COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is pleased to announce that it will be adding a 13th circuit, starting in the 2019 rodeo season.
The PRCA and Canadian Professional Rodeo Association have partnered to create the Maple Leaf Circuit, which will join the previously sanctioned 12 PRCA circuits.
“The creation of the Maple Leaf Circuit is a significant step toward our goal of unifying the sport of professional rodeo, while increasing the opportunities for our members,” said PRCA CEO George Taylor. “The longstanding relationship between the PRCA and the CPRA is a legacy that has created mutual benefits in the past, and the shared vision for the Maple Leaf Circuit will provide even more opportunities for our combined membership into the future.”
Effective Oct. 1, 2018, rodeo competitors who are members of both the PRCA and CPRA will be able to enter a select amount of CPRA rodeos throughout the 2019 rodeo season and earn Maple Leaf Circuit points.
CPRA General Manager Jeff Robson sees the new agreement as an opportunity to strengthen Canadian rodeo in several key areas.
“Both of our organizations are committed to attracting new members and creating avenues for new and existing members to make more money. This agreement solidifies the role of the CPRA and PRCA as industry leaders in and out of the arena,” Robson noted. “Expanding our partnership fits very well with our combined vision. Working alongside the PRCA to allow CPRA members to qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals south of the 49th parallel is a vital element in growing our sport. It is an exciting time as we continue to collaborate on initiatives that will benefit our members.”
The champions of the Maple Leaf Circuit – two in each rodeo event – will qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, in Kissimmee, Fla., starting in April 2020.
“We are excited to see the addition of the Maple Leaf Circuit to the circuit system,” said Beth Knight, Osceola County (Fla.) Deputy Manager. “We believe that they will draw additional fans, especially given the number of Canadians that call Central Florida their winter home. This agreement will provide unique marketing opportunities and will drive a new fan base to our destination.”
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
It was a nice moment. Friday night at the Medicine Hat Stampede is always one of the special rodeo performances of the entire year, and this one was no exception.
Canadian Champion barrel racer Carman Pozzobon had made her run and taken the lead. She’d been asked to stay close to the arena outgate to complete an interview and was standing with Shelley Manning while 14 year old Taylor Manning (Shelley’s daughter) was making her run.
“I always root for Taylor,” Pozzobon acknowledged. “And she had almost a perfect run. I knew it would be close and I wasn’t surprised when she beat me. And I was okay with it, because it meant she’d have to do the interview,” she grinned.
Taylor’s time of 17.467 seconds (two one-thousandths of a second faster than Pozzobon) held up to win the Finning Tour stop, netting the teenage talent $3125.
“My horse, Matlock, came from Grant and Rayel Little,” said Taylor. “He’s been really good again this year. And it was awesome to beat Carman when it was so close… she’s super nice.”
The ten year old gelding, Good Little Nick (by As Good As Nick Gets out of Fols Dream Of Cash) carried Taylor to her first Canadian Finals Rodeo appearance in 2017. The Medicine Hat win, coupled with a second place finish at Bonnyville ($1335), moved the Edson, AB native (unofficially) to second spot in the 2018 Canadian standings with over $21,000 won.
With a CFR berth all but clinched, for both Taylor and twin brother, Tristen, who sits second in the steer riding standings, it may be the first time that a set of twins has qualified for the CFR in the same year.
Meanwhile for Pozzobon, the season is playing out almost exactly according to plan.
“I was hoping to do well enough at the big rodeos down south – early in the season – to be able to stay in Canada for the most part, from this point on,” the Canadian Champion noted. “I’ll go to about six close ones in the U.S. and spend the rest of my time up here.”
With three goals in mind, another trip to the CFR, a first-time appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and a return to The American, everything seems to be falling into place for the Savona, BC cowgirl and her eight year old buckskin mare, Ripp’n Lady (Ripp).
Pozzobon holds a comfortable $12,000 lead in Canada, and sits solidly in tenth place in the World standings.
