LAS VEGAS – There were moments during the National Finals Rodeo where bareback rider Tanner Aus was just shaking his head.
He had trouble matching his bronc in the third round, then had more trouble the next night when his left foot slipped below the animal’s shoulder on the first jump out of the chute. That failed markout meant a no-score for the veteran cowboy.
He didn’t keep his head down for long. Instead, he placed five nights, including an 88.5-point ride on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Night Flight to finish tied for third place in Saturday’s 10th go-round. That $14,690 pushed his Las Vegas earnings to just shy of $80,000. He finished eighth in the world standings with $206,851.
“It has been good, but it has a lot to do with how I drew,” said Aus of Granite Falls, Minnesota. I’m thankful to have the chances I did. I had a couple of good chances I let slip through my fingers, too. You can see it in the average results; I’m not there. I’m thankful for everything I was able to put together this week.
“There is no better place to be as a rodeo cowboy.”
Even through the ups and downs, it was still a good week. Of the five nights he earned a paycheck, he earned big money three times. He also had big scores, proving his talent and the talents of the horses he was matched with.
“I kind of got banged up earlier this week in that eliminator round (on Night 8),” he said. “I’ve just been playing it by ear to see if I was going to be able to continue. The last thing I wanted to do was weaken before the end. When I saw my draw for (Saturday), I knew I had a chance at the round (win).
“I didn’t know how the round w as going to get. Night Flight delivered, and it was a blast. Other than winning the round, I can’t think of a better way to end the finals.”
He did it, thanks to the Justin Sportsmedicine team, who took care of a big bruise on Aus’ thigh that was caused when his eighth-round horse, the Calgary Stampede’s Annual News, stopped his right leg after the qualified ride.
The Minnesota cowboy reached down deep and made the decision to get on his bronc for the final night. Having Night Flight was a big reason why, but there also is something a bout completing a task.
“It’s cool to see everyone finish off the week strong,” Aus said. “We are down one man because Orin Larsen is having surgery. Everyone had the tenacity and the drive to get through the week barring any major injuries. It is just good to see the guys turn up after 10 days and ride as good as everyone did (Saturday) night.”