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All eyes in the pro rodeo world have been focused on the Calgary Stampede this week. Even though money earned there doesn’t count for the world or Canadian standings, it plays big in the bank account. So contestants at the Canadian Finals, National Finals and PBR Finals are always doing the calculations to ensure they’re finishing high enough to get the coveted Calgary invite.
As Pool A wrapped up Monday, a number of Canadians have sewed up an appearance in the Sunday Showdown action, by finishing among the top four money winners in their event.
Nanton’s Clay Elliott was the number one man in the bronc riding pool with $14,000 to show for it, after placing every day with flashy rides. Three-time Stampede winner Zeke Thurston was right behind him with $13,500. Canadian champion Layton Green finished in the crying hole and will have another chance on Wild Card Saturday, along with Sam Kelts and Justin Berg.
Clint Laye finished second in the bareback riding for Pool A, after racking up $13,000, including a winning ride of 88 points on Youngstown Rocket. Jake Vold was right behind him in the standings with his $10,000 tally. His highlight of his week was also an 88 point ride, on Calgary’s Welcome Delivery.
“This is awesome, exactly what I needed,” commented Vold, after the ride. “I still feel a little rusty in spots and at times,” admitted the Airdrie cowboy. “I was doing some equipment changes these last couple weeks, just trying to find my groove again. I’m still not right where I want to be, riding-wise. I still feel sloppy in spots but I’ll get it back. It’s coming.”
Vold did add to his world earnings with a second place tie in Oakley City, UT for $3097.
The lone Canadian to get the Pool A bye in steer wrestling is Cody Cassidy, who finished with $9500. Brother Curtis Cassidy will have to get back to Sunday the long way, through Wild Card Saturday. That means he won’t be able to make his scheduled journey to Teepee Creek that day, but he did plan on still getting to Vernal, UT. Curtis did have some Cowboy Christmas success south of the line, picking up $5880 from St. Paul.
“I actually rode Bridger Chamber’s horse there, and it was the first time I’ve ever been on him,” said Cassidy. “I drew two good steers and Bridger’s horse worked really good for me. That was a really good hit towards the standings. I won like $1300 out of Greeley, and $500 out of Benalto, so it was about an $8000 ‘fourth’. I was really disappointed, hanging my head that I didn’t win more money but any other week of the year, if I won $8000 I’d be jumping through hoops,” he laughed.
A bulldogger who had a great ‘fourth’ was Scott Guenthner, who gained eleven spots on the world standings. He jumped all the way up to third, actually bumping back Cassidy to fourth. Guenthner got his money from Montana – Red Lodge ($2077) and Big Fork ($1636), to add to his big Ponoka bonus. He also placed at both of the weekend Canadian pro shows, Benalto ($752) and Coronation ($216). Guenthner is competing in Calgary in Pool B.
The other Canuck to advance from Pool A at the Calgary Stampede was a local newcomer. But Kyle Lucas, from Carstairs, is no stranger to the Stampede grounds, having come for many years as a kid with his father, the 1987 Stampede tie-down winner, Joe Lucas. So it was a rodeo he really wanted to be able to rope at.
“I’ve missed it by a couple spots twice now, and they actually invited me this year, so I was really thankful for that,” said Lucas. “I’m just happy that I’m not letting everyone down.”
“It’s my first time here, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to look at it as another rodeo and another opportunity. You’ve just got to do your job, is what it all comes down to.”
Lucas won $8500 over the four days at Calgary. He also picked up some go-round cash in St. Paul, OR ($2548) and split first at Benalto ($1374).
Back in Action
Canadian bull riding fans were excited to see Ponoka’s Jordan Hansen, back in action after two-and-a-half months on the injured list with fractured vertebrae and a fractured hip. But he proved ready to return, when he split a round at Calgary, marking 87 points on the Vold bull Blow Me Away.
“These last couple days, I felt pretty slow and weak, that’s for sure. I felt like I haven’t been on in a while,” said Hansen. “I’m sure glad I could turn it around today.”
“The hip has kind of been wrecked for some time,” added Hansen, who lives in Ponoka now. “They were worried about my back, more than anything, so just making sure I took enough time to make sure that healed up.”
A pair of rodeos with plenty of history were held on the weekend, the 101st Benalto Fair and Pro Rodeo, and the Coronation Pro Rodeo.