“Ripp gives me a chance to win at every rodeo. We’re getting more consistent and I’ve figured out the things I need to help her with… and at the same time, she helps me.”
The 32 year old horse trainer is especially excited about the new home for the CFR. “I love change. And I actually think we can do better (in Red Deer) than we did in Edmonton because I don’t think the run to first barrel will be as long in this building (Westerner Park’s Enmax Centrium). That will be easier for Ripp and me.”
2016 Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Clay Elliott, has been on a tear of his own in the month of July. The 24 year old Nanton, Alberta cowboy continued that success with a big win at the Hard Grass Bronc Match in Pollockville. Elliott “40 percented” the field – winning the long go with an 89 point ride on The Calgary Stampede’s Umber Bubbles then spurring out a spectacular 92 point effort on Calgary’s Special Delivery to edge last year’s reserve World champion, Brody Cress, of Hillsdale, WY.
The win capped a streak that began July 4 with a win at Red Lodge, Montana – and solid placings at Livingston, MT and Cody, WY the same day. The second generation cowboy went on to enjoy a “Final Four” appearance at the recently concluded Calgary Stampede then posted a big win at Edmonton’s K-Days Rodeo for $13,000 and another win at Helena – all leading to Sunday’s big performance at Pollockville.
Of the second year bronc riding event, Elliott noted enthusiastically, “The Hard Grass Bronc Match is outstanding. It felt like I knew half the people who were there plus it had a really cool atmosphere. With Alpha Bull producing it, it was a pretty hyped up show and really good for the spectators.
“We got to pick our horses for the final,” Elliott explained. “And I got to pick first. We’d been talking on the way there – about the one to have in the short round, and I really wanted to see Special Delivery under saddle. Sometimes bareback horses making the switch don’t handle the halter that well but he was just darn good to ride — really nice.”
The successful four week run has vaulted Elliott (unofficially) to first place in the Canadian standings and eighth in the World.
For complete results for all five recent Alberta events – Medicine Hat, Bonnyville, Pollockville, Bowden and Bruce – go to www.rodeocanada.com
Rodeo action remains fast and furious for CPRA competitors. The High Prairie Elks Pro Rodeo runs July 31-August 1; Strathmore Stampede is slated for August 3-6 and Grimshaw’s North Peace Stampede takes place August 4-5.
Call it what you want—Richmond Champion and Virgil fit all three categories.
The Dublin, Texas bareback rider and the much-decorated C5 bucking horse met again in Ponoka in the Showdown round of the Ponoka Stampede. And the result was the same as it had been almost one year previous when the two got together at the Calgary Stampede. The combination topped the competition and Champion slipped a large cheque into his wallet.
This time it was $12,948 that the reigning Alberta Circuit champion pocketed, with the biggest chunk ($8250) coming courtesy of his 91.25 ride aboard the famous grey in the Showdown.
“They were all great horses in the final four but he was the one to have,” Champion said of the 2017 Canadian and World Champion bucker. “I knew that if I wanted to beat Jake, I better draw the grey. I drew third and he was still in there. When I picked him, I knew I had a chance.”
It was a welcome moment for Champion, the former million dollar American winner, as he sat in an unaccustomed position—17th in the world standings and outside of the group of fifteen qualifiers for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The weekend’s success at Ponoka, combined with the win at Williams Lake Stampede (87.5 points on Duffy Rodeo’s Tweety Bird for $3768) and a third place $1241 cheque at Airdrie Pro Rodeo resulted in an $18,000 boost in season earnings for the CFR qualifier of a year ago. And both of his wins came at Finning Pro Tour Rodeos, which puts him in line for a berth at the Finning Pro Tour Finals in Armstrong, BC in September.
“I came to Ponoka for the first time last year and I’m addicted to this place. I love a format like this where it goes right down to the wire.” Champion admitted, moments after his winning ride on Virgil. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
And while it was Vold, last year’s Ponoka bareback riding titleist that Champion edged out for the win, no one needs to feel too sorry for the three time Canadian champion. Vold, who only recently returned to competition after the injury he incurred at last year’s WNFR, put a tidy $14,000 into his bank account for his Ponoka effort.
