Harden to get some hard earned recognition

There’s still a mountain to climb, but a handful of local pro rodeo competitors have scaled some pretty big hills already. This is Canadian Finals Rodeo week, with the season’s rich playoff time set to get underway on Wednesday at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Only those who are among the top 12 money earners in each of the rodeo events get a shot at the $1.589 million up for grabs. So to get to the CFR is always job one.

There’s still a mountain to climb, but a handful of local pro rodeo competitors have scaled some pretty big hills already.

This is Canadian Finals Rodeo week, with the season’s rich playoff time set to get underway on Wednesday at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Only those who are among the top 12 money earners in each of the rodeo events get a shot at the $1.589 million up for grabs. So to get to the CFR is always job one.

Tonight, the contestants who did that by excelling at rodeos in Alberta are being honored in Red Deer. One of the happiest will undoubtedly be Big Valley’s Josh Harden.

The hard-working family man rides saddle broncs and does steer wrestling. As the season’s end approached he was at various times poised to be in Edmonton in both … or heartbreakingly outside the qualifiers in either. It came right down to the very last event of the year – the Cinch Pro Rodeo Series Finals in Calgary. The 33-year-old cowboy managed to win enough there to clinch a spot for Edmonton in the bronc riding, finishing the season in 11th spot, with $13,209. Along the way, he won the Alberta circuit All Around honors, and will receive a bronze for that during tonight’s festivities at Billy Bob’s. He also goes into Edmonton as the leader in the race to the national All Around title, with $24,668, compared to the $19,030 posted by defending Champion Ky Marshall of Bowden.

All year long, Harden kept his nose to the grindstone, focused on the next horse or steer he had to deal with, not looking at his standings or what he needed to win. It was a strategy that seemed to pay off, or at least kept Harden’s nerves intact.

“All I knew was I’ve got to keep winning, keep plucking away, and it will take care of itself at the end,” said Harden.

That’s what played out, giving Harden his first trip to Edmonton as a full-fledged pro.

“This is my best season ever in both events. I won over $10,000 in each of them. It was a fun year.”

And there’s more fun to come! In his event, Harden will be riding alongside the Alberta circuit saddle bronc winner, Cody DeMoss. The Louisiana cowboy has posted a phenomenal season, sitting first in both the Canadian and World standings. He cashed in big in Alberta at places like Ponoka, Airdrie and Wainwright. It will be the debut for the veteran at the CFR.

But right behind him in the Canadian race is perennial favorite Jim Berry. The cowboy from Rocky Mountain House will be accepting the buckle tonight for winning the Duane Daines Saddle Bronc Series for a fourth time in his career, which he calls a special honor.

“I’ve always been close to the Daines family. To be able to win that (award) means you’ve been consistent, and have ridden most of the horses you’ve got on,” noted Berry.

This season, he collected $26,000 on his way to an eighth CFR. He travelled to 40 rodeos, and picked up a cheque at well over half of them.

“At the beginning of the year, you make some checklists,” revealed the 33-year-old. “First of all, you want to make Edmonton, and then be as high as you can going in there. So it was mission accomplished. I think there were only about two weekends when I was shut out. I drew really good most of the year.”

Another cowboy with strong local roots winning an Alberta bronze tonight is Jake Vold. The Ponoka-raised bareback rider scooped up an astonishing $48,994 as he topped the Canadian season for a second year in a row. The near record earnings came despite a slow start to the season.

“Last year was the dream year for me that I’d been waiting for, and it finally came. I wanted to repeat it more than once. I’d worked hard at it over the winter,” recalled Vold, who’s making his 6th trip to the CFR.

But the winter was ‘cold’ and as expenses outpaced winnings, Vold’s business-like approach to his sport dictated some time off at home in Airdrie to re-focus.

“It’s hard to keep a positive outlook. But it always turns around. You’ve just got to be able to fight through it and be excited to get in the truck.”

Vold credits travelling partners Kevin Langevin and Colin Adams for making the rest of the year a positive, even though he didn’t quite make it back to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. But he’s got a big $22,000 edge over the rest of the field heading into Edmonton, and has every intention of winning back to back titles.

Other Alberta circuit winners picking up bronzes tonight include Saskatchewan’s Dakota Buttar in the bull riding; steer wrestler Scott Guenthner of Consort; Utah’s Rhen Richard in the tie-down roping; Taber’s Nancy Csabay in the barrel racing; and brothers Justin and Brett McCarroll of Camrose in the team roping. For the novice events, the Alberta honors go to Wyatt Gleeson of Sundre in the bareback riding; Lane Cust of Bluffton in the saddle bronc; and Owen Berreth of Airdrie in steer riding.

The festivities of the CFR kick off Wednesday evening in Edmonton, and there are plenty of central Alberta competitors to keep your eyes on.

Rookie sensation Zeke Thurston of Big Valley is bound to turn in some spectacular bronc rides, while Ponoka’s Zane Lambert is always a good bet in bull riding. Rimbey’s Dean Edge posted one of his best seasons ever in roping, and his great horse Sid received the nod as tie-down roping horse of the year for a record seventh time.

Both Cody and Curtis Cassidy are always a force to be reckoned with in steer wrestling, while Big Valley’s Kirsty White knows the winning feeling at Rexall Place in the barrel racing. Brett Buss of Ponoka, with his partner Klay Whyte of Airdrie lead the way in the team roping race heading into the week.

The first of the six CFR performances in Edmonton goes Wednesday at 7:30 pm. Tonight’s Alberta awards presentation runs from 6-8 pm at Billy Bob’s in Red Deer.

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read