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.
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
Ty Taypotat’s Medicine Hat (Broncs and Honky Tonks Spring Rodeo) meeting with Kesler Championship Rodeo’s CFR/NFR mare, Garden Party, was about redemption.
“She made me look pretty silly at the CFR last year,” the Regina bareback rider recalled. “I didn’t want that to happen again. She was awesome in Medicine Hat and the ride felt really good.”
The result was a whopping 88 points on the 11 year-old buckskin and a win worth $1169.47. One of the key differences this time around had to do with Taypotat’s health.
“I was riding pretty sore at the end of last year. I broke my sternum at Kennedy earlier in the year and I was hurting pretty good the last part of the season.”
Despite the lingering effects of the injury, the six-time CFR qualifier managed to pull off the win at the Grass Roots Final in Calgary. “I knew there was a chance I could get bumped from the CFR (roster) so I needed to go to the Grass Roots Final. I guess it worked out pretty well.”
After kicking off the 2018 campaign with a second place finish at Regina, a healthy Taypotat could be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season.
“I’ll take a look at things this week and see if I can get headed back down south for a while.” Taypotat had managed a split of 8th at the recently concluded Austin, Texas but got bumped from the Final by a coin toss.
“Yeah, that was a pretty crappy way to lose a shot at a short-go for sure,” the veteran recalled with a
laugh. “Who knows, maybe I could have won that one too.”
Other winners at the kickoff to the calendar year’s CPRA rodeos included hometowners Braidy Davies and Kevin Schreiner who topped the field in the team roping with a 4.7 second run for $1156 each. Matt Richardson captured the steer wrestling honours dogging his steer in 4.7 seconds for $1275; bronc rider Jim Berry put together 85.5 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s 733 Flash Dance for $1169.47; Kirsty White navigated the barrels in a blistering 12.868 seconds to earn $1959.20; Saskatchewan bull rider, Cody Coverchuk recorded his own 88 score, this one on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Pink Panther for a first place cheque of $1264.87; and after a disappointing 2017, tie down roper Scot Meeks posted a quick 8.1 second run for $1816.06 and a nice start to his season as well.
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
The Chad Besplug Invitational has been known throughout its five year history as a great place to kickstart your season. In fact, through its first four years, the winner of the event has gone on qualify for the CFR—Dakota Buttar in 2014, Devon Mezei in 2015, Brock Radford in 2016 and Garrett Green in 2017.
Green, the Meeting Creek bull rider is hoping that statistic holds up in 2018 as he won a head to head confrontation with Radford at the Claresholm venue on Saturday night.
“It’s pretty cool to be 90 points in the short round last year and then to do the same thing this year,” Green smiled after his winning ride. This time around the 90 score came on the back of the Wild Hogs bull, Smiling Bob, and combined with his long-go score of 83.5, gave the 26 year-old 173.5 on two for a $3712 payday and a beautiful custom painted electric guitar.
“I can play a little bit,” Green grinned, “so this is awesome.”
The only real challenge came from 2016 champion, Brock Radford, who won the long go with 84, then added an 85.5 mark in the short round for a 169.5 total good for second place and $3656.
“Winning this event twice in a row means everything to me,” Green admitted. “Chad (and Alpha bull) do an amazing job putting on this bull riding and the crowd here is totally into it. It’s so much fun riding here.”
Green and Radford from Dewinton, Alberta then battled it out one more time in the Don Mills $2500.00 Country Chrysler Shoot Out but this time neither man rode (Green on Outlaw Buckers’ Anika’s Pet, Radford on Mud Bog), and Mills donated the money to the Ty Pozzobon Foundation.
The win, for Green, at the Xtreme Bulls event, keeps the three-time CFR qualifier solidly in 4th place in the Canadian standings. Third place in Claresholm went to Maple Creek bull rider, Jared Parsonage, who moves past Zane Lambert into first place in the Canadian standings.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
And on one of the richest weeks south of the 49th parallel, Canadians made some serious noise on the world rodeo stage.
