Two Ponoka cowboys are making their way to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) this year.
Bareback rider Jake Vold and team roper (header) Levi Simpson both placed in the top 15 of the Weather Guard Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) standings, enough to get them to the NFR in Las Vegas, NV set for Dec. 1 to 10.
This will be Vold’s second time at the NFR having made it in 2014. “I placed in eight of the 10 rounds back then.”
With more experience this time round, although he is no stranger to the big stage having made it to the Canadian Finals Rodeo on several occasions, Vold is excited to return to the NFR.
The road to the NFR wasn’t an easy one after a rib injury in Ponoka this summer slowed his momentum. Vold had landed a spot at the finals showdown in Ponoka but couldn’t make it due to the injury. A few days rest and then he headed to the Calgary Stampede where Vold ended up with three fractured and separated ribs.
He took 30 days off to recover but was in for enough money that it didn’t hurt his overall chances.
Header Levi Simpson will be heading to the NFR with heeler partner Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood. This is the first time an all-Canadian team heads to the NFR.
For Simpson it is an exciting time. “I’ve been working toward this for the last four years,” he explained.
Last season Simpson ended up 20th, just out of reach of the top 15 spot. This year he was ready, coming in 14th, putting in extra time and days on the road to make the big rodeos sanctioned by the PRCA.
At the Ponoka Stampede, Simpson and Buhler made it to the top 10 but landed sixth and just missed out on the finals showdown round. They still made money and travelled to a few different rodeos than normal, which put them in the running.
For Simpson getting a chance at the NFR was never secure. He said it was always up to the wire being in 12th, 13th and 14th spot. “There was definitely a moment when you looked at the guys below in the standings.”
Making it to the NFR was a personal goal that he is grateful could become a reality.
Both Vold and Simpson are heading to the Canadian Finals Rodeo this year set for Nov. 9 to 13.
There are eight Canadians who will be represented at the NFR.