2022 Pro Rodeo Canada Champions Crowned

Zeke Thurston aboard OLS Tubs Get Smart. CBowman photo.

For the second time in less than 48 hours a new CFR record was established in the saddle bronc riding. But this time, the record setting performance took the rider, Zeke Thurston, to his third Canadian Championship. It was fitting that the Big Valley, Alberta cowboy matched up with an old friend to establish the new mark. That old friend was OLS Tubs Get Smart who was making his final appearance in Canada prior to his well-earned retirement following the National Finals Rodeo next month. The 93.25 score bettered the previous mark of 91.75 set Friday night by both Thurston and Kole Ashbacher (on Get Smart).

“That was pretty special for me,” the 28-year-old superstar stated. “That little horse has pretty well made my career. I don’t know how much money I’ve made on him but it’s a lot. I was getting half emotional when I was saddling him. He’s been amazing forever.”

Thurston, who came into the Finals in fifth place, amassed just shy of $50,000 for a total of $80,000 for the year. The two-time World Champion was almost unstoppable in Red Deer with three go-round wins, a second, a fourth and the aggregate win as well over six performances.

The second-generation bronc rider acknowledged the importance of family in his pursuit of the rodeo dream. “I don’t actually remember wanting to be a rodeo cowboy, I just always was one,” Thurston smiled. “I watch my little boy; he’s a year-and-a-half-old, and all he wants to do is buck and ride things and I was probably the same way. I have a great family supporting me and that’s been really important.”

Another three-time Champion was crowned at this CFR as Provost, Alberta’s Scott Guenthner earned his third steer wrestling title in five years. Guenthner, who was named Cowboy of the Year earlier in the week, placed in four rounds and was second in the aggregate to earn $24,000 at the CFR to add to his regular season earnings of $50,000. The aggregate winner was two-time Canadian Champion Tanner Milan who finished third overall – right behind Stephen Culling.

A popular win at this CFR was Ty Taypotat’s first ever bareback riding title after several near misses in recent years. Taypotat, runner up for the title one year ago, turned in a spectacular 90.25 point performance on the Calgary Stampede’s World Champion bareback horse Xplosive Skies in Sunday’s final round.

“I saw the draw last night about midnight and I’m not gonna lie; I got pretty nervous,” Taypotat admitted. “That horse got me the last time I got on her.” The Nanton, Alberta cowboy (originally from Saskatchewan) enjoyed a consistent week with two firsts, two seconds and a third, along with the $14,000 aggregate win to total $50,000 in CFR earnings and $89,757 for the year.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Taypotat added. “This is my 10thCanadian Finals, so “I’m pretty darn excited to walk away with it, especially riding against the best bareback riders in the world.”

It came down to the final performance in the ladies barrel racing and it was five time CFR qualifier Taylor Manning who claimed the title. The 18-year-old, from Edson, Alberta, maintained the composure and consistency she demonstrated all week on the final day, with another solid run – made even more amazing by the fact that her horse, Bringin The Bling is only five-years-old.

“This morning I rode and worked on a few things with Bling but when I ran, I just tried to keep the barrels up,” Manning said. “I’m really proud of my horse,” she added, “She’s only five and I was able to run her all five days.”

Manning placed in five of six rounds (with a first go round and aggregate title win) to pocket over $40,000 at the Finals. Canadian and World Rookie of the Year, and Canadian Season Leader Bayleigh Choate – who came into CFR $18,000 ahead of Manning – finished in second spot.

It was the brother combination of Dawson and Dillon Graham who prevailed in the team roping event for their first Canadian Championship. The Wainwright, Alberta cowboys had twice previously been season leaders – only to come up short at the CFR. This time around they started the week with two second place efforts and a round-win before cooling off. They were, nevertheless, able to hold off the hard-charging veteran duo of Clint Buhler and Brett McCarroll who finished $8,000 back.

The closest race of this CFR was in the bull riding where Maple Creek, Saskatchewan cowboy, Jared Parsonage, prevailed for his second consecutive Canadian title. It was anything but easy for Parsonage as Camrose, AB bull rider and rookie CFR competitor, Coy Robbins, mounted a valiant challenge for the crown by riding five of six bulls and winning the aggregate. Parsonage earned over $22,000 at the Finals for a year-end total of $81,900. The margin of victory was a slender $1,300.

The only non-Canadian winner at this year’s CFR was San Angelo, Texas tie-down roper, Ty Harris. Competing at his second Finals, Harris overcame a no-time in the second round, putting together a first, a second, two thirds and a fourth en route to the victory. Harris collected $33,000 in Red Deer for $60,500 total earnings – a $9,000 advantage over runner-up, Kyle Lucas. The 2021 Champion, Riley Warren, was this year’s Aggregate winner.

