Ponoka well represented at Canadian Finals Rodeo

Over the past year cowboys and girls have given it their all, through the good, the bad and the muddy.

Over the past year cowboys and girls have given it their all, through the good, the bad and the muddy. Each ride was a fraction leading to one event; the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Luke Butterfield, who, in early October, won the championship round in saddle bronc riding at the All American Pro Rodeo Finals in Waco, Texas; Jake Vold, Tyler Pankewitz, Trygve Pugh, Cranna Roberts, Klay Whyte, Levi Simpson and Jordan Dodds are Ponoka’s qualifiers for the CFR, held in Edmonton Nov. 7 to 11.

“To me, it’s pretty much the most important thing for me to finish my year off,” said Vold, a bareback rider. “It’s how I make my living.”

“It’s very important. It’s every cowboy’s goal to make it to the CFR at the end of the year,” added Whyte.

“It’s always important; there’s a lot of money to be won,” said Pugh.

Whyte, a team roping heeler, said heading into the CFR there isn’t anything to do but practice and prepare. “Make sure your horse is prepared.”

Besides going to the rodeo to win the championship title, Whyte wants just to have clean runs. “Try not to make too many mistakes but at the same time you’ve got to rope aggressively.”

Whyte says he didn’t finish the year well but roped strongly in Ponoka and Strathmore rodeos. “It seemed like we roped in mud 50 per cent of the rodeos. It was a wet year.”

The livestock was another challenge for the cowboy. “We drew a couple of stoppers and a couple that went left really hard,” said Whyte.

However, previous setbacks aren’t dampening Whyte’s spirits for another trip to the CFR, the roper also attended in 2010. “I’m just really looking forward to going again this year.”

Whyte will rope with partner Jeff Robson in his first time at the CFR as a header.

Pugh, a steer wrestler, is also looking forward to the CFR despite setbacks. “This is the lowest I’ve ever been going into the finals, 11th.” He’s normally closer to sixth place.

However, he’s only one round behind first place. “This year I’m really concentrating. I want to be in the top five.”

Pugh wants to do well at the CFR to win money for winter rodeos and qualify for the Calgary Stampede next year.

Like most cowboys heading to the CFR, Vold has one goal in mind — a title win. “You just got to keep your head up and your eye on the prize.”

The prize however can be hard to follow when it comes to the livestock. “You can’t (have a strategy). It’s animals, you never know what they’re going to do.”

This statement holds especially true for Pankewitz, a bull rider, who was thrown a couple of months ago and lacerated his spleen.

“I got thrown off pretty hard.” Pankewitz said it wasn’t until a half hour after the fall that he realized something was wrong.

By press time Pankewitz hadn’t been back to the doctors to see if he could ride and start working out for the CFR.

Although the injury won’t leave him much time to prepare, he’s not overly concerned. “It’s mostly a mental game, but it definitely helps to be in shape.”

“It’s (the doctor’s visit) been stressing me for the last month. Hopefully they give me the OK.”

Pankewitz won a lot of smaller rodeos this year, including ones in La Crete, Bonnyville and Cochrane. “That was a pretty big win,” he added.

Like Vold, Whyte and Pugh, Pankewitz has already put the past in the past and is focusing only on the CFR. “You’ve got to remember the positive stuff and just forget the negative stuff,” he said.