Defending champ Matt Shiozawa sets CFR record in tie-down roping to kick off rodeo

Matt Shiozawa...Photo by Mike Copeman




Tanner Milan takes part in the first go-round of steer wrestling during Day 1 of the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place on Wednesday. (David Bloom, Edmonton Sun)

How to start a title defence.

2014 champ Matt Shiozawa won the opening round of tie-down as the Canadian Finals opened on Wednesday.

Did he ever: a CFR all-time record 7-flat.

“A lot of factors go into this, variable-wise,” said the soft-spoken analytic roper. “Probably one of the better calfs in there; the horse worked well. Starting off the week you want to be smart, but you don’t want to back and not be aggressive. It’s good to be able to do both.

“Make good groundwork, too, so it all came together perfect.”

It put the Idaho dynamo into top spot at $33,722 adging Ryan Jarrett’s $33,359. Jarrett and veteran Al Bouchard nailed slick 7.5s while season-leader Scot Meeks slipped to third with a 10.1


Caleb Bennett got an extra ride on Wednesday night as the CFR opened.

Not a re-ride. Let’s just say it wasn’t your average victory lap. The horse got a little feisty.

“The victory-lap horse made me more sorer than the actual riding horse!” joked Bennett, with the grin to match.

“I’ve never had that on a victory lap. At home ropin’ around, goofin’ around every now and then, you know.

“First thing that came to mind, might as well take your hat off and give a show. Either gonna get bucked off one-handed or two-handed. And somehow I stuck him!”

The Utah rider stuck his opening-night, too, an 84.25 on Starburst.

“I had her here the first round two years ago, the first year I come here. I’ve been on her a couple times. My first year in the NFR I had her down there as well. Pretty familiar with her. It’s a great one to have, always flashy, always showy, one of them horses a guy wants to draw if you’re wanting to finish first and do your job. And if you do your job, you’re going to finish first.

“Always been a money-winning horse for me.”

Defending champ, Jake Vold was 4th. The Ponoka keeps his big lead of $51,800, ahead of Ty Taypotat at $32,003.


Defending champ Tanner Milan is headed to the NFR 2015.

But his CFR title defence didn’t get the perfect start. A frustrating barrier break added the 10-spot to his run for a 14-second total.

Bearded brother Straws did worse, a standing drop onto nothing but dirt for a no-time, one of four NTs on the night.

Season-leader Scott Guenthner was equally ugly with a 14.7, but his big-gap lead keeps hims atop at $33,709.

Morgan Grant has been a rising CFR star, and two-event terror launched the steer wrestling part of his program for 2015 with a 3.4 on Wednesday, .6 ahead of Manitoban Justin Miller.

Grant also jumped into third overall at $28,273 just behind Tanner’s $28,530.

Grant made a new friend in the process. His horse was sore and he borrowed Hoss of the Year Tank from Dustin Walker.

“That horse just gave me a great go behind the horns, so I got a really good head catch and that just set (me up).”


The defending header titlist is teaming up with Jeremy Buhler this year after winning with Ryan Tittel in 2014.

“New partner this year,” said Levi Simpson. “I got my buckle last year, now it’s our turn to try and work twice as hard to get (Jeremy) one this year.

“We just started off this year, going to rodeos in Texas and then came up here for the Canadian rodeos and squeaked into the finals,” said the Ponoka header.

“We came in 11th so it wasn’t quite the season we planned but we’ll try and make up for it here.”

Nice start. It moved them up to 6th, while the Camrose duo of Justin and Brett McCarroll stay at top with $24,459.


Cody DeMoss came in with the most money on the season and turned it into Mad Money. The Louisiana-born broncster scored an 85 on the Calgary Stampede beast. That opened up a $20G gap on Oklahoman Wade Sundell who sits at $32,000 after his 83.75 on Quittintime.

LATE HITS: Nancy Csabay and Julie Legget went toe-to-toe in the opening Barrel Racing go-round with Leggett’s 14.817 to 14.834. It moves Leggett $6G behind Csabay’s $36,699 … Jason Parsonage opened his 1st CFR with a win. The Maple Creek bullrider scored an 86.5 on Proper Ripped.


