‘Twas the week before Cowboy Christmas, when all through the West,
the cowboys were stirring, trying to give it their best,
Their boots were all hung by their trailers with care,
In hopes that a hot streak soon would be there!
It’s never too soon for pro competitors to get momentum rolling for the busiest time on the rodeo calendar.
While the winnings from the busy final June weekend run, which took them from Wainwright to Reno, were mostly shared around, there were a few competitors who did a little extra collecting.
In Canada, one of those was bareback rider Richmond Champion, who used a $4,802 hit from Wainwright and Sundre to make some standings moves. He’d have overtaken number one in Canada, if not for leader Ky Marshall keeping in step with him at Wainwright, to stay one jump ahead in the Canadian race.
The Texas cowboy is spending more time in Canada this summer, and is loving every stop along the way.
“Make some new tracks, see some new rodeos, get on some different horses,” Champion says, of his reasons for coming north. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far, and I’m looking forward to keeping things rolling and going to my first CFR.”
The 24-year-old especially likes the calibre of the horses, and the competition.
“There’s a lot of good ones up here, and I’ve just been fortunate to be getting on a lot of them lately. It’s a different feel up here. It’s fun, guys ride great, the horses buck, you get these big outdoor rodeos, and you’ve got Jake Vold and Caleb Bennett, and guys like that pushing you, and you’re pushing back, so you really can’t beat it!”
Champion picked up another $1,500 from Pecos and Reno, and moved from 16th up to 12th in the world standings.
He wasn’t kidding about the friendly rivalry with Vold ($1,301) and Bennett ($2,685), and both those talents clicked for cash on the weekend as well.
Stateside, the biggest Canadian winner was Curtis Cassidy, who was fast man in the Reno steer wrestling Finals, to finish second in the average, and boost his fortunes by nearly ten grand, winning $9,241 at that rodeo alone. Then, just for good measure, he threw in another $480 from Sundre, plus a sweet $1,718 from the tie-down roping there.
NFR qualifier Kolton Schmidt managed to defend his team roping title at the Wainwright Stampede, but he did it this year with a different partner on the heels. Now roping with the seasoned Dugan Kelly of California, the new duo really clicked, finishing second in Sundre with a 4.3 second run ($1,786) and then collecting $3,094 each by winning the second round and the average at Wainwright (16.1 seconds on three head).
“It’s a good time of the year to get things rolling,” said Schmidt, of Barrhead. “I’m excited, and looking forward to the rest.”
“We got hooked up at the end of the winter, and we’ve been going at it and trying to work it out. We’ve finally figured it out,” smiled Kelly, who’s been to the NFR seven times.
The $4,880 weekend should vault them right up to the top five in the Canadian standings.
Even though he’s already over $10,000 in earnings, veteran bull rider Scott Schiffner was feeling a little chilly from the last couple of weeks. He straightened things out with an 86 point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Lone Butte, to tie Garrett Green at the top of the Sundre results, for $1,910 each.
“It was pretty funny,” chuckled Schiffner. “Mesa, my oldest daughter, was at a barrel racing, and she ended up winning it. I talked to her, and she said ‘well Dad, you just go do what I do’!”
The bull rider who had the best weekend overall was Ponoka’s Zane Lambert, who was 172.5 points on two rides, at the Wainwright Stampede for $4,427. The last time the Ponoka cowboy rode at Wainwright, two years ago, he also took home the hardware.
“Wainwright’s been really good to me. I missed it last year when I was on the injured list. I like coming here and competing. The crowds are awesome, and the committee’s always really good here,” stated Lambert.
Thankfully, Lambert’s been off the injured list this year, but with a hectic schedule of pro rodeo’s and PBR’s crisscrossing the country, he’s carrying his share of bumps and bruises.
“Sports Medicine has been really helping me. I was really sore and at the beginning of the weekend I was almost questioning whether I needed to turn out of one or two just to get through the weekend, but boy, they’ve been taping me and keeping me together, keeping me limber through these last four days, and that helps a lot. Big applause to our (Canadian Pro Rodeo) Sports Medicine Team.”
Brock Radford stayed on all his bulls there, and he was rewarded with $3,326.
Saddle bronc rider Layton Green also hit the bank of Wainwright, running away with $4,687 for winning the long go and the average, as well as second in the finals. He also placed at Sundre ($215). Sam Kelts grabbed $3,626 on his way to second overall, also adding in some gas money from his ride at Guy Weadick Days in High River. Others in the bronc riding winner’s circle include B.C.’s Jake Watson, who took first at High River ($1,458), and placed at Wainwright ($853). But his biggest payday came from Reno, where he was won the second round, for $3,382. He’s lurking, at the number 17 position for the world.
