Archive for December, 2010

postheadericon Miles and miles

I made a whirlwind trip to western Kansas. Was on the road for 16 hours, in my hometown for 15.

It was as close to rodeoing as most folks might get, and it’s pretty far from rodeoing. For cowboys and cowgirls, 15-hour stays are rare, especially in the heat of the season when there might be two rodeos to get to in one day. Most of their time is spent behind a windshield, heading from one rodeo to another.

Once at their location of choice, there’s usually enough time to get stretched and ready, get their horse prepared, and those moments of competition. Then it’s back to loading the vehicle and putting more miles on the rig.

Rodeo folks deserve all the good they get. Actually, most deserve better.

postheadericon They’re average, and they like it

The only thing more important to winning the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average is a world championship. But how important is the average title?

Of the nine ProRodeo contestants to win the 2010 world titles, four won the average – Dean Gorsuch tied Billy Bugenig with the best bulldogging cumulative time of 45.7 seconds, and they each earned $40,673. The other three, saddle bronc rider Cody Wright, tie down roper Trevor Brazile and bull rider J.W. Harris, added $44,910 to their annual earnings.

Brazile, who finished second in the team roping average and won the Triple Crown by winning the heading, tie down roping and all-round titles, earned the most money of any NFR competitor, $211,509. Harris earned $158,738, and Wright pocketed $148,287. Jill Moody, who won the barrel racing average, finished fourth with $133,035.

It’s a big payday for the most consistent, and it really paid off for Gorsuch, who finished with $93,774 in Las Vegas earnings, nearly half of which came from his average check.

postheadericon In the money, honey

Ten years ago, 47 cowboys finished the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association with more than $100,000 in earnings, led by Joe Beaver’s $225,396.

This year, there were 82 PRCA cowboys over the $100,000 marker, led by Trevor Brazile’s $507,921.

A lot has changed in the last decade, with more money available. But the cost of competing has risen just as fast. As we look to the stars of ProRodeo to carry the torch for the growth of the sport, we need to do our part in helping get rodeo more mainstream and give more fans the opportunity to see our shows.

It’ll take a major effort by a lot of people, but I say we’re up for it.

postheadericon Celebrate good times, come on

After the third go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith took the South Point Hotel & Casino stage for the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation.

That’s when Treston Brazile took the stage for the first time during the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He waved his hat in the air – “He learned that from his mom; that’s what she does with her hat,” Trevor said, referring to his lovely wife, Shada. – and he moved around the stage as if he were a natural.

If you’ve never met Trevor Brazile, let me explain that while he’s as talented an athlete as you’ll ever meet, he’s also humble. Demonstrative displays are out of character for the 14-time world champion.

But when Randy Corley mentioned Brazile’s record-breaking eighth all-around gold buckle, which he clinched after the second go-round, Brazile took Treston’s cue and waved his hat in the air, just like any 3-year-old boy, or elated world champion, would do.

postheadericon A quick visit to Arizona

I’ve never been to Arizona other than layovers in Phoenix, but I came pretty close after the eighth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

That night, Arizonans Sherry Cervi (barrel racing), Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz (team roping) were at the South Point Hotel & Casino to be recognized during the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation, and so was a good portion of Arizona.

I was there snapping photographs of bareback riding winner Justin McDaniel, so I wormed my way through the wave of people to get close to the stage, excusing myself and explaining I’d be out of their way right after Justin grabbed his rewards.

One kind Navajo man said, “You take pictures of team roping.”

I thought he was asking me if I’d be there that long, and I assured him I’d be out of way very quickly. But he repeated, “You take pictures of team roping.”

I looked at him, his stern stance and his matter-of-fact manner and said, “No, I’ll get bareback riding and be gone so you can get as close to the stage as you want.”

That’s when he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “No, you take pictures of team roping, or I kill you.”

That’s when he started laugh, “No, I just joking; I won’t kill you.” I’m not sure if he could see the fear in my eyes, but he let me in on his little joke. And he let me snap a few photos before I scurried out of his way, thanking him profusely in the process.

postheadericon We are family

There was a lot of talk about the families that were part of this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and rightly so.