Luke Creasy topped the bareback riding at Benalto with an 83 on C5’s Cajun Man ($978) and he also placed at Coronation. Pascal Isabelle won that show and was second at Benalto. Dantan Bertsch and Dylan Bilton both got two cheques as well.
Dallas Frank and Brock Butterfield split first at Coronation in steer wrestling, pulling out $1140 apiece, while Joe Guze took the title at Benalto ($1384).
Rookies made a showing in the bronc riding. Dawson Hay had an outstanding 86.5 point ride on C5’s Oney in Benalto, while Dawson Dahm took Coronation ($827) with an 83 and got a bit more at Benalto ($153). Manitoba’s Tyrel Larsen placed at both, for $1048.
There’s no slow in the drive by Tristen Woolsey and Denver Johnson in the team roping. They were first in Coronation ($1072) and third in Benalto ($733).
A couple of barrel racers doubled up on the weekend run. Bertina Olafson was third in Benalto ($1223) and fifth in Coronation ($559), while Sydney Daines was second in Benalto ($1468) and caught last hole in Coronation ($168).
It was a tough weekend for bull riding, with only two qualified rides. Nobody made the whistle in Coronation, but Austin Nash won Benalto for $1525 with ground money, followed by Ty Ellis ($1248).
South of the 49th
One of the big winners from the tail end of Cowboy Christmas was B.C. bareback rider Gavin DeRose, who was 86 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off at the Cody Stampede, to win first and a whopping $10,223.
Clint Laye also placed there ($1363) and won second at Killdeer, ND ($3146). Livingston, MT was dominated by Canadian bareback riders, with Pascal Isabelle ($2781), Connor Hamilton ($1799), Orin Larsen ($1145) and Kody Lamb ($818) all placing. Hamilton also got fourth in Molalla, OR ($1078) and second in Red Lodge ($1920); while Larsen split third in Red Lodge ($1169) and Isabelle was second in Big Fork (987). Luke Creasy placed in Mandan, ND ($592)
Clay Elliott did well in the Christmas bonus department, cashing in at Cody, WY where he was fourth ($3185), Prescott, AZ ($816), Livingston ($772), and then a nice win at Red Lodge, where he was 89 on Satisfaction ($3036). The $7809 total keeps him solidly in tenth in the world standings. Fellow bronc rider Jake Watson placed at Cody ($1303); Kolby Wanchuk in Molalla ($846) and Big Fork ($423); Zeke Thurston in Red Lodge ($1509); and Dawson Hay there ($621) as well as Belle Fourche, SD ($188). Tyrel Larsen was third in Livingston ($2461), placed at Mandan ($879) and Drummond, MT ($451) but got his biggest hit from St. Paul, where he got a share of second place ($6665).
Steer wrestler Harley Cole also figured in the big Cody payout for a 4.5 second run ($1303), while Tanner Milan won Red Lodge in a rapid 3.3 seconds ($3036) and also placed in St. Paul, where he was 3.8 ($2653), adding in a little more from Big Fork ($1072). His brother, Straws Milan, also figured in St. Paul ($1147) with Joe Guze getting some cash in Big Fork ($649).
Kolton Schmidt and his team roping partner Cole Davison also had some Christmas success, in places like Belle Fourche ($1683 each); West Jordan ($1905) where they were 4.4; and best of all, St. Paul where they split first in the average ($5344 each). Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler also placed there ($753).
Rounding out the Canadian winners stateside, Erik Dublanko got some tie-down roping cash in Eugene, OR ($872) and Cranna Roberts in the barrel racing at St. Paul ($569).
On the Shelf
Tough news for bareback rider Kody Lamb. Despite winning some money in Livingstone, he suffered a season-ending injury. Lamb shared on Instagram that he needed surgery to replace a torn bicep, so now has to look forward to the 2019 season.
Canadian champion steer wrestler Jason Thomas is still trying to heal from his broken arm. He had hoped to take the spot he’d earned at Calgary, but after testing it a few times, made the tough decision to give it some more time. That opened the door for Trevor Knowles to come back to Cowtown. Bull rider Trey Benton was back on his bull rope at Ponoka, but his sore groin got the best of him again, and he, too, turned out of Calgary. That opened the door for Jared Parsonage to compete in Pool B.
The only Canadian pro rodeo on this weekend is the popular Teepee Creek Stampede, featuring three performances July 13-15.
And they’ll be handing out $1,018,800 in Calgary for Showdown Sunday of the Stampede.