Coleman Kohorst rode away from Wainwright with the biggest grin among the bulldoggers, after he claimed the average in 13.3 seconds on his trio of runs ($4,528) but there were also some significant wins for a couple other steer wrestlers. Jess Cowie won the coveted Sundre buckle and $2,305, while Canadian standings front man Scott Guenthner took High River ($1,989), and added $5,078 from his Wainwright efforts, which bumps him up to 13th in the world race.
Rhen Richard proved his reattached thumb is no obstacle to winning, as the Utah looper emerged as the average winner in the tie-down roping at Wainwright ($6,035) and split fifth in Sundre, for another $1,169. The High River honors in the event went to Kyle Lucas ($2,032), who also placed in Wainwright ($1,430). The battle for number one in Canada continued with Al Bouchard surging forward with $3,526 from Wainwright. But Riley Warren manages to keep ahead after adding $2,936 to his tally from the weekend.
The trend of spreading the wealth among the barrel racers this season continued. While Texas cowgirl Tillar Murray dashed to the paywindow as the Wainwright winner ($5,599) for her first Canadian cash, it was her fellow Texan Jackie Ganter who managed to place at all three ($6,966) while Lynette Brodoway caught a pair of cheques ($3,184).
Manitoba-raised bareback rider Orin Larsen continues his winning ways south of the border, placing in both rounds and the finals at Reno, to make another $5,669 deposit in his NFR drive account, and move him back inside the top 15 at 14th overall. In the saddle bronc riding, Zeke Thurston made it to the Reno finals as well, for a $4,852 hit. He’s now 2nd for the world, but still needs some big wins to catch runaway leader Jacobs Crawley. Jordan Hansen qualified for the bull riding finals, where there were no qualified rides, but he still picks up $2,034 altogether, and now sits 20th in the world racer. Roper Logan Hofer got some go-round money ($2,649) while team ropers Riley Wilson and Clay Ullery earned $3047 in the second round, plus another $2,709 from Prineville, OR. There were also small cheques for Luke Creasy from Pecos, TX and Clay Elliott (8th in world) in Clear Lake, SD.
The prestigious Thomson family memorial spurs for the All Around honors at the Sundre Rodeo went to Brendan Laye, who placed in the steer wrestling, but also competed in the saddle bronc riding.
Good to see a couple of Canada’s best bareback riders off the injured list and getting back to form. Colin Adams has been out for close to a year, but came back to win High River, while Clint Laye found the paywindow at Sundre.
The fastest team roping time of the year so far came from a couple of ‘next gen’ ropers. There were some proud poppas when the Kasper Roy and Trey Gallais notched their first win, in just 3.8 seconds at Sundre.
Speaking of happy dads, eight-time Canadian champ Rod Hay was bursting a few buttons when son Dawson, riding on his permit, rode Calgary’s Youthful Dancer for 83 points in the open division, to finish second among the big guns.
Plenty of encouraging news about the future of rodeo if you look down the contestant’s list for the Junior Division National High School Finals Rodeo, which wrapped up in Lebanon, TN on the weekend. Lots of familiar rodeo family names were in the competition, like Skocdopole, Pollitt, Ross, Schimdt, and Quam, to name just a few. While there were plenty of impressive results among the Canadian contingent, one young cowgirl went all the way to the top of the world. Winning the Girls Goat Tying Championship was Kyla Kelly of Innisfail, with a time of just 7.48 seconds in the final. She brings home plenty of hardware for the win. Congrats Kyla!
The 81st Ponoka Stampede headlines the official Cowboy Christmas run, with seven days of action. But there’s also the Williams Lake Stampede, and it, too, is a Canadian Pro Rodeo Tour stop. The Airdrie Pro Rodeo rounds out the stops celebrating around Canada Day, with many contestants also trying to work in U.S. rodeos in places like Greeley, CO, Prescott, AZ, Cody, WY, and St. Paul, OR. Merry Cowboy Christmas!
PRCA QUOTE OF THE WEEK (June 20, 2017)
“What we do here is celebrate the heritage tradition of Alberta in the rodeo sense. It’s a cowboy’s rodeo and we’ve always kept it that way.”
– Ponoka Stampede president Blair Vold said to the ProRodeo Sports News about the upcoming Ponoka (Alberta) Stampede, June 27-July 3.
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