August is crunch month in rodeo, when it’s time to get the job done of securing a Finals spot. So it can be a pressure time, especially for those at the back end of the race.
Orin Larsen made his August miles count, racking up a run richer than many would dream of during Cowboy Christmas. The Manitoba raised bareback rider had a little ground to make up, since he’d been on the shelf for a couple of weeks in mid-July. Larsen had separated some ribs during the Calgary Stampede.
“I went home (to Nebraska) and my fiancé, who’s a nurse, went into nurse mode, and just took great care of me,” smiled Larsen.
Plus it wasn’t bad to be around during wedding planning crunch time, as he and Alexa Minch will be tying the knot on October 14th.
Larsen put his riggin’ back to work at Strathmore at the beginning of August, and the fact he placed there was more relief than anything.
“That was going to decide what I was going to do the rest of the year. If my ribs were going to hold in one place, I was going to keep on going. Or if it wasn’t going to hold together, that was potentially going to be the rest of my year.”
Larsen’s confidence in his body staying intact rebuilt as he won money at Dodge City and was able to keep on going.
“From there on, I went all out.”
That’s what he definitely had to do in Lovington, NM when he racked up 90 points on the veteran Scarlet’s Web, for a big $5351 boost to his bank account, and a turning point for the rest of the run.
“It was ‘OK, I can do this now. I’m completely better, let’s go rodeo’. That weekend was great for me in more than one way,” he confirmed.
From there he picked up another $4243 for second place in Hermiston, OR. Still adding to his WNFR chase was another first place finish, this one in Billings, MT ($2634). Plus he also found the paywindow at Canby, OR ($1017).
At one point at the beginning of the month, Larsen had slipped out of the world’s top 15.
“We all like to say we don’t pay attention to the standings, but… we do,” he chuckled. “Don’t kid yourself. We look at ‘em, sometimes too much. But I was definitely aware, and during my time off, I was kind of freaking out. But Alexa kept me from losing my mind, and has helped me out in more ways than just getting me healthy.”
Sitting at home, and putting life and rodeo in perspective, also helped put the fun factor back into rodeo for the 26-year-old talent.
While Las Vegas is the main destination for Larsen, he’d love to be back in Edmonton for his second CFR. In a drive to get his necessary 15 qualified rides, he turned out of a couple of American rodeos for a key ‘last shot’ at making his Canadian count. He hit bullseye, sweeping both shows he attended. Larsen won Pincher Creek with an 84.5 point ride on Outlaw Buckers’ OLS Tubs Zip Tie ($1085). Then he split first Jasper with Ty Tyapotat, spurring to an 85 on Nortcott-Macza’s Happy Hooker, for another $991.
However, he will still need to attend a couple more Canadian shows to get that job wrapped up, even though he’s well inside the top ten in the qualifying ranks. All told, he scooped up $15,321 in mid-August, and is 13th in the standings, with just under $72,000 won.
“I’m safer, but I’m not totally out of the woods. There’s no time to take time off. It will take $75 – 80,000 to make the Finals, in my opinion.”
Elsewhere in the bareback riding, Caleb Bennett won Cranbrook ($874), was second at Dawson Creek ($1938) and second at Pincher Creek ($804) as he wrapped up his qualification count. But his old nemesis, Jake Vold, also picked away consistently, chalking up a share of first at Cranbrook ($874), and placings at Dawson Creek ($714) and Pincher Creek ($524) to keep his frontrunner position in Canada. Stateside, Vold collected $2274 from Logan, UT to keep him at 11th in the world race.
Luke Creasy is trying to hang on to his CFR spot, and even small cheques help with that, like the $291 from Cranbrook, $617 from Jasper, and $337 from Pincher Creek. He also got a last minute call to head back for the Caldwell Night Rodeo short go, and managed to catch plane rides back and forth, for a $712 return. He picked up another $633 out of Lynden, WA. But his best U.S. cheque of the run came from Hermiston, OR where he got out of town with $2152. Hot on his heels in Canada is Bobby Peters, who picked up $1725 from Dawson Creek and Jasper, and those two have put pressure on Dantan Bertsch and Dylan Bilton.
Steer wrestler Scott Guenthner continues to be the hot hand in #TeamBigWhiteTruck of steer wrestlers. He was fast man in Billings, with a 3.9 second run ($2393) but he also cashed in at Kalispell ($1187) and Baker ($1650) to go along with his Dawson Creek dollars ($949), keeping him first in Canada and move him up to sixth in the world. Traveling partner Tanner Milan won at Bozeman ($2248) and placed at Baker ($1142), as well as Canby, OR ($771) and Kalispell ($95), leaving him 9th in the world and second in Canada. His brother Baillie Milan is still rolling and getting closer to a CFR spot, after his successful stops in Dawson Creek, where he split first with Brendan Laye in 3.5 seconds ($2518 each), and Pincher Creek ($556). Curtis Cassidy did some good work, finishing third in Dawson Creek ($2116) and placing at Pincher Creek. But he also pulled some go-round money out of Caldwell ($1465) and finished fourth in Gooding, ID ($1553), with another small bump from Missoula. Drayton Valley’s Joe Guze helped his cause as he works to make his first CFR, as he won Cranbrook in a tidy 3.4 seconds ($1449), took home $1241 from Strathmore, and placed at Jasper ($607). Coleman Kohorst, who won Jasper ($1470), and Jesse Lawes are both in that top 12 scramble well.
A career highlight came for bull rider Jordan Hansen this month, when he made an awesome 92 point ride on Kesler’s Excessive Force to win the Kalispell rodeo.
