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Pride of Canada

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LAS VEGAS — Spare him the Canadian jokes, please. Bull rider Aaron Roy has heard them all by now, especially as the only representative from our neighbor to the north at this year's 2009 PBR World Finals.

But the 22-year-old from Asquith, Saskatchewan, Canada, must like something about the United States, and Las Vegas in particular — over the past two years he's ridden 9 of 14 bulls at the World Finals, including qualifying for the short go in 2008 and almost certainly doing the same here in 2009. In fact, so far in this year's event the young Canadian has been on fire, bucking off only one bull heading into Sunday's final rounds.

"I just have fun down here," Roy said. "I'm not letting anything get to me, and I'm trying to go out there and just take it one bull at a time."

Roy is one of the few international riders who opt to continue living in his home country, rather than adopting a permanent residence somewhere more centrally located. That decision makes for frequent stamps on his passport, an inconvenience Roy said he doesn't mind.

"I go home every weekend back to Canada," he said. "I like living there, I've always lived there, and it's not too terrible to fly back and forth every weekend."

Roy doesn't always have to fly solo, however, as fellow riders Rocky McDonald and Beau Hill frequently venture northward to compete in bull riding events. Hill, in fact, was only able to qualify for the Finals after picking up a big payday at a Challenger Series event in Canada earlier in the year.

The lanky Canadian (Roy is listed at 5'11" but looks closer to six feet in person) got his start riding bulls as a part of a sibling rivalry with his brothers, Matt and Nathan.

"I was always going to watch them when I was little, so I decided I wanted to try it," Roy said. But his talent quickly exceeded that of his brothers, leading him to a present-day career earnings total of nearly $260,000. In 2008, Roy also finally won the title of 2008 PBR Canadian National Champion, an honor which he had been chasing since he turned professional nearly four years ago.

Roy came into this year's Finals in 23rd place in the Built Ford Tough Series, his best finish so far. But with his track record of performing best when the lights shine the brightest, Roy still has time to challenge for the average title on Sunday. Round Six saw him smartly draft the bull Big Iron, of Diamond S Bucking Bulls, which he rode twice in 2008 — including once in the World Finals — for scores of 88.75 and 87.5.

"I've been on him twice before," said Roy just prior to the start of Round Six. "I rode him here last year at the Finals and last year during the regular season. He's just a really good bull."

Not surprisingly, Roy was easily able to top the bull for 89.25 points, his fifth qualified ride of the Finals and good for a five-way tie to win the round. Heading into Sunday, Roy stands in fifth in the average and still has an outside shot at winning the event title — not bad for Canada's top bull riding representative.

"To go back to Canada and be able to say that you won the World Finals would be a really big accomplishment," Roy said. "This is an amazing World Finals for me.

Make sure to follow ESPN Rodeo + Bull Riding @ www.twitter.com/espnrodeo for live updates from inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

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Check back with ESPN.com and pbrnow.com all week long for continuing coverage of the 2009 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.