The two, who are traveling partners—Richmond stayed at Jake’s place over the last week—will continue their friendly rivalry once again at Calgary and very likely later in the year at Red Deer’s first CFR and maybe even at Las Vegas in December.
The strong showing over the Canadian “Cowboy Christmas” events should make the likable Texan one of the favourites for a Canadian title and perhaps even the elusive world title. And that’s exactly the way he wants it.
“I absolutely want to win at least one of each,” he grinned as he got ready to head south of the 49th parallel for the 4th of July potential bonanza.
Aldergrove, BC’s Carman Pozzobon is following up her Canadian title year of 2017 with a huge season on her outstanding mare, Ripp. The duo collected wins at both Airdrie and Williams Lake and picked up a third place go-round cheque at Ponoka for a profitable $11,000 start to her Cowboy Christmas run. Pozzobon came into the Canada-Day-Long sitting first in Canada and 13th in the world standings and will solidify her hold on top spot in Canada while inching up the WPRA leaderboard and ever closer to a coveted first-ever berth at the National Finals Rodeo.
And there’s a new “fear the beard” figure in the team roping. With 2016 World Champion, Jeremy Buhler, shaving off his somewhat famous facial hair, Tristen Woolsey, the heeler on the other side of the box from header Denver Johnson, has the beard and the talent to take up the mantle from Buhler who teamed with Levi Simpson to win the world in 2016 and the Canadian title in 2017.
Woolsey and Johnson already had a commanding lead in the Canadian standings going into the weekend and added Ponoka to their growing list of 2018 accomplishments winning both the aggregate (18.9 seconds on three runs) and the Showdown (5.3 seconds) for a $7734 addition to their season’s earnings to date.
For complete unofficial results from the Ponoka Stampede, Williams Lake Stampede and Airdrie Pro Rodeo, go the rodeocanada.com.
Next up on the CPRA schedule are Coronation Pro Rodeo, July 6-7 and Benalto Fair and Stampede, July 6-8.
Canadian Finals Rodeo and Finning Pro Tour Events to be live only on FloRodeo.com
AUSTIN, Texas — June 12, 2018 — Today, FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, announced a multiyear agreement with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) to air the Finning Pro Tour events and finals, The Grass Roots Final, and Canadian Finals Rodeo, exclusively on FloRodeo.com.
This year, with the addition of CPRA events, FloRodeo will carry 27 events spanning 93 days of live rodeo coverage, including the International Finals Youth Rodeo, National Little Britches Association Finals, and American Junior Rodeo Association Finals.
As Canada’s premier professional circuit, the Finning Pro Tour brings top competitors to fans across the western provinces. The nine rodeos on the tour are responsible for a total of more than $1.3 million in added money for the regular season as CPRA contestants compete to qualify for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR).
The season’s crowning event, the CFR, now in its 45th year, is Canada’s national championship for professional rodeo. Annually, it features one of the nation’s largest prize purses—$1.65 million—and accepts the top 12 money-earners from the CPRA rodeo season. Over six days, FloRodeo will capture some of rodeo’s top athletes competing through six rounds to determine each of the seven event winners, a high-point, and all-around champion.
