This year’s Canadian Finals Rodeo came with a bit of drama for a pair of area competitors.
Ponoka bull rider Jordan Hansen and Bluffton barrel racer Stacy Ruzicka ended up within a horse hair, relatively speaking, of riding off as Canadian champions as the event entered its final day Nov. 3.
Hansen did all he could — winning the last round with an 89.75 score on Grey Tower and earning the bonus money as the aggregate winner. That gave him an overall total earnings of almost $99,400.
However, Edgar Durazo was able to hang on to his final bull for a score of 87, good enough for fourth on the night and just enough to give him second place in the aggregate.
That left Hansen on the outside by only $7,284.
“I did my part, but Edgar rode awesome all year and was the same during the CFR,” Hansen said following the final performance.
“My hat’s off to him. I stayed on top of all my bulls, so can’t ask for much more than that.”
The rest of Hansen’s CFR was nearly perfect, winning two rounds and finishing in the money three other times — a pair of seconds and a tie for fourth. The only blemish, and what may have cost him the title, was a ninth place on Oct. 30 when he got his only score below 80 at the event.
“It’s just the way the cards fell,” he stated, adding his scores got far better after the first two nights — including a 90.25 on Nov. 1.
“I felt the same pretty much all week. Not too much changed for me. I got some good draws, but what I think hurt was one of the bulls was a lot more sluggish that he usually is. So, I didn’t get a cheque that round, but it’s bull riding and that’s just how things worked.”
Regardless, Hansen was fairly pleased with his season, especially since he will be competing next month at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Ruzicka entered the CFR third in the overall standings and performed consistently throughout.
That’s what earned her the big bonus as the aggregate champion, pushing her overall total earnings to more than $55,800. However, just missing out on the money in three performances would ultimately leave her short of the title by $4,826.
Brooke Wills of Kamloops, B.C., who was nearly a $1,000 behind Ruzicka at the start of the CFR, produced four great runs over the final four performances — winning twice to go with a second and third place — would win the Canadian title. Lacombe’s Justine Elliott, the leader heading into the CFR, finished up fourth overall after only earning one cheque during the week — winning the opening night performance.
Ponoka’s band of team ropers had some tough luck at the CFR.
The Bonnett brothers, Keely and Logan, were the best of the lot as they ended up in seventh spot.
They earned just over $8,000 each over three performances and fifth place money in the aggregate to take home season earnings of more than $30,300 each.
“It goes really fast,” said Keely, who was in his first CFR. “That makes it really tough.”
Penalties and no-time runs hurt them, and the other local ropers, while the champions — and aggregate winners — Matt Sherwood and Hunter Koch from Texas were a measure of consistency as they had a catch in all six of their runs.
Levi Simpson, 2016 world champion, and his partner Riley Wilson finished up in eighth place. Meanwhile, Brett Buss and Klay Whyte placed in 12th spot.
Best of the rest
It was the only title left for this Big Valley cowboy and he had it wrapped up by the time the CFR had reached the halfway mark. Zeke Thurston was just one of two saddle bronc riders to score in each of the six performances and the only one to earn money each time out. Combined with his nearly $40,000 lead coming into the CFR, the almost $38,000 in earnings along with the $15,800 for winning the aggregate title handed him a new CFR earnings record with almost $110,800.
The tie down roping title went to Shane Hanchey from Louisiana, with a last run that gave him top day money and the aggregate title that lifted him over fellow American Haven Meged from Montana.
Orin Larson from Inglis, MB. won the bareback on the strength of first place final ride, which also earned him the aggregate title.
Provost’s Scott Guenthner stayed close to his competition in the steer wrestling, getting a clean run of 4.6 seconds on the final day to claim the Canadian title by less than $4,400. While the aggregate title went to Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, B.C., who wound up in second spot overall.