You had the team roping Tryans, Travis, Clay and Brady; the tie down roping Coopers, Clint, Clif and Tuf; the bronc riding DeMosses, Heith and Cody, and Wrights, Cody and Jesse; and the steer wrestling Cassidys, Cody and Curtis. Throw in the fact that Tuf and Clif Cooper are brothers-in-law to Trevor Brazile and nephews of Stran Smith, the family ties that bind are wrapped tightly.

But rodeo is family, and you can see it in many ways. Take bareback riders D.V. Fennell and Justin McDaniel, best friends and brothers in arms despite their 13 years difference in age, or bull rider Kanin Asay and bullfighter Dusty Tuckness, who grew up together.

It’s that kind of stuff that makes rodeo special.

postheadericon What’s your event?

Rodeos don’t need intermissions, mainly because people find some events more interesting than others.

Stand-alone bull riding came about because bull riders paid special notice to how popular their event is. There are those that save their money to be inside the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie, Okla., for the annual Timed Event Championship.

So what is your fancy? What rodeo event is your favorite?

postheadericon It’s fun being a rodeo fan

What most folks don’t realize about those of us covering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is that we get involved in the work and miss most of the action.

The NFR media room isn’t conducive to the coverage, because it’s as far away from the action as you could be while still being inside the Thomas & Mack Center. There are TVs in the media room, and each offers a different viewpoint of the game, but you don’t really get to experience the emotions and the noise that is generated inside that bowl.

So now that I’m home, I’m able to watch the replay of the NFR, with special thanks to my wife, who set the DVR for me. It’s fun being a fan of those phenomenal athletes, and getting to enjoy the fantastic atmosphere that is the Thomas & Mack Center, all from a comfy recliner.

postheadericon Ah, spit!

After his fifth-round winning ride on Kesler Rodeo’s Street Dance, Will Lowe walked on the South Point Hotel & Casino stage for the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation with his 18-month-old son, Garrett.

Garrett is the dancer in the family, and when the music played, Garrett danced. Daddy will was proud, but he prodded his young son further: Will asked his child to spit into any open container. On stage. In front of hundreds of people.

It seems when Will’s home from the rodeo trail, he likes to chew tobacco around the house. Inquisitive Garrett got the idea to drink from Daddy’s spittoon, but Will put a stop to that and, instead, started teaching the youngster to spit instead of drink. So Garrett, on most occasions, can spit into an open container on command.

Later that night, as Trevor Brazile talked about the roping criticism he receives from his 3-year-old son, Treston, Flint Rasmussen noted the difference between timed-event fathers and roughstock dads.

“Timeys teach their kids the importance of two wraps and a huey in calf roping, and roughies teach their kids to spit and dance.”

True enough.

postheadericon It’s about to get funny

Flint Rasmussen is one of the best funnymen in rodeo-related sports.

He has a nice contract with the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series, but he regularly works Vegas in some regard during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has a talk-show type program during the day, and he teams with Randy Corley every night for the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation at the South Point Hotel & Casino.

But there were times he was more straight man to the comical contestants who had earned the right to share the South Point stage each night. There will be great stories coming on about the funny sights and sounds that came out of this year’s NFR, so keep checking back.

In the interim, let me share this tale with you:

Treston Brazile is 3 years old and has learned over all those years the ins and outs of good roping. His dad, Trevor, owns 14 world championships, eight in the all-around, three in tie down roping, two in steer roping and one in team roping-heading.

Yeah, he knows a thing or two about roping.

So when Trevor posted a 6.9-second run to share the fifth-round victory with Cody Ohl, Treston was waiting with wise words for his father: “I told you TWO wraps and a huey,” Treston said, referring to the half-hitch that goes into tying three legs together in tie down roping.

When Trevor mentioned that he’d won the go-round, Treston looked sternly at his father’s face with two fingers extended and said, “Two wraps, always.”

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