Ladies breakaway roping, in only its second year as part of the Canadian Finals, saw 12 women competing, with Wardlow, Alberta’s Kendal Pierson, emerging as the winner for the second time. A former National High School Champion, Pierson had to come from behind after relinquishing her season lead in the first of three rounds. She fought back with a pair of 2.0 second runs, and when Longview, AB cowgirl, Bradi Whiteside missed her final calf, the deal was sealed for the eighteen-year-old Pierson.

Granum, Alberta roper, Wyatt Hayes, earned the men’s All Around title while Kylie Whiteside won the first-ever women’s All Around award. Blake Link (Maple Creek, SK) won the novice bareback championship while Innisfail, Alberta’s Colten Powell, earned the novice saddle bronc win. Nash Loewen, the 14-year-old from Winfield, Alberta won the junior steer riding event.                                                                                                                 

A couple of repeat winners from the Macza Pro Rodeo highlighted this year’s CFR Top Stock awards — OLS Tubs Stevie Knicks in the bareback riding and, of course, OLS Tubs Get Smart in the bronc riding. Duane Kesler’s Chester was selected top bull of the Finals.

For complete results, go to rodeocanada.com

Races Tighten Heading Into Final Day of CFR ‘48

Bradi Whiteside earned the matinee round win and second spot Saturday night in the Breakaway Roping. CBowman photo.

It’s called Super Saturday – two performances and a huge opportunity for rodeo athletes to win big at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

2019 Canadian Champion bareback rider, Orin Larsen, has a history of doing just that and he was at it again this time around. The Inglis, Manitoba-raised cowboy has either won or split the round in almost every Saturday matinee performance he’s performed at in six CFR qualifications. But this year was even sweeter as the 2019 Canadian Champion won both rounds November 5 in Red Deer. Larsen marked an outstanding 87 points on Calgary Stampede’s B-12 BigTimin Houston in round 4 then added an even more impressive 87.75 in round five on Big Stone Rodeo’s 48 Fired Up. When the dust settled, the CFR-NFR cowboy, who has placed in every round to date, pocketed $18,670 and moved to third in the aggregate. The lead remains in the hands of veteran Ty Taypotat, who is closely followed by Montana hand, Caleb Bennett with Larsen lurking in the shadows should either make even a small slip in Sunday afternoon’s final round.

Orin Larsen.
CBowman photo.

The bull dogging has been no less dramatic, with two-time Canadian Champion and Season Leader, Scott Guenthner not enjoying the Finals he had hoped for. The Provost, Alberta talent has three round placings to his credit and sits second in the aggregate. Fort St John, BC’s Stephen Culling earned the fifth go-round win with a lightning-fast 3.7 second run to bring his Finals earnings to $17,474 with one performance to go. But Cochrane cowboy Tanner Milan has become the man to watch. The two-time Canadian Champion has won two rounds and placed in the other three for almost $23,000 in CFR earnings and first place in the all-important aggregate. He trails Guenthner by $10,000 and needs to have a huge Sunday performance and Guenthner to stumble to allow Milan to complete the come-from-behind win.

Slow and steady may win the race when it comes to the ladies barrel racing event. Yellowhead County, Alberta barrel racer Taylor Manning has been the model of consistency at this year’s Finals. The five-time CFR qualifier holds down the lead with one go-round win and four placings – including two second-place finishes on Saturday. Added to the 18-year old’s outstanding performance is the number one beside her name in the aggregate standings. 2022 Season Leader and Rookie of the Year, Bayleigh Choate has slipped to second overall and fifth in the average – despite a hair-straight-back matinee run that saw the Texan clock a 13.92 while reaching down and righting first barrel along the way. Unfortunately for Choate her luck ran out Saturday night as this time the barrel went down, opening the door for Manning. Also on the watch list heading into the final performance is Shelby Spielman and her Horse of the Year, Hot Donna, who is just $2,800 back of Manning and is third in the aggregate.

Another event that will come down to the wire on Championship Sunday is the tie-down roping. Texas cowboy, Ty Harris, who is making his second CFR appearance, had his best performance of the week in round five with an impressive 7.8 second run. The three-time NFR qualifier is second overall – just $1,800 behind CFR Rookie Beau Cooper. But Harris is fourth in the aggregate while Cooper has slipped to eighth. Also in contention are Carstairs, AB cowboy Kyle Lucas, Saskatchewan hand, Jesse Popescul and Season Leader Clayton Smith.

In only the second year as an official CPRA event, breakaway roping has taken women’s rodeo by storm. With twelve women vying for the title, the closest race is between Longview, Alberta’s Bradi Whiteside who earned the matinee round win and second spot Saturday night and defending Champion, Kendal Pierson from Wardlow, Alberta. Whiteside is in the driver’s seat heading into round six with $24,347 in winnings and first place in the aggregate. Pierson is within striking distance but needs a solid final day. 

