By Amelia Naismith and Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye
This year Ponoka had a competitor in every event at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which lasted Nov. 4 to 9, and two cowboys representing the town came out of the prestigious competition with national championship titles.
Ponoka’s Jake Vold has it in his genes to rodeo and once again he proved that by taking home the Canadian championship title for the bareback event.
In what he called the strongest season he has ever had, Vold has earned approximately $63, 632, post CFR, which is $5,000 more than his closest competitor Matt Lait.
“It all feels good,” said Vold, who is one of three Canadians who has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas.
Vold says the beginning of his final run got off to a “dirty start” and he was bucked off with a no time. However, he is so formidable in the arena that he won two rounds and took the coveted Canadian title while coming in second for dollars earned during the CFR.
“I didn’t get the shot I wanted,” said Vold.
“I wanted to be a little more dominant on my part,” he added.
This is the first time Vold has earned the championship title at the CFR despite qualifying six times. And with that now under his belt, he has turned his attention to copying that achievement at the NFR, which he qualified for by winning money at high stakes events.
“It’s the same as rolling here . . . I’m pretty excited about it,” said Vold.
Simpson and Tittel team roping champions
Another Ponoka winner was team roper Levi Simpson with healer Ryon Tittel of Pueblo, CO. The duo sat in second place before the Sunday round, trailing Kolton Schmidt and Rocky Dallyn by a slim overall margin. A no-time for Schmidt and Dallyn helped get them closer to a win.
“Coming into this round we actually fell into second place,” explained Simpson.
His goal on the last day was to rope the steer as fast as possible and let Tittel do the rest. The steer they drew on the last day was a little slower and Simpson got out of the gate quick to ensure a fast time.
Tittel said they kept kicking along on the average to ensure they stayed close. With him in the United States and Simpson in Canada, co-ordinating practices had some challenges.
“When we came back up to the finals, we had a few good practice sessions and everything still fell in place like we wanted,” explained Simpson.
Simpson said they also tried to perfect their run as much as possible when competing with each other during the season. He and Tittel would try to compete together both in the United States and in Canada. The two were able to team up after they found themselves looking for a partner for the season.
“We’d sure like to make the national finals (in Las Vegas), added Tittel.