Red Deer’s Peavey Mart Centrium erupted today when Big Valley, Alta superstar bronc rider, Zeke Thurston clinched his record fourth consecutive saddle bronc riding title.
Despite bucking off his first bronc of the five-day Finals, Thurston wasted no time righting the ship, as he won the next three go-rounds. And today was vintage Zeke Thurston as the second-generation talent split the win with an 88.25 point ride on the Calgary Stampede’s T-26 Tokyo Bubbles. The Champion ended the week with $89,186 for a $38,000 margin of victory over second place cowboy, Ben Andersen.
For Thurston, winning the Canadian title never gets old. “I’m as excited to win this one as I was the first one,” he acknowledged. “I think I’m kind of wired that way. I demand excellence in myself and I want it really bad. I work really hard at it and I guess I believe I was made to be a champion. I think I’ve got some good years left in me and I plan to use ‘em up.”
Wildwood, Alberta’s Logan Hay was the Aggregate Champion with a 515.5 points for his six rides.
Five records fell as a result of the brilliant week enjoyed by team ropers Brady Tryan and Calgary Smith. The duo, from Huntley, Montana and Adams, Oregon respectively, went on a remarkable run at CFR ’49 winning the last four rounds in succession (a new record) and placing second in the other two. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, they had accumulated $62,837 each in CFR earnings and $91,493 in season earnings to easily eclipse both previous records. Their remarkable aggregate time of 24.3 seconds for six runs was also a record. (held previously by Travis Gallais/Rocky Dallyn – 31.3 seconds in 2005)
And it appeared that the two ropers enjoyed their outstanding week as much as the appreciative Red Deer crowds did.
“If this isn’t fun, I don’t know what is,” Tryan acknowledged. And in noting that his wife, then Callahan Crossley, won the Canadian Barrel Racing Championship in 2018, he added that she too had four wins and two second-place finishes en route to her Canadian title. “We’ll get to put our (championship) saddles next to each other and that’s pretty cool.”
For Smith, the whole CFR experience was somewhat surreal. He had never had a run under four seconds and he had two here, a 3.5 on Friday night to set a third new CFR record (this one shared with Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler) and a 3.9 today.
“I’d never left my own local circuit before this year. But having a chance to rope with Brady and to travel up here to Canada and then make the finals here, that was great. And then to win it, that’s huge.”
The Smith victory celebrations quickly won over the CFR crowds, even those who hadn’t heard of Calgary Smith before this week. They certainly have heard of the 2023 Canadian Team Roping champions now.
Another of the more dramatic moments on Championship Sunday at CFR ’49 occurred in the Ladies Barrel Racing. Brooks, Alta’s Lynette Brodoway earned her first Canadian title but it came down to the final run to get it done. A tipped barrel in round four set the season leader back in the aggregate and despite placing in four of six rounds, Brodoway and her Horse of the Year, SR Boots On Fire or Cowboy, had to bring their A game.
“I just tried to ride Cowboy to the best of my ability and let him do his job,” said the happy cowgirl. “His best run of the whole week was today.”
The pair clocked a 13.61 from the top of the ground to earn the second place cheque and move up a notch in the aggregate. With a total of $72.831, the six time CFR qualifier was declared the Champion.
Brodoway looked back on part of the journey that led to today. “Two years ago I came into the final day of CFR in the exact same position with Justine Elliott behind me and I hit a barrel. This is the rewarding part right here. I’m not a spring chicken and I want to tell those out there that you’re never too old. I have an amazing support team and Cowboy does too. It’s a victory for all of us.”
CFR rookie, Karli Cowie from Mankota, Sask placed well throughout the Finals, won the last round and the Aggregate (82.82 seconds on six runs), finishing in the reserve position with $59,475, just over $600 ahead of defending Champion Taylor Manning.
