Special to the Tribune
On the road again, as with most professional sports careers extensive travel is generally part and parcel of competing at an elite level.
Some athletes thrive on it, others merely survive it and for a number of competitors it is the deciding factor in a severely shortened career in their chosen sport.
When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head there was concern and caution with many events being postponed and rescheduled, then eventually cancelled and the rodeo competitors who were road weary welcomed the idea of a short break with no pressure to go, go, go, just to hold their spot in the standings.
Little did they know the pesky little virus would reach pandemic proportions, effectively shutting down Canada, the United States, most of the world.
The little break turned into job loss for multitudes of people. For a professional rodeo athlete, it was a devastating blow, for those who had equine partners — it was even harder, not only would they have to struggle to feed self and family, they had to scrape up feed for their four-legged friends.
Rodeo stock contractors were in a worse bind, no rodeos equal no income but that herd of bucking horses and bulls and timed-event cattle still eat every day no matter where they are, on the rodeo trail or at home on the ranch.
Life altered for all involved in rodeo whether they were competitors, stock-contractors, midway operators, food vendors and whole communities (in towns and cities, small and large) that relied solely on their annual Stampede to bring in fund-raiser dollars which supported many non-profit causes and charities, funded improvements or scholarships.
The wait was long in Canada for restart, it was August before rodeos started popping up in Alberta communities again, the trickle of competitors slowly became a multitude of fresh, eager, healthy athletes.
Then the race was on to see who would finish in the top 12 in the abbreviated years’ standings, earning them the right to compete at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer, Alberta in November.
This quote headlines the Rodeo Canada website:
Nov 1, 2021 – CFR week is here at last! And it’s been 24 months since we last gathered for Pro Rodeo Canada’s premiere event. As contestants and fans make their way to Red Deer, Alberta, we invite you to join us for six exciting performances over five days (Nov 3-7) that will determine Canada’s 2021 Canadian Professional Rodeo Champions.
Hurrah! As rodeo events have resumed country-wide a fan-resurgence has been experienced with most rodeo venues selling out so rapidly (Covid limits in some places) that tickets have been hard to come by.
The Cariboo will be represented at the CFR by a small contingent, a few elite competitors who earned the right to compete (dollars won).
Three Ladies Barrel Racers have Cariboo roots, they are; Brooke Wills (Quesnel, now Kamloops, B.C.)– fifth place, Kirsty White (150 Mile House, now Big Valley, Alta. )- eighth place and Mariah Mannering (Quesnel, B.C.) – ninth place.
Other Cariboo-ites who were chosen (by the competitors) to take part are as follows; Bernie Rivet –Rodeo Judge (Williams Lake) and three four-legged athletes, bucking horses from the C+ Rodeo string owned by Roy and Earl Call of 150 Mile House.
Two of their horses will be featured in the Novice Bareback event; (709) The Graduate and (C731) Cristian and a third horse will exit (often spectacularly) the chute in the Novice Saddle Bronc event; (CY47) Kiss n’ Kate. Good luck to them all.
Willie Crosina is also at the CFR for the 44th year as a fan from the Cariboo.