FloRodeo’s live and comprehensive coverage of the CPRA begins on June 21, 2018, with the yearly schedule of events as follows:
Finning Pro Tour Events:
Wainwright Stampede: June 21-24, 2018, Wainwright, Alberta
Ponoka Stampede: June 26-July 2, 2018, Ponoka, Alberta
Williams Lake Stampede: June 29- July 2, 2018, Williams Lake, British Columbia
Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition: July 19-July 22, 2018, Morris, Manitoba
Edmonton K-Days Rodeo: July 20-22, 2018, Edmonton, Alberta
Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede: July 26-28, 2018, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Strathmore Stampede: Aug. 3-6, Strathmore, Alberta
Dawson Creek Exhibition & Stampede: Aug. 10-12, 2018, Dawson Creek, British Columbia
IPE & Stampede (Armstrong): Aug. 29-Sept. 1, Armstrong, British Columbia
Finning Pro Tour Finals: IPE & Stampede (Armstrong): Sept. 2, Armstrong, British Columbia
Grass Roots Final: Sept 27-28, 2018, Stampede Park – Calgary, Alberta
Canadian Finals: Canadian Finals Rodeo: Oct. 30-Nov. 4, Red Deer, Alberta
“The CPRA is one of the most established rodeo associations in the world, attracting some of the best athletes, and a global audience,” FloSports SVP, Rights and Acquisition Strategy Adam Fenn said. “We’re excited to showcase these athletes’ hard work as they compete during one of the most anticipated competitions on FloRodeo.com.”
“We’re excited about broadening our reach through our new partnership with FloSports,” said Canadian Professional Rodeo Association General Manager Jeff Robson. “The opportunity to live stream the Finning Canada Pro Tour rodeos and both our finals – the Grass Roots Final and the Canadian Finals Rodeo – will provide welcome exposure for our sport and expand access for our fans.
“An added element of this new relationship is the larger platform through which we can tell the stories of rodeo…behind-the-scenes snapshots of our contestants – both two legged and four-legged – as well as our rodeos themselves. The FloSports-CPRA affiliation will also enable the CPRA to allocate funds back to rodeo committees, which will help promote growth at the community level as well. All in all, we see partnering with FloRodeo as a home run for the sport of professional rodeo at every level.”
To access live and on-demand coverage of the Finning Pro Tour Events, Finning Pro Tour Finals, Grass Roots Final, and Canadian Finals Rodeo, users can sign up to become a monthly or annual PRO subscriber on FloRodeo.com. All subscribers unlock access to premium content across the entire FloSports network. Subscribers can watch events across all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Roku or Apple TV 4.
FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, partners with event rights holders and governing bodies to unlock a world of sports coverage that true fans have been waiting for. Through live streaming premier events, providing original video programming, and airing weekly studio shows, FloSports grows the sports, the events, the athletes and the fans. Current verticals under the FloSports header include rodeo, basketball, MMA, football, wrestling, track and field, gymnastics and more.
About The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta, is the sanctioning body for professional rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves over 50 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.1 million. The organization holds the Grass Roots Final September 27-28 at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta and their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – at the ENMAX Centrium, Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta, October 30 – November 4. Follow the CPRA on Twitter and Instagram @prorodeocanada, ‘Like’ Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook or online at RodeoCanada.com.
Bowden, Alberta cowboy, Ky Marshall, has enjoyed some major successes in the sport of rodeo. The 26 year-old has already captured two All-Around titles. But he’s very clear that there’s another goal in his sights—the Canadian Bareback riding title.
And so far in 2018, that goal looks like a very realistic aspiration for the six-year pro. After kicking off the season with a major win at Regina’s Agribition Rodeo, Marshall has been a picture of consistency to this point in the season. And a productive weekend at Lea Park, Brooks and Rocky Mountain House added a tidy $2897 bump to the bank account, giving him $11,069 in season earnings and first place (unofficially) in the bareback standings, just dollars ahead of second place man, Ty Taypotat.
The lion’s share of Marshall’s weekend haul came from Lea Park Rodeo where he teamed with Calgary Stampede’s Rum Flavoured, a Grated Coconut/Zippy Delivery daughter, for 87 points and the win.
“I’d had that horse twice before,” Marshall recalled. “She bucked me off at the CFR maybe four years ago and then I had her in the Wild Card round at Calgary and I was 87 there as well. But this was the best trip I’ve seen her have. She stayed close to the chutes and just bucked higher and harder as the ride went on.”
Then it was off to Brooks for a 5/6 split on Kesler Rodeo’s Critical Smile and Rocky Mountain House where Marshall and Wayne Vold’s Sheer Ice splashed their way to an 82 and third place.
