The story at the 2019 Canadian Finals Rodeo was how close a pair of cowboys came to earning a championship buckle.
As the Oct. 29 to Nov. 3 event came toward its close, both Curtis and Cody Cassidy were in contention for the steer wrestling title. Curtis entered the final round $14,000 back with Cody another $1,000 behind him, but a few things had to go right for either of them to win.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for either of them as Curtis just missed catching his steer, earning a no-time in his last run — his fourth of the week. Those results left him with $10,260 in CFR winnings for a season total of just over $34,900.
Meanwhile, Cody put up a wonderful final run of 4.1 seconds, good enough to place fifth in the performance. That earned him the aggregate title and lifted him to fourth in the overall standings — over $23,000 taken at the CFR for a season total of almost $50,800.
“I had a great steer (in the final round) and had a great start to the CFR,” Curtis said following his final run.
“It should’ve worked out, but the steer slowed up, went behind the hazer and I just barely caught him, but couldn’t hold on as he got under my arms. I started off the week strong and thought that was going to be a good sign, but it didn’t finish that way. However, if you make it enough you’re going to have some good and bad ones. That’s just the way it goes.”
He added that both him and Cody were set up great coming in — second and third respectively — though things didn’t work out. Although, the fact his horse Tyson was being used by many other competitors and did well softened the blow a little bit.
Just before the CFR, Tyson was named the Canadian steer wrestling horse of the year and will be making another appearance at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas next month as the horse of choice for several competitors. Curtis will also be there doing some hazing.
This was the 23rd straight appearance for the 41-year-old (who is three years older than his brother) at the CFR — a record 19 in steer wrestling — something that made the level-headed athlete a bit emotional when talking about it.
“I guess I’m sitting here complaining,” Curtis started saying, struggling to get the words out, “but I realize there are a lot of people that would like to do what I do for a living. I got a good horse and it will be up to me if I want to stay in shape and remain competitive.”
As for the two other local cowboys — Bashaw’s Jacob Stemo and Garrett Green of Meeting Creek — the CFR saw both earn some needed money even if they knew they weren’t in contention for a title.
Stemo wound up 11th in the bareback, managing to put up a score on each of his six rides and earning $10,800 during the CFR.
“It was certainly a surprise (getting into the CFR) as there was only one way to make it work,” he said.
“I had to win in Hanna and the other guy couldn’t earn two cents.”
Stemo added it was a decent CFR, but that he rode his best ever this past season and that his performance at the Calgary Stampede was great, so it’s hard to complain about the end result of 2019.
As for Green, he managed to stay healthy for most of the season and earn enough money to enter the CFR in fourth with almost $30,800. Although he was bucked off twice during the week, he placed in the money in three out of his four other rides to claim just over $12,000 — including just over $1,600 for fifth in the aggregate.
“I only went to a handful of rodeos this year, but did well enough and moved up steadily in the standings,” he said.
“That enabled me to stay healthy.”
Some other cowboys from the region also did rather well with one earning his first ever Canadian title.
Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston, who has three world championship titles, won the CFR for the first time in runaway fashion. He placed in all six performances, winning three times, and captured the aggregate crown on his way to setting a new season earnings record of $110,785.
Consort’s Brendan Laye in the steer wrestling managed a win on opening night Oct. 29 along with a fifth place tie on Halloween to add over $11,000 to his season earnings of more than $17,000.
Meanwhile, Riley Warren from Stettler won about $13,000 to take the CFR high point title after finishing sixth overall in the team roping with partner Clay Ullery.
Lastly, Lacombe’s Justine Elliott wound up fourth overall in the ladies barrel racing, earning money with only one first place finish at the CFR, after entering the event in first.
The rest of the championship buckles went to Sulphur, Louisiana’s Shane Hanchey in the tie down roping; the steer wrestling went to Provost’s Scott Guenthner; the bareback to Orin Larsen from Inglis, MB.; the ladies barrels to Brooke Wills of Kamloops, B.C.; the team roping to the pairing of Matt Sherwood of Pima, Arizona and Hunter Koch from Vernon, Texas; Jacob Gardner of Dawson Creek, B.C. won the all-around title and, the bull riding to Edgar Durazo from Sonora, Mexico.