Jake Gardner was off to a great start in the 2020 PBR Canada season when everything was put on pause in March. Though it was an unprecedented four-month break in the middle of the season, Gardner stayed busy so that if the season did resume, he would be able to and ready to compete at the highest level. The Dawson Creek cowboy competed in the Monster Energy Tour PBR event in Lethbridge last Thursday, July 23, finishing fifth out of 25 riders to take home a cheque of $512.69.
It was the first PBR Canada event since the 2020 season was paused mid-March. Gardner was bucked off his first time out of the gates, but held on for a score of 87 in the second round. Gardner sits 12th in the standings for the season, having competed in five events and ridden four bulls out of nine attempts. He has earned a total of $1,894.61 on the PBR Canada circuit in 2020.
"Things were going pretty good before it came to a halt. I stayed busy, kept working out and training, and new I would be ready when the time came," Gardner said. "The event went pretty well and I was able to knock the rust off, but it was definitely a little different with no fans."
Despite the weird feel to the event, if it means he gets to go bull riding, Gardner is here for it.
"We have a job to do. A guy doesn't really want to focus on anything else but the task at hand and you have to block that other stuff out of your mind," said Gardner.
In addition to training and practicing during the downtime, Gardner stayed busy working part-time with Newmark Farms & Agro. Though he is no stranger to pipeline work, he's not used to doing it during the summer, as he usually saves that for the winter offseason.
"I could have went on EI but I didn't want to. You have to figure out how to survive in times like this, and I have a boss who provides me with work when I need it and I was able to take advantage of that," Gardner said. "It sucks there was no rodeos this year but it has allowed me to do things I haven't been able to do for a while like be around family in the summer."
Gardner usually competes in the Canadian pro rodeo tour but that was cancelled entirely this year. Still, there are several PBR events still to come and he plans to compete at them all. Next up is a PBR-sanctioned event in Prince Albert on August 13.
"I'm pretty darn excited to be able to compete again. It fuels a guy to start working harder, there isn't a lot of events left on the season so I have to be at my best and take advantage of the few ones that are coming up," Gardner said.
The PBR Monster Energy Tour will resume September 26 in Medicine Hat, followed by a stop in Grande Prairie October 2 and 3. In total, there are five more stops scheduled on the tour, including the Canadian Finals in Saskatoon, November 13 and 14.
While born in Fort St. John, Gardner's parents moved to Dawson Creek after he graduated high school, and says he’s “been hanging his hat there ever since.”
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.