The stage is set at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.
With the curtain about to come down on the 2023 Canadian pro rodeo season, several title races are still very much in doubt.
A couple of former champions will go head-to-head in a bull riding showdown that will determine the winner.
Two-time and reigning title-holder Jared Parsonage sits atop the standings but with a slender $1,200 cushion on the second-place man, 2019 champion Edgar Durazo. Both men are 4-for-5 on the bulls on the week with Mexican-born Durazo 7.5 points ahead in the all-important aggregate standings.
After his Saturday night third-place finish, Parsonage reflected, “I’ve been drawing pretty good bulls and riding well. I kicked myself in the butt when I bucked off a bull I should have never bucked off. The secret of that is whether or not you can step back up to the plate. I think that comes with age and maturity. It’s done and over with. The sooner you can forget about it and walk out of there, get your head right and ride the next one, the better.”
It will come down to one ride in Westerner Park’s Peavey Mart Centrium for the 2023 bull-riding title.
Just $2,200 separates the top two men in the bareback riding. Clint Laye, the 2021 Canadian champion leads in both the overall standings and the aggregate, but the margin in both is miniscule. Laye has a mere $2,200 advantage in total earnings over 2019 title-holder Orin Larsen and just a one-and-one-quarter lead in the aggregate points over the Manitoba product, meaning the bareback riding will be decided by the final two rides of the season Sunday afternoon. The 2022 champion, Ty Taypotat, and veteran Dantan Bertsch remain in the hunt, although both are long shots to overtake Laye and Larsen.
Defending champion Taylor Manning pulled out all the stops Saturday in the barrel racing, as she won Round 4 and then clocked the fastest time of the finals — a smoking 13.45 seconds in Round 5 — for her third round win of the week.
“It didn’t feel that fast,” the excited Manning said after her Saturday evening run. “But Archie is trying really hard and seems happy to be here.”
The Yellowhead County barrel racer, who hit two barrels earlier in the week, is just taking it one run at a time. The lead remains in the hands of season-leader Lynette Brodoway, who has $59.,066 total earnings just $200 ahead of Manning. Despite hitting a barrel in Saturday’s matinee round, Brodoway is still fourth in the aggregate, while Manning sits just outside. But two CFR rookies, Blake Molle and Karli Cowie, who are third and fourth respectively and well placed in the aggregate, are exerting considerable pressure.
U.S. cowboys Brady Tryan and Calgary Smith continue to dominate in the team roping with wins in Rounds 4 and 5 for $68,153 in overall money each and first in the average. Their closest rivals, Tee McLeod and Brady Chappel and season-leaders Dawson and Dillon Graham have struggled with some adversity at the CFR, giving Tryan and Smith a considerable comfort zone with one round to go.
In the open tie-down roping, season-leader Haven Meged continued to demonstrate the consistency he’s known for, as he moves closer to a Canadian title. The cowboy from Miles City, Mont., has placed in four of five rounds and holds down first in the aggregate race.
Steer-wrestler Scott Guenthner of Provost, Alta., has his sights set on a fourth Canadian title. And it looks like the likeable bulldogger is an unstoppable force in that quest. With a $16,000 margin separating Guenthner from the rest of the field heading into Sunday’s final CFR performance, only the unlikeliest series of events could deny him.
Similarly, three-time world and Canadian bronc-riding champion Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alta., has overcome a first-round buck-off with three go-round wins and a third-place finish to put him $21,000 ahead of second-place cowboy Ben Andersen.
Ladies breakaway ropers started their three rounds of competition, with CFR rookie Macy Auclair posting a 1.9-second run to win the Saturday matinee round. The evening performance saw second- and third-ranked ropers, Shaya Biever and Shelby Boisjoli, split the win with 2.3-second runs. With only the Sunday performance to go, season-leader Aubrey Ross maintains the lead by a small margin over title contenders Biever, Boisjoli and Jenna Dallyn.
Hayden Mulvey was declared the 2023 Canadian junior steer-riding champion at the Saturday matinee performance after four rounds of competition, which saw Mulvey win two rounds and pick up a second-place finish. The steer rider from Brooks, Alta., earned $7,763, just $330 more than second-place finisher Joseph Vansandt, who won the aggregate.
For more Canadian Finals Rodeo results, see rodeocanada.com