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Saddle bronc riders steal the show at Canadian Finals Rodeo

Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston leads aggregate
Ponoka’s Shelby Spielman finished first on day three of ladies barrels at the Canadian Finals Rodeo Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

A near-packed Peavey Mart Centrium on Friday night was treated to a phenomenal show at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) highlighted by a close competition among the saddle bronc competitors.

They were led by Arrowwood’s Kole Ashbacher and Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston who was tied for first with a mind-blowing score of 91.75 in saddle bronc after day three of the CFR. It also launched the pair into the number one and two spots in the aggregate with two more days of competition.

Thurston, who drew Calgary Stampede Tokyo Bubbles for the first time in his career seemed to pay off as he had his best run thus far at the CFR.

“That horse and me our careers pretty well started at the same time… Never drawn her until today and I’ve been looking forward to that one. She was awesome,” Thurston said.

Despite moving into first place in the aggregate, the Big Valley native said he doesn’t pay attention to it and is focused on one ride at a time.

“There were 12 guys out today and had nine outstanding rides. I mean that’s pretty impressive you’d be hard-pressed to go anywhere and find bronc riding that good,” Thurston said.

His secret to staying healthy throughout the long rodeo season Thurston explained is to just simply to take care of yourself. Thurston added the industry is different than it used to be as they work out, train, and are specialized in their event.

“You’ve got to do that to stay current. Eat clean, take care of yourself, and you know enjoy the ride too. You’ve just got to get good guys to go with, have fun and hopefully you draw good and win money,” he said.

In light of the elite competition, Friday night it has also been a great year overall for the saddle bronc riders in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association as six Canadian saddle bronc riders including Thurston and Ashbacher will head to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) for the first time in history.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Thurston said. “It’s something the whole country can be proud of and I’m excited to see what we can get done.”

Thurston has two world NFR titles to his name and will be after his third if he can compete at a high level. Before he heads there he still has a job to do in Red Deer and has placed himself in a good position with two days remaining.

Day three results are listed as follows:

Saddle bronc: 1) Kole Ashbacher and Zeke Thurston 91.75 3) Layton Green 89.00

Novice saddle bronc: 1) Tyrel Roberts 75.00 2) Jaret Cooper 66.50

Novice bareback: 1) Blake Link 75.50 2) Jackson Stannard 65.75

Bareback: 1) Jones Strawbs 89.75 2) Caleb Bennett 88.75 3) Ty Taypotat 87.50

Team roping: 1) Dawson Graham 4.3 2) Levi Simpson 4.5 3) Logan Bonnett 5.0

Steer riding: 1) Glen Erickson 76.50 2) Nash Loewen 72.75 3) Lucas Ozirney 68.25

Ladies barrels: 1) Shelby Spielman 13.88 2) Bertina Olafson 13.90 3) Taylor Manning 13.92

Steer wrestling: 1) Tanner Milan 3.9 2) Jonny Webb 4.0 3) Scott Guenther and Ryan Shuckburgh 4.1

Tie-down roping: 1) Wyatt Hayes 8.0 2) Kyle Lucas 8.2 3) Ty Harris and Riley Warren 8.3

Bullriding: 1) Jordan Hansen 89.75 2) Dakota Buttar 88.00 3) Coy Robbins 86.50

Red Deer County’s Jackson Stannard competed in the novice bareback competition at the Canadian Finals Rodeo Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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