Alberta team ropers, Clint Buhler and Brett McCarroll waited until CFR Saturday to move onto the leaderboard. The veterans scored two round-wins with 4.2 and 5.4 second times – good for $18,671 each and a move to first in the aggregate. McCarroll, a two-time champion, roped his 100thCFR steer on Saturday afternoon and 101stin the evening performance with both runs resulting in first place cheques. But season leaders, Dawson and Dillon Graham, remain in control as comfortable overall leaders heading into round six.

The classic event of rodeo – the saddle bronc riding – continues to see big scores and amazing rides. On a two-performance day that saw seventeen scores in the eighties, the most notable move was made by two time World and Canadian Champion Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. After finishing out of the money on Saturday afternoon, the defending champion rode Calgary Stampede’s R-62 Redon Acres to a spectacular 88.75 score in the evening performance – good for first place money in the round. The win consolidated Thurston’s hold on top spot overall and the aggregate standings heading into Sunday. Not far behind the second-generation superstar are Layton Green and Kole Ashbacher.

When CFR ’48 kicked off back on Wednesday the consensus was that runaway season leader, Jared Parsonage, was a virtual lock for the bull riding title. But after four go-rounds, the race had become much tighter – courtesy of outstanding performances by Camrose bull rider Coy Robbins and 2016 Canadian Champion, Jordan Hansen. And when Robbins rode his bull Saturday night to be four for five and take over top spot in the aggregate, the noose was getting a little tighter on the reigning champion. But Parsonage made a critical ride on the Kesler bull, Perlich Brothers Ivy League to grab a third-place finish in the round. Heading into Sunday, the Maple Creek talent can breathe a little easier with a $17,000 lead over Robbins while sitting third in the lucrative aggregate.

A special moment during Saturday’s afternoon performance included the introduction of the 2022 Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductees. Congratulations Rob Bell, Bill Reeder and Dusty LaValley (contestant inductees); Mike Copeman (Builder inductee), the late Greg Rumohr in the Legend category and Animal inductee – VJV Slash, owned by Vold Rodeo.

Sunday’s final round will get underway at noon at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer.

For complete results, go to rodeocanada.com

New CFR Record in Saddle Bronc Riding

Kole Ashbacher, aboard the award-winning OLS Tubs Get Smart from Macza Rodeo.
CBowman photo.

You can put that in the record books as the greatest bronc riding there’s ever been and I’ve seen a bunch of them.

That observation was made by retired eight-time Canadian Champion, Rod Hay moments after the third go-round of the Canadian Finals Rodeo wrapped up in Red Deer Friday night, Nov. 4, 2022. The bronc riding he was referring to saw a pair of 91.75 point rides that (unofficially) eclipsed the 44-year-old CFR record of 91 points set by Mel Coleman in 1978.

Two-time World and Canadian Champion, Zeke Thurston, the pride of Big Valley, Alberta, was first to reach that milestone as he matched up with the Calgary Stampede’s amazing Tokyo Bubbles. And moments later the last bronc rider of the night, Arrowwood, Alberta cowboy, Kole Ashbacher, equalled that mark aboard the award-winning OLS Tubs Get Smart from Macza Rodeo.

“That horse and I… our careers started at about the same time,” Thurston acknowledged moments after his ride. “I’ve been in a lot of four rounds and short rounds with Tokyo Bubbles and that’s the first time I’ve actually drawn her. I was looking forward to that one. I’ve been waiting for her.”

Zeek Thurston and Tokoyo-Bubbles.
CBowman photo

Ashbacher who was runner up for the Canadian title a year ago was one of the last riders to get on Get Smart as the 20-year-old gelding will be retired after this year’s National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He’s the Canadian Horse of the Year and runner-up for the world title and he’s a little scary,” the long, tall 26-year-old admitted. “You get a little nervous when they run him under you (in the chute).”

Nervous or not, Ashbacher was flawless as he matched the much-decorated bay jump for jump. Ashbacher has gone to the lead in the bronc riding with Thurston in second place just $3,100 back but the roles are reversed in the all-important – and very lucrative – aggregate with Thurston clinging to a slender one-and-a-half-point lead over the his main adversary. Former Canadian Champion Layton Green collected a third-place cheque with an 89 score; Ben Anderson followed up his second go-round win with a fourth-place 88.5, and Dawson Dahm was 88.25 to catch a fifth-place cheque. Incredibly Rod Hay’s son, Logan, was out of the money despite an 87.75-point effort.

The large Centrium crowd erupted as the twin winning scores were announced. Fans will get another opportunity to see this pen of saddle bronc horses during Sunday’s final performance of CFR ’48.

The Wainwright, Alberta team roping brothers, Dawson and Dillon Graham, who dominated Canadian Pro Rodeo all season continue to shine at the 2022 CFR. The talented duo clocked a speedy 4.3 second run – the fastest of CFR so far in round three. When added to a pair of earlier second place finishes, the brothers have $23,220 in CFR earnings and continue to enjoy the overall lead and first place in the aggregate. 

