Canadian Pro Rodeo’s all-British Columbia weekend was, as it usually is, a game-changer.
Cowboys and cowgirls made the most of the four critical stops on the CPRA calendar to mount late-season charges at those important twelve spots at the top of the season standings-board that determine berths at the Canadian Finals Rodeo—now just nine weeks away—as well as the top fifteen world placings for the NFR in December.
Highlighting the weekend was the crowning of the 2023 SMS Equipment Pro Tour Champions after a dramatic tour finale in Armstrong, BC. The finale came on the heels of the final SMS Tour stop at the IPE and Stampede. One of those Champions, 2019 Canadian Bull Riding titleist, Edgar Durazo, summarized what this Tour title means to him.
“This win is always going to be there,” Durazo noted, the Mexican-born cowboy’s trademark grin firmly in place. “Nobody can ever take it away from me. The tour is great and winning the big money tour rodeos, that’s what gets you to the championship, but it’s not just the money. In the end, rodeos like this give me that good feeling inside. They own my heart—I feel it every time I come to arenas like this one to be part of the sport I love.”
The SMS Equipment Pro Tour spanned the CPRA season with sixteen high profile Tour Rodeos across western Canada.
Overall 2023 SMS Equipment Pro Tour Champions include: Lynette Brodoway (ladies barrel racing); Clint Laye (bareback riding); Tim Kemp (steer wrestling); Jesse Popescul (tie-down roping); Layton Green (saddle bronc riding); Brady Tryan (team roping header); Jeremy Buhler (team roping heeler); Shaya Biever (ladies breakaway roping) and Edgar Durazo (bull riding)
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It’s been an eventful couple of weeks ago for Ponoka bareback rider Dantan Bertsch. First, he and partner, Jenny, welcomed their first child, Brawley, into the world. Then the CFR veteran went to work to take care of the concerning 11th place position–barely inside the twelve-man cutoff for a return trip to Red Deer’s CFR slated for November 1 to 5. A two-win weekend pretty much took care of that problem. Bertsch who missed a bunch of time earlier in the season with a broken leg, suffered in June that kept him on the sidelines until August, brought the A-game to Canada’s westernmost province. After a solid 86.5 first place effort on Macza’s 231 Black Betty at Merritt’s Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo, good for $1583, Bertsch added a ¾ split at Armstrong for $1784. But the capper was the 29 year-old’s brilliant 88.5 point effort on Duane Kesler Championship Rodeo’s
68 Knock Out and whopping $5354 payoff, making it an $8721 trip west that virtually punched his ticket to CFR 2023.
“I had a good start to the season, but I’ve had to fight hard since my return to get back to the Finals,” Bertsch acknowledged. “But with this weekend I definitely feel like I’m back.” And yet all the wins and all the money don’t hold a candle to being a first-timer dad. “He’s the highlight of the season for sure,” the six time CFR qualifier grinned. “Makes it hard to leave home.”
Texas cowgirl Sissy Winn made the most of her trip to the northwest as she captured the title at the lucrative Valley West Stampede in Langley, BC topping a strong international field with a 15.55 second run for $6001, then splitting the win at Armstrong with Idaho’s Rachelle Riggers, both women earning $3635 for identical 15.68 second runs. The dual successes were huge for Winn as she sat 17th in the world standings heading into the weekend – less that $3000 out of a top fifteen placing that qualifies rodeo athletes for the coveted trip to Las Vegas for the NFR.
Ontario steer wrestler Tim Kemp will be adding more frequent flyer points over the remaining weeks of the Canadian rodeo schedule courtesy of his strong showing at Armstrong. The Kincardine bulldogger who commutes almost weekly to compete at Canadian rodeos had a solid placing in the IPE and Stampede prelude to the tour finale, then won the Finals with a 3.5 second run to carry him to the Tour title and add a combined and a much needed $4000 cash injection to propel the two-time CFR qualifier into the conversation for a third trip to Red Deer. As is often the case, the battle for CFR spots in steer wrestling will go right down to the wire with at least 17 or 18 guys still in contention.
Another big move was the one made by bronc rider Kole Ashbacher. The Arrowwood. AB talent who has been runner-up for the Canadian title the last two years put together a magnificent 90.5-point ride on Duane Kesler Championship Rodeo’s superstar horse, Double Red. Ashbacher was on the bubble in 12th spot in the Canadian standings heading into Labour Day weekend action, but his $5866 Langley payday will vault him well up in the standings as the stretch run to the 2023 season looms.
And the beat goes on for the bull rider who is redefining the word consistency. Camrose, Alberta’s Coy Robbins added a couple more wins to a season that had him atop the standings before the weekend. Factor in a big time 89.5 point ride at Langley on the Kesler bull, 826 Fallen Angel, that netted a tidy $5448 for the Camrose superstar and a split of 1st at the SMS Tour finale (with Jacob Gardner)—this time an 87 pointer on the Calgary Stampede bull 817 Cheap Thrills for $2730 and, just for good measure a 4th place cheque at Armstrong for $1680 and $256 for a split of 6th at Merritt. It’s called four for four; it’s also called a north of $10,000 for three days work and what you have is a guy who is starting to put serious distance between himself and the rest of the bull riding fraternity.
Check for complete unofficial weekend results at rodeocanada.com
With only a few rodeos remaining in the CPRA regular season, next weekend’s action will include the Coronation Pro Rodeo Sept 8-9 and the Medicine Lodge Fall Round-Up Sept 8.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alta. is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 + events annually with a total payout exceeding $6 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finale each fall in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event–the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR)–at Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alta. in early November and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Sask.
For details, please see RodeoCanada.com
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