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LAS VEGAS – The train of bucking horses that Orin Larsen has been riding this week seems to just keep chugging along.

There have been no big victories nor any significant losses, but it’s working. On Sunday night, Larsen rode Four Star Rodeo’s Big Star for 86 points to place third in the fourth night of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, pocketing $15,654. It’s the third time he’s made his way to the pay window.

“It’s awesome to have the kind of finals I’ve had the last couple of years and show up knowing what I can do and what I am mentally here for,” said Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, now living in Gering, Neb., with his wife, Alexa. “It’s just amazing.”

He rebounded from Saturday night’s fight with Frontier Rodeo’s Delta Ship, one of the hardest-to-ride horses in the world. On the night that featured the “eliminator” pen, the 15 bucking horses lived up to their name. While Larsen stayed on the big bay gelding, the 73-point score kept him out of the money.

But he came away relatively unscathed. While most of the bareback riders were sore, he had held his own – that’s a far cry from his 2016 NFR, where an early rib injury cause him problems for the first five rounds; once he figured out how to ride through the pain, he finished strong.

“That was the kind of round where everyone gets sore,” Larsen said with a grin. “They go to sports medicine more times that not, but for me, I feel 100 percent. I’m ready to go 10 more after this one.

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“The kind of momentum I’ve built to this have … I’m going to carry it with me. I’m going to treat the other six rounds like they belong to me.”

That’s the right attitude to have, especially in Las Vegas. With go-round winners earning more than $26,000 a night, he has six more nights in the ProRodeo season to cash in. So far this season, he has earned $149,855, more than $50,000 of which has come over the last four nights.

“I’m never totally satisfied with my riding,” he said. “I always feel like I can build more. I think you have to have that kind of mentality to be the best. I’m close to where I want to be, but I’m pretty critical of myself.”

That’s why he’s one of the very best in the game for the third year in a row.

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