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Chase Erickson

Chase Erickson

The bank called the Erickson house last week.

An employee had some concerns about a check that Chase Erickson had deposited a couple of days before.

Seeing a steady stream of checks from Erickson and his wife Michelle was nothing new. He works as a ranch hand and she’s a school teacher in the area.

And Chase Erickson has cashed more than a few rodeo checks over the last four years.

But the bank had never seen a check of this size from the Helena couple.

“They had a few questions … if it was legitimate,’’ said Erickson of the conversation. “The bank had never seen that kind of money coming from us. They were worried if the check was good or not.”

Erickson let the woman on the phone know that it was good all right.

“I told her, ‘Lady, I’ve been going to that rodeo for the last four years and trying to win that thing,’ ” he said.

“And it finally happened.”

The check was from Cloverdale, British Columbia where Erickson had won the bareback title at the recent invitation-only rodeo.

He came back to the United States with a check worth $23,900 in Canadian currency.

“That doesn’t happen every day,’’ he said.

The Cloverdale rodeo annually invites 24 cowboys and cowgirls to compete in bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding, along with barrel racing. They are divided into two pools for two rounds of competition. The top four money earners in each pool advance to the sudden-death finals.

The 29-year-old cowboy won the first round with an 88-point ride and ended the second round with a three-way split for first with a ride of 86.5 points.

Tyrell Smith of Cascade also won the first two rounds of saddle bronc riding.

Former world champion Jesse Kruse and Clay Gruel of Great Falls were also in the saddle bronc field, while Power’s Jessy Davis was also among the bareback riders. Theresa Walter of Billings, Lindsay Kruse of Great Falls and Circle native Lisa Lockhart were among those in the barrel racing. None advanced to the finals.

Erickson earned his biggest financial victory with a stellar ride of 90.5 points aboard Alley Trail in the final round.

“I had been on that horse another time at Cloverdale,’’ he said. “You love to get on those kinds of horses. That horse just jumps, is real flashy and got a lot of action to her.

“I’ve watched guys win on those types of horses. My luck with the draw hasn’t been too good the last couple of years. Horses like that, you like to get on every day.”

The money won in Canada almost matches the $26,090 he won all of last year.

The new monetary gain, “I told my wife, ‘Let’s act like we didn’t even win it,’ ” he said, will be spent a couple of different ways.

“We’re in the process of buying some property and building a house,’’ continued Erickson, whose previous big win was more than $11,000 at the All-American ProRodeo Finals in 2011. “This gives us a nice start.

“But it will disappear in a hurry once we get started,’’ he finished with a laugh.

The money also gives the former Montana Western standout some working room on his rodeo travel budget this summer. The money does not count in the PRCA world standings, but will spend well, nonetheless.

“You don’t have to worry about the money. You can worry about winning,’’ said Erickson, who started his 2013 season with a win at the NILE Rodeo last October, is currently 26th in the current PRCA world standings.

“It takes the heat off.”

He did withdraw from a couple of rodeos last weekend after dislocating a knuckle on his riding (right) hand while working with a young colt. “He blew my hand up pretty bad,’’ Erickson said. “It swelled up quite a bit. But I should be OK.

“I plan to go super hard this summer. I’m going to enter everything I can, but in a sensible way. I’m not going to be stupid with my scheduling.”

And he wouldn’t mind a few more concerned calls from his bank.

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