Steer wrestler Scott Guenthner enjoyed a solid week at CFR, with two round wins, two seconds and a fourth, along with a second place finish in the aggregate for an impressive $73,326 in earnings en route to his fourth Canadian title. The likeable Provost, Alta rancher and family man credited consistency throughout the week and dependable horse power (he was mounted on Curtis Cassidy’s award-winning Tyson) as contributing factors to his success. Season leader, Dalton Massey from Hermiston, OR finished in the reserve position while Wainwright bull dogger, Ty Miller, won the Aggregate title (26.0 seconds even on six runs).
In 2019, a rookie roper named Haven Meged came to his first CFR. He rode out of Red Deer having finished second to four-time champion Shane Hanchey. Meged then went on to with the World title that same year but admitted that he’d always had a dream of winning that Canadian title that had narrowly eluded his grasp.
That all changed this week as the Miles City, Montana hand checked that box too with a stellar six performance effort in Red Deer. Meged placed in every go-round, winning two of them along with the Aggregate title (53.8 seconds over six runs) and emerged with a comfortable overall win, including a $33,000 cushion over runner-up Kyle Lucas.
Cadogan, Alta bareback rider, Clint Laye won his second Canadian title as the thirty year-old (he’ll celebrate that birthday in three weeks) put together a week that saw him win two rounds and the Aggregate (516.5 points for six rides) and finish no worse than third in a round. Laye amassed $90,894 for a $16,000 margin of victory over second place finisher, Orin Hansen.
Another two-time Canadian champion was crowned when crowd-favourite, Edgar Durazo, claimed the winner’s saddle and buckle to go along with his 2019 title. The popular, Mexican-born Durazo went five for six for the week, winning two rounds including the final round. His five scores for the week were 89, 88, 87.5, 87 and 85.75, easily enabling him to take home the Aggregate honour (435.25 points on five rides) and $82,467 on the way to the Canadian win.
Of the 12 women vying for the Ladies Breakaway Roping title, it was Claresholm, Alta cowgirl, Shaya Biever, who was named 2023 Champion and Aggregate winner (7.6 seconds on three runs) after three rounds of competition. The two time CFR qualifier posted a 2.5, a 2.3 and a 2.8 to earn almost $14,000 at CFR and $32,444 overall. Season leader, Aubrey Ross finished in the reserve position, just $2000 behind Biever.
Logan Spady was named the All Around Champion. The tie-down roper/team roping heeler clinched the title with his Sunday performance at CFR – a 4.6 second run with partner Kolton Schmidt which netted the pair second in the round and second in the Aggregate.
Kyle Wanchuk captured the coveted Kenny McLean award with his regular season success in both team roping heeling (with partner Luke Skocdopole) and saddle bronc riding. This is the second year the award has been presented.
Stock of the Canadian Finals Rodeo:
Bareback: 118 OLS Tubs Stevie Knicks – Macza Pro Rodeo
Saddle Bronc: W-16 Wild Cherry – Calgary Stampede
Bull: 88 Blue Magic – Outlaw Buckers
Hayden Mulvey was declared the 2023 Canadian Junior Steer Riding Champion at the Saturday matinee performance with $7763 in earnings, $330 more than second place finisher Joseph Vansandt who won the Aggregate. Janet Cooper from Vernon, BC won the Novice Saddle Bronc Championship while Chetwynd, BC cowboy, Chase Siemens, earned the Novice Bareback titile.
The prestigious 2023 CPRA Cowboy of the Year award, sponsored by Legend Rodeo, was presented to Tanner Girletz – 2006 Canadian Bull Riding Champion, youth rodeo coach and CPRA Rodeo Administrator.
And Miss Ponoka Stampede, Kaylee Shantz, was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2024.
For complete Canadian Finals Rodeo results, go to rodeocanada.com
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.7 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finals each fall in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – at Westerner Park in Red Deer, AB in early November and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, SK. Follow the CPRA on Facebook and Instagram @prorodeocanadaofficial, on Twitter @prorodeocanada or online at RodeoCanada.com.