LAS VEGAS – Cole Elshere’s second straight qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo didn’t quite go as the South Dakota cowboy had hoped.
Over 10 nights in the Nevada desert, Elshere, 24, a saddle bronc rider from Faith, S.D., placed in just two go-rounds, earning just $14,123 in the process. Still, playing on ProRodeo’s championship stage is an amazing way to put the wraps to a fantastic 2013 campaign.
In all, the ranch-raised cowboy finished with $94,821in annual earnings, good enough to put him in the No. 11 spot in the final world standings; in rodeo, dollars equal points, and the cowboys with the most money won in each event were crowned world champions.
In saddle bronc riding, that title was awarded to fellow South Dakotan Chad Ferley of Oelrichs, who also claimed the ProRodeo gold buckle in 2006. Ferley earned more than $100,000 in Las Vegas to push his season payment past $204,000.
Unfortunately, the breaks just didn’t come for Elshere, who earned a third-round check with an 80.5-point ride on Sankey Rodeo’s Tuca’s War Song. That was worth $7,813. Elshere found the pay window again in the sixth round, when he posted a 79.5-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Four Aces worth $6,310.
The reality, though, is that the NFR is the toughest test in the sport. Cowboys must try to handle the nastiest bucking horses in the game while still showcasing that classic spur stroke in rhythm with the bronc’s bucking motion. It’s not the easiest of tasks on an easy horse, much less the type the best in the business face each of the 10 nights in Sin City.
But Elshere has proven his place among ProRodeo’s elite bronc riders, and he’ll be back at the NFR for years to come. The only question most have is how long before he brings the world championship gold buckle back to South Dakota.