EDMONTON, Alta. — The Canadian Finals Rodeo has taken on a new look this year.
For the first time in its 35-year history, the cowboys and barrel racers will carry their season earnings into the $1.13 million showdown at Rexall Place, the 17,000-seat arena that is home to the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers.
Like the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, contestants now get credit for their season-long achievements.
Previously, the CFR was based on a sudden-death formula with the finalists starting at ground zero. Champions were determined on a 40-to-10 points system for first to fourth in the rounds and the average. The change was made at the request of the contestants.
They argued that with the purse surpassing the $1 million milestone, the sudden-death element still existed because with the amount of money on the table, no one could win a Canadian championship during the regular season. They also pointed out it would help encourage more entries at the smaller late season rodeos.
The purse for the five-day, six-round shootout that begins Nov. 5 has also been increased by $50,000. And, it will continue to go up by the amount annually through 2013.
First in a round and the average now pays $9,524, up from $9,048 a year ago. Four monies are paid in rounds and the average.
The CFR brings together the 10 leading money winners in each event as well as the first and second-place finishers in the 10-rodeo Canadian Tour finale.
Eleven of the finalists have also qualified for the WNFR — North Dakota's season leader Dustin Hausauer, Rod Hay, Chet Johnson and Cody Taton in the saddle bronc riding, Cimmaron Gerke and Dusty LaValley in the bareback riding, tie-down roper Tyson Durfey, steer wrester Curtis Cassidy, who also made the cut in the tie-down roping, and barrel racers Deb Renger, Lisa Lockhart and Traci Dawson.
Durfey and Lockhart won Canadian championships in 2006, the first year the CFR opened its doors to non-residents.
Attendance at this year's CFR is expected to challenge the 2006 record of 95,552.