At the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, 2016 World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Zeke Thurston, led the Canadian charge to the pay window. His 3/4 split overall netted the Big Valley, AB cowboy $13,983. In the steer wrestling, Curtis Cassidy – holder of 12 Canadian championships – split fourth overall for a lucrative $9616 payoff while in the bareback riding event, three time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Orin Larsen, topped the Canadian bareback riders with $6354. Other Canadians to cash in at the rich Texas stop included bareback riders Clint Laye ($4831) and Luke Creasy ($2378); steer wrestlers Scott Guenthner ($3270) and Tanner Milan ($595); bronc rider Sam Kelts ($2378); barrel racer Carman Pozzobon ($2378) and tie down roper Kyle Lucas ($1784). The San Antonio Finals saw two Calgary Stampede horses in the spotlight. In the saddle bronc riding, 2015 World Champion Jacobs Crawley put together an 87 point ride on Tokyo Bubbles en route to the overal championship and $25,767. And in the bareback event, Mason Clements, topped the Finals with a spectacular 90 point ride on 2012 Canadian saddle bronc, Special Delivery.
At Tucson, Arizona’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, Clint Laye carried the Canadian colours very well in the bareback riding as he placed in both the long go and short go, finishing third overall, for $5907. Luke Creasy won the long round to collect $3868 and continue enjoying his best ever early season results to remain solidly in the world standings. (The bad news is that Creasy suffered separated ribs and will be out for a few weeks.) Michael Solberg finished up 8th in the average to take home $387. Steer wrestler, Harley Cole, placed in one round and the short go, finishing up fifth in the average for a sizable $3781 payoff and Curtis Cassidy collected $1661 by placing in the second round of the tie down roping. Barrel racer, Kirsty White caught a 7th place average cheque of $1072 while bronc rider Jake Watson ($514) and team roper Clay Ullery ($118) also cashed cheques at Tucson.
At the mega-profitable non-sanctioned ‘The American’, seven Canadians qualified for Sunday’s Final: bronc riders Clay Elliott, Zeke Thurston, Layton Green; steer wrestlers Tanner Milan and Scott Guenthner, bareback rider Orin Larsen and barrel racer Carman Pozzobon. Larsen, Guenthner and Elliott advanced to the Showdown round-of-4 in each event where Larsen was the big winner – finishing second for $25,000. Neither Elliott nor Guenthner were able to cash in on Sunday. In the bareback riding, C5 Rodeo’s much-celebrated Virgil did it again! The great gray carried 4 time world champion, Kaycee Feild, to 90.75 for the win and a share of the million dollar sidepot as a qualifier.
Zane Lambert Wins Red Deer – Looking to a Big 2018
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
Zane Lambert was ready.
After a winter break from bull riding to allow himself time to heal up and concentrate on other things—home renovation, ice fishing and some skiing—the Ponoka, Alberta bull riding sensation was ready to get back at it.
“I had a good break,” Lambert noted, “but it’s full on now so I felt like I was really ready going into Red Deer.
The result was a solid two ride performance that enabled the Manitoba native to collect 172.5 points for the win and a tidy $3756 payday at the Rebel Energy Services Xtreme Bulls event that kicked off the 2018 CPRA calendar season.
“I had a young Lindsay Carlier (X-6 Ranch) bull called Midnight Rain and he hadn’t been ridden yet,” the 2013 PBR Canada Champion recounted. “I got around the corner on him and he felt really good. I was happy to still be there at eight seconds.”
Lambert’s 84 points was good for second in the long go behind Coy Robbins’ 85.5 score on the Girletz bull, Wild Child.
“I think Midnight Rain is a bull we’re going to see a bunch this year; he’s really good.”
In the short go, Lambert was part of a three way split with Garrett Green and Jared Parsonage—all three with 88.5 rides. Then, the two time CFR qualifier matched up with Outlaw Buckers’ Red Pheasant for his finals bull.
“I’d heard lots about him and I knew Curtis Sawyer had paid a lot of money for him,” Lambert noted. “I just cocked my hammer and was able to get him rode. He was away from my hand—which meant I had one that bucked into my hand and one away from my hand—so I was happy with my night for sure.”
The win, coupled with his second place finish at Regina’s Agribition Rodeo in November, provides a nice boost for Lambert who intends to make the CFR a major priority this year.