In the ladies barrel racing, it was Texan turned Albertan Shelby Spielman and her Horse of the Year, Hot Donna, who took the honours in the third round. The Ponoka duo clocked 13.88 seconds to win the $9335 top cheque. Season leader, Bayleigh Choate continues to lead the overall standings at the halfway point in a Finals that has seen only two of the twelve competitors run penalty free over the first three performances. 

Australian Strawbs Jones marked his highest CFR score to date in the bareback riding – a spectacular 89.75 points on Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year, 118 OLS Tubs’Stevie Knicks from the Macza Rodeo firm, to win the round. Veterans Ty Taypotat (Nanton, AB) and Caleb Bennett (Covallis, MT) hold down first and second place overall and in the all-important aggregate. Bennett was second in the round with Taypotat right behind him in third place.

Cochrane cowboy Tanner Milan continues to be the model of consistency in the steer wrestling event. The two-time Canadian champion recorded his second go-round win Friday evening with a 3.9 second run. When added to his earlier placings, the veteran has over $20,000 in CFR earnings and has moved solidly into contention for a possible third title.

Granum, Alberta’s Wyatt Hayes earned the tie-down roping buckle in round three with an 8.0 second run. The win also catapulted Hayes to the lead in the All-Around race.

2016 Canadian Bull Riding Champion Jordan Hansen turned in a dazzling 89.75 point ride on Vold Rodeo’s 24 Out Of The Blue for the go-round win. With two out of three bulls covered, Hansen moves to first in the aggregate – just four-and-a-half points up on overall leader Jared Parsonage, who bucked off Friday night but still holds a commanding lead.

The 2022 novice champions were declared after three rounds of competition. Novice bareback season leader, Blake Link from Maple Creek, SK won his third straight round for a total of $10,532 in earnings and the title. In the novice saddle bronc event, despite having a challenging CFR, season leader, Colten Powell maintained his hold on top spot, finishing out the year with over $22,000 in winnings and the champion’s buckle. In the junior steer riding, Sundre cowboy, Glen Erickson marked a 76.50 for the top cheque on night three while Nash Loewen maintained his hold on number one overall.

For complete results, go torodeocanada.com

Dramatic Championship Sunday at Red Deer CFR

Scott Guenthner came out on top during CFR 45. Photo Credit: Roughstock Studios.

It came down to one run.

As steer wrestler, Scott Guenthner, backed into the box for his final run of CFR ‘45, he knew what he had to do. Guenthner had already watched some of his closest competitors and travelling partners have varying degrees of success. The Provost, Alberta cowboy didn’t have to win the round but needed to at least place to hold his spot in the aggregate and take home his first Canadian Championship. And that’s exactly what he did.

The five time CFR qualifier posted a 3.6 second run to split second and third in the round for $6480 and held on to fourth place in the average for another $7695. His total season earnings of $69,899 left him comfortably ahead of Aggregate Champion, Stephen Culling.

“It was a little nerve-racking,” Guenthner admitted. “My steer hadn’t come in (to the chute) yet. I could hear the announcers bragging me up and I tried to blank that out but I couldn’t really do it.”

With the crowd roaring around him, the second generation Canadian Champion made the run he needed to make. Guenthner’s week started slowly and he changed things up after the third round.

“I’m riding Tyson, Curtis Cassidy’s Horse; he is the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. When things weren’t going well early in the week, I decided to go to the best horse in Canada… and it worked.”

While the win is Guenthner’s first, it’s not the first for the family. His Dad, Ken, captured the title 37 years earlier in 1981.

One of the tightest races at this year’s Finals was in the saddle bronc riding where Nanton, Alberta’s Clay Elliott was able to hold off the late charge of 2016 World Champion, Zeke Thurston, for the win. Thurston rode first in the final round and marked a spectacular 87 on Kesler Rodeo’s tremendous stallion, Copper Cat. Elliott then rose to the challenge – but had to ride two horses as a problem in the chute with his first mount resulted in a re-ride. The 2016 Canadian Champion climbed aboard C5 Rodeo’s High Valley, a horse he was familiar with, having ridden the seven year old bay gelding to 87 points to win Edmonton’s K-Days Rodeo back in July. This time, the two combined for 86.25 points, giving Elliott second place in the round as well as second in the aggregate for a $9000 margin of victory over Thurston.

“It was quite an adventure today as I actually had my saddle on three different horses,” Elliott commented. “My first one, Black Hills, got turned around in the chute and was having trouble so the judges offered me a re-ride, a horse called Banshee from Northcott-Macza. He’s a bucking son of a gun but the judges didn’t see it that way today and gave me another re-ride. This one was High Valley from C5 Rodeo; the horse had bucked me off at Ponoka but I rode him for the win at K-Days Rodeo and was excited to have him today.”

