Three 2016 Canadian champions were declared at the Saturday nightperformance of the Canadian Finals Rodeo and one of those champions was a home town hero.
For Kolby Wanchuk of nearby Sherwood Park, there was never any doubt about what he’d be doing with his life. With a barrel racing mom and a rodeo clown dad, the only real question was just what part of the rodeo industry he would be concentrating his efforts on.
“I always wanted to ride broncs,” Wanchuk admitted. “When I was little, the Thurston Gang (contract act) were at a lot of the same rodeos my dad was working and that’s a bronc riding family so I think that had something to do with it.”
When the time came the young man decided to attend a bronc riding school in Stettler. And to add a little incentive to his efforts at that school, he had already entered a high school rodeo for the next week.
It all worked out for the young talent as this year he made finals in seven different associations winning two before the Canadian Finals Rodeo. But there’s no doubt what the second generation cowboy considered the brightest jewel in the crown.
“This was my goal for the year,” he noted. “There’s such great guys and cool horses here that I just wanted to come here, do well and be the champion.”
Wanchuk was right in assessing his fellow qualifiers. 2016 saw a great crop of young bronc riders travelling together and all of them enjoying a successful 2016. But none better than Wanchuk who’s already thinking about next year.
“I have another year of novice eligibility,” Wanchuk stated, “but I might go into the open next year—that’s a decision I’m going to have to make.”
Over on the novice bareback side, Tanner Young was winning a title of his own.
“I had a great year,” Young acknowledged. “I was able to win the Calgary Stampede Novice Tour but I was pretty focused on being here at the end of the year.”
He did just that coming into the Finals as the season leader, then adding two CFR firsts and two second place finishes to give him $11,365 for the year and a $3200 margin over the second place man, Chance Barrass.
“I had a bit of a slow start this week but I went back to doing things the way I’d done them all summer.’ The strategy worked, culminating with his winning both rounds on Super Saturday on his way to the title.”
And for the young man from Sylvan Lake, this is just a jumping off point. “I want to be back here next year in the open. I’ll be in the practice pen this winter; then I want to go after my permit and maybe the rookie title as well.”
He works as a welder with veteran bronc rider Jim Berry and two time novice bronc riding champion, Lane Cust. The three will be on the rodeo trail together next year.
“Jim is a great mentor. He’s so good with the mental aspects of rodeo,” Young noted.
And in the steer riding, where the youngest competitors are featured, the drama was palpable. The steer riding title was decided by a differential of just $85.00 ($6974 for Tattrie to $6889 for Taylor).
And it was the fourteen year-old from Youngstown, Alberta who made the highest marked ride of his career in the final round of the CFR—a spectacular 84 pointer that gave him the victory.
“I had that cow once before at the FCA Finals,” Tattrie smiled “and I won the round there. “She’s the one everybody wants, she’s just so honest.”
Of his battle with Parkland, Alberta cowboy, Quinten Taylor, he said, “I knew we were close coming in to today but after I saw his ride (77 points), that’s when I started to worry.”
And with good reason as rodeo secretaries, Judy and Burva Dawn Kesler calculated the money three times before declaring the tight race official.
The new champion was quick to credit his dad, former CFR bareback rider, Troy Tattrie for having a role in the win. “He keeps me relaxed; it’s really helpful to have him around.”
And Dad gave the credit right back to his son. “’He tried as hard as he could all year,” the elder Tattrie noted. “And he never stopped smiling. It’s cool to win but to me the attitude is everything and he has that smile all the time. I’m pretty darn proud.”
You know you’re watching a great section of team roping when a 4.3 second run wins only a fifth place cheque. In what was easily the toughest round of the week, it was the young American duo of Jacob Minor (Ellensburg, Washington) and Garrett Rogers (Baker City, Oregon) who posted a blistering 3.8 to win the round.
“It happened fast. I actually thought we were faster,” Minor admitted. “It was awesome. We thought the steer was pretty good but we didn’t know how good. He went straightaway and it happened really fast. It felt good.”
“It was the best round of team roping I ever watched for sure,” Rogers added.
The Pacific Northwest cowboys are the only team with five steers caught giving them the lead in the average and a legitimate shot at the title tomorrow.
“We kind of took a look at things today and knew we had a chance,” said Minor. “Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza, they have the lead but we have a chance, that’s for sure.”
Rogers was more philosophical about the game plan. “I don’t really pay attention to the standings and stuff. I just want to have fun and catch as many as we can.”
If the American duo can catch one more, it could be very interesting when it comes time to hand out the hardware for the team roping on Sunday afternoon.
Other Saturday night winners included Manitoba’s Orin Larsen for his third bareback riding go-round win in succession, this one an 87.5 point ride on the Calgary Stampede’s six year-oldbay gelding, Xrated Dancer; Stony Plain bulldogger, Derek Frank with a blazing 3.8 second run and Big Valley, Alberta cowgirl, Kirsty White who held on to second spot (behind Callahan Crossley) with a round winning 14.773 second effort on her dynamic mare, Racey.
In the saddle bronc riding Lane Cust, the two time novice champion of Canada, teamed up with the Saddle bronc of the Year, Northott-Macza’s Get Smart to collect an 86.75 mark and the $12,000 first-place cheque while in the tie down roping it was Eckville’s Clayton Smith who bested the field for the first time this week with a solid 8.1 second run.
And what looked for a while like a runaway in the bull riding has suddenly become a race courtesy of Okotoks, Alberta cowboy, Jordan Hansen. Coming back from a broken leg that sidelined him for most of the second half of the season, Hansenis four for five at CFR 43. In Saturday night’s fifth round, he rode Big Stone Rodeo’s Sugar Smack for an 86.25 to climb to within $6000 of the leader coming in and two time Canadian champion Dakota Buttar who was bucked off on Saturday nightby another Big Stone bull, this one Attitude Dude.
With Hansen ahead in the average the stage is set for a last man standing shootout for the title.
About the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alta. is the sanctioning body for professional rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves over 50 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.1 million. Join us for our premiere event - the 43rd edition of the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) November 9-13, 2016 in Edmonton, Alberta at Northlands Coliseum. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @prorodeocanada, like Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook, or online at RodeoCanada.com.