“Last year was the Global Cup and the year before I was injured some and that kept me in the middle of the pack so I really want to go hard at it this year.”
That means a schedule that will include the tour rodeos and bigger events on the CPRA calendar as well as a pretty full slate of PBR bull ridings including the Global Cup in June in Australia.
“A guy has to do both,” Lambert commented. “I have to go where the money is and to the places that give me the most enjoyment—I’m hoping that’s the CFR, the Calgary Stampede and the World Finals. Those are my goals.”
As for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the central Alberta resident is looking forward to having the event in Red Deer.
“It’s so close to home for me,” Lambert enthused. “I love Red Deer and I’m really happy the CFR is staying in Alberta. The City and the Westerner really wanted it and I think they’ll do a great job putting it on. I’m excited about it and I darn sure would like to be part of the first one here in 2018.”
Next up on the CPRA schedule is the Chad Besplug Invitational Bull Riding February 24 in Claresholm, Alberta.
January 16 | Red Deer, AB — Tonight, hundreds of people turned out in anticipation to hear the major announcement that sparked huge social media attention when the invitation was sent out this past Friday.
The room was filled with excitement from beginning to end with video presentations, flashing lights, live music and fireworks that went off in celebration to announce the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) is coming to Red Deer.
“We feel honoured that the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) has chosen Red Deer to be the new home for CFR,” says Ben Antifaiff, CEO and General Manager at Westerner Park. “Together as a community, we should be very proud of this moment and celebrate that the CFR will continue its legacy right here in Central Alberta.”
Westerner Park and Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce began working on their vision for a multi-year proposal to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association several months ago and pitched their bid by hosting an event to showcase Red Deer as a strong contender.
“Our city and our region has been buzzing with excitement since we went public with our proposal to host the CFR,” says Robin Bobocel, CEO of Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. “We are a vibrant community that can accomplish anything it sets its sights on, and with the help of our partners in the community, and the CPRA, we will make CFR 2018 a huge success.”
Canadian Professional Rodeo Association went on stage following the big reveal that Westerner Park and the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce were successful in their efforts to bring the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) to Red Deer.
President of the CPRA, Terry Cooke, echoed the excitement expressed by the Red Deer group. “We see this as a wonderful new opportunity for the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, our contestants, sponsors, partners and fans,” Cooke said. “Central Alberta has long been known as a hub of rodeo talent and community support for our sport. The combination of great rodeo fans in this region, coupled with the influx of visitors that make the CFR an annual destination, point to a tremendous future for the CFR in Red Deer.“
“The CPRA Board would like to thank all the cities that have expressed interest in the Canadian Finals Rodeo,” noted Jeff Robson, CPRA spokesman. “This process was obviously accelerated with the closing of the Coliseum in Edmonton one year sooner than expected. The moving of an event of this magnitude and heritage that has only had one home certainly wasn’t taken lightly. We looked at a number of factors in selecting Red Deer as our new host city. Their excitement for the event and facilities to not only host the rodeo, but to host various other activities during the week will continue to support the economic impact that CFR brings to the host community. We would like to thank Westerner Park and the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce for all their work on this bid and look forward to working with them on the event.”
Brett Gardiner was the emcee for the evening event and closed off the celebration by thanking everyone in attendance as “your presence here is a testament to the passion for rodeo that we have in Central Alberta.”
The countdown for CFR 45 taking place on Oct 30 to Nov 4, 2018 in the ENMAX Centrium at Westerner Park starts now!
Red Deer, where champions are made and legends continue.
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
December 16, 2017
It was a Gold Buckle night at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and while there were a few races that were all but decided before the night began, there was no shortage of drama on this Saturday night.
It went down to the last run in the steer wrestling before Tyler Pearson of Louisville, Oklahoma finally emerged as the 2017 World Champion. When Helena, Montana’s Ty Erickson finished fourth in the round with a 4.5, it meant the man who had led virtually all season would finish second to Pearson by just $2200.00. ($265,457 to $263,267). The die was cast in the ninth round when Erickson encountered all kinds of trouble and had to chase his steer around the arena on foot before finally having to settle for a 26.4 and the deficit after that run was just too much to overcome in just one round.
