BY ZACHARY CORMIER
This isn’t a position that Tyrel Flewelling is used to being in. Normally, the three-time Canadian champion team roper has a spot at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton locked up before the last weekend of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association calendar.
This year, however, Flewelling and his roping partner Roland McFadden are heading into the CINCH Pro Rodeo Canada Series Final in Calgary — the final rodeo of the year before CFR — this weekend with one goal in mind – to qualify for the finals.
“It’s definitely a different position. Last year we were going in in third place, so we didn’t have to worry about it at all,” said Flewelling, who picked up his third Canadian championship as a heeler at last year’s CFR.
Only the top 12 cowboys from each event qualify for Canada’s richest weekend. At the time of writing, Flewelling is in 11th and is just $450 above the cowboy in 13th place. This is going to be close.
“It’s a real big weekend. You know to make the Canadian Finals, it all comes down to the last weekend of the year and I’m just thankful that I qualified for these CINCH Finals in Calgary and it gives me one last chance to make the Canadian Finals in Edmonton,” said the Lacombe product.
A slow start to the year and a disappointing month of June at major rodeos put Flewelling and McFadden in a deep hole early in the season.
“Ever since Ponoka in the middle of June we were struggling but then in July we had a pretty good month and we placed in almost every rodeo we went to,” Flewelling said, adding that August was pretty good to them as well.
Despite that, though, Flewelling and McFadden still didn’t find themselves in the top 12. But a cheque in Armstrong , B.C. at the start of September and cheques in the final four open rodeos of the season last weekend in Merritt, B.C., Brooks, Medicine Lodge and Hanna finally helped to push them into a CFR qualifying position.
“We’re fortunate to be in the position that we’re at after doing so poorly at the big rodeos.”
Luckily, the duo were good enough at some of the smaller rodeos to qualify for the CINCH Finals, which don’t count any of the CPRA’s seven big-money events such as the Ponoka Stampede and the Wainwright Stampede.
Now the trick will be to make enough money this weekend to hold on to at least 11th place.
“We’re trying to practice everyday this week before we go down there. We’re preparing to try and win some money because it’s kind of coming down to the last weekend of the year and at least we’re in a position where we still have a chance to win,” Flewelling said.
The two cowboys won’t be going into the annual last chance rodeo blind. Last year they won the event at the Agrium Western Events Centre.
“We were fortunate enough to win the event in Calgary last year, so I’m hoping that that’s a little bit of good luck for us this year and maybe we can have continued success up there this year.”
As for what happens after this weekend’s rodeo, Flewelling said he’s not looking that far ahead.
“I don’t want to jinx myself or anything. I just want to try and make it to (Edmonton) first. First things first I’ve got to qualify for it, so I’m just focused on the Calgary finals right now.”
The CINCH Pro Rodeo Canada Series Final gets underway on Friday night at the Agrium Western Events Centre in Calgary with any earnings counting towards the Canadian standings.