Cole Goodine (Carbon, AB) takes part in the first go round of Bareback Riding during day one of the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place, in Edmonton, Alta. on Wednesday Nov. 11, 2015. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun/Postmedia Network David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

Cole Goodine (Carbon, AB) takes part in the first go round of Bareback Riding during day one of the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place, in Edmonton, Alta. on Wednesday Nov. 11, 2015. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun/Postmedia Network

David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

Times flies for Canadian Finals Rodeo vet Al Bouchard 

Alwin bouchard (Scandia, AB) during the fifth go round of the tie-down roping competition at the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place, in Edmonton Alta., on Saturday Nov. 8, 2014. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency


Al Bouchard has been to 15 CFRs: “So they tell me. Time flies when you’re having fun.”

That’s just as a competitor.

Turning 43 at the end of December, the Scandia tie-down roper has been to Edmonton at this time of the year for literally all his life.

“I like the old Northlands building,” said the 2009 champ. “I’ve been there since a kid.

“The year I was born I didn’t go to it!

“And one year I fell asleep in the hotel room and missed a performance.”

A younger Al, no doubt.

“Other than that I’ve been to every one of them.”

In some sense, the Canadian Finals Rodeo remains its own little universe within a universe. It’s got to be 80% minimum of its attendance coming from outside of Edmonton.

“I bet you it’s more than that,” said Bouchard. “Half the time people in the city didn’t even know it was going on. It’s better now than it used to be.

While urban awareness of rodeo has grown, there’s another aspect of the week that is crucial for many of the attendees.

“The one thing with me that wishes it wouldn’t change is you’ve got Farmfair right there,” Bouchard said of the possible move to the downtown arena. “If you don’t have Farmfair, rodeo doesn’t fly. If you don’t have the rodeo, Farmfair doesn’t fly.

“For a city to put on a show like this everybody in the city has to work on it. It’s bigger than jut the cowboys or the cattle people.

“You go to Calgary (for Stampede) everything in that city is about that rodeo. And it pays dividends.

“I don’t think the people in Edmonton always understood how much money they make off the rodeo.

“My mom, since I was a kid, bought all of our Christmas presents in Edmonton when the CFR was on. I bet most people do. They come to Edmonton do most of their Christmas presents then fill in all the gaps after it’s over.

“I hope it stays in Edmonton, that’s all I hope.”


Although his lifespan is just under half of Bouchard’s, CFR has been a part of Kyle Lucas since his git-go.

“Shoot, I’m only 21 but I’m sure I’ve been here 21 times,” smiled the Carstairs cowboy.

The Lucas name is engraved into this event.

“My dad made it 22 times and won the world championship four times. And I just learned he still has the record on six heads, so that’s kind of cool.”

That would be Joe Lucas. As in Smokin’ Joe Lucas.

“Yeah I grew up all around this stuff and just anticipating it. It’s just kind of dreams comin’ true.”

But all that doesn’t make for an automatic ticket.

This is Kyle’s second CFR. But the first was 2013.

“For sure. You’ve got to work hard every year. We go to Arizona in the wintertime and practise real hard. You practise, you get better. And last year I did have a really hard year because I didn’t make the finals. So this year I pushed myself even harder, come in No. 2 right behind Dean Edge so I think I had a pretty good year

“I had a bit of horse trouble,” Lucas said of 2014. I got a new horse this year and it’s just been happening for me, it’s just been awesome.

Does he feel he has to live up to the name?

“Yeah, maybe a little bit. shoot, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter what you’re name is, if you really want something you have to work hard for it.”


Matt Shiozawa is a gracious guy. The defending tie-down champ would say nice thing about the 2015 field regardless. But this is a deep one. Including himself, there’s three Americans that have been NFR champs — Shane Hanchey and newcomer Ryan Jarrett. Including Shiozawa, there’s three CFR champs — Hanchey and Al Bouchard.

“It’s a great field. It’s gonna be great calf-ropin’, you’re going to see a lot of fast times.

“Lots of champs here. Lots of perennials, guys like Dean Edge, Morgan Grant, Logan Hofer …”

Never mind defending.

“Like in every event,” Shiozawa said. “It takes every contestant every effort to win a title.