Canadian championships are determined by a “sudden-death” format in which all 12 contestants in each event begin the Canadian Finals Rodeo on a level playing field. Money won during the regular season doesn’t factor into CFR standings or play a role in determining eventual champions.

The system, which was employed by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at the National Finals Rodeo for three years in the late 1970s, means there’s no room for error during the CFR’s six performances. Contestants earn points for placing in the top four in each round and the aggregate standings. And the contestant with the most points at the end of the week is the Canadian champion.

Here’s a look at the defending champions heading into the 2006 CFR, scheduled for Nov. 8-12 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

All-Around Cowboy: Jeremy Harden.

Big Valley, Alberta’s Jeremy Harden didn’t have too much to worry about when the CFR began. That’s because he’d already locked up the Canadian all-around championship, which works a little differently than the PRCA all-around title. To qualify for the Canadian all-around race, contestants must place at least three times in rough-stock events and three times in timed events during the regular season. Of the three cowboys who did just that, Harden was the only one to qualify for the CFR, thus securing the championship before the rodeo even began.

High-Point and Steer Wrestling: Lee Graves.

The high-point award in Canada works much like the PRCA all-around title. Contestants can qualify by placing at a minimum of three regular-season rodeos in two events (any combination of events is acceptable). Five CFR qualifiers were eligible for the high-point title when the finals began. But Lee Graves topped them all, earning 170 points in bulldogging to claim both the high-point and steer-wrestling championships. Graves had a banner year in 2005, winning his fifth Canadian steer-wrestling crown, his first high-point title and his first PRCA world championship.

Saddle-Bronc Riding: Rod Warren.

Just a half-point separated Rod Warren from Dustin Flundra in the CFR aggregate standings as the Big Valley, Alberta, cowboy claimed his second Canadian bronc-riding championship (the first came in 2001). Warren edged Dustin Thompson by 60 points in the final championship standings. Also a seven-time Canadian all-around and three-time Canadian high-point champion, Warren earned $38,452 at the CFR – some $3,000 more than he earned during the entire regular season in Canada.

Bareback Riding: Alan Dacyk.

In just his second trip to the CFR, Alan Dacyk scored 150 points to best Troy Tattrie and Kyle Bowers for his first Canadian title. Dacyk, Worsley, Alberta, won the fifth round, split first three ways in the fourth round and placed in two other rounds en route to a second-place aggregate finish. More than half of his $66,511 season earnings came at the CFR.

Bull Riding: Chris Hansen.

Buick, British Columbia, cowboy Chris Hansen trailed Tanner Girletz by 10 points heading into the CFR’s final round. However, Hansen held a distinct advantage as the only contestant to have topped four of his first five bulls, which left him sitting first in the aggregate standings going into the round. An 84.5-point ride placed him third in the final round and secured the top spot in the average. The $113,479 Hansen won in 2005 is a Canadian record for most money won in a year in a single event.

Tie-Down Roping: Jeff Chapman.

Jeff Chapman placed in four rounds, took second in the average and won his first Canadian title in just his third trip to the CFR. American by birth and Canadian by marriage, the four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier pocketed $36,190 in CFR earnings and won his event championship by 70 points over Steve Lloyd.

Barrel Racing: Rayel Robinson.

The barrel-racing competition was one of the closest at the 2005 CFR. Only five points separated Rayel Robinson and Tara Muldoon heading into the final round of competition. The two also shared identical aggregate times of 77.85 seconds on five previous runs. Robinson turned in a 15.40-second run compared to Muldoon’s 15.44-second effort in the final round to determine which cowgirl would walk away with the buckle. The title was Robinson’s fourth Canadian championship.

Team Roping: Travis Gallais and Rocky Dallyn.

Travis Gallais, Olds, Alberta, and Rocky Dallyn, Nanton, Alberta, returned to the top of the championship standings with their 2005 win. The pair also claimed the team-roping crown in 2003. The team bested 2002 champions Daryn Knapp and Dwight Wigemyr by 45 points after placing in all six rounds and topping the aggregate standings by more than eight seconds.

Other Champions: Scott Lourance, Winfield, Alberta, won the novice saddle-bronc-riding championship by 100 points over Justin Berg. Kevin Taylor claimed the novice bareback-riding title by finishing just 10 points ahead of Todd Shelton. Year-end champions in several events were determined prior to the CFR. They included: Dale Belisle, Seven Persons, Alberta, horse racing; Todd Munro, Bassano, Alberta, cow milking; Tom Clarke, Millarville, Alberta, boy’s steer riding.

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