Friday night was eliminator night in the saddle bronc event at the second performance of the 2013 National Finals Rodeo in Las vegas.
It was a night for the top 15 bronc riders in the world to climb aboard the meanest, rankest, bucking horses professional rodeo has to offer.
And while the bucking horses came out on top with nine of the 15 bronc riders failing to make a qualifying ride, Chad Ferley was wasn’t among those hitting the dirt early.
The Oelrichs, S.D., cowboy posted an 87.5-point ride aboard Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off en route to winning the second round of the 10-round National Finals Rodeo before a sellout crowd of 17,778 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Termed eliminator horses because of their knack for tossing would-be riders and eliminating them from competition, Ferley drew a horse that came into this year’s NFR after pitching a shutout in the 2012 NFR.
“Tip Off was out here last year. Cort Sheer and Wade Sundell (both competitors in this year’s NFR event as well) both had him, and he didn’t get ridden either time,” Ferley said in a Prorodeo.com interview following the event. “He’s a handful, and he doesn’t do anything dirty, which is nice. I felt fortunate to draw one that just bucked real hard and let me do my job.”
Ferley's winning trip nipped Elsmere, Neb., cowboy Cort Sheer by a half point and the $18,630 payday vaulted the 2006 world champion into second in overall world standings and within striking distance of current leader Cody Wright ($135, 013 to $122,400).
Wright, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, joined younger brothers Jesse (the 2012 world champion) and Jake among the nine bronc riders failing to cover their broncs on Friday night, which also included South Dakota’s Cole Elshere.
After a 75.5-point opening performance ride and the no-score in the second, Elshere currently stands 15th in the average.
After failing to place in the first round, the Friday night win also moved Ferley into second in the average after two rounds, and with the win, and money in pocket, tons of confidence heading into the final eight days.
“It always make you feel good to get some money won. I’ve been skunked before, so after not making any money last night, I was sure happy to get this win,” Ferley said. “Getting a little momentum never hurts and once you get started, it makes the next round feel a little smoother and you aren’t worried about it so much.”
Ferley failed to gain any ground in Saturday’s third performance as his 75.50-point effort aboard C5 Rodeo’s Lights Out failed to place in the money, though he retained his second-place standing in the average.
Cole Elshere, however, did cash his first check in this year’s NFR finishing fourth (80.50-points) behind performance winner Wade Sundell (86.00).
The 2013 NFR continues through Saturday, Dec. 14 with performances each evening beginning at 8 p.m. MST. Performances can be viewed on Great American Country TV (GAC).