Central Alberta team ropers went to the paywindow on the opening night of the 41st annual Canadian Finals Rodeo.
Defending champion heeler Tyrel Flewelling of Lacombe and his partner Roland McFadden came out and stuck their loop on a steer in five seconds flat to set the pace. Season leaders Levi Simpson of Ponoka and Ryon Tittel of Colorado were the last team with a chance to match the time. Simpson knew he had to put his head rope on a stronger steer, but calculated the opportunity with precision, and left Tittel to clean up the heels. They were able to wrap up in an identical five second time frame, so each of the four ropers collected $5148 for splitting first and second place. The money kept the Simpson/Tittel duo well out in front for the team roping race.
In several other events, it was mind over matter. 2013 bull riding winner Chad Besplug is walking around Rexall Place in an air cast, after breaking his leg in late August. He strapped on a specially made cast in an extra large boot Wednesday to get on board a bull called Red Stag. Not only did he make the whistle, but the aggressive ride was given 87 points by the judges. A few minutes later, season leader Dakota Buttar came out and bettered that with an 88.5 on Buffalo Chips, to win the $11,089 for first in the round, but Besplug picked up the $8781 for second place, to jump up into second for the Canadian standings as well.
In the steer wrestling, Cochrane’s Tanner Milan was walking around in the back of Rexall moments before the competition when he was kicked by a horse tied to a fence. The back hooves hit his knees and Milan could hardly walk. But he knew he’d drawn the steer he wanted, so he put the pain out of his mind, and got his steer turned over in 3.4 seconds to win the round.
The standings are close enough that the $11,809 he picked up for first gave him the overall Canadian lead. It bumped the season’s top man, Curtis Cassidy back, but Cassidy tied for fourth on the night with a four second run, so is keeping pace.
Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa felt he came up to Edmonton for his 4th CFR mentally prepared, and he’s pleased with how his horse Chuck has been working all season long in the tie-down roping. He was last man out, and made his first calf count, by tying it in 7.7 seconds, to pad his first place position for Canada, with a total of $37,204.
“I’ve missed being here,” said Shiozawa. “We had some kids and it was time to stay home for a bit, but I’m glad to be up here again. I’d forgotten how much fun this was.”
The top mark in the bareback riding came from Ty Taypotat of Regina, who spurred to an 84.75 on Sexy Bucks. He moved up the standings, but still has a long way to go to catch season leader Jake Vold. Bowden’s Ky Marshall was in the money, splitting third with a mark of 83.25, for a $4239 win.
The top dollars in the saddle bronc riding went to Nebraska’s Cort Scheer, for an 85.5 point performance on Calgary’s Tiger Warrior.
“I was a little nervous, I’ve got to say,” noted Scheer. “The horse really bucks. I knew I was going to have to pull my hat down for him. But you want to get on the best ones and he’s one of the best. I was pretty excited.”
“The horse had me nearly bucked off every jump, but I was lucky enough to stay on him.”
Scheer moves up, but Rylan Geiger remains the Canadian bronc riding leader.
She’s no stranger to picking up go-round buckles at Edmonton and four-time Canadian champion Lisa Lockhart did it again in the barrel racing, with a time of 14.764 seconds for first place. But she was more excited about the fact this was the first run back on her great horse Louie, who’d been off after surgery on an injury suffered in Houston back in March. Season leader Britany Diaz finished third in the round, to stay on top overall.
The best novice bareback ride of the night was a 73 from Buck Moen of Elrose, SK, while Keenan Reinhardt of Calgary took the novice saddle bronc riding with a 72.
There were only two of the steer riders to make the whistle and both Owen Berreth of Airdrie and Norman King of Wainwright were 75 points to share first.
The Canadian Finals Rodeo has its second performance this evening at 7:30 at Rexall Place.