Elliott’s second Canadian Championship in three years, including his regular season earnings, netted the 24-year-old $82,294 in total.

The biggest money earner of this Canadian Finals Rodeo was Callahan Crossley of Hermiston, Oregon. Not only did the three time CFR qualifier cruise to the title with four first place finishes and two seconds, she also established two all time monetary records. Riding her 20 year old gelding, Brownie, Crossley won a record-setting $73,575 at the CFR and her season total of $99,190 also goes into the record books.

The 2016 World Champion team ropers, Levi Simpson (on the header side) and heeler, Jeremy Buhler, captured their second Canadian team roping title in a row on Sunday afternoon at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer. The amazing pair placed in all six rounds, including splitting one-two in rounds two and five and sealing the deal with a third place 5.2 second run in the final round. Simpson, from Ponoka, AB, and Buhler (Arrowwood, AB) captured both the aggregate title and the Canadian Championship.

The bareback riding was no less dramatic as Dublin, TX cowboy, Richmond Champion, took home his first Canadian title. The 25 year old two time Calgary Stampede Champion held off long-time travelling partner, Jake Vold and Manitoba bareback rider, Orin Larsen, in claiming the coveted championship buckle. Champion earned $77,448 over the season.

Louisiana roper, Shane Hanchey, edged Carstairs, AB talent, Kyle Lucas, to win his thrid Canadian Championship. Hanchey roped and tied his calf in 7.9 seconds on the last day to finish fourth in the round and first in the aggregate en route to victory. With total season earnings of $65,338, Hanchey slipped by Lucas by just $1700 for the win.

Bull rider, Wacey Finkbeiner, survived a final round buck-off to win his first Canadian Bull Riding Championship. The Ponoka, AB hand had gone an impressive five for five prior to Sunday and that run, which included two first place cheques and the aggregate title, gave him the winning season total of $73,729 – and a $14,000 cushion over runner-up Cody Coverchuk of Meadow Lake, Sask.

Rounding out the roster of winners at CFR ‘45 were first time High Point Champion, Riley Warren, who edged hard-luck cowboy, Kyle Lucas, by less than $1300 and All Around Champion, Jacob Gardner (Dawson Creek, BC) who placed in two rounds to claim the buckle.

The novice champions for 2018 were Mason Helmiczi from Sundre, AB in the bareback riding and Wildwood, Alberta’s Cooper Thatcher in the novice saddle bronc riding. The steer ridng title went to 14 year old Tristen Manning from Yellowhead County, AB.

CFR stock award winners were C5 Rodeo’s amazing bareback horse, F13 Virgil, who had already claimed back-to-back World and Canadian Championships; Northcott-Macza’s four time Canadian Champion saddle bronc horse, 242 Get Smart, and Vold Rodeo’s bull, 621 Wicked Dreams.

Rodeo athletes and fans big farewell to the winningest bull rider in Canadian rodeo history as Scott Schiffner made his final ride on Sunday afternoon. The Strathmore cowboy announced in July that this would be his last season before stepping into retirement. He leaves the sport as a two time Canadian Champion, two time Calgary Stampede Champion and 18 time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier – a record among bull riders.

CFR ‘45 at Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta was a huge success with sold out performances, first class production and tremendous community support. 1.65 million was paid out to contestants over the course of the six day event.

For complete results, see rodeocanada.com

Red Deer is the Proud New Home to the Canadian Finals Rodeo 

Article courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association

The Centrium at Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta will be the new home of the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

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.

– 30 –

Westerner Park is Central Alberta’s largest tradeshow, agricultural, sports, entertainment and convention facility. A not-for-profit organization supported by 50 full-time staff and 150 full-time volunteers, Westerner Park generates $150 million annually in economic activity hosting over 1,500 events and 1.5 million visitors each year. 

With more than 800 business members, the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce is a collaborative leader that fosters an environment where businesses can lead, be innovative, sustainable and grow. 

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 (at the Agrium Western Event Centre, Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta) each September and their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – in Red Deer, Alberta in late fall. Follow the CPRA on Twitter and Instagram @prorodeocanada, ‘Like’ Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook or online at RodeoCanada.com.

Vold Takes First Victory Lap of 2017 WNFR

Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

 

Jake Vold takes the go-round win on the first night of the WNFR. Photo Credit: Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

Canadian cowboys got off to a fast start at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Three time Canadian champion, Jake Vold, wasted no time in resuming his signature lights-out performances in Las Vegas. Vold who finished second in the world a year ago and won three rounds and $165,000 in the Thomas and Mack Arena, picked up where he left off with a tremendous 87.5 on Kesler Rodeo’s Oakridge. The win netted the Airdrie cowboy the $26,230 first place cheque and moved him to third in the world standings with $138,391 in the bank, now $87,000 back of season leader and defending world champion Tim O’Connell.

