Jake Gardner got his 2021 bull riding season off to a great start with an 11th place finish at the Pensacola Invitational in Pensacola, Florida, on March 20, missing out on the money by one spot, and one point. Gardner burst out of the gate with an 85 point first ride, but was unable to record a score in his next two rides.
It's his best finish to date at a PBR Velocity Tour event, and is even more impressive considering there were 45 riders competing at Pensacola. Still, Gardner wishes he would have placed higher.
"It's not bad, though I would have liked to place higher. It's better than nothing," Gardner said.
Next up for Gardner is the PBR at Tuacahn Amphitheatre, part of the PBR Touring Pro Division, in Ivins, Utah, April 2.
The Pensacola Invitational was Gardner's first American competition since the PBR Global Cup in Arlington last February, before the pandemic forced him back to Canada. Though he had success on the Canadian PBR tour last year, finishing 13th overall, Gardner was thrilled to be back down South.
"It feels great, I know on the flights down here I felt like a kid at Christmas. It feels good to be doing what a guy loves," Gardner said.
Though masks are still required at events, fans are allowed back in the stands up to 50% capacity.
"There are still signs of the pandemic at events and it feels the same as last year, but you can tell they are moving faster than we are (in Canada)," said Gardner.
There are only two PBR events currently scheduled for Canada this summer.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.