The central Alberta talent acknowledges that it’s tough getting to the pay window in the spring as the early rodeos often attract guys who’ve been getting on bucking horses all winter in the US.
”With my family and cows and commitments up here, I just haven’t been going south at all,” he acknowledged. “The guys who do are in really good shape but I found that this year after a couple of rodeos I had kind of caught up—that I was riding good and feeling good.”
Marshall also noted that he’s continually tweaking his rides, trying to do little things to make himself better. “I’m really concentrating on finishing strong every time I get on. I think I was starting horses pretty well in the past but sometimes I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be for the whole ride. Now I’m really working at being aggressive and strong right to the eight seconds and even a little beyond. I think that’s really helped me.”
After two days of glorious sunshine, the rain and mud made Rocky’s last day a little challenging—but a lot of fun, especially in the steer wrestling. Amazingly three bulldoggers were under four seconds on Sunday afternoon. First Scott Guenthner posted a tremendous 3.9 second run and moments later Harley Cole duplicated the feat, then celebrated by diving into ‘Rocky Lake’, a massive puddle that sat almost directly in front of the timed event chute. But it was Cochrane’s Straws Milan who made the biggest impression, first with an unbelievable 3.6 second run for the win, then with an even more spectacular splash into that same body of water.
Ponoka barrel racer, Shayna Weir, enjoyed the biggest weekend of her career as she placed at all three events, including a first place finish in Rocky Mountain House, a sixth at Lea Park and a ninth place cheque at Brooks for a $3092 boost to her season total, vaulting her from 33rd place in the standings to a top fifteen spot on the 2018 leaderboard.
Another interesting sidebar to the season is the performance to date of veteran Oklahoma roper, Mike Johnson, as he seeks to plug one hole in his brilliant resume—a trip to the Canadian Finals Rodeo. The genial Johnson, who has spent a lot of time on the north side of ’49 over the years was sitting ninth in the standings heading into the weekend and, courtesy of a win at the Brooks Pro Rodeo and a sixth place finish at Lea Park, collected $2622 and a solid move still further up in the standings. The 54 year-old Johnson, a 23 time NFR qualifier and his barrel racer wife, Sherry-Lynn, were married in Canada and are popular figures at every Canadian rodeo stop they make.
For complete results from Brooks, Lea Park and Rocky Mountain House, go to rodeocanada.com
Next up on the CPRA schedule is a trip to Innisfail’s Daines Rodeo Ranch, longtime home of the Innisfail Pro Rodeo, slated for June 15-17.
Curtis Cassidy’s goals don’t change much from year to year.
“At the start of every season you want to be as good as you can be and certainly I hope to qualify for the CFR and the WNFR every year,” the veteran steer wrestler/tie down roper acknowledged after a productive three rodeo weekend in Canada.
The $2760 haul in the steer wrestling courtesy of a 1/2 split at Grande Prairie and a 4th place finish at Hand Hills – coupled with an $1175 second place cheque in the roping – will help the 12 time Canadian champion as he pursues both goals. At least some of the reason for Cassidy’s optimism comes down to horse power.
“My good tie down roping horse, Stick, is healthy again and that should give me a real chance at getting to the CFR in the roping,” he noted. “And I took (dogging horse) Tyson this weekend and he was great.” In addition to the Donalda cowboy’s solid results with Tyson providing the transportation, Consort’s Brendan Laye also rode the horse and collected $3894 courtesy of the winning split at Grande Prairie and a second place run at Leduc while Kody Dollery added a 5/6 split, again at Grande Prairie, again aboard Tyson.
“I’m kind of kicking myself for not using him before this, the 22 year veteran chuckled, “but I like to have a horse rested up here in Canada and that’s kind of the plan for him.”
The tremendous start to Cassidy’s season has him in sixth place in the world standings and is the second best of his career–a welcome change from a year ago.
