The inaugural CINCH Grass Roots Pro Rodeo Tour Finals in Calgary was all about second chances. The two-day finals on October 3-4 at the Agrium Western Event Centre at Stampede Park in Calgary provided Pro Rodeo Canada competitors with another opportunity to gain qualification into the 41st Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB, in November. Four of those contestants seized that opportunity.
Among that quarter earning enough prize money to vault inside the top twelve of the CFR standings was bullrider, Billy West. The 20-year-old, Cadogan, AB, cowboy picked up a cheque worth $3,000 to jump to 10th in the unofficial final CPRA bullriding standings. It was also enough to bump West to the top of the CPRA rookie standings.
“I really wanted to win that award,” say West of the CPRA Rookie of the Year title. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing to win so I’m pretty excited. And my dad (Kevin, 1986) won it when he was riding bulls so I wanted to do the same.”
West’s season hung in the balance heading into Saturday night’s final round in Calgary. After being knocked out the night before after riding John Duffy’s Mardi Gras for 85 points, the 2012 Wildrose Rodeo Association bullriding champion jumped aboard Wild Hogg’s Trendon, a relatively unknown name on the pro rodeo trail.
“I’ve seem him at a lot of PBR’s before in the short rounds. They’ve been 90 on him before. He turned back to the right out of the chute and then jumped back left at about six seconds. He got me a little loosened up, but I made it work.”
The result was a 90-point score and the second round win for West, who finished 6th in the Grass Roots Tour standings. He also won the average with a 175-point total on two head.
“I’m pretty excited. I had my mind set on CFR all year,” offers West, who was $727 out of a Canadian Finals roster spot heading into the Grass Roots Tour finals. “I wasn’t too sure if I would have a shot my first year. I needed these finals to get me in there. One more rodeo made all the difference.”
2008 Canadian saddle bronc champion, Dusty Hausauer was more than $2,200 out of a CFR berth going into the GRTF. But after sweeping both go-rounds and the average to win $4,000, the Dickinson, ND, cowboy easily booked another trip to Edmonton next month. Hausauer won Friday’s opening round with an 83.5-point trip on Frank Wyzykoski’s Mud Pie, then was 86 points on Calgary Stampede’s Twilight Moon the next night to complete the sweep.
Chad Johnson was fighting a different battle heading into the weekend. The 42-year-old, who uses a Del Bonita, AB, address, but is considered an American for CFR qualification purposes, was jockeying for one of the maximum, five non-Canadian berths in the tie-down roping. Johnson won round one with an 8.4-second run, finished second in round two and captured the average title for a $3,750 payday, enough to leave the 20-year pro cowboy 4th in the Canadian standings.
Barrel racer, Nancy Csabay also used her second chance at the GRTF to qualify for her 5th Canadian Finals Rodeo. Csabay won $1,750 to slip into the number 11 spot in the CFR standings. Fellow barrel racer, Sarah Gerard won $1,000 in Calgary but still finished $342 out of a CFR spot.
While Jake Vold of Ponoka, AB, and Curtis Cassidy of Donalda, AB, already had their CFR hotel rooms booked before traveling to Calgary, they used the extra weekend to accomplish some other goals. Vold won $1,000 to eclipse the $40,000 plateau in the bareback riding while Cassidy won $2,500 to win the steer wrestling season leader award.
While the competitors were more than happy to have an extra opportunity to increase their earnings, the CPRA believes it accomplished what it set out to do with the introduction of the Grass Roots Tour.
“We wanted to highlight the lesser known stock contractors and they showcased some great stock,” begins CPRA Interim General Manager, Jeff Robson. “We also wanted to give the competitors who supported rodeos all year long a big boost. And the smaller committees benefited from larger entries they don’t usually get.”
Next up is the 41st Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place, Edmonton (Nov. 5-9).