“It’s a good confidence builder,” Vold noted of his first night ride. “There are a lot of horses here and going at that kind of money, I find quite exciting. It’s keeps your blood flowing. I need to win a lot of money to have a chance at a world title. To get the win right off the bat is definitely key. Hopefully a guy can keep it rolling and see what happens after the 10 days”.

Provost, Alberta steer wrestler, Scott Guenthner, did not appear to feel any nerves as he made his first-ever appearance at the WNFR posting a solid 4.3 second run to be among a cluster of bulldoggers with that time. Guenthner split 3/4/5/6/6 for a nice $7530 start to his Finals.  Cochrane’s Tanner Milan, at his second Las Vegas Finals, was 6.6 seconds on his steer and finished out of the money. Defending world champion, Tyler Waguesback, won the round with a 3.5 second run to keep his repeat title hopes very much alive. He sits third in the world at $140,000, $33,000 behind Helena, Montana dogger, Ty Erickson.

In the saddle bronc riding, defending world champion, Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, closed the gap on the season leader and 2015 World Champion, Jacobs Crawley. The 23 year-old Canadian now trails Crawley by just $9,000 after a 5/6/6 split on the Calgary Stampede stallion Timely Delivery. The second generation bronc rider was 85 points on the horse on this night, as the pair reprised their July Calgary Stampede matchup that ended with Thurston collecting 90 points. Crawley finished out of the money on a night that saw Oklahoma cowboy Hardy Braden win the round with an 87.5 score. Utah’s Ryder Wright (86.5) and 2015 Canadian champion Cody DeMoss (85.5) won 3rd and 4th respectively on a couple of Canadian broncs, C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills and Outlaw Buckers’ three time Canadian champion Lunatic Party.

Clay Elliott and Layton Green, the other two Canadians in the bronc riding, both managed 79 scores on night number one.

Defending world champion team roping heeler, Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, caught a leg and was 9.3 seconds with partner Tom Richards after Canadian partner, Levi Simpson, finished just out of the 2017 WNFR. Buhler remains in 15th spot in the world standings in a round that was won by Kaleb Driggers and reigning All Around Champion, Junior Nogueira, who also sit atop the world standing, both with over $170,000 on the season.

And in the bull riding, Calgary’s 2016 Canadian champion, Jordan Hansen, first Canadian to qualify for the WNFR since 2001, was bucked off by Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Lumberjack. Hansen came to Las Vegas in 13th place overall. The round was won by Trey Benton lll, as he rode the Big Stone bull, Mortimer, to 90 points.  Joe Frost, he Utah bull rider rode Outlaw Buckers’ Bomb Shell to 84 points for 5th place in the round. 2017 Canadian champion, Garrett Smith from Rexburg, Idaho, narrowed the gap on season leader Sage Kimsey as he posted an 85.5 point ride for 4th place in the round while Kimsey, the three-time titleist, finished out of the money with a 79 mark. Smith moves to within $20,000 of the leader as he vies for his first world crown.

Canadian Eh? 2017 Ladies of Canadian Pro Rodeo Fashion Show & Luncheon

This year the Ladies of Canadian Professional Rodeo celebrated Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

Each year during the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Alberta the Ladies of Canadian Professional Rodeo hosts a Luncheon & Fashion Show fundraiser. This year WHR was on hand at the event to witness all the fun and fashion that was had at the Canadian Eh? 2017 Ladies of Canadian Pro rodeo Fashion Show & Luncheon.

The luncheon & fashion show, a long time stand-out on the Canadian rodeo social scene, has generated over $291,000 to charitable causes. The funds raised by the event are distributed to the Cowboy Benefit Fund and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team (CPRSMT). The Cowboy Benefit Fund was established to provide emergency funding for Canadian Pro Rodeo Association members who are injured or placed in hardship due to injury. The fund relies on donations by rodeo fans, businesses and groups to maintain its resources. The CPRSMT plays an important role in and out of the rodeo arena, with their help rodeo athletes maintain a level of health in order to be better prepared to compete, reduce the effects of injuries and add longevity to their rodeo careers.

The event doubled as Miss Rodeo Canada 2017, Ali Mullin’s, final runway walk. Photo Credit: Classic Rodeo Boutique

Dr. Blaine Bugg, manager of the CPRSMT was on hand at the event, and took to the stage to commend the Ladies of Canadian Pro Rodeo for all the hard work they put into the luncheon and fashion show, and thanked them for their support. Another poignant moment came when Jim Nevada, of Roper Apparel and Footwear, took to the stage to introduce a memorial song to all the cowboys that were lost in 2017. With collaboration from Stacy Roper, Norm Swen and Don Johansen, and performed by Stacy Roper, Gord Bamford, and Duane Steele, the song was a beautiful tribute to the rodeo community. The luncheon serves many purposes, aside from raising money for great causes, it brings together the rodeo community for an afternoon of fun and fashion. There were lots of laughs around the room, and even more glitter and bling from the visiting rodeo queens from around Canada, and the world, including Miss Rodeo Australia, and Miss Rodeo Warwick.

