Vold rides hard on comeback trail

Bareback cowboy bounces back from broken leg to qualify for CFR, with a possible shot at the title

BY CURTIS STOCK, EDMONTON JOURNAL OCTOBER 29, 2011
Never mind sitting on top of a wild, over-caffeinated bareback horse, Jake Vold was close to sitting on top of the world at the start of this year’s rodeo season.

Nevada, Colorado, Texas – just about every winter and spring rodeo he went to, they kept shoving money into his jeans, moving him as high as sixth place in the world standings.

But, in rodeo, you never know what’s around the next corner and it all came crashing down around him in a rodeo at Clovis, Calif., on April 22. The Ponoka cowboy fractured the fibula in his left leg and dislocated his ankle at the same time. It took two plates and a handful of screws to piece his leg back together.

“I felt sick,” said Vold, who was in Edmonton on Friday to promote the Nov. 9-13 Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Vold, who was out for three months and forced to miss most of the rich midsummer rodeos, refused to stay down. In one of the best comebacks of the year, Vold not only still qualified for the Canadian finals, he ended up in fourth place in Canada and 24th in the world.

“To make it back to Edmonton and the CFR is awesome, and to still finish in the top 25 in the world was pretty good. I’m pretty happy about that,” said Vold, 24.

Only the top 12 contestants from money won at Canadian rodeos in each of the six major events – bareback, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding -plus the top-12 heelers and headers in team roping make it to the CFR. Money won at the CFR is then added to the regular-season earnings to determine the Canadian rodeo champions.

Vold trails season-leader and three-time champion Dusty LaValley by almost $10,000, but with each of the six go-rounds over the five performances paying more than $11,000, the standings can change in a hurry. “That’s the way I look at it,” said Vold. “The three guys (defending champion LaValley, Jason Havens and Ty Taypotat) in front of me are tough. It will take all week, but it’s definitely doable. It all depends on what a guy draws and how a guy is feeling.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

This year was hardly the first time that Vold, the 2007 novice champion, has been injured. In a span of just 11 months, starting early in 2008, he broke his collarbone and his arm twice and had to sit out almost all of 2009.

“It seemed like every time I came back I kept getting hurt,” he said. “I broke my collarbone in Grande Prairie. That came first. I took a few months off and, in just my second rodeo back, I snapped my arm when a horse tried to flip over in the chute on me. I thought I was healed but, when I came back again, I broke my arm in the middle of a ride in a jackpot event at Stavely.”

The latter was a testament to the unbelievable force a bareback horse exerts upon a cowboy with each jump.

“Something was weak in there,” he said. “They said it was healed, but I guess it wasn’t.”

Vold had more surgery and took 13 months off.

“I stayed home, ranched a little bit and, in the winter, I went to the oilfields to make some good money. I wanted to make sure I was feeling good and everything was healed before I came back.”

The latest injury at a Wrangler Tour stop in California was somewhat of a fluke. Vold had finished his eightsecond ride and was just looking to dismount.

“I was trying to reach the pickup man, but I couldn’t get there. I had to check out of the other side of my horse and I just stepped wrong and rolled my ankle,” Vold said. “It’s not a real common injury, but it happens. I’ve seen other guys break their legs the same way. You’re going at a fast rate and then it all comes to a stop. I was trying to hit and slide, but my foot stuck in the ground. It snapped right away.”

Vold had only won $1,200 on the Canadian front at the time, but he quickly struck with vengeance. He won two of his first four rodeos back, then picked up more than $6,000 over a four-day period. In all, he placed in 14 of his 16 rodeos.

“I kind of went on a roll,” he said with an understatement.

This will be Vold’s second trip to the Canadian finals in the open event. Last year, he placed in three of the six rounds, took third in the average, and won $17,000.

“To have a good year, to make any kind of money, you have to make the Canadian finals and then you have to have a good Canadian finals.”

Vold plans on doing exactly that, saying the experience from last year has to help.

“I guess it’s like your first time doing anything, like your first pro hockey or baseball game. Just knowing what it’s like. Now I know what to expect. I competed in the novice saddle bronc, but it’s just not the same. The first night of last year, I was a little nervous.

“But a guy can only show up and do 50 per cent of what happens. The other half is up to the animal. The guys that have a good week of drawing are the guys that make the most money. All you can do is hope you draw well.”

STOCK REPORT: Evening performances begin at 7 p.m., with the Saturday matinee and Sunday championship performance beginning at 1 p.m. … A record $1.4 million will given away in prize money … Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

cstock@edmontonjournal.com

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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