Bull rider eager for first shot at Canadian finals
Rodeo: Okotoks’ Jordan Hansen hoping to grab a CFR buckle
Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 06:00 am
Being a sponge for information and soaking up the tricks of the trade on the road can pay big dividends in rodeo.
Keeping his eyes and ears open helped Okotoks bull rider Jordan Hansen land his coveted first spot at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) as one of seven foothills competitors fighting for a championship buckle in Edmonton, Nov. 6-10.
“Travelling with Ty Elliott, Tanner Girletz this year, those guys helped me out a tonne,” said Hansen, who qualified for the CFR by placing ninth in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) bull riding standings. “Tanner’s been a Canadian champion and this year’s season leader so to get to learn from the best guys and hang around the best guys eventually everything just kind of clicks.”
The CFR rookie has enjoyed no shortage of support from the veterans on the circuit, including some friendly encouragement from 2011 CFR champion Chad Besplug.
“I’ve known Chad for quite a while and he was the first one to give me a call and say don’t half ass it going into finals. Don’t just go there to do good, go there to win.”
Closer to home, Hansen’s friendly rivalry with Black Diamond’s Tyler Thomson will be taken up another notch as they compete against each other for a Canadian title for the first time.
“I’m really good friends with Tyler so he just kind of jokes around more than anything. He’ll say, ‘you better be ready’ and I keep bugging him that he’s an old fart and he better watch out because I’m coming,” said Hansen.
Getting to Edmonton became Jordan’s top priority after watching his mother Adel Hansen compete in the barrel racing at last year’s finals.
“I’ve been there a few times to go watch, seen my mom there and last year sitting in the stands watching kind of lit a fire under me,” Hansen said. “Knowing that I could be there, it was hard to sit there and watch when I know I could ride there.”
Since booking his ticket to the Canadian finals, the Foothills Composite graduate has been conditioning himself for the largest rodeo of his young career.
“I’ve been hitting the gym as much as I can and getting on a couple practice bulls, not too many, just enough to get your confidence going and keep fresh in your memory what you’re doing,” Hansen said.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I’m going there. I’m sure once I walk in there I’ll realize what’s going on.”
At the other end of the experience spectrum is Thomson.
The 32-year-old missed out on last year’s finals in an injury riddled 2012 campaign, but enjoyed a rebound season in 2013 which placed the Black Diamond cowboy fifth on the Canadian money list.
The seven-time CFR qualifier, and 2011 Professional Bull Riders national champion, earned $22,766 in 24 events on the Canadian tour this season.
Local hopes for a championship buckle in the team-roping event are promising with two of the top-three qualifiers amongst headers calling the foothills home.
Okotokian Clint Buhler’s fourth trip to the CFR comes on the heels of an excellent first-place season teamed up with heeler Brett McCarroll. Buhler finished tops amongst headers with $19,982 in earnings this season.
“The biggest thing is not to beat yourself. You’ve got to give yourself a chance, get out of the barrier and catch your cow,” said Buhler on his three trips through the finals. “The first year I made it, it was kind of intimidating and every year I seem to do a little better, get a little more comfortable.”
“I think it’s just being able to block everything out. That’s the biggest thing, not worrying what everyone else does. You just go and stick to your game plan.”
Hot on his heels is Longview roper Steele DePaoli.
The Oilfields High School alumnus qualified third among team roping headers with total earnings amounting to $14,233.84. DePaoli finished 11th in team roping at the 2012 CFR.
Millarville’s Sam Kelts is making his seventh appearance at the CFR after qualifying comfortably in fifth place in the saddle bronc. The 30-year-old won $22,504 at last year’s CFR due largely to a first-place ride on the final day.
Black Diamond steer wrestler Lee Graves is looking to add to his considerable buckle collection in Edmonton as a five-time Canadian champion.
The 42-year-old bulldogger, who was the 2010 Calgary Stampede Rodeo champion, qualified fifth despite only competing in 25 events this season.
In barrel racing, Okotoks’ Deb Guelly will be making her 20th appearance at the CFR. The 45-year-old will be looking to build on her impressive tally as a five-time Canadian barrel racing champion.
To follow the results from Edmonton go to cfr.ca