BY CASSIE HAUSAUER
September 26 will mark the first ever Canadian Qualifier for The American, which is the world’s richest one-day rodeo to date. The top Canadian and American athletes will be competing in Calgary for estimated prize money worth $80,000. Held in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the Top 10 National Finals Rodeo contestants from each rodeo event compete against the top 10 contestants who emerged from the series of qualifying events across the country throughout the year. Competitors coming from the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) line up have the opportunity to take home $100,000 per event. Those coming from the qualifying stream, have the opportunity to win or split $1,000,000 with other event qualifiers. Eight-time NFR Qualifier Lisa Lockhart won the barrel racing in both 2013 and 2014. At the first American, it was qualifying bareback rider Richie Champion who took home the cool million.
This past March we saw 11-time world champion Charmayne James compete with the invitational exemption, as well as Amberley Snyder (who incidentally graced the cover of our March issue) and was voted in by fans. In 2014, there were 10 qualifying barrel racing events held across the United States, but none north of the border. Millarville, Alberta resident and Canadian Professional Rodeo Association barrel racer Toni Dixon wanted to change that, and decided to host the first Canadian Qualifier.
“The first American Qualifier in Canada is great for the barrel racing industry, great for Canada and great for the Calgary Stampede’s vision as a world class year round gathering place. It is my hope that this event becomes an annual event in Canada.”
After the qualifying rounds, advancing competitors will head to the historic Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards for the semi-final rounds to determine the top 10 qualifiers.
The event will mark the first time the Agrium Western Events Centre in Calgary has hosted a weekend of action packed barrel racing. Alongside the main event, there will also be a two-day Open 5D barrel race with $20,000 added.