The story of Merritt professional bull rider Ty Pozzobon’s participation in this year’s  Calgary Stampede read like a fairytale all week long — until the final page.

A last-minute replacement for the injured Shane Proctor, Pozzobon rode five of his six bulls in the 10-day Stampede competition en route to a stunning second-place finish overall and a pay day of over $44,000.

Unfortunately, Pozzobon’s weekend accomplishments came with a steep price.

Immediately following the bull riding event, it was confirmed that the 22-year-old Nicola Valley cowboy had completely torn both the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL), in his right knee.

It is the same knee that Pozzobon tore his posterior collateral ligament in one year ago at the 2013 Stampede event.

Pozzobon will require immediate surgery, and will be out for the remainder of the 2014 bull riding season.

The news was a bitter pill to swallow for Pozzobon, who has been riding ‘lights out’ over the last month — earning close to $100,000 in the process.

“Ty’s not in very good shape right now,” his mom Leanne said. She was in the stands at Stampede Park, along with Ty’s grandmother, Carol, to watch her son’s magnificent final ride and then hear the hard-luck news afterwards.

“The doctor said the ACL and LCL are completely gone, and his knee is hanging on by a few fibres. He rode with his knee like that in the final four round,” she said.

Indeed, the injury occurred in Pozzobon’s second-to-last ride, on board a bull called Wrangler Extreme.

“I was getting off and my spur caught in the rope and it kind of hung me there,” Pozzobon said over the phone from Strathmore, outside Calgary, where he is laying up awaiting his surgery.

“I felt my right knee twist and I heard a pop right away. As I tried to get back to the chute, I knew that something wasn’t right. It didn’t feel good at all.”

Pozzobon’s score of 88 on Wrangler Extreme put him through to the final four and a chance at the $100,000 first prize.

Despite his serious injury, the Merritt cowboy didn’t hesitate when it came time to decide whether to compete or not in the championship round.

“[Not competing] never entered my mind,” he said. “Even if they’d had to tie a stick to my leg, I was going to do whatever I had to do to get on the last bull.”

Behind the chutes, sports medecine personnel taped Pozzobon up as best they could.

“Adrenaline just kind of got me through the last ride. I didn’t feel the knee at all. But I felt it after, I can tell you that,” Pozzobon said.

In the championship go-round, sheer guts and determination carried Pozzobon to a score of 88 points on I’m A Gangsta, a bull that had never previously been ridden on Canadian soil. He finished just one-and-a-half points behind the winner, fellow Canadian Scott Schiffner.

Ironically, Schiffner’s winning ride came on Mr. Buddy, the same bull that Pozzobon rode to a score of 89.5 and first place on Day 6 of the Calgary Stampede rodeo. It was that ride that really got things rolling for the Nicola Valley cowboy, who was bucked off his first bull of the week, Grey Area.

“Yeah, things started off kinda slow,” Pozzobon said in reference to his first Stampede outing. “They’re going to get you on the ground sometimes. I didn’t let it bother me.”

Following his bounce back ride on Mr. Buddy, Pozzobon also took top spot on Day 7 with a highlight reel 87-point ride on Gold Spring.

“That bull was a handful — wild and exotic. He doesn’t really have a set pattern,” he said.

Having already punched his ticket to Showdown Sunday with his two wins, Pozzobon also locked up first place in his pool with a third-place, 84.5-point ride on After Shock on Day 8.

Pozzobon’s courageous rides on Sunday in front of over 50,000 Stampede fans will undoubtedly be talked about for years to come.

“He did everything he could,” his mom said. “We’re so proud of him.”

Pozzobon, for his part, is trying to remain upbeat about his current situation.

“It’s hard to deal with, but I’m trying to look at the positives. I’ve been in this position before. It’s just part of the game,” he said.

Pozzobon will have surgery on his knee in Banff and then begin six months of rehabilitation, mostly back in Merritt.

“You’ll see me a lot more around town in the next little while,” he said.

“I’ve already made enough points to qualify for the World Finals in Vegas in November, so I’ll go down there and hang out and cheer my buddies on,” Pozzobon said.

“After that, it’s get healthy and hopefully be back on the bulls by the end of January. I can’t wait to continue where I left off.”

We can’t wait either.