“Last year I got off to really slow start and wasn’t qualified for a lot of the big rodeos but things really got good in the summer and fall and that carried over to the winter.” The momentum took the second generation talent to a second place finish at the All American Classic in Waco that netted him over $10,000, followed by a $5800 win at the Wilderness Finals. Then came a near $20,000 payday at San Antonio and Cassidy really hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal since.
“It’s like that in this sport,” Cassidy added. “When you’re going good, it just seems to snowball uphill and when you’re going bad it snowballs downhill. Uphill is a lot better.”
When asked if the great start to the 2018 season has him thinking about Rod Warren’s record for most major championships (14 in all), Cassidy was candid. “I probably should have got that record before this but it just hasn’t quite worked out. To be honest, it isn’t really on my mind but every record you set and every goal you reach means a lot. And that would be a cool one to have, for sure.”
Other big winners from the weekend included 2016 World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Zeke Thurston who was top money earner on the weekend with $7059 in earnings that included the win at the Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ capped off by an 89 point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Big League in the Final to seal the title, along with a ¾ spilt at Grande Prairie and a 5th place cheque at Hand Hills; timed event specialist Riley Warren who parlayed a second place finish in tie down roping at Grande Prairie, a third at Leduc, and another 3rd at Hand Hills, this time in team roping into a lucrative $4400 weekend, Hereford, Texas barrel racer Kelly Collier who came into the weekend’s competition in 8th place in the world standings and added $3861 to her bank account with a win at Grande Prairie and a second place run at Hand Hills; and Maple Creek, Saskatchewan bull rider, Jared Parsonage who rode to victory at Hand Hills (85.5 points on Calgary Stampede Rodeo’s 205 Rockin Out, $977.60), then added a 2/3 split at Grande Prairie for a $2400 plus weekend and top spot in the Canadian standings to date.
When Bailee Switzer was offered the opportunity to climb aboard Twila Zunti’s talented mare, Joanie, late last spring, the Aneroid, Saskatchewan barrel racer didn’t hesitate for long. After confirming she could purchase the horse if things worked out, Switzer made her first run at Ponoka. The 2017 season had its ups and downs but overall the duo enjoyed some strong placings on the pro trail.
Fast forward to spring 2018 where Switzer and 14 year old Joanie just enjoyed their second rodeo win of the season this past weekend at the Stavely Indoor Pro Rodeo.
“I’m super happy and kind of shocked,” the many time CCA finalist commented after a 13.521 second run that topped the field of 107 barrel racers and earned $2152.60 for her rodeo account. And this on the heels of a win at Coleman two weeks prior. “We’re still figuring each other out,” she admitted, “though Joanie is so great. I just push, kick and I need to ride up into my turns.”
Switzer keeps the Special Effort-Streakin Six mare happy by hauling a buddy along to the rodeos but with young horses on the go, that’s easy to do.
When asked about the season ahead, Switzer summed things up pretty quickly, “Make as much money as I can and qualify for the CFR… but I’m going to take it one rodeo at a time.”
It was “Déjà vu all over again” as Yogi Berra famously said for 2016 Canadian Champion saddle bronc rider, Clay Elliott as for the second year running, the Nanton cowboy teamed up with Vold Rodeo’s Pedro, this time for 87.5 points and a $1584 first place cheque. The score was two points higher this time around on the celebrated bronc Wayne Vold has called the ‘Sidney Crosby of his herd’ and the win enabled Elliott to sustain his run at the bronc riding standings leaders.
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan’s Jesse Popescul continued to have the hot hand in the tie down roping as he went back to back, following up his Drayton Valley win of a week ago with a 7.9 second effort good for a $2010 boost to his bank account and a further climb up the Canadian standings.
Reigning Canadian Bareback Riding Champion, Seth Hardwick of Ranchester, Wyoming climbed aboard Wayne Vold’s bareback riding slot machine, Mucho Dinero for an impressive 87.5 points; when the dust settled, Hardwick padded his Canadian season earnings by $1354.
