch The Ranch on Netflix. It’s another comedy.
Dogs or cats: Definitely dogs. Cierra and I have a three-year-old English Bulldog named Blevins. He’s quite the character and goes everywhere with her.
Favorite dessert: That’s a hard one because I like all kinds of sweet things. The one that I pick to order at a restaurant is Crème Brulee.
Favorite card or board game: Pitch – it’s definitely a steer wrestling thing. If there are a group of steer wrestlers around and a deck of cards, you can bet they are playing pitch.
Favorite sport, other than rodeo: Basketball. I enjoy playing and watching.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: Probably flipping houses.
Best childhood memory: There are a lot, but I really treasure all of the things we did as a family.
Favorite thing you like about Las Vegas: I like all kinds of food, so all the restaurants are a bonus. The best thing about the NFR is the atmosphere when you run a steer in the Thomas and Mack. There are 18,000 fans in that building and they are right on top of the action. There is nothing else like it.
Historical figure or celebrity you’d most like to meet: John Wayne – what cowboy wouldn’t want to meet John Wayne?
What do you like to do in your spare time: In the wintertime I really like to ski. In the summer, we like to go to the lake. We go tubbing and ride jet skis. Tim Sparing has been a friend of mine for a long time. His family has a cabin on the lake and we make a trip there after Helena’s rodeo every year.
My role model is: Tim Tebow – people might be surprised by that, but Tim Tebow knows how to win. He wasn’t the best quarterback in the world, but he figured out a way to win in a bunch of different situations. I really admire him for that.
Best travel partner: The crew I’m with now is hard to beat. We each have different qualities that allow us to feed off of each other. We also have a lot of fun together.
Music: Country, from classic to today’s hits, I like all of country music.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: It’s hard to pick just one. As steer wrestlers, we ride a variety of horses. Of course, Shakem (Montana Shakem the 2015 AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year) is on that list. He’s got so much speed that even when you get a fast steer, he can get you to it. Cadillac scores so well and puts you in great position. When I first started competing I had a horse named Cisco that I rode until I was a senior in college. He taught me how to win and gave me the confidence that I could compete against the best in the world.
What would people be surprised to learn about you: I really like to build things and do woodwork. We completely renovated our house last year and I did a lot of the work.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young steer wrestler, what would it be: It wouldn’t have anything to do with steer wrestling. I’d tell them to work on their mental game. In rodeo, you need to have a short-term memory. Whether you do good or bad, you need to forget your last run and focus on the opportunity in the next one. That’s a hard thing to learn, but to be successful, your mental game has to be sharp.
If you could live anywhere where would it be: Without a doubt, Montana. Ask any of my traveling partners and they will tell you. I’m glad to visit other places, but I’ll never call anywhere else home.
Facebook or Twitter – Facebook. I’m not really into social media. I much prefer face-to-face conversations.
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