LAS VEGAS – The smile spread across bareback rider Orin Larsen’s face, and it was real.
It was not to cover up the pain or the chill of the ice that rested on his ribcage. Larsen was experiencing pure joy of a strong finish to his 2016 season, despite separating ribs on the first night of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“One word to describe it would be blessed,” he said of his NFR, in which he didn’t earn a paycheck until the sixth night of the 10-round slugfest. “I had a rocky start to the first five rounds, and sports med did an awesome job putting me together. Somehow by the grace of God we were able to put an exclamation point on the end of the finals.”
Larsen placed on the final five nights, including a win in the eighth go-round, and earned $81,077 in Sin City. He had finally figured out how ride through the intense pain of having the rib injury, and it paid off quite well. He finished the season with $219,373, third in the final world standings.
His exclamation point came with an 85-point ride on Picket Rodeo’s Scarlet Belle, finishing in a tie for fifth place in the round, worth $8,885.
“Honestly I’m ready for another 10 rounds,” said Larsen, who was raised in Inglis, Manitoba, and now lives in Gering, Neb. “With sports med putting me together, I’ve learned to ride through the pain. I just wish I had more momentum to go forward in the finals.
“It is what it is, and I’m very fortunate to have the finals I did with all things considered. We’ll be back next year.”
Larsen first qualified for ProRodeo’s grand finale in 2015. He placed in just three rounds and earned less than $33,000 in Las Vegas. He more than made up for it over the last 10 days, so he has plenty of time to celebrate – and maybe rest and heal.
He had a great showing of support, from many family members making the trek from Canada for the championship to other friends and family that flew in for even few days.
“It’s awesome to have any support, especially from your immediate family,” Larsen said. “There’s nothing else like it.”