Two time titleist, Tanner Milan, was on his game as the Cochrane steer wrestler dogged his steer in 3.9 seconds for a tidy $1794 payday while the team roping was split between Steele Depaoli and his partner Chase Simpson and the duo of Grady Branden and Colten Fletcher. Both teams recorded 5.6 second times with each of the four pocketing $1192.
And in the bull riding, Nick Tetz of Calgary mastered Vold Rodeo’s Fire Nails for 84 points and a $1713 haul for his trouble. Red Deer steer rider Carter Sahli rounded out the roster of champions with a 75.5 point ride to earn $436.
And just a little way up Highway 2, the Night at the Ranch Bull Riding in Innisfail saw Montana cowboy Luke Gee amass 84 points on C5 Rodeo’s Hot Roddy Road. Gee collected $1694 in winning the long go and the same amount in the average as there were no qualified rides in the short go.
Every rodeo season begins with new partnerships forming in the team roping event. Some work better than others.
If the recently completed Drayton Valley Pro Rodeo is any indication, one of those partnerships that might prove to be a handful for the rest of the team ropers is the newly minted duo of Jesse Popescul and Wyatt Eirikson.
Popescul, a 2017 CFR heading qualifier, and Eirikson, a second generation heeler, blistered the field with a 3.7 second run for a tidy $1243 first-place cheque for each man.
“I honestly didn’t think we were going to be that fast,” Popescul admitted. “But I knew things were happening really rapidly and it really worked out for us.” Popescul also noted that the run was easily the fastest of his competitive career to date.
But the Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan rancher/roper wasn’t done yet. He also posted a 9.0 in the tie down roping to win that event as well and, no surprise, was crowned the Drayton Valley High Point Champion.
“This was a real confidence booster for me because I didn’t have the best calf and I still managed to win,” Popescul commented. “He’d stuck a leg on a couple of guys and he tried to do that with me, but I got a wrap on him and I guess I got lucky.”
The Drayton Valley win added another $1794 to the Popescul bank account for a total weekend haul of $3037 and a solid move up the standings in both roping events for the six year pro. With both his horses – a nine year-old mare owned by Rocky Houff and Tom Flanigan and a grey gelding he’s been heading off for three years – working well and a Saskatchewan/Alberta duo clicking early in the season, it’s no wonder Jesse Popescul is excited about the 2018 rodeo campaign.
“We’ll try to get to everything up here and maybe venture south to Montana and down that way a little as well.”
Bull rider Zane Lambert kept his hot start to the season rolling with another win at Drayton Valley. The Ponoka talent put together an 85 point ride on Duffy Rodeo’s Skid Mark for $1307 to increase his lead atop the season standings.
Other Drayton Valley winners included steer wrestler Stephen Culling with a blazing 3.0 for the win and $1751; Nanton’s Clay Elliott in the bronc riding (87.5 points on Duffy Rodeo’s Tool Time, $1322), Rylee Shields in the barrel race (13.034 seconds, $1470), Ty Taypotat in the bareback riding, (86 points on C+ Rodeo’s The Graduate, $1188) while novice bareback rider, Chett Dentz, captured a win with 70.5 points and $256.
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
“Pretty darn good right now, thanks!
That was Matt Richardson’s answer to “Hey, how ya doin?” on the heels of the Olds bulldogger’s current winning streak.
The third year pro just recorded a $2865 weekend, first as part of a 4.5 second four-way split of top spot at the Kananaskis Pro Rodeo, then with a blistering 3.5 second run that had the Olds College grad winning first outright at the Camrose Spring Classic Pro Rodeo.
The productive weekend coupled with a win at the Medicine Hat Broncs and Honky Tonks earlier in the month has the former intercollegiate champ comfortably in third spot in the Canadian standings.
“I took five months off after the end of last season,” Richardson noted. “I didn’t feel like I was able to bear down the way I should have at the end of last season. So I blanketed my horses and turned them out with a round bale and played hockey and worked all winter.”