But one of the cool stories at this year’s Finals was fashioned by Provost, Alberta cowboy, Scott Guenthner, who finished second in the tenth round with a 3.6 second run. That came on the heels of his go-round win the night before; the first time WNFR qualifier wound up 5th in the average and took $87,000 out of Las Vegas over the ten days – finishing up 6th in the world with $186,839 in season earnings. The second of the Canadian contingent, two time Canadian Champion, Tanner Milan, had a no time in the final round, his second of this WNFR, but he also had two of Canada’s five go round wins and finished eighth in the world with $156,265 on the season.
It was another photo finish in the team roping as the Arizona duo of Erich Rogers and Cory Petska were fifth in the final round with an 8.3 second run which kept them in second place in the average. That was enough to hold off Georgia’s Kaleb Driggers and his partner, Junior Nogueira, the defending All-Around World Champion, by $11,000. The final round was won by Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor who roped their steer in 4.1 seconds. The Canadian presence in the team roping was defending World Champion, Jeremy Buhler, who was teamed with Arizona header, Tom Richards after the Arrowwood, Alberta heeler’s partner for that world title and this year’s Canadian championship, Levi Simpson, just missed qualifying. Richards missed the head catch and the team took a no time in the final round. Buhler earned $30,096 at the Finals for a season total of $98,101.
The bronc riding had a different kind of drama. When the teenage sensation from Utah, Ryder Wright, missed his horse out in round 10, it looked like the world title he’d been chasing may have eluded his grasp. But his four go round wins, coupled with a seventh place cheque in the average, gave him $284,938 and a narrow $2700 margin of victory over the hard-charging Wyoming hand, Brody Cress, who won the average. Wright, even with his 10th round disqualification, won $185,576 at the Finals en route to his winning total.
As far as Canadian success in Round 10, Clay Elliott, from Nanton, Alberta, picked up a fifth place cheque of 2016 Canadian Champion took home $32,423 as the 2016 Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion finished up 14th in the world. Last year’s World Champion, Zeke Thurston, was 79.5 on C5 Rodeo’s Double D to finish just out of the money in the round. The second generation bronc rider finished 10th in the average, won $29,461 and finished up 7th in the world with $199,917 in season earnings. And the third member of the Canadian bronc riding trio, Layton Green, bucked off the 2017 World Champion saddle bronc, Beutler and Son’s Wound up to wrap up his first finals. Green the 2017 Canadian Champion, placed three times at the Thomas and Mack Arena and picked up $45,679 as he finished 13th in the average and ninth in the world.
The drama reached fever pitch in the tie down roping as two guys went head to head for the title. Three time World Champion, Tuf Cooper, and the Brazilian sensation, Marcos Costa, would be the last two to rope. Costa was the second last man to go and was 7.8 to move to first place in the round. When Cooper could manage only an 11.0 flat, it meant the go-round, the average and the world title would go to Marcos Costa – the man who a year ago was runner-up for the championship.
However, Cooper wouldn’t go home empty-handed as the talented Texan won his first All-Around title, edging his brother-in-law and thirteen time World AA Champion, Trevor Brazile by $22,000.
And in the barrel racing, California cowgirl, Nellie Miller came from behind to win the world title. She and her amazing blue roan mare, Sister, put together a brilliant finals and though she finished one spot out of the money in round ten, she held on to win the average by eight one-hundredths of a second over Ivy Conrado. Miller’s amazing WNFR haul of $177,961, combined with a difficult ten days for the regular season runaway leader, Tiany Schuster meant Miller captured her first world title with a total of $308,498. Hailey Kinsel, the Texas rookie WNFR qualifier, won the round in a blistering 13.17 to finish up second in the world. Kinsel and her palomino horse, had set the all-time arena record earlier in the week with an even faster 13.11. And, for Tiany Schuster, there was disappointment as the Texas cowgirl fell to third place overall, after an outstanding regular season that had her well in the lead coming into the Finals.
