Every year on Canada Night (Round 8 of the WNFR), Canadian flags are an even bigger part of the action than they are during the other nine performances.
And, with all six Canadian competitors getting to the pay window, Canadian fans were on top of the rodeo world.
In the bareback riding, Canada’s Orin Larsen followed up his 7th go-round win with an 87 point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman, good for third in round 8 and a $15,653 injection into the Larsen bank account. That ride moved the Manitoba product to 8th place in the aggregate (average) and third in the world standings with only Caleb Bennett and defending world champion Tim O’Connell ahead of him on the season leaderboard. Shane O’Connell of Rapid City, South Dakota won the round with an 89.
Both Canadian steer wrestlers got to the pay window on Thursday night with Provost bulldogger, Scott Guenthner checking in with a 4.0 for third place while Donalda, Alberta’s Curtis Cassidy added a $4230 6th place cheque to his WNFR earnings. After eight rounds 2016 World Champion Tyler Waguespack has gone to the lead in the world standings, dropping Cassidy, (who at the moment is out of the aggregate) to second place. But first time finalist Will Lummus, from West Point, Mississippi, has placed in seven of eight rounds, leads the average and sits in 3rd place overall, just $14,000 behind Waguespack. Guenthner, coming off his first Canadian championship just a month ago, moved up one spot to fourth overall but sits well back in 8th place in the average.
The Canadian successes continued in the saddle bronc riding as two-time and reigning Canadian Champion Clay Elliott of Nanton enjoyed his best moment of the Finals so far with a sparkling 87.5 point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills, good for 4th place and $11,000. 2016 World Champion, Zeke Thurston, was right behind his teammate with an 86.5 point effort on Bailey Pro Rodeo’s James Bond. Elliott’s $6769 payday keeps him 4th in the aggregate and 6th in the world standings. Rusty Wright and Chase Brooks spilt the round with a pair of 90 point rides, which has become almost the commonplace winning score in the bronc riding this year. While Ryder Wright continues to sit atop the season leaderboard, there are several cowboys in hot pursuit including Thurston, the Water Valley, Alberta hand, who sits 6th overall but a strong 4th in the aggregate. Elliott is also in the aggregate at present, in sixth spot, and sits 10th overall.
But on Canada night, the Canadian contingent saved the best for the last. With the pressure mounting in the barrel racing event as contestants have struggled to keep the barrels up, Texan, Taci Bettis, earned her first round win of 2018 with a 13.57 second run. But Canada’s Carman Pozzobon took full advantage of her number one position on the ground as she ran her best time of the Finals so far – 13.70 and turned in her eighth clean run. With Jessica Routier hitting a barrel, the British Columbia cowgirl and her tremendous mare, Ripp (Ripn Lady), moved to number one in the very lucrative ($67,000 for first) aggregate. Texan Hailey Kinsel remains first overall.
Team ropers Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan enjoyed the Round 8 win with a smoking 3.6 second run – the fastest time so far. And Clay Smith and Paul Eaves maintained their first place world standings ranking – a position they’ve held for the last three rounds – courtesy in part of a share of 2/3/4 tonight with a 4.1 second time – which paid $15,794 per man. And they sit fourth in the aggregate. 2015 World Champion header, Aaron Tsinigine, and heeling partner, Trey Yates, are still first in the aggregate (59.40/8) and hold down ninth and sixth respectively overall. Among the strongest contenders for a world title with only two rounds remaining appear to be the teams of Smith and Eaves and Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (who despite not placing in round 8) are still second in in the average and second in the world.
In the tie-down roping, Ryan Jarrett, the 2004 World Champion, got off to a slow start at this Finals but has been lights out in the last three rounds including winning round 8 with a 7.3 second time giving him $55,000 over the last three performances. Three-time champion Tuf Cooper continues to lead the world and benefited from an inadvertent quick flag from the officials that gave him a 7.4 second split of 2nd and 3rd in the round. As well, the Texas superstar has closed to within $1000 of brother-in-law Trevor Brazile in the All-Around race.
The bull riding event was considered a lock before the WNFR began with the twenty-four year-old four-time champion, Sage Kimzey, having won over $300,000 before the week got underway. After round eight that saw Kimzey buck off for the fifth time in eight trips, the talented Texan is still in the driver’s seat but credit Chase Dougherty and Joe Frost with making it interesting. Dougherty, the Oregon bull rider, at his first WNFR, sits first in the average and 3rd overall with Frost, from Randlett, Utah, now sitting first in the average and 4th overall.
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