Former Miss Rodeo Sundre, Kyla Williams, was in the running for Miss Rodeo Canada, and showed off a beautiful gown for her final walk. Photo Credit: Classic Rodeo Boutique.

Western fashion, with a Canadian twist, was the focus of the fashion show, with clothing provided by Roper and Wrangler through Lammles Western Wear and Tack. Audi Roy, of Classic Rodeo Boutique, was on hand to style and accessorize the outfits. The fashion show also shone a spotlight on the Miss Rodeo Canada pageant contestants who were vying for a chance to be crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2018. Each of the five spectacular young women walked the stage in different fashions, while being evaluated for the final judged portion of pageant week before the crowning at the rodeo later in the evening. Despite what could be a nerve-wracking situation, all of the ladies were poised and beautiful as they made their way down the runway. Of course, Miss Rodeo Canada 2017, Ali Mullin, stole the show, as she sauntered down the runway for her final walk as Miss Rodeo Canada.

Former Miss Rodeo Medicine Hat, Brittney Chomistek, rocked fashion from Lammles Western Wear. Chomistek was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2018 later that evening at the CFR. Photo Credit: Classic Rodeo Boutique.

Overall the luncheon and fashion show was a massive success. Live music, entertainment and a delicious lunch was topped off with a fun fashion show, all while raising money for amazing causes within the rodeo community. If you have plans to head to CFR next year, make sure to put the Ladies of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Luncheon and Fashion show on your “to-do” last night, it’s a lot of fun – and for a great cause. What’s better than that?!

Former Calgary Stampede Princess, Lizzie Ryman, got a chance to catch up with the freshly crowned 2018 Calgary Stampede Royal Trio.

2017 Canadian Champions Declared

Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

The Champions of CFR 44. Photo Credit: Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Edmonton, ALTA – November 12, 2017

It was simply a case of unfinished business. For Canadian team ropers Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler, CFR44 offered the opportunity to fulfill a dream that had been left incomplete up to now. While Ponoka, Alberta header, Simpson, had a Canadian championship to his credit, to go along with his 2016 World Champion buckle, heeling partner, Jeremy Buhler, was still looking for his first Canadian title. Despite a slow start to their CFR (they had two no times in the first three rounds), the duo blazed their way through Super Saturday with back to back 4.1 second go-round winning runs and added a 4.2 second run on Championship Sunday to emerge as victors.

“It was very exciting to follow up a ‘dream come true season winning the world’ to come back up here, finally have a good year to come in here number one then outlast everyone until the end and stay number one.”

Simpson and Buhler, who also finished fifth in the average, ended the season with $59,006 each for a comfortable margin over second place finishers Justin and Brett McCarroll.

Layton Green erupts from a chute on the final day of CFR 44. Photo Credit: Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Another season leader who was able to win a Canadian title was saddle bronc rider Layton Green of Meeting Creek, Alberta. Green saw second place man – and reigning world champion – Zeke Thurston, make up considerable ground on this lead over the first three rounds. But the 23 year old Green turned things around for the last three rounds of CFR44 and restored his comfortable edge. What was an amazing year for the second generation cowboy ended with Green establishing a new saddle bronc season earnings record. He wrapped up the year with $107,363 to move past eight time Canadian Champion Rod Hay who had previously held the record at $101,646 (set in 2005).

“It’s pretty special; it’s something I’ve dreamed of as long as I can remember,” Green said. “I always wanted to ride broncs and wanted to be a Canadian champion. It’s a dream come true. And to walk out in the arena with one of your best friends (Thurston) and know that either you or him is going to be Canadian champion is something I’ll never forget.”

For the first time since 2009, a Canadian reigns supreme in the tie down roping event. Nanton, Alberta cowboy, Logan Bird edged fellow Canadian, Riley Warren, by less than $1000 for the win. Bird had to overcome a broken barrier in the last round, and capitalized on the struggles of several in the field of 12 (including the defending world champion Tyson Durfey and the last Canadian to win it, Alwin Bouchard) to capture the title.

“When you come to the CFR, you’re not just roping against anybody,” Bird stated. “You’ve got to be on your game because these are the best in the world.”

The 23 year old’s success is due, in large measure, to two things: his encyclopedic knowledge of the calves and his 13 year old gray gelding, TJ, the 2016 tie down roping horse of the year. “I wouldn’t be here without TJ. He helps me out so much. In my opinion, he’s probably the best horse in Canada, and close to the best horse in the world.”

Carman Pozzobon clinches the title of Canadian Barrel Racing Champion. Photo Credit: Canadian Finals Rodeo.

The closest race at this year’s CFR was in the ladies barrel racing where Aldergrove, British Columbia cowgirl, Carman Pozzobon, slipped by Texan, Jaime Hinton, by just $183. Pozzobon, the Canadian season leader, finished up the year with $68,399 and her first gold buckle.

