After a double-header day of rodeo at Rexall Place, the championship races have been narrowed down at the Canadian Finals. A couple have even been determined.
Curtis Cassidy has sewed up his second steer wrestling title, after placing second in both rounds four and five. He was 3.9 seconds in the afternoon, and 4.0 flat Saturday evening. The Donalda cowboy has earned more than $31,000 in that event alone this week, nearly doubling his season’s tally. That stands at $64,494, and is $26,000 ahead of second place Matt Reeves. Add to that, the fact Cassidy is way out in front in the average, and he has a shot at another $21,000 Sunday. And no one can touch the talented 32-year-old in the High-Point race, so he’ll clinch that honor for the seventh time. Sunday will be a golden day for Curtis Cassidy.
In the bull riding, Jesse Torkelson of Warburg came in with a sizeable lead, and he’s ridden with the confidence of a champion all week long. He won a pair of go-round buckles Saturday, pushing his CFR earnings to $32,369. His season winnings are now at $72,138, and that’s far enough out in front he’s uncatchable as well.
“I’ve been drawing the best bulls in every performance,” said the new dad, after his round four bull. But he came to Edmonton determined to ride like he knew he could, and it’s paid off.
Meantime Luke Butterfield’s hard fought, pain fraught week in the saddle bronc riding had more ups and downs. The Ponoka cowboy was 81 points on Xploding Rocket in the afternoon, to finish third and help his position at the top of the heap. But in the evening round, his encounter with Reveen didn’t last two jumps, and he came down hard. He lay in the dirt in pain, and needed to be helped out of the arena. His chance of a championship dimmed, but the race remains wide open with contenders like season leader Dustin Flundra, and average leader Kyle Thomson. Also, North Dakota’s Shaun Stroh jumped into the fray by winning both Saturday rounds, and bumping his CFR earnings over $25,000.
In the bareback riding, it’s Dusty LaValley in the driver’s seat. He took first Saturday night with an 84.50 on Dusty Dan, as well as a fourth place in the afternoon. He’s now sitting at $62,165 compared to the season tally of Kyle Bowers at $51,075. But LaValley is leading the average.
Tie-down roping still sees Texan Tuf Cooper the man to beat, but Al Bouchard is doing his best to catch him. The defending champion won the afternoon round, and finished second Saturday night. He’s just four thousand behind Cooper, however the young gun is leading the average, so that one will be a shootout this afternoon.
Rana Koopmans of Lethbridge made a big run Saturday night, advancing her barrel racing championship dreams. She won the evening round in 14.53 seconds, but split second in the afternoon. She’s placed in every round at the CFR, and has won more here than all season, collecting $31,816. She’s leading the average as well as the season race, so all she needs is a clean run today to earn her first Canadian honor.
The team roping is the one event where nearly all the contenders are still in the hunt, and the champion header and heeler may not necessarily come from the same team. The leading header is Chase Simpson, while the leading heeler is Bashaw’s Klay White. But Ponoka’s Kenton Fawcett and Riley Wilson of Cardston are the only duo to have five clean runs, so can cash in on the average.
The novice titles were finalized Saturday night. Manitoba’s Colin Adams won his second straight novice bareback title, capping it off with an impressive 84 point ride Saturday night. Hardisty’s Coleman Watt also won the final round in his event, novice bronc riding, as he clinched his first title. Bryce West of Cadogan came in with a big lead in the steer riding, and won a round and took second in another to close the door and collect his Canadian buckle.
Saturday’s attendance at the CFR hit 16,738. Today’s final performance goes at 1 p.m. at Rexall Place.
Dianne Finstad is a regular contributor to the Red Deer Advocate and is the agriculture/rodeo director for Newcap Radio/CKGY/CIZZ FM in Red Deer.