Wood carver to create sculpture of Merritt’s Ty Pozzobon

By on February 14, 2018
(Above) Marina Cole has been commissioned to carve a sculpture honouring Ty Pozzobon. (Herald files).


Fresh off a recent competition in Australia, professional wood carver Marina Cole returned home to Canada preparing to begin a very sentimental creation.

It’s been more than a year since famed Merritt bull rider Ty Pozzobon passed away, and come September, Cole plans to unveil a wood sculpture in his likeness for his hometown.

“It’s not just another sculpture, it’s something that is going to really mean something and be a big piece and a big part of the community,” Cole told the Herald.

“It’s going to be a very technical carving and it’s going to be a lot of time spent on him to get him to the point of who his parents remember,” she said.

Ty Pozzobon (Ian Webster/Herald).

Merrittonians should be familiar with Cole, as she took home first place in the carving competition of last year’s Logger Sports Show.

The annual event is hosted by the local chamber of commerce, with support from the City of Merritt, and part of Cole’s victory was being offered the opportunity to carve the sculpture of Pozzobon.

A champion bull rider who was remembered as much — if not more — for his jovial personality as his world-beating talent, Pozzobon was nearing the apex of his career when he took his own life last January.

“As I said to Ty in late 2016, because of all his successes, he’s put Merritt on the map and we really appreciate it,” Merritt Mayor Neil Menard told the Herald.

Cole said she feels blessed to have been offered the chance to capture Pozzobon’s likeness in the wood.

The carving will be a life-sized statue of Ty, possibly with a bull, but Cole is consulting Pozzobon’s parents as to what exactly they’d like to see.

“Obviously, it means so much to his parents, as well as the community, so their input is absolutely an important part of the carving,” said Cole.

Expected to begin work on the sculpture next month, Cole said it will require an extreme amount of detail.

“It’s going to have heart and it’s got to mean something to his parents [so] I’m going to take my time with it,” Cole said.

Once all the sawdust clears, Cole plans to unveil the work of art at this year’s Logger Sports Show.

The carving isn’t a city initiative, but the municipality will help get funds raised to pay for the statue, Menard said.

“A number of organizations have said they’d be more than happy to participate in [funding] whatever the cost is,” he said. “It’ll be covered somehow.”

Final location for sculpture still to be decided

The wood carving will be placed somewhere in town, and while it’s unclear at the moment where that will be, Menard said it should be placed somewhere where tourists can view it.

“We need to have it somewhere accessible,” he said, adding that the Pozzobon family’s preference will factor into the decision as well.

Cole, who is based in Medicine Hat, Alta., is very familiar with Pozzobon and the rodeo scene.

“I followed his story as well as everything [that] happened,” Cole said.

“Doing a sculpture for somebody like him, his foundation and for his parents, it’s going to be something that I’m going to put my whole heart into,” Cole said.

Ty Pozzobon’s passing became a national headline in the days following his death.

Despite the tragedy, Pozzobon’s family made the hard but admirable decision to donate his brain to the University of Washington, where leading scientists working to better understand the effects of traumatic brain injury had the chance to examine it for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (commonly referred to as CTE).

A few months later, the researchers diagnosed Pozzobon with a traumatic brain injury.

He was the first rider to be confirmed as having suffered from CTE, and his death — and subsequent work from a newly established Ty Pozzobon Foundation — have helped pave the way for more oversight at professional rodeo events.

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