The Biggest Finals on the Biggest Night(s) of the Year!
Monday, 05 January 2009 00:42

London Western Fair’s Agriplex played host to the Thunder of Hooves, the Pounding of Spectators’ Hearts, the Boom of Pyrotechnics and all of the Glitz and Glamour that goes into the Award Winning Rawhide Rodeo’s Extreme Tour Finals on December 30th and 31st, 2008.

Since year one, the event has been billed as, “The Biggest Finals on the Biggest Night of the Year”, and 2008’s edition of the Best Rodeo Action in Eastern Canada out-performed any and all sensational performances over the event’s Tenure.

And of course, there was more than ever events, new contenders and even more World Champions competing for the abundance of cash and prizes. And as always, it took place in front of a massive crowd which filled the Agriplex both nights.

Setting the stage for the Excellence were the Animal Athletes of the Rawhide Rodeo Company. Only a few weeks before the Extreme Tour Finals it was announced that the Rawhide Rodeo Company had “swept” the Rough Stock Awards in the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA).

#198 Coruna Sunrise was crowned 2008 IPRA World Champion Bareback Bronc, #N35 Mardi Gras was crowned 2008 IPRA World Champion Saddle Bronc and #228 Bloody Sunday was crowned World Champion Bucking Bull for the second Consecutive Year. Matched against these feature Beasts were many World Champions and Contenders from Brazil, the United States and Canada.

The Flavour of the show also highlighted that of the 53 Qualifiers, 16 of them would be competing in 2 weeks at the International Finals Rodeo (IFR) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in mid-January, with 12 of those being representatives from “Team Canada’s” 14 overall qualifiers.

During the openings, as all 53 contestants stood in front of a line of Fire spanning the length of the Arena, a Camden, Ohio Cowboy was introduced. With such accolades as 3-time World Champion All Around Cowboy (2004, 2006, 2007), Reigning World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, and 4-time World Champion Bareback Rider (2003-2006), he would be a definite Contender to watch in his marquee events. Not to mention he is almost guaranteed to win his 5th Bareback Bronc Riding World Championship and 4th World All-Around Championship after the IFR.

Minor would do big things in Bareback Bronc Riding. In the Opening Round on December 30th, he set a new highest score of 2008 of 80-points versus Rawhide Rodeo’s #CO Bad Company, the 2006 IPRA World Champion Bareback Bronc. He tied for first in the Second Round versus Rawhide Rodeo’s #1 Jumanji which gave him the Aggregate or Finals Win with a combined score of 159 over the Two Rounds. The Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Year-end Championship went to St. Polycarpe, Quebec’s Sylvain Meunier who was the Season Leader rolling into the finals, and whom placed 2nd in the First round and tied Minor in the Second Round. Though Meunier has been a PRCA First Frontier Circuit Champion Bareback Bronc Rider and Dodge National Circuit Finals Qualifier in Pocatello, ID; this would become Meunier’s first Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Championship.

Junior Bull Riding almost literally had the roof blown off of the Agriplex with the Roar of the Crowd and the Boom of the Pyrotechnics as Wingham, Ontario’s Matt Shiell set a brand new Arena Record against Rawhide Rodeo’s #NT Whacko Jacko. The pair danced on the Agriplex dirt to the total of 80-points! Unfortunately, Shiell would buck off in the Second Round to have his first Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals Championship dreams Dashed. The Event Champion was Matt Kippax of Hagar, ON. Kippax was consistent with a 2nd in the First Go, tied for 2nd in the Second Go, which allowed him to win the Aggregate by 2 points with 153 on 2. His points were able to take him from 3rd in the Year-end Standings to First to win both the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals and the Year-end Championships.

In Saddle Bronc Riding, Shawn Minor opened up that event with a 76 vs. Rawhide Rodeo's #220 Road Trip which would ultimately tie BJ Prince of Pontypool, Ontario, a former Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Year-end and Finals Champion after Prince’s ride with Rawhide Rodeo’s #203 Hairy Kerry. Though Prince and Minor were close in the Aggregate going into the Championship round, Season Ranked 2nd place Tyler West of Lanoake, Arkansas, the 2007 Reserve World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider would have the pair conceding to the Native of the Land of Opportunity. West had an outstanding ride versus Rawhide Rodeo’s #923 Cabello Diablo to break-out of the Finals with it all....his 82 points for the win of the 2nd Round combined with is 75 for 3rd in the First was strong enough to give him the Finals win by 1 point over second-place finishing Shawn Minor. Previous to the ride, West solely needed to outplace the Season Leader for the Year-end Championship in the final round, and he was able to exceed the leader in the Round by 5 points to win both the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Year-end Championship and the Finals.

