Jake Vold sweeps Super Series I in triumphant return to RodeoHouston
With RodeoHouston again PRCA-sanctioned, riders dreaming big at NRG
Jake Vold wasn’t able to defend his RodeoHouston bareback title.
After winning here in 2017, the three-time Canadian champion suffered a knee injury later that year at the National Finals Rodeo, forcing him to undergo surgery in December — and skip Houston.
“I missed it,” Vold said. “So it motivated me to get back and get back to work and rehab hard. I’m glad to be back here.”
He’s making up for lost time this week.
The 31-year-old from Red Deer, Alberta, won all three rounds of Super Series I, including an 87-point ride on Classic Equine Fires Easy on Wednesday at NRG Stadium, netting him $9,000.
“I’m just glad to be back, having some fun and enjoying it,” Vold said. “I love this rodeo. It’s one of my favorites of the year.”
Vold’s win here two years ago made him $56,000, a pretty penny to be sure, but it didn’t count toward his final earnings in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings.
If he’s able to repeat the feat, it will count this year.
For the first time since 2010, Houston’s rodeo is an official, PRCA-sanctioned rodeo after Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and PRCA officials reached a new multi-year partnership last year.
“This unique partnership combines the brand strengths of two of the biggest names in rodeo to grow the sport for fans and athletes alike, while allowing us to maintain our current presentation,” Joel Cowley, RodeoHouston’s president and CEO, said in October. “Additionally, it adds an extra level of excitement for rodeo athletes as they compete for payouts in Houston — earnings that could inch them closer to clinching the coveted world championship title at the NFR in Las Vegas.”
Vold couldn’t be giddier.
“A lot of things are counting these days, and that’s fine by mine,” he said. “I don’t rodeo real hard, so having these big ones count, yeah, I like it.”
Veteran tie-down roper Tyson Durfey, who qualified for the semifinals by tying for second in his series, agrees.
He’s competed here since 2004, before Houston lost PRCA sanctioning.
“It’s great that it’s back to PRCA,” said Durfey, who won a Houston title, and $55,750, in 2016. “I would like to see every rodeo on an upper level come back to the PRCA, because at the end of the day, if you win a big rodeo and get that bonus, you deserve it. Whereas, if it’s not PRCA, and you win that big bonus but it doesn’t get counted, it could cost you a world championship — when you were competing against the same guys.”
In addition to the big payday, Houston’s revolutionary format was a barrier to PRCA sanctioning, because Houston, in an effort to make the rodeo fan-friendly, doesn’t host all the PRCA-required events. The association originally granted Houston a three-year exemption, but didn’t renew it in 2011.
“They didn’t come up with a great answer (in 2011), so they went their separate ways, but I’m excited for it to come back,” said steer wrestler Blake Knowles, who advanced in second place. “The PRCA is the foremost rodeo organization in the world … and Houston is one of the top two or three events.
“Having them combined as one only makes sense.”
They’re not the only rodeo giants who partnered up last year.
PRCA also agreed for the first time to sanction The American, which is entering its sixth season. The now two-day event runs March 2-3 at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium — with a total purse of $2.35 million.
The total payout for 20-day RodeoHouston is $2.17 million.
Now, with all that money counting toward NFR qualification — and the pursuit of a world championship gold buckle — starting the rodeo season off on the right boot is more important than ever.
“If you hit a home run, your year could be wrapped up, as far as the season standings,” said Knowles, who will compete this weekend in Arlington, then return to Houston for the semifinals March 13-14.