The teams that had qualified for the finals arrived on the Friday to enable them to attend a short training and familiarization session on the actual course, using the new Case equipment, where it was evident the participants were both enthusiastic and very competitive.
This was followed in the evening with an informal dinner attended by the teams and representatives from the international press.
In addition to last year’s final that included teams from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain, this year, there were competitors from Finland, Norway and Russia.
On Saturday morning the participants finally got down to serious business. True to style – with cowboy hats, plaid rodeo shirts and scarves in local colours. The finalists from the European competitions assembled at the start with the aim of determining the best participants in four separate tests.
The object of ‘Loaders Lasso’ was to carry various types of marked rods back and forth over a certain distance with a bucket using a large type 721F XR wheel-mounted front end loader and loading them at different heights. The acceleration capability of the new 721F with its five-speed gearbox offered certain advantages here – however, the safe transport of the feather-light rods with the parallel-kinematics of the XR version was no easy task. The most masterful feather-light touch in the sprint and reverse was finally showed by Alexander Feess from the German team, who won individual victory.
Equally challenging was the new competition, ‘Crazy Horse', using a brand new model TX380 compact track loader. The organizers excelled themselves in making difficult obstacles to drive and reverse over, so that the drivers had to use every ounce of skill right up to the finish so as not to compromise their loads. Richard Christian from the United Kingdom showed the strongest nerve and won the competition convincingly.
The next two contests were definitely less hectic. But a light touch and full concentration was needed at the controls. The ‘Bullseye' competition showed overall winner of the last rodeo, Raphael Rosen’s skill in dealing with the new CX250C crawler excavators, leaving the competition behind, in placing suspended tennis balls in a variety of narrow tubes.
The last individual event was using a backhoe loader Type 590 ST in a task that was the same as last year. The aim of ‘Yeehaa loader’ was to complete various complicated tests of skill with the excavator boom, as fast as possible. This would prove – at least this year, to be once again the domain of the guests from the United Kingdom, with Richard Christian completing the best run on the backhoe loaders.
After the last participant had left the arena early in the afternoon and the dust had been shaken out of the cowboy shirts, a greater challenge for the national team was waiting in the covered auditorium, who now had to volunteer one person for a wild ride on a mechanical bull. Even if the technical requirements for the seasoned construction professionals of both sexes were quite low, the entertainment value of the event was huge.
This was followed by all participants, journalists and the Case teams involved, attending a gala dinner, at which the individual winners and the overall champion stepped up to receive their awards.
The final award ceremony remained gripping to the end with CNH Construction Equipment European Marketing director, Jean-Patrick Yekpe not allowing any individual winner to assume they had won, so it was with some trepidation that the audience waited for the announcement of who had become the overall champion. All those present were on the edge of their seats as Raphael Rosen was invited on stage for the second time that evening.
With a strong overall performance, the previous year's winner managed to be placed just above double-winner Richard Christian and therefore not only take overall victory, but also the award for the best team in Belgium. Paula Inda, CNH Global Communications Director, gave the prize winners a symbolically oversized ticket with an invitation to the U.S. finals of the Case Rodeo in Las Vegas.
The invitation of the European Champions to attend the competition in the United States is the first step in a new direction for Case’s extremely popular rodeo events. As Paula Inda explained, “Due to the numerous requests to Case for an expansion of international events and the overall extremely positive response, it is now time to usher in the next round for the Case rodeo competition and take it to a new level.” The thinking here is increasingly global in scale, which is only logical for a global company like Case.
The task that awaits the new European champions in January of next year in Las Vegas will not be easy. Then again, as we say of our neighbours from Belgium, they are not easily rattled. And when you’ve seen Raphael Rosen in the competitions, you can be sure he has the necessary tools.