The Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) 2018 has come and gone in the blink of an eye.
Six heart-pounding days of action for spectators, volunteers, staff and the competitors themselves filled the Westerner Park Enmax Centre in Red Deer from Tues. Oct. 30 to Sun. Nov. 4.
A number of popular and upcoming names from east central Alberta could be seen gracing the giant screens over top of the arena as they competed for their respective titles.
Of those names, veteran bull rider Scott Schiffner of Strathmore, Ab. rode for the last time as he enters retirement.
The two-time Canadian Champion and 17 time CFR qualifier has plans to return to the ranch to spend more time with his family. Schiffner is originally from the Stettler area.
During his final ride on A32 Ols Tubs Anilea’s Pet, the crowd rose to their feet and cheered on the veteran, watching history in the making.
The week for him was an up and down roller coaster as some days were better than others. Coming into the final day, he said he felt good after coming in second the previous night.
Unfortunately, the experienced cowboy couldn’t stick and was bucked off approximately six seconds in.
“The biggest thing tonight is that I appreciate everything but I guess the competitor in me is still mad from not getting a score,” said Schiffner. “That’s the hardest thing for me is to just always look back on my career and you never want to lose and you never want to end on a loss but with that being said a score would have been the ultimate way. It wasn’t but to have that much respect from all my fellow bull riders and just the rodeo world, words can’t describe what it means to me.”
Big Valley local, Zeke Thurston was a force to be reckoned with during the saddle bronc event throughout the week.
The 24-year-old rode Kesler Rodeo horse Copper Cat which earned him the top spot on Sunday where he scored 87.75. His total earnings reached $73,050.38.
“I was pretty excited to have the horse that I did. I did really good on him a couple of times this year. Usually [he is] a bareback horse which was swapped to the saddle bronc side and he’s been awesome.
“He’s a little buckskin stud and he jumps out of there and he kicks the chutes and bucks hard and is real electric. He’s got some eye appeal to him and I was just lucky to make a good ride.”
The cowboy had a great week competing no less.
“There’s no better feeling in the world than when you’re making a good ride on a horse that’s bucking really hard and it’s the best bronc rides you make are the ones where you feel like your about to get bucked off every jump so that’s why I love to do it. That’s why we all do it,” said Thurston.
“I had more fun this week and had a great year all year and to be able to come here and ride for this money. I was lucky to be able to do that and do it with your buddies. It makes it all better.”
Thruston is headed to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in early December.
High Point Champion was steer wrestler and team roper, Riley Warren of Stettler.
“First event that I did today, [Sunday] was team roping and my header did an awesome job.
“He had it on em’ super fast and I actually roped a leg but that was enough to keep us in the average and that’s honestly what made the difference in money for me to win this,” said Warren.
As for steer wrestling, the cowboy was late on the barrier and ran the calf down which made him drop a spot in the average.
“Overall, I guess it was enough. It’s pretty exciting for me,” said Warren.
“I knew it was going to be close so it wasn’t a total shock because I was leading it before [Sunday] but once I actually found out, I mean it hasn’t even really sunk in for me yet, but it’s pretty cool.”
The buckle and trophy will now have a new home which is something that Warren has been wanting for a long time.
“I guess it goes in the history books now and they can’t take it away from me anymore,” laughed Warren. “I’ve been dreaming about having a championship since I was a young kid and to finally have it happen is unreal.”
Following the final rodeo events, the following champions rounded up on the dirt for the closing ceremonies.
Richmond Champion of Texas was the 2018 CFR Bareback winner, with total earnings of $77,448.98. Steer Wrestler, Scott Guenthner of Provost took home the 2018 title with $69,899.44 in tow.
Levi Simpson of Ponoka and Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood were crowned the 2018 Team Roping champions for the second year in a row, walking away with a yearly total of $68,131.45 and $66,141.27 in their pockets, respectively.
Saddle Bronc champion, Clay Elliott of Nanton, won the 2018 title, earning a total of $82,294.67.
Shane Hanchey of Sulphur, LA (USA), number one in the world, took home $66,338.34 as this year’s Tie Down Roping champion.
Ladies Barrel Racing champion, Callahan Crossley of Henniston, OR (USA), took home the biggest purse of the 2018 CFR year at $99,190.21.
Finally, Wacey Finkbeiner of Ponoka was declared the 2018 Bull Riding champion of CFR, yearly earnings a total of $73,729.02.
In the Novice Bareback, the 2018 champion is Mason Helmeczi, the Novice Saddle Bronc champion is Cooper Thatcher, and Steer Riding champion is Tristen Manning.
All Around Cowboy was awarded to Jacob Gardner.
An online gallery of the CFR can be found on the ECA Review website here.