By: Justin Felisko
November 09, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Dakota Buttar made some personal history last week competing at his first Built Ford Tough World Finals. He is now striving to make history this week at the 2016 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
Buttar is the reigning two-time Canadian Professional Rodeo Association champion and is trying to win an unprecedented third consecutive title. Only two riders – Wilf Girletz (1950-52) and Gid Garstad (1964-66) – have won three consecutive CPRA championships.
“For me, it was kind of a goal this year,” Buttar said. “It has only been done a few times and I think only twice has it been won three times in a row. It kind of has been falling into place. I started the year off good.”
Buttar heads into Round 1 Wednesday night atop the CPRA bull riding standings with $32,873.73. He has drawn Neon Magic.
He would be the second rider with PBR ties to ever win three CPRA bull riding titles. Rob Bell won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000 before adding another in 2004.
The 24-year-old arrived in Edmonton with some extra confidence following a career-high 88.25-point ride on Hy Test in Round 5 of the World Finals.
“You can’t hardly order one any better than this for a good time for a bull rider,” nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said on the CBS Sports Network broadcast. “Look at it, jump and kick and flashy and keeps trying across an arena. That is about as much as one can fade. Dakota Buttar does a really nice job opening up with that outside foot and matching the moves perfectly.”
Buttar finished second in the round for $18,000 and finished his first career World Finals 2-for-5 and in 11th place.
“It was a pretty big eye-opener,” Buttar said of his first World Finals. “It is something you have to see to actually acknowledge it all.
Buttar went home to Kindersley, Saskatchewan, for one day before heading to Edmonton on Tuesday.
The future Built Ford Tough Series rider said he wasn’t worried about potentially getting hurt at the World Finals and being unable to compete at the 43rd edition of the CNFR.
“No. Not at all,” Buttar said. “This is like a dream come true to be here. I never expected this.”
Buttar took a shot to his shoulder following his 70.25-point ride on Liquid Fire in Round 3, but otherwise walked out of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas unscathed.
Buttar made his way to the World Finals through the 2016 BlueDEF Tour Finals two days earlier after 2016 PBR Canada champion Ty Pozzobonopted to not compete because of his broken riding hand.
The 2016 PBR Canada runner-up with only two BFTS outs under his belt used a 2-for-4 performance to jump to the 35th and final spot in the world standings to earn his first career bid to the World Finals.
“Everything you do in this sport is about confidence,” Pozzobon said. “This is the highest level. It doesn’t get any bigger. It is confidence going in there. You know he can ride. That kid can ride. They are bulls and he has rode some of the best bulls. I have witnessed it.”
Buttar fought through an ankle injury on the last day of the BlueDEF Finals to ride Big Dan for 86.5 points and punch his ticket to the World Finals.
Every day Buttar got more confident in Las Vegas. He admitted he was nervous when he made his BFTS debut (0-for-2) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in August.
It definitely helped him seeing familiar faces like Tanner Byrne, Pozzobon, Aaron Roy and Nevada Newman, who Buttar rodeoed with a few years ago in Canada, inside the T-Mobile Arena locker room.
“A lot of people think I don’t show it very much, but I get pretty nervous,” Buttar said. “It helps when I see people here I know. It definitely helps when you know guys. You are comfortable with them around.”
Pozzobon added, “I could tell he was nervous and stuff. That kid is just as talented as anybody in that room. We all can do the deal. It is just in your head. That is what I told him. Just do the same thing you always do and look at him coming down here this week.”
Pozzobon, who finished a career-best fourth at the World Finals this year, remembers being 19 years old at his first Finals and seeing two-time World Champion Chris Shivers across from him in the locker room.
“It took some time for me,” Pozzobon said. “I walked into the room and I saw Chris Shivers. I only knew Aaron. I was like a scared little kid walking around. All of these guys I looked up to my whole life and now I am hanging my rope on the same fence as them. That was a big thing. To go in there and see four familiar faces, I think it helps you warm up to the environment.”
Buttar finished 4-for-9 during PBR Finals week. He finished the 2016 season 30th in the world standings and has a guaranteed eight Built Ford Tough Series events in 2017 before being subjected to the cutline.
He doesn’t plan on going anywhere else anytime soon once the BFTS season begins on Jan. 6 in New York.
“This is kind of my goal,” he concluded. “This is where I would like to be. I want to stay here.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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