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Ponoka County barrel racer heading to CFR ‘49

Stacy Ruzicka from Bluffton wins final qualifying spot
Stacey Ruzicka of Bluffton, Alta. is going to the CFR this year. (Chantelle Bowman photo)

With the completion of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association regular season, the rosters are almost set for Canadian Finals Rodeo ’49 (CFR) at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer, Nov. 1 to 5. But there were a few surprises as the season wrapped up at the Edmonton Pro Rodeo.

As was to be expected, there was drama, disappointment and jubilation as athletes either secured spots for the upcoming CFR or saw their dreams of a post-season run fade into the northern Alberta night.

Among those in celebration mode was barrel racer Stacy Ruzicka from Bluffton, Alta. For Ruzicka, it all came down to her final run of the season.

The former barrel racing rookie of the year posted a 13.91 second run, good for fourth place and $1,818, enough to propel the three-time CFR contender into the final qualifying spot for Red Deer.

“I woke up that morning and all I could think about was ‘I’m going to be at CFR, I’m going to be at CFR,’” said Ruzicka.

“I never look at results before I go and I avoided social media because I knew I was close. I had been fighting with my head and had made some mistakes over the summer; I had to do a huge turnaround on my mindset.”

Riding her 20-year-old mare Bay Kaye was special as well as Ruzicka had considered retiring her mount last year but was convinced otherwise when Scott Guenthner told her the mare looked great.

That was right before the duo went out and won the final round of CFR ’48.

“It’s an honour to be at CFR again. It’s every competitor’s dream. It’s why we go.”

Year end CPRA awards

The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) recently announced its year-end personnel awards, livestock awards and CFR personnel selections for 2023.

These awards are decided by votes cast by the top 20 contestants in all major events and CPRA contract members.

The Janet Vold Memorial award — which commemorates the life and contributions of the late Janet Vold — recognizes women in the sport of rodeo who go above and beyond.

The namesake of the award, Janet Vold, enjoyed a rodeo secretary career that spanned three decades. A person who took the time to visit with each cowboy or cowgirl, Vold was respected greatly in the rodeo world with her larger-than-life love and knowledge of the sport.

This year’s recipient — for the third consecutive year — is rodeo timer and secretary, Karry Krystal.

Among the CFR ’48 selected positions for this year’s finals are Brenda Vold of Ponoka, in her 18th year as a timer.

In the livestock awards, the Team Roping Heeling Horse of the Year, for the fourth consecutive time, is Coys Smokin Jet (aka Cruz).

Cruz was owned until earlier this year by previous winner Keely Bonnett. The talented gelding is now in the hands of reigning Canadian Champion Heeler Dillon Graham.