Friday, September 1, 2000
Steamboat Springs Sixty-nine men have climbed aboard Skoal's Panda this summer with hopes of riding the bull to a top score.
Sixty-nine men have failed.
The huge black, white-faced bull with a mean disposition has been sending cowboys to the dusty floor of Romick arena at a record pace this summer. He isn't likely to get any easier this Sunday when the second annual Steamboat Professional Bull Riding Classic roars out of the chutes at the Romick Rodeo Arena.
"I think this bull may be the rankest in the world right now," organizer Brent Romick said. "A good bull rider should be able to score a 90 on this animal if he can stay on for eight seconds."
The bull riding event will kick off with the long-round at 2 p.m. in which 42 of the top Professional Bull Riders Association's touring pros will try to qualify for the short round where the paychecks are handed out. Only eight will make the cut.
Panda will be featured in the short go-around along with other tough-to-ride bulls like Yellow Wasp, Skoal Wrangler, Hollywood and Electric Man, Black Smoke, Julio and Ornery. A bull named Blue Duck will be used as an alternate. Seven stock contractors Donna Vold, Glen Southwick, Guy Urie, Burns Rodeo, Western Trails, Juma Rodeo and Nevada Berger will provide the bulls, which Romick said represent the cream of the crop.
"This is one of the best lineups anywhere in the country," Romick said of the Classic.
In addition to the top bulls, the riders are all well know in the rodeo world.
PBR riders like Owen Washburn, Cody Custer, Jason Bennett and B.J. Kramps are among the contestants. Bennett, of Grand Prairie, Texas, is