Central Alberta cowboys hit the jackpot during the first performance of the 43rd Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton. Rocky Mountain House cowboy Jim Berry survived the eliminator pen of saddle broncs, taking first place for an 84 point ride on a horse called Rock Star.
“It was the horse I didn’t really want in that pen,” admitted the veteran competitor, at his 8th CFR. “That horse had me in a lot of trouble there in the middle, and I was lucky it worked out that way.”
“I just had to stick to the basics — the basics will get you through most everything.”
Berry takes home $12,324 for the victory, along with a go-round buckle. That helps negate the pain of a nagging knee injury causing Berry a little grief.
“I feel really good. Anytime you can get a cheque it’s a good thing, especially the first night.”
In a tight race to the Canadian saddle bronc championship, the win gives Berry the overall lead now with $39,482, bumping back season leader Dustin Flundra to second place.
Defending Canadian bareback champion Jake Vold, who grew up in Ponoka, continued his winning ways at Northlands Coliseum. He took home first place Wednesday night, after marking 84.25 on Garden Party. Despite confessing to feeling nervous all day, Vold took full advantage of the horse he’d won on before, at a rodeo in Teepee Creek. Vold moved up to second in the Canadian standings, with the $12,324 boost. But season leader Caleb Bennett of Utah tied for second on the night and holds on to first overall.
Ponoka’s Levi Simpson and his partner Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood were lightning fast in the team roping, wrapping up their job in 4.5 seconds, to collect the first place payday of $6356 each.
“That felt outstanding,” stated Simpson. “You always come here with a game plan to start out strong. To be able to make a good run on the first one, and have a good start in this field of ropers today is pretty cool.”
“The steer got a good start out there in front of me, but I was able to get him roped pretty good and let Jeremy do what he does so we could finish the run.”
Simpson and Buhler came into Edmonton in fifth place, but with the Wednesday win, they’re already closing in on season leaders Klay White and Brett Buss, who’s also from Ponoka.
Al Bouchard tied up his share of cash in 7.7 seconds to be fast man of the tie-down roping, and that moved the Scandia cowboy at his 16th CFR to first overall in the standings. Tanner Milan of Cochrane started his week with a victory in the steer wrestling with a 3.6 second run, and the $12,324 moved him closer to season frontrunner Cody Cassidy of Donalda, who managed to split third place in the round, for $3371. Ponoka’s Brock Butterfield finished second, with a 3.8 second run, and he collected $9164.
Callahan Crossley of Oregon took first in barrel racing with a 14.645 second run, and she’s now the overall leader. Lonnie West of Cadogan topped the bull riding with an 87.5 on Bombshell.
But season leader Dakota Buttar of Saskatchewan was just a half point behind, so took second place cash, and he hangs on the championship lead.
The Canadian Finals Rodeo continues tonight at 7:30 at Northlands Coliseum.