In the bareback riding, Iowa cowboy, Tim O’Connell, made his championship clinching ride on Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Mucho Dinero. The nine year-old grey was making his fourth appearance at the WNFR and carried O’Connell to 85.5 and while that left O’Connell in seventh place in the go-round and out of the money, the score was enough to carryhim to the average title (853.5 points on ten head) and the world title by a margin of an amazing $103,000. That is the definition of a dominant season.
The bareback go-round was split between Steven Dent and Mason Clements, both with 88 points. Dent was on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Scarletts Web—it was the fifth time WNFR go rounds have been won on the mare while Clements rode Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Top Flight. The lone Canadian, Orin Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, was 81.5 on Pete Carr’s Classic Rodeo’s Fancy Free to finish out of the money in the final round. Larsen ended up 12th in the average and eighth in the world standings.
Things were pretty cut and dried in the bull riding as Sage Steele Kimzey, the superstar from Strong City, Texas, put the exclamation point on his fourth consecutive title with a spectacular 88 point ride on 4L and Diamond S Rodeo’s Girl Money, a bull that had been unridden in 2017. The go round win and the average title gave Kimzey a season earnings total of $436,479, and that, like so many of Kimzey’s achievements in a brilliant career, is a record setting total.
2016 Canadian Champion, Jordan Hansen bucked off his bull, 4L and Diamond S Rodeo’s Last Cigarette. But Hansen, competing at his first WNFR won round eight and placed in three others. He also picked up a sixth place cheque in the average for an NFR total of $84,038 and season earnings of $180,294.
Three time Canadian Champion Jake Vold suffered a knee injury in round eight when his horse fell into the chutes with him and the Airdrie cowboy missed the last two rounds after leading the average after the first seven performances.
While Canadians did not win any world titles this time around, they gave a tremendous account of themselves as both the two-legged and four legged superstars from north of 49 were tremendously successful. The nine Canadian cowboys riding for the Maple Leaf earned over $536,540 while over $350,000 was won on Canadian stock over the ten rounds.
Top Stock of the WNFR:
Bareback riding – (tie) C5 Rodeo’s Virgil and Powder River Rodeo’s Craig At Midnight
Saddle bronc riding – Andrews Rodeo’s Brutus
Bull riding – D & H Cattle Company’s SweetPro’s Bruiser
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
December 15, 2017
Those who follow Canadian rodeo knew it was coming. Scott Guenthner is just too good to have only one cheque (a 3/4/5/6 split) through the first eight rounds of action. That all changed on a cool Las Vegas Friday night as Guenthner heated things up with a blistering 3.3 second run for his first go-round win and a sweetheart $26,230 cheque.
“It means a lot,” the Provost, Alberta cowboy acknowledged. “I was a little disheartened, that’s for sure but I was trying not to think about it. But this whole experience is all so amazing right from the grand entry on and now winning tonight—it sure makes you want to come back.”
Guenthner changed horses on Thursday night, going to Tom Lewis’ horse, Maverick, the horse traveling partner Milan has been on all week. “I knew I had to change something so I figured I might as well get on a horse they’ve won three rounds on here already. And he was awesome tonight.”
The win means Guenthner joins Milan, the two time Canadian champion, who also had his first-ever (and second) rounds earlier in the week.
Meanwhile disaster struck season leader Ty Erickson from Helena, Montana as he missed the nose on his steer and finally, after chasing the steer on foot around the arena, settled for a 26.8 and fell from 1st to 7th in the average. That opens the door for the second place man, Tyler Pearson from Louisville, Oklahoma who sits just $25,000 behind the man the bulldoggers have been chasing all year. But Pearson sits second in the all-important average, which will pay more than enough to carry him to the title depending on what happens in the all-important tenth round.
In the team roping, the duo of Jeremy Buhler, reigning world champion heeler, and Arizona’s Tom Richards picked up their second cheque of the week, a fifth-place $6769 payday courtesy of their 4.1 second run. In a speedy round, the duo of Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira set a new arena record of 3.3 seconds and reclaimed the lead in one of the events that will be decided on the final day with several teams too close to rule out of the running. Cory Petska and Erich Rogers are sitting in second place in the average giving them a slight advantage heading into Saturday.