The always interactive Cowgirls’ Barrel Race saw Lorraineville, Quebec’s Edesse Descoteaux run a 13.396 to set a new Arena Record and Fastest Time of the Year in the Opening Round. Rolling into the Championship Round, the race became even more heated as Hillsburgh, Ontario’s Tamaran Gray, the 2008 Ontario Finals Rodeo Barrel Racing Champion, won the Round with a 13.362, which then became the new Fastest time of the Year and Arena Record. She was behind in the Aggregate going into the Championship Round by 0.200 seconds, and walked away with the Finals Win by a mere 0.080 ahead of Descoteaux. Descoteaux would end up 2nd in the Aggregate while the Season Leader, 2-time Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals Champion, and Reigning Year-end Champion Barrel Racer Robin Williamson of Acton, Ontario would place third in the Finals, however, win her second consecutive Year-end Championship.

It was Déjà Vu for Junior Barrel Racing Fans. Just 15 weeks earlier at the 2008 Ontario Finals Rodeo (OFR) in Stratford, Ontario, the fans watched Hillsburgh, Ontario’s Callie Gray set a new arena record in the first round to win the go, beat it to win the go in the second round, and beat it again to win the third go as well. Her amazing OFR took her from 5th to first to win the OFR and the Ontario Rodeo Association Year-end Championship. In London, Ontario at the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals, history would repeat itself. Round #1: 13.781, a new Arena Record. Round #2: 13.758, and an even Newer Arena Record. The Go-round and Aggregate or Finals Wins would also take her from 2nd to 1st to win the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals and Year-end Championship as well.

New Year’s Eve 2K9 became a “Gray” Day as both Tamaran Gray and Callie Gray set Arena Records and won their Events in the Finals. An added bonus on the Trip for the Hillsburgh Family would be Coach-Mom Lisa Gray placing as well.

As almost the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals Tradition, the Bucking Bulls from the Rawhide Rodeo Company would become the Highlight of the Event. Of the illustrious 10 qualifying Bull Riders at the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals, there were only 4 qualified rides in each of the Rounds.

Two-Time ORA Bull Riding Year-end Champion Chris Adams of Belleville, ON won the first round following an 84-point ride versus Rawhide Rodeo's 11P Fear This.

At the tail end of the Championship Round, only 2 Bull Riders remained that could ride 2 for 2 to win the Finals. The Bull Riders were Ian Charman of Pontypool, Ontario, the 2006 ORA Year-end Champion Bull Rider and Brandon Moore, the 2002 and 2005 ORA Year-end Champion Bull Rider. Charman rode first and was able to put together a high-scoring 81-point ride against Rawhide Rodeo’s #9 Spider Monkey. The Aggregate leader, Adams was bucked off earlier in the round, and as Charman’s Victory dance came to an end, Brandon Moore climbed over the chutes. He was riding for a lot. Charman was the only person to ride 2 at the Finals, and Moore was the last to ride, and would be the only

one to take the Finals win away. But more importantly, his match was Rawhide Rodeo’s #228 Bloody Sunday, the 2007 and 2008 IPRA World Champion Bucking Bull. Earlier this season, the bull had tossed him at 7.2 seconds. The Ride was Huuuuge, and the score came in at 85-points, the highest of the 2008 Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals! Moore was 3 points ahead of Charman rolling into the Final Round, and as the numbers Settled, he won by 7-points. Solid Bull Riding and an amazing end to the Show!

In addition, as most Facebookers were aware of...Moore and Charman were battling each other in a Side-Wager based on the Aggregate between the two of them. Billed, "The Match of the Titans", the loser would have to wear a Dress to the Ball...see what transpired at:

Brantford, Ontario’s Luke McCoag had such a commanding lead rolling into the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals that the impossible would have had to have happened to have upset his year. He placed 2nd with an 82 in the Second-Round and ended the year as the 2008 Ontario High School Rodeo Association, ORA and Rawhide Extreme Tour Year-end Champion.

Another highlight of the Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals was the new addition of “Calf Riding”. Three Contestants at 8 Years of Age competed against each other on mini-mini “bulls”. Montreal, Quebec’s Gabriel Thibeault was the sole contender to ride both of his Calves, with scores of 73 and 74 respectively to win the first ever Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals Calf Riding Championship.

With all of the Champions Crowned, the names in the History books weren’t the only Winners at the Agriplex. The Event raised a lot of funds for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics, and collected boxes upon boxes of non-perishable food items for the London Area Food Bank.

Following the conclusion of the Championship Round on New Year’s Eve, Fans, Friends, Family and Contestants ventured to the Carleton Salon at the London Hilton to hand out the hardware (buckles) and to bring in 2009. The Sold Out Event was a blast and was called, “The Best New Year’s Ever” by many who danced and partied 2008 away and brought in 2009 in style.


The 2009 Rawhide Rodeo Extreme Tour Finals will have a lot to live up to, but will without a doubt be the Biggest Finals on the Biggest Night of the Year...for the 5th consecutive year. Happy 2009!