The legacies of some prominent rodeo families deepened at the 43rd edition of the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which wrapped up Sunday at Northlands Coliseum.
Make it 11 steer wrestling championships for the Cassidy clan now. Cody Cassidy came into Edmonton as the defending champ and season leader.
He capitalized on the CFR cash opportunities, placing in every round but one, to ride off with his fifth Canadian gold buckle. That gives him one more than his father Greg, and ties him with Lee Graves.
“All I can say is it’s been an absolutely perfect season,” marvelled the 35-year-old, who lives near the family ranch at Donalda. “I won everything that I wanted to win. The stars were aligned, and it was absolutely perfect.”
Cassidy was in the driver’s seat heading into Sunday’s final round. But he didn’t let up on the gas pedal, throwing his last steer down in 4.3 seconds, to place third in the round, along with winning first in the average, for a $44,453 week, to put a wrap on his $79,371 season.
“I was probably a little more calm today, coming into the last day knowing what I had to do than with the previous four. You’re still playing a million different scenarios through your mind. But I just kept picturing myself being on top at the end of it, visualizing ending up first, and I think that’s just as important as being able to go out there and do the job. It’s having faith in yourself that you can get the job done.”
“I’m not stopping anytime soon. I think I work harder at it now than I ever have. The results are speaking for themselves. I’m going to stay going to the gym, working as hard as I can at it. Ultimately my goal is to end up first every year. I’m a Canadian cowboy, so I concentrate on Canadian rodeos, and they’ve been great to me, so that’s my number one goal, is to be first for at least a few more times.”
Cody’s older brother Curtis, who has two steer wrestling buckles of his own, was hot on his heels and ended up second overall, winning $30,337 at Edmonton, for a $56,957 season.
In the bareback riding, Jake Vold continued his domination, capturing his third straight Canadian championship, a feat that hasn’t been done since the early 1970’s. Vold, from the famous Ponoka rodeo family bloodline, finished his week with a bang, riding Reckless Margie to 87.50 points to win the round, the average and the most money of any CFR contestant at a whopping $62,886. His season tally came in at $91,468.
“I kept my eye on the prize,” said Vold. “I felt good coming in. I felt in shape and ready to go. It was a little different this year, coming in behind. And I knew Caleb (Bennett) was going to be hard to catch, but I guess it was meant to be, and it worked out in my favor.”
For the first time since 1958, another familiar Ponoka rodeo family will be represented on the prestigious All-Around trophy, which honours efforts at both ends of the arena. Luke Butterfield won the award, after collecting $27,177 for his bronc riding efforts in Edmonton.
“It’s been a goal of mine, and I’m really happy, and grateful for it,” stated Butterfield. “It’s a tough award to win, especially now with everybody so specialized in their events. It’s not easy.”
Clay Elliott of Nanton became the Canadian Saddle Bronc champion after winning two go-rounds, and taking second in two others, in his first appearance as a full-fledged pro. With $42,978 earned at CFR, and his season total of $70,686, he edged out Rocky’s Jim Berry, who finished second overall with $51,274. Berry picked up more than $24,000 for his week’s work.
Jordan Hansen of Calgary rode five of his six bulls on the way to his first Canadian bull riding buckle, which was an amazing feat since he’d been sidelined with a badly broken ankle since July, and hadn’t been on a bull since. Hansen’s CFR bank account showed $39,501, for a season total of $78,186. Like Vold and Cassidy, the 2015 barrel racing champion managed to defend her title. Taber’s Nancy Csabay and her horse Wicked raced away with $54,670 by placing every night and winning the average, for a $72,011 season. The tie-down roping buckle went to Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa, who won $47,402 in Edmonton, to jump ahead of season leader Al Bouchard of Scandia by $4000 in the overall race. The team roping titles this year went to Dustin Bird of MT as the header and Russell Cardoza of OR as the heeler. Morgan Grant, who now lives in Didsbury, earned the High Point Championship. Top stock of the CFR was Vold Rodeo for the bull VJV Nailed; C5 Rodeo for the bareback horse Virgil; and Calgary Stampede for the saddle bronc Wild Cherry. Tanner Young of Sylvan Lake became the novice bareback riding champion, with Kolby Wanchuk of Sherwood Park taking novice saddle bronc riding and Dixon Tattrie of Youngstown the steer riding title. Northlands officials say attendance over the six performances of this year’s CFR was 87,394.