Larsen wins 2nd straight Champions Challenge
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – Bareback rider Orin Larsen is two-for-two after winning his second consecutive Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots event.
“It’s neat to win two of them back-to-back, and definitely a rewarding feeling for me,” Larsen said, following his Grand Island, Neb., victory. “I hope to do it for the next six or so Champions Challenges. It’s a great opportunity to win more money and get to the Finals.”
The 25-year-old Canadian member of Team Coors covered J Bar J’s Blessed Assurance with 87 points, a nearly identical performance to his winning 86-point ride at the Rapid City, S.D., Champions Challenge on Feb. 1.
“It (Blessed Assurance) was a wild little horse – circled around and came to the right and was pretty exotic,” Larsen said. “Just a fun horse to get on.”
Competition was tight and the stock was rank, so Larsen had to bring his A-game to come out on top.
“It was a great group of guys and a great group of horses – it was phenomenal bareback riding,” Larsen said. “The stock was all awesome, you could win on any of them, I thought.”
Larsen wasn’t exaggerating, as the Top 5 bareback rides were all 84 points or better and the second-place score was a mere point-and-a-half behind him.
“I try not to be surprised about a win – we are all expected to win and ride at our best, and everyone rode outstanding,” Larsen said. “It’s a relief, but I feel like it wasn’t unexpected.
“It’s always a huge confidence boost to get a win under your belt. It’s like a hometown win, really – me and my fiancée bought a place and have been living in Gering (Neb.) for almost exactly a year.”
Larsen’s hitting the road for more rodeos, with Arcadia, Fla., Montgomery, Ala., and Austin, Texas, next on his list.
“I’m going to keep picking away and hopefully enough to make it back to Vegas,” Larsen said. “I haven’t had very good winter runs, so I was hoping for this. It will help going into the spring and the rest of the year.”
Larsen was No. 3 in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings in 2016, and is confident this year will go just as well.
“That’s what I’m banking on, nod for 90 or go down swinging,” Larsen said.
Other winners at the $92,800 rodeo were Team B&W Trailer Hitches steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge (4.1 seconds), Team Coors team ropers Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza (4.8 seconds), Team PRCA saddle bronc rider Jake Wright (88.5 points on Brookman Rodeo’s Drinking Again), Team Experience Kissimmee tie-down roper Tuf Cooper (7.3 seconds), Team Justin Boots barrel racer Tiany Schuster (13.76 seconds) and Team RAM bull rider Cole Melancon (88 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Red Image).
This was Melancon’s second-consecutive WCC victory as well.
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