Jade Corkill wasn’t going to let a crushed left hand prevent him from winning another world rodeo championship.
After his hand was busted by his rope coils during the first round of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, the Fallon native and eight-year pro was prepared to do whatever was necessary to keep roping, even if it meant cutting off a couple fingers.
“My rope got to running on the horn and a coil sucked tight around my left hand, which then pulled it down into the horn and I took the jerk that way,” Corkill said in describing the near-traumatic event in the first round last week. “That was the first time in my life I truly thought I might have cut a finger off. It was the worst pain I’ve ever personally experienced. But I would have cut them off before I let go of a world title.”
Through daily treatments from Justin Boots Sportsmedicine Team, Corkill’s determination to win his second straight title paid off as he and his partner, Clay Tryan (Billings, Mont.), won the team-roping title at the Thomas and Mack Center before a record crowd of 18,242.
“The rest of the rodeo took a lot of help from the Justin Boots Sportsmedicine Team to keep my hand (moving), and figure out a way to wrap it so I could rope as normal as possible. I can’t thank them enough,” Corkill said.
Corkill, a heeler, and Tryan maintained control of the top spot even with the first-round accident. With a slim lead of less than $4,000 going into the final round on Saturday, the tandem encountered good fortune. The second-place team of Travis Graves and Kaleb Driggers didn’t record a time, which meant Corkill and Tryan just needed to rope a steer regardless of time.
“This year felt like such a relieving feeling like everything I had done was paying off,” said Corkill, whose partner, Driggers, couldn’t muster enough prize money to take the top spot for header last year. “They say the first is the sweetest. But I’m not sure because I got a completely different sense of peace when I won this one. Maybe, too, it was because last year was hard since Kaleb didn’t win it also.”
Corkill finished with $166,338 to claim his second-straight world title as he became the first Nevada native to win two titles. Only four Nevadans have won titles in the 77-year history of the NFR. Corkill also became the first repeat champion in team roping in nine years. Tryan raked in $167,969 to win his first world title.
But Corkill isn’t satisfied with two titles.
Corkill, who also holds the world record team-roping time of 3.3 seconds with Chad Masters, wants to break the record of eight-consecutive championships.
“I feel like whether they are realistic or not you have to set your goals high so you’re always working for something,” said Corkill, who splits time in Fallon and Texas with his wife, Haley, and son, Colby. “My goal is nine in a row because the record is eight. If I can do it or not is another story, but two is a start and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to get to nine.”
Even if Corkill can’t add a third title in next year’s NFR, which will relocate to Florida in 2015, the city of Fallon will honor the rodeo star Thursday. Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. and the city council will present Corkill with a proclamation and dub Thursday as “Jade Corkill Day.”
“I don’t forget where I come from. I love being in Fallon and going to the Cock ‘n’ Bull and eating breakfast with all the farmers,” he said. “I actually get a little embarrassed when someone makes a big deal out of what I’ve done or something I’ve won. I’m a small-town ranch kid who doesn’t want any spotlight. But at the same time, I appreciate the ones who are proud of me.”
Family, though, means more than a world title to Corkill and without their support, none of this would be possible.
“My family deserves this recognition more than me because they sacrifice just as much just for me,” he said. “They are the real world champions to me because they do it all just so I can live my dream. There’s no word I know of to describe what that means to me.”