Another interesting race heading into the home stretch is in the tie down roping where three-time champion Tuf Cooper’s lead is a tenuous $23,500 over the Brazilian Marcos Costa who leads the average with Cooper in second spot. The difference between first and second in the average is $13,000 ($67,000 to $54,000), not enough for Costa to overtake the leader. The Brazilian has to place a couple of spots higher in the final go-round and hold onto the average lead to keep Cooper from winning his fourth title.
A similar scenario is shaping up in the barrel racing event where what appeared to be an unassailable lead all season long has now come down to what happens on championship Saturday. Nellie Miller of Cottonwood, California is now within $44,000 of the Texas cowgirl, Tiany Schuster, who has led from wire to wire. But Miller leads the average and if she can hold that spot and not lose ground to Schuster in the go-round, the seemingly impossible could happen..
In the bull riding Trey Benton lll and Boudreaux Campbell were the only two to ride on Friday night and they split the round with identical 88 point scores as Canada’s Jordan Hansen bucked off at 7.4 seconds to snap his riding streak at three. Three time champion Sage Kimzey holds a $61,000 advantage on Benton lll who leads the average and, like Kimzey, has ridden six of his nine bulls to date. They sit first and second respectively in the average.
With Jake Vold sidelined with a knee injury incurred in go round eight that ended his 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, it was up to Manitoba’s Orin Larsen to carry Canada’s colours in the bareback riding. Unfortunately, Revolving Door, the Summit Pro Rodeo horse, threw a nasty move at Larsen about six seconds into the ride and the three time WNFR qualifier was forced to double grab, resulting in a no score. After a solid start to his ten days in Las Vegas, that saw him place in five of the first six rounds, Larsen has struggled in the last three rounds–coming up empty in all three. That’s the reverse of his 2016 Finals when he was beat up in the opening round and didn’t settle into a winning groove until the sixth round. Tonight’s ninth round was won by Cleveland, Texas cowboy Jake Brown with an 87.5 ride. But for the second year in a row it’s been the Tim O’Connell show both at the Finals and throughout the season. O’Connell was 85 points for a 4/5 split in round nine and carries a lead of $92,000 into Saturday’s tenth round.
The bronc riding Gods were not smiling on the Canadian trio tonight as reigning world champion Zeke Thurston was disqualified while both 2015 Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott, and reigning Canadian title-holder, Layton Green, were both bucked off. Meanwhile the unbelievable story of 19 year-old Ryder Wright continues to unfold in front of the Thomas and Mack faithful. Wright won the 9th round with an 87 point effort on Korkow Rodeo’s Kitty Whistle. The win was Wright’s fourth of this Finals after he won five rounds in his rookie season a year ago. The son of World Champion Cody Wright, the sensational sophomore now holds a $47,000 lead heading into Saturday and sits 4th in the average. Hillsdale Wyoming cowboy, Brody Cress, who leads the average, made the most of his third meeting of 2017 with Calgary Stampede’s Stampede Warrior. This time the pair combined for a 3/4 split and a $13,326 payday leaving Cress with an outside shot at a world title.
Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
December 14, 2017
On a night when there were ups and downs for Canadian competitors and their fans, Canada finished on a big high as Calgary bull rider, Jordan Hansen won his first-ever go round.
“Yeah, I couldn’t have picked a better night to win it,” the 2016 Canadian Champion bull rider grinned after his 86 point ride on Corey and Lange Rodeo’s Tequila topped the field and won the $26,230 first place cheque. “My family’s here and I’m really excited.”
The personable 24 year old has made no secret of the fact that his dream since he was a steer rider – and had the iconic yellow chutes etched in his mind – was to ride in Las Vegas. That dream is not only a reality; Hansen has ridden three in a row and four of eight at his first WNFR. He has $67,538 in earnings to date.
“Yeah that was always my dream and now with winning a round, that’s one I can check off the list for sure,” Hansen added. “I made a rope change three nights ago and it’s really helped. I wish I’d done it a little sooner.”
Orin Larsen, the Manitoba bareback rider, kicked off the Canadian contribution to Canada Night with a 75.5 score on Calgary Stampede’s Princess Warrior, not enough points to get to the money. Then came a little more drama than the Canadian diehards had hoped for as Jake Vold’s draw, Redigo from the Beutler and Son Rodeo Company fell up against the chute coming out – leaving the three time Canadian Champion on the ground – obviously in pain. Vold was awarded a reride but was medically unable to take it. The three-time Canadian Champion had been leading the average going into the round but now his return to action is questionable.
