Canadian cowboys got off to a fast start at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Three time Canadian champion, Jake Vold, wasted no time in resuming his signature lights-out performances in Las Vegas. Vold who finished second in the world a year ago and won three rounds and $165,000 in the Thomas and Mack Arena, picked up where he left off with a tremendous 87.5 on Kesler Rodeo’s Oakridge. The win netted the Airdrie cowboy the $26,230 first place cheque and moved him to third in the world standings with $138,391 in the bank, now $87,000 back of season leader and defending world champion Tim O’Connell.
“It’s a good confidence builder,” Vold noted of his first night ride. “There are a lot of horses here and going at that kind of money, I find quite exciting. It’s keeps your blood flowing. I need to win a lot of money to have a chance at a world title. To get the win right off the bat is definitely key. Hopefully a guy can keep it rolling and see what happens after the 10 days”.
Provost, Alberta steer wrestler, Scott Guenthner, did not appear to feel any nerves as he made his first-ever appearance at the WNFR posting a solid 4.3 second run to be among a cluster of bulldoggers with that time. Guenthner split 3/4/5/6/6 for a nice $7530 start to his Finals. Cochrane’s Tanner Milan, at his second Las Vegas Finals, was 6.6 seconds on his steer and finished out of the money. Defending world champion, Tyler Waguesback, won the round with a 3.5 second run to keep his repeat title hopes very much alive. He sits third in the world at $140,000, $33,000 behind Helena, Montana dogger, Ty Erickson.
In the saddle bronc riding, defending world champion, Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, closed the gap on the season leader and 2015 World Champion, Jacobs Crawley. The 23 year-old Canadian now trails Crawley by just $9,000 after a 5/6/6 split on the Calgary Stampede stallion Timely Delivery. The second generation bronc rider was 85 points on the horse on this night, as the pair reprised their July Calgary Stampede matchup that ended with Thurston collecting 90 points. Crawley finished out of the money on a night that saw Oklahoma cowboy Hardy Braden win the round with an 87.5 score. Utah’s Ryder Wright (86.5) and 2015 Canadian champion Cody DeMoss (85.5) won 3rd and 4th respectively on a couple of Canadian broncs, C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills and Outlaw Buckers’ three time Canadian champion Lunatic Party.
Clay Elliott and Layton Green, the other two Canadians in the bronc riding, both managed 79 scores on night number one.
Defending world champion team roping heeler, Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, caught a leg and was 9.3 seconds with partner Tom Richards after Canadian partner, Levi Simpson, finished just out of the 2017 WNFR. Buhler remains in 15th spot in the world standings in a round that was won by Kaleb Driggers and reigning All Around Champion, Junior Nogueira, who also sit atop the world standing, both with over $170,000 on the season.
And in the bull riding, Calgary’s 2016 Canadian champion, Jordan Hansen, first Canadian to qualify for the WNFR since 2001, was bucked off by Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Lumberjack. Hansen came to Las Vegas in 13th place overall. The round was won by Trey Benton lll, as he rode the Big Stone bull, Mortimer, to 90 points. Joe Frost, he Utah bull rider rode Outlaw Buckers’ Bomb Shell to 84 points for 5th place in the round. 2017 Canadian champion, Garrett Smith from Rexburg, Idaho, narrowed the gap on season leader Sage Kimsey as he posted an 85.5 point ride for 4th place in the round while Kimsey, the three-time titleist, finished out of the money with a 79 mark. Smith moves to within $20,000 of the leader as he vies for his first world crown.