Conner Halverson Punches Ticket to Career-First Canadian National Finals by Less Than a Point
By: Covy Moore Wednesday, November 8, 2023 @ 2:36 PM
AIRDRIE, Alta. – It came down to the wire for the bubble riders in the PBR Canada national standings this past weekend in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, as there was one final chance to punch tickets to the 2023 PBR Canada National Finals Nov. 17-18 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
With the Top 17 in the Canadian standings qualifying for the record setting Finals, many riders took to the dirt in the eastern Saskatchewan town’s annual PBR Canada Touring Pro Division event.
Marking his first season competing in Canada, and fourth in the PBR, Nebraska’s Conner Halverson was well on the outside looking in. But after going a perfect 4-for-4 in Yorkton en route to the event win, he found himself inside the Top 17, edging out No. 18 Weston Davidson by a mere 0.66 points.
“I knew I needed to gain a few points, but never knew how many,” Halverson said. “I didn’t really focus on the points system, I just knew I needed a lot. I didn’t even know if I could make it if I won the thing.”
“I did my deal and stayed on all my bulls, and the rest of it figured itself out. I didn’t put too much pressure on, I just did my job.”
Halverson originally made his way north of the border in June for the Cup Series event in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the subsequent Touring Pro Division events across Alberta, but after experiencing some success, and being welcomed by the Canadian roster, the 22-year-old made the decision to take on the remainder of the season.
“Originally, I was just coming up because there were some events I wanted to get to, to have some fun. Everyone has been telling me I have to go up there for some of these events. Later in the year it turned out that I could make the Finals, so I started coming up more. Everything worked out, and here we are.”
“A lot of the veterans down in the States say how good of a time it is,” Halverson added. “My buddy Nick Tetz and all those guys, they influenced some of us. They said it's good bulls, good money, should be a good time for you to come up, it can be well worth it. I wanted to get to Ponoka and Calgary, those are the two I wanted to get to. I hit a couple more Touring Pros before Ponoka, then I went to a few more after that. Then last time I came up there was a whole string of them I went to.”
After a fourth-place finish at the PBR Canada Cup Series, presented by Wrangler, event in Medicine Hat, Alberta, in mid-October, Halverson said the trajectory to Finals became clear.
“When I stayed on in the short round it gave me a bunch of points, and Jason [Davidson] reminded me that the next couple events would make Finals for me if I could do good. I was lucky they had some spots open in Yorkton because I didn’t originally enter it.”
“After Saskatoon, I decided to stay up there and go to Yorkton, and I am sure glad I did.”
Having ridden at 10 Canadian events in 2023, Halverson said that the biggest lesson learned this year is respect, having gained a lot of friends and supporters simply through mutual respect.
“If you treat them guys with respect, they are going to help you out a lot and let you into their world,” Halverson said. “And if you don’t, it ain’t gonna be too good for you.”
While 2022 PBR Canada Champion Tetz befriended the young cornhusker, Halverson said he took a lot of advice and enjoyed his time with veteran Canuck Aaron Roy.
“Aaron Roy has been really good to me. The nicest guy ever.”
“He will help you out and give you lots of tips,” Halverson added. “He is a stand out for me, I quite like Aaron. Whatever I need help with, or to bullshit around with, or take advice from. He has been at my side when I needed anything this year.”
While only 22 years old, Halverson is no stranger to the big show in the United States.
Part of the Carolina Cowboys’ roster in the PBR Teams league, he has seen both the Camping World Teams Series as well as the PBR Unleash The Beast. He says the PBR events in Canada are nearly identical, except everything is more laid back and fun.
“The events are run so well. I like how laid back they are, you don't feel like you're being pushed, or rushed,” Halverson said. “You can really just show up and have a good time up here in Canada.”
Halverson will accept his PBR Canada National Finals jacket at the 2023 Ty Pozzobon Sportsman Banquet at the River Cree Resort & Casino next week, but says once the event starts his hopes are simply to ride as many as they run under him and take home as much money as possible.
In the meantime, as one of the lone Americans in a field full of Canadians, he urges folks in and around Edmonton to get their tickets now. With two PBR Canada National Finals in the state-of-the-art Rogers Place to date, he says there isn’t a better PBR event to take in than the Finals.
“Not very often can you see the top bull riders in Canada and the US go head-to-head for a National Championship. It’s only in Edmonton once a year. It is going to be a great time, great bulls, some of the best riders in the world.”
“You are not going to want to miss this.”