The Alberta Junior Hockey League alumnus headed to northern BC and spend an intensive week practicing with Clayton Moore and traveling partner Stephen Culling before kicking off his season at Medicine Hat.
“Being around winners—guys with great attitudes, that helps a lot,” Richardson added. “And the win at Medicine Hat was huge for my confidence.”
With over $4100 in the bank, it should come as no surprise that the 6’1” 225 pound athlete has his sights set squarely on the CFR that this year will be taking place just a half-hour down the road.
With his 20 yeqr-old dogging horse, Worm, who he acquired from Brock Butterfield, and a solid hazing horse from Leon Laye, the likeable central Albertan looks poised to make some big-time noise in 2018. And that means he just might be feeling “pretty darn good right now, thanks,” a few more times as the season unfolds.
Richardson wasn’t the only guy sporting a big grin after the Kananaskis/Camrose weekend. CFR bull rider Zane Lambert swept the weekend events with a spectacular 89 point effort at the Kananaskis event on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Ivy League for a $1237 payday and added a solid 87.5 point ride on Outlaw Buckers’ Bandera for $1466. The $2703 total will vault the Ponoka talent to first place in the crowded bull riding standings.
And while the weekend featured some first time winners – bareback rider, Jacob Stemo (85 points, $1308), barrel racer Brett Wills (13,393 seconds, $2199) and steer rider Tristen Manning (77.5 points, $368)—all at Camrose; and steer rider Derrien Ferrence (66.5, $500) at Kananaskis—one smooth moving veteran was making sure the kids didn’t get all the money. Water Valley roper Mark Nugent, who won both the Rookie of the Year and Canadian titles in 1987, topped the tie down roping field at Kananaskis with a 9.1 run for $1837, then picked up a 5/6/7 split at Camrose for another $710.
Next up on the CPRA schedule is the Drayton Valley Pro Rodeo May 4-6.
A pair of 7.8 second rides at Regina (Agribition Rodeo), then the crying hole at the Red Deer Bull Riding event were an indication that he was “going in the right direction, just not quite there.”
So the eight-year CPRA veteran headed off to the Xtreme Bulls Tofield Bull Bash feeling good both mentally and physically. And it showed as the twenty-five year-old put together a masterful 90 point ride in the short go to top the field with a 179 total on two rides and earn a $4876 winner’s cheque.
Finkbeiner had earlier combined with Girletz Rodeo’s Oklahoma Blues to win the long go with an 89 point ride. That set the stage for his confrontation with a Vold Rodeo four year-old Sheep Creek offspring called Devour in the short round.
“Nansen’s (Vold) is really excited about this bull,” Finkbeiner noted. “He’s got him going to a Built Ford Tough event in Billings next week so he was really wanting him to be solid in Tofield. Normally he’s out of a right-hand delivery and he goes right, but with me he jumped out a couple and went left. But he was really good.”
The second generation cowboy shared the short go honours with fellow Ponoka resident and veteran Tyler Pankewitz who rode Elli Skori’s legendary Minion Stuart for a 90 of his own. Pankewitz’s 186 on two was good for second spot with 2016 Canadian Champion and 2017 WNFR qualifier, Jordan Hansen (also from Ponoka), taking home the third place cheque with 161.5 on two rides.
“I’ve worked hard this winter,” Finkbeiner acknowledged. “I’ve really concentrated on stretching and mobility and I feel ready for a big year. I’ll be heading down south after May 1 when I’m done calving some heifers I bought.”
As for his game plan for the year, the two-time CFR qualifier is very clear. “I’ll be going to the places that make the most sense and have the most money. It’s what you have to do in this business.”
The Tofield results impacted the Canadian standings as well, as Pankewitz moves to fifth place with Finkbeiner right behind him in sixth. For complete Tofield Bull Bash results, go to rodeocanada.com
Next up on the CPRA calendar is a pair of Alberta stops—Camrose Spring Classic Pro Rodeo and Kananaskis Pro Rodeo in Coleman. Both events run April 27-29.