Last Man Roping
After seven months and fifty rodeos, five days and six CFR performances, it came down to the last loop thrown to decide the 2016 Canadian Tie-Down Roping Champion.
And while the battle was between the 2014 titleist, Matt Shiozawa, and the last Canadian to win it - Al Bouchard - it was a miss in the final round by the third-place man that played a major role in determining that Shiozawa would win his second title.
Shiozawa came into the final round trailing Bouchard by $4800 but sitting fourth in the average while Bouchard was not factoring in the average. When Shiozawa tied his final round calf in 8.0, it looked like a second place finish might be enough for the Canadian cowboy. But the average leader coming into Sunday, Stetson Vest, had missed his calf moments before, and that moved Shiozawa up another notch meaning the long, lanky veteran from Scandia would have to win the round to claim his second championship.
And with his last loop of the season, the guy with a hand so sore he couldn’t shake hands made a valiant effort - checking in at 8.1. Two tenths of a second faster would have meant the title stayed north of the 49th parallel for the first time in a long time.
“It’s kind of a relief,” Shiozawa admitted after receiving official notification that he was the champion. “The best part is when it came down to the end, I roped second last and Al roped last and we were giving each other high fives and wishing each other luck. That’s the camaraderie that’s part of this sport.”
Shiozawa has been a familiar face at Canadian rodeos over the last number of years. “I love coming up here and I respect and admire the way the CPRA runs their business,” the Blackfoot, Idaho hand noted. “And I really enjoy this finals in Edmonton.”
Shiozawa conceded there was a little pressure too, albeit of a slightly different kind. “I have three daughters and they all wanted a buckle from this week. I’d won two go-rounds but I needed one more.”
Shiozawa rode the horse he competed on at his first Canadian Finals in 2007. “She’s seventeen now, a little bay mare and she’s part of the family. She (Alotta) was really good young, then was out for a while. We had a colt with her a couple of years ago and she’s come back better than ever.”
After a little time off and some family time over American Thanksgiving, the man they call Shazam will be heading for Las Vegas and his ninth appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“We usually spend Thanksgiving with my brother in southern Nevada. We can get the horses acclimatized a little and then it’s all eyes on Las Vegas.”
Season leader, Logan Bird of Nanton (who was mounted on TJ - the 2016 CPRA Tie-Down Horse of the Year) also capitalized on Vest’s final round miss and emerged as the Tie Down Roping Average winner.