By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
Scott Schiffner, one of Canada’s greatest bull riders, closed the doors on his experience at the Northlands Coliseum on his own terms.
The Strathmore product was thrilled and honoured to make his record 17th appearance at the Canadian Finals Rodeo up in Edmonton Nov. 8 to 12. The 44th installment of the CFR marked the final time it would be hosted at the Northlands Coliseum.
Earlier in the week, after quickly getting ejected from a mean bull named Buckington — who Schiffner thinks is one of the top bulls in Canada — Schiffner predicted that his final ride in Northlands would be an emotional one.
Schiffner didn’t disappoint, as he rode Blow Me Away for his best ride of the week, finishing with an 86.50 and winning $8,337.50 for finishing in second place on the day.
“You know, it was one of them deals being in that building after so many years, you never want to leave after getting bucked off, so I held on as long as I could,” said Schiffner. “It was a sad day leaving that building for the last time knowing we will never be back; I had spent a lot of years there. But at the same time, it was a fulfilling way to leave.”
It was the last of a long list of memories that dates back to his time as a kid, when he attended the CFR with his family. As a young man, he attended the CFR in the steer riding for his first official national competition in 1994. From there, he went on to compete in more CFR’s than anyone before him. In total, Schiffner has ridden in nearly 40 per cent of the CFR’s at Northlands.
“I have thousands of memories in this building. It will be a sad day when the rodeo is no longer here,” said Schiffner. “I’ll never forget showing up as a boy in the steer riding and having 14,000 people cheer you on when you enter the ring. It’s a feeling like no other and one I still enjoy to this day.”
Obviously, one of his fondest memories at the CFR came back in 2001, when he captured his first national title.
After six days of riding, Schiffner was tied with another bull riding icon, Kelly Armstrong. So a ride-off was called upon, and Schiffner delivered, picking up the $4,000 purse.
“Kelly was one of the best bull riders that never won a title. To be in a ride-off against a cowboy like that was something pretty special,” said Schiffner.
The magic returned 11 years later, when Schiffner captured his second Canadian title. This time, for his efforts, he brought home $11,000.
The CFR isn’t even viewed as a competition for Schiffner these days. He was seen several times down in the bucking chutes, helping the novice riders prepare for their ride during the week, and was encouraging of other bull riders each night, despite everyone gunning for the $11,212.50 in daily winnings in the go-round.
“We are all friends out there. It’s an honour to have them look up to me, but even if they are 10 or 15 years younger than me, I still look up to them. You can look at everyone as competition, or you can try and take something positive from each rider and use it to your advantage,” said Schiffner.
The week didn’t start out that great for Schiffner, as he was bucked off near the end of his first ride on Goose Bumps.
Like he has for his entire career, Schiffner put his hand back in the rope the next day and held on for the full eight seconds on Goose Bumps, recording a 86.00, placing him second and winning another $8,337.50.
“The CFR as a whole was great as it always is. It was great to see the fans come out. My performance could have been better, I didn’t win a Canadian title, but at least I won a bit of money,” said Schiffner.
The CFR closed the books on the 2017 season. The 2018 season already begins this weekend at the Canadian Western Agribition rodeo in Regina. After that, there will be a lengthy break until the next big rodeo in the New Year. Schiffner is looking forward to some healthy time off following his performance in Regina.