While the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tends to get a substantial amount of press and notoriety for bringing the best of the PRCA to Las Vegas for a massive Championship event, it is not the only Finals to feature the best of the best. Every November, the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) puts on a display in Edmonton, Alberta, allowing the finest who compete North of the Border to take their shot at a million-dollar purse and the right to call themselves “champion”.
The PRCA hosts a couple dozen rodeos in Canada over the course of their season, along with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, with overlapping schedules. The bulk of the rodeo action takes place in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, with a few sprinkled into Saskatchewan, Manitoba and points east. Many competitors hold membership in both professional associations, and take part in competition on either side of the border.
To US-based rodeo fans, the sport tends to be most closely aligned with stateside events, but there is substantial western heritage up north, not the least of which is the Calgary Stampede, which has been one of the most prominent rodeos on the professional schedule for years. The Stampede is one of the highest-visibility and best-paying rodeos each year, drawing a high level of competition from both the US and Canada for it’s massive celebration, spanning two weeks, and regularly amassing crowds of over a million fans. It is a prominent enough event that in Canada, the rodeo has been broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and is one of Calgary’s greatest boasts of identity, bringing the western heritage to light under the red maple leaf flag.
The Canadian Finals Rodeo is formatted much like the WNFR and other Finals competitions, with the traditional events represented (bareback broncs, steer wrestling, saddle broncs, tie-down roping, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding, along with novice roughstock events), and features many names familiar to PRCA fans in the States. CFR ranks even feature a close Idaho tie, as the current reigning tie-down roping champion is Chubbuck, ID’s own Matt Shiozawa. The champ defends his title at the Canadian Finals again this year, alongside many other names easily recognizable to fans on both sides of the border, such as Shane Hanchey, Cort Scheer, Wade Sundell, Cody DeMoss, Caleb Bennett, Jake Vold, and others. On a personal note, I have to admit to rooting for Sam Kelts of Millarville, AB in the saddle bronc riding, after his over-the-fence injury (see picture below SECONDS before he went over) at the Snake River Stampede that could easily have lost him a chance at further competition in the season, let alone the chance to excel to championship levels.
The Canadian Finals Rodeo will be streamed live at https://www.worldplaylive.com/cfr42, with six performances between November 11-15, providing a welcome tide-over from the completed PRCA season to the upcoming WNFR. One could reasonably ask what to expect on the Canadian Finals, but that’s to be expected. It’s rodeo. Who knows what to expect anyway?