Richmond Champion, the Alberta Circuit Champion on the north side of the 49th parallel, had an outstanding day aboard Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman to mark 88 points to claim the $26,230 first place cheque. Reigning champion, Tim O’Connell, from Zwingle, Iowa captured 4th in the round with an 85 score as he looked to extend his lead atop the world standings.
C5 Rodeo’s Virgil was the Rank Horse of the Night in the Bareback Riding as the tremendous grey with Canadian and World titles already to his credit in 2017, carried Texas cowboy Jake Brown to 86 points and third place in the round.
In the steer wrestling, Tanner Milan bounced back from a disastrous no-time in round 7 to split 5/6 in this round for a $5500 payday while Provost, Alberta’s Scott Guenthner twisted one down in 5.6 seconds, a little too long to be in the money. It was 2012 Canadian Rookie of the Year, Chason Floyd who won the round with a smooth 3.7 second run. And with just two rounds remaining, the battle for the steer wrestling title continues to be intense as Montana’s Ty Erickson leads the Mississippi dogger Tyler Pearson by $25,000 and the two sit first and second in the average as well.
One relieved cowboy. That was Nanton, Alberta’s Clay Elliott as marked a solid 87.5 to win third in the go round. The 2016 Canadian Champion made a Clay Elliott ride on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Sue City Sue for a $15,653 cheque, his first of the finals.
Unfortunately Lady Luck failed to smile on either of the other Canadian bronc riders, Zeke Thurston and Layton Green, as both men recorded no score for their Thursday night efforts. And at the top of the bronc riding standings, a brand new script if being written. The 19 year-old Utah phenom, Ryder Wright, was 92 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Show Me Again. That score was just a point off the arena record held by the famed Billy Etbauer who was in the audience to see the youngest member of the amazing Wright family do what he has done so often in the last two years in Las Vegas. Wright has now gone to the lead in the world standings with 2015 World Champion Jacobs Crawley and Wright’s uncle, CoBurn Bradshaw in third spot. And with the pot of gold that is the average payoff looming ever larger, Bradshaw is sitting first there, with Wright in fifth and Crawley back in seventh place.
The team roping race remains tight with just a few thousand separating the leaders—the team of Cory Petska and Erich Rogers and the duo of Luke Brown and Jake Long. Rogers and Petska, the two Arizona ropers, do have the advantage in the average however, as they sit first with Brown and Long back in third. And for Canadian and defending World Champion heeler, Jeremy Buhler, it was another frustrating night as he and header, Tom Richards took a no time and have only one placing to their credit so far; that came courtesy of a 4.0 second round and a 4/5 split go-round number five. Tonight the round was split between Brown and Long and the team of Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill. Both teams checked in with rapid 4.1 second runs.
Just when you thought the picture was becoming clearer in the barrel race, that picture got real fuzzy all over again. Season leader, Tiany Schuster, hit two barrels on this night to take herself to 8th place in the average where she had been much higher going into Thursday night. Then the rookie, Hailey Kinsel, who with her palomino, Sister, had been the story of the first six rounds hit a barrel for the second night in a row. So now Nellie Miller of Cottonwood, California, appears to be the biggest challenge to what looked like the unstoppable Schuster at the beginning of the week. Miller trails Schuster by $65,000 but is second in the average. It will come down to what happens over the final two nights of action.
Amberleigh Moore won the round with a 13.54 but unfortunately for the talented Colorado cowgirl, it has been feast or famine almost every night with a little too much famine in terms of hit barrels that have all but taken her out of contention.
And in the tie down roping, Brazilian cowboy, Marcos Costa, continued his head-to-head battle with Tuf Cooper. In a round that was split between Cory Solomon and Caleb Smidt, with 7.6 second runs, Costa collected a fourth place cheque to move to within $24,000 of the three-time World Champion. Costa sits first in the average with a brilliant 65.1 second total on eight runs, with Cooper in second spot.