“My main goal (on the final day) was to get around all three barrels; I didn’t care if it was ugly or not,” the gifted horse trainer said. Pozzobon was first out on Championship Sunday and finished fourth in the round with a 14.660 to capture second place in the average en route to the title. The two time CFR qualifier was riding her seven year old mare, Ripp n Lady (Ripp), 2017 Canadian barrel horse of the year.

A trio of American cowboys captured Canadian titles in 2017. Seth Hardwick of Ranchester, Wyoming caught season leader and three time Canadian champion, Jake Vold, in the bareback riding to win the title by a margin of just $850. Hardwick placed in every round and won the average for a total of $74,980.

The steer wrestling honor went to Benton, Arkansas cowboy, Jason Thomas, who – like Harwick – put together six go-round placings and an average win for a total of $59,177 to best second place finisher, Scott Guenthner, by $5000.

Cowboys flock to congratulate Tanner Girletz on an incredible career. Photo Credit: Canadian Finals Rodeo.

And in the bull riding, season leader, Garrett Smith of Rexburg, Idaho, laid claim to his first Canadian championship by riding four of his six bulls and finishing second in the average for an $8000 margin of victory over the second place man, Tanner Girletz. Girletz, the 2006 Canadian champion, was at his ninth Canadian Finals and announced before the start of this year’s CFR that this was his final season as a bull rider.

Ky Marshall in the All Around (second time) and Morgan Grant for the High Point award (3rd time) were repeat winners. Earlier in the week, the youth event champions were crowned. Connor Hamilton of Calgary is the 2017 Novice bareback champion; Dawson Hay (Wildwood, AB) is the novice saddle bronc winner and Luke Ferber of Irricana won his second steer riding title.

Top CFR stock honors went to C5 Rodeo for their bareback horse, Virgil; the Calgary Stampede for saddle bronc, Wild Cherry and the Kesler Rodeo company for their bull, Flight Plan.

In its 44th and final year at Northlands Coliseum, CFR 44 attracted 90,268 fans – a 3.3% increase over last year’s attendance figure.

Find complete results at rodeocanada.com

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 (at the Agrium Western Event Centre, Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta) each September and their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – in Edmonton in November. Follow the CPRA on Twitter and Instagrm @prorodeocanada, ‘Like’ Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook or online at RodeoCanada.com

Edmonton’s Premier Western Events Shine

Courtesy of Northlands 

A Final Tip of the Hat to CFR at Northlands. Photo Credit: Canadian Finals Rodeo

EDMONTON, AB (November 12, 2017) – For the past five days, Northlands was honoured to host the 44th annual Canadian Finals Rodeo and Farmfair International from November 8 – 12 at Northlands Coliseum and the Edmonton EXPO Centre. Two of Edmonton’s largest annual events spurred western excitement throughout the Northlands grounds and the entire city of Edmonton, with a combined attendance of 191,397.

 “We are proud of the incredible growth achieved by Farmfair International,” said Tim Reid, President and CEO, Northlands. “The success of this event further demonstrates the importance of agriculture to Northlands and to Alberta’s economy. Farmfair is an integral part of the future of Northlands as we embrace our agricultural roots moving forward.”

The 44rd edition of Farmfair International drew a record 101,129 guests to the Edmonton EXPO Centre to take in cattle shows and sales, equine events, the Heritage Ranch Rodeo, RAM Country Marketplace and more. This a 5.8% increase over last year’s record breaking attendance, and the first time Farmfair International has attracted more than 100,000 guests. Farmfair International brought 140 international buyers from 14 countries together to conduct business, trade industry knowledge and to purchase top-quality genetics from Alberta producers. The number of international buyers is up 55% over last year. With more than 1,500 head of livestock exhibited including more than 1,000 head of purebred cattle, the 2017 edition of Farmfair International was one of the biggest yet.

From humble beginnings in 1974, the first Canadian Finals Rodeo drew 24,000 guests to the Edmonton Gardens. In its 44th and final year at Northlands Coliseum, 90, 268 guests took in six action-packed performances over five days. This is a 3.3% increase over last year’s attendance. As the largest indoor rodeo in Canada, 108 competitors chased the dream for championship buckles and their share of more than $1.5 million in prize money. The Roadhouse presented by TD brought live performances to the Edmonton EXPO Centre on Friday and Saturday including Dallas Smith’s Side Effects Tour presented by Old Camp, as well as Tanya Tucker and Aaron Pritchett to keep the party going after CFR performances.

“Fans of the Canadian Finals Rodeo came out to show their support and demonstrated the impact this event has on our local economy,” said Tim Reid, President and CEO, Northlands. “We thank the CFR fans for their support and loyalty over the last 44 years. This is not goodbye but see you later.”