Zeke ThurstonEdmonton, ALTA – November 10, 2017Several races tightened after a dramatic third performance of the 2017 Canadian Finals Rodeo.

None more so, than in the saddle bronc riding where, as action began on Wednesday, it looked like season leader Layton Green had an almost insurmountable lead. Three performances into #CFR44, reigning world champion, Zeke Thurston, of Big Valley, AB has narrowed that gap from $37,000 to just $17,000. Thurston’s 87.75 pts on Calgary Stampede’s Weekend Departure gave the 23 year old cowboy the $11,212.50 first place cheque and carried him to the lead in the aggregate with $26,450.

“That was the third time I’d been on that horse,” the second generation bronc rider noted. “I was actually one of the first guys to get on the horse back four years ago when he was a young fella and I was a young fella. He jumped and kicked and was flashy – everything you could want in a bucking horse.”

The three time Calgary Stampede champion, former steer riding and novice saddle bronc champion of Canada and reigning world title holder is missing only a Canadian title to complete an amazing resume at just 23 years of age.

“If it happens, it happens. But when I get here I stick to the basics. And I’m here for a good time; I mean I dang sure look after business. I do what I have control over. I do my best and that’s all you can do.”

Milan steer wrestling brothersOne of the closest races is the steer wrestling where just $9000 separates the top six men. Tanner Milan, who came to Edmonton as the season leader, has struggled. His lone placing – a 4.1 second run on Thursday night – is sandwiched between a ‘no time’ in the first round and a broken barrier tonight. Meanwhile, brother Straws has won the most money to date with $16,675 earned courtesy of a third in round one and his arena record-tying 3.1 second run in round three.

“With the steer I drew, when I saw the draw, I had the feeling I could either be first or in the top two or three,” Milan commented. “I’d run that steer at the Todd Boggust Memorial (a few weeks ago) and was really hoping to get him here.”

Straws Milan’s 3.1 second run was the second such record-tying performance made by a CFR44 contestant so far at this year’s Finals. (Brendan Laye also tied the existing record in performance number one.)

And it was the second record-setting performance by the youngest Milan brother in the Coliseum this year. In July, he equaled the Canadian record of 2.9 seconds during the inaugural K-Days Rodeo. His 3.1 second run tonight equalled the CFR record set by Travis Frank in 2006. But the Cochrane cowboy was quick to point out that the records are second to the thrill of competing at the CFR with his two brothers, Baillie and Tanner.

“Since we were kids playing rodeo in the living room, we dreamed about it. But to finally do it, it’s everything.”

Justin and Brett McCarrollThe consistency of Camrose brothers Justin and Brett McCarroll has been in evidence, once again, at this Finals. The two time Canadian team roping champions have placed in all three rounds and won round three with a 4.5 second run to inch closer to leaders and defending Canadian champions Dustin Bird of Cutbank, MT and Russell Cardoza of Terrebonne, OR.

“Everytime you compete, it’s the best rodeo of the year,” Justin stated, as the Camrose pair moved to second place in the aggregate with Bird and Cardoza squarely in their sights.
And all of the team ropers are excited about having equal money, for the first time, at this Canadian Finals Rodeo.

“It’s a huge deal,” Brett added. “I’ve been coming here for a long time and waiting for this moment to happen.”

Other winners included 13 year old Edson, Alberta barrel racer Taylor Manning who won the go-round with the fastest time of this CFR to date (14.432 seconds) and Wyoming bareback rider Seth Hardwick with an 86.75 on Calgary Stampede’s Reckless Margie. Hardwick leads the aggregate with 257.5 points on three rides and he too, has cut in half, the amount of the deficit he was facing as he chased Jake Vold entering these Finals. In the tie-down roping, Texan, Blane Cox, posted his second go-round win with 8.3 while in the bull riding, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan’s Jared Parsonage won the round with 87.5 points on Outlaw Buckers’ Brahma Boots Chrome.

Two champions were declared as the novice races wrapped up Friday night. Calgary’s Connor Hamilton is the 2017 novice bareback riding champion of Canada while Wildwood, Alberta’s Dawson Hay edged Arrowwood’s Kole Ashbacher for the novice saddle bronc riding title. The steer riding event, which wraps up Saturday afternoon, saw 2016 champion, Dixon Tattrie, win his second go-round with an 80 point ride.

And Congratulations to Brittney Chomistek who was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2018.

The fourth and fifth performances of the 2017 Canadian Finals Rodeo are set for Saturday, November 11 at 1:00 and 7:30 pm. Look for complete results at rodeocanada.com