Ponoka can add another Canadian Finals champion to the list.
Bullrider Wacey Finkbeiner was able to dust himself off with a smile, even after being tossed off Blue Monkey in the final performance Nov. 4 at the first ever Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) hosted in Red Deer.
Finkbeiner walked off with almost $51,000 from the CFR courtesy a pair of performance victories, a second place finish and winning the aggregate. When combined with his season earnings, it earned him just shy of $74,000 — about $14,000 more than second place Cody Coverchuk from Meadow Lake.
“I wish I could have finished it off with a bang and got that last bull rode…but the way I got it all worked out this week, going five for six and the average win and the overall win, it’s pretty special for me,” said Finkbeiner.
He added his focus wasn’t on what anyone else did or didn’t score on the last day, just on what he could do.
Being able to walk away with the championship buckle is a positive experience for Finkbeiner and has him excited — the fact he will be invited to the 2019 Calgary Stampede, and the potential of working in subsequent season to make it to Las Vegas for the NFR.
One big factor in Finkbeiner’s success during the CFR is what the sports medicine people did for him after receiving a couple injuries during the busy week.
“It was a pretty painful deal…those guys, they’re worth their weight in gold,” said Finkbeiner.
Ponoka’s Levi Simpson, along with partner Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, showed their CFR championship last year was no fluke by making it two in a row.
The pair twice tied for first plus added a second and a third place during the week to earn over $53,000 each to capture the title.
The key for Simpson is preparation, namely watching video of the steers they’ve drawn before each round.
“It’s the guys that are able to get through the hard times when you’re not doing so good,” he stated about their season.
Buhler added some high praise for Simpson, especially since he wasn’t in the CFR mix at one point this summer.
“We’ve got good chemistry. We kind of always have. It’s these situations where you’re not nervous. You know exactly what the other guy is going to do,” Buhler said.
Airdrie’s Jake Vold got bitten for the third time this season by the Champion — Richie Champion that is — as Vold was edged out of a CFR bareback title in Red Deer. Champion beat out Vold for both Stampede titles in Ponoka and Calgary in July.
Despite making more money than Champion in the go-rounds during the week, where Vold finished either first or tied for first in four out of the six performances, the Ponoka native lost out as Champion was able to earn second place aggregate money to put him over the top.
Provost’s Scott Guenthner earned his first Canadian championship by taking the steer wrestling, while Nanton’s Clay Elliot captured the saddle bronc over defending CFR and world champ Zeke Thurston of Big Valley.
A pair of Americans walked off with the other two CFR titles up for grabs — Shane Hanchey from Louisiana winning the tie-down roping for the third time and Orgeon’s Callahan Crossley taking the ladies barrel racing.