LAS VEGAS – A year ago, Orin Larsen waited until the sixth go-round before he earned a paycheck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
That changed dramatically in 2017. On Thursday night, he rode Frontier Rodeo’s Night Fist for 86.5 points to finish second in the opening go-round. He pocketed $20,731 and pushed his season earnings to $129,971. Most importantly, he moved from 10th to sixth in the world standings.
“Coming off last year being hurt is really a relief to coming back healthy and riding good, so I’m very fortunate with the way things have started,” said Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba. “I didn’t know anything about the horse, but I knew he was the one to have; everyone else said he was the one to have. He gave me every opportunity he could, and I took advantage of it.”
That’s important in Las Vegas, which features the biggest purse in the game. Larsen finished second to fellow Canadian Jake Vold, who won the round with an 87.5-point ride on Kesler Rodeo’s Oakridge.
“It was pretty sweet to have two Canadian boys to kick off the week one and two,” Larsen said. “Let’s keep that tradition going. It’s a heck of a deal, and we are pretty excited to keep things rolling.”
Things can change in a hurry in Las Vegas, especially with such a big payday. Larsen knows that as well as anyone. He hopes to keep pushing forward over the next nine nights and see where the cards fall on the 2017 season a week from Saturday.
“That’s the one thing about the NFR; you can come in 15th and still win the world,” he said. “That’s happened multiple times in this arena. Anything can happen in Vegas, and I’m just excited for it to keep going.
“It was a high scoring round, and everyone rode really good. The horses were great. It was one of the best first rounds I’ve seen in a long time.”