“Tanner Girletz was 90 points just before I rode, and that kind of got me going,” said Hansen. “And Beau Hill got on his last bull there. So my 92 seemed kind of minor compared to everything else that was going on.”
Well, maybe not exactly ‘minor’, since the highest mark the Okotoks cowboy had logged before was 89.5!
“It was a pretty cool spot to do it with the group we had there that night.”
“I’d been on that bull two times before and he’d bucked me off both times. So it was about time I actually stayed on. I guess I stopped worrying about it. He had the same kind of trip, and luckily it worked out.”
The Kalispell victory netted him $2558, and with another $2263 from Omak, WA and $1838 from Logan, UT, Hansen is up to 12th in the world standings.
“I’m not in a secure spot by any means. I need to do a lot more winning. I’m entered up for the next six weeks, and I’ll keep going,” he said, on his way to Bremerton, WA, Tremonton, UT, and San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Despite his name being on the PBR Global Cup roster to represent Canada in Edmonton, which conflicts with the CFR dates, the reigning Canadian has his choice made.
“I decided quite a while ago I was going to stick to rodeos this year, instead of the PBR, so I denied my spot at the Global Cup. Once I was in the running for the NFR this year, I decided to put my focus on the rodeo side of things. It’s tricky to do both.”
Along with the $2006 Tanner Girletz collected for second at Kalispell, he was also second at Jasper ($1291) and placed at Moses Lake, WA ($1861), as he declared ‘Pozzy’s chaps needed one more northwest run’.
In the saddle bronc riding, it was still the Zeke and Layton show, with Thurston winning Jasper ($1180) and placing at Pincher Creek ($823) and Cranbrook ($1152). Green topped Pincher Creek ($1257) and was second at Dawson Creek ($1911). Stateside, Zeke Thurston placed at Omak ($1628) and Hermiston ($2461), while Layton Green was second there ($4043) and won Jerome, ID ($1938). Sam Kelts split the first place honors at Omak, WA with Clay Elliott for $3081 each, while Kelts also picked up $2414 for winning Dawson Creek, $1403 for first in Cranbrook, and a couple of smaller cheques from Canby, OR ($511) and Jerome ($452).
On the team roping front, the Grahams put themselves on the map with a rapid run in Pincher Creek. Dawson and Dillon Graham were 3.7 seconds, to tie the second fastest run in Canadian rodeo records with the Skocdopole brothers. The Wainwright duo picked up $1254 each for the feat. Meanwhile, Kolton Schmidt of Barrhead moved into CFR contention as a header, but he had to do it with some different heeling partners. He roped with Justin Davis, to second place in Cranbrook ($891) and fourth in Pincher Creek ($605). He was with Kelly Buhler for a Dawson Creek payday ($427) and with Tyler Worley for some U.S. cash in Caldwell ($1277), Moses Lake ($1022) and Canby ($1232). Schmidt and Davis are putting pressure on Clay Ullery and Riley Wilson, but they answered with some earnings of their own from Jasper ($330). Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler continue to solidify their NFR spot, with cheques from Baker, MT ($2698) and Hermiston ($726).
Tie-down roper Dean Edge gave himself some CFR breathing room by winning Dawson Creek for an important $2568 injection into his rodeo account, adding to it from Jasper ($703) as well. Jesse Popescul also wants to distance himself from the field as a CFR qualifier, helping his cause with earnings from a win at Jasper ($1470) and third at Cranbrook ($1071). Kyle Lucas put himself in the conversation for Edmonton with cheques from Dawson Creek ($1783), Pincher Creek ($987) and Crangbrook ($504). Lucas also scooped up a generous helping from the Baker, MT prize pot for finishing fourth ($5426), topping it off with a bit from Hermiston ($718). Blair Smith and Randall Carlisle did some work at Jasper to hang in the hunt as well.
Barrel racers are in a tight battle at the bottom end, with Cathy Grant making a dash to her Edmonton hopes with money from Dawson Creek ($1803), and the Jasper win ($1377). But she still needs a little more to make the move inside the top twelve. That’s also what Kendra Edey has to do if she wants a return trip in November, but speedy stops in Dawson Creek ($1288), Jasper ($852) and Pincher Creek ($719) helped. Diane Skocdopole picked up more moola on her way to a first CFR appearance, winning first at Pincher Creek ($1510), second at Jasper ($1180) and placing at Dawson Creek ($356). Lynette Brodaway is putting some heat on at the front end, trying to catch season leader Carman Pozzobon, by winning Dawson Creek ($2576).
Josh Harden got the last of his required placings, when he pulled a steer wrestling cheque out of La Crete, so he becomes the third man in the race for the Canadian All-Around championship this year.
As the number of Canadian rodeos left in the season dwindles, there’s only one stop this weekend, with three performances at Okotoks. August 30-September 3rd the Canadian Pro Tour makes its last stop at Armstrong, where the Finals are also being held. There’s also rodeo action in Merritt, BC that weekend, followed by Medicine Lodge, AB and the return of the Olds-toberfest in mid-September.
The Glencross International Charity Roughstock Event runs Friday, August 25th in Red Deer, with proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House and the Hockey Alberta Foundation.
Plans are underway for the Winston Bruce Memorial. It’s being held outdoors on Tuesday, September 19th at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds. The service will being at 5:00 pm, followed by a special Match Bronc Riding event, with 24 open saddle bronc riders and six novice riders. There’s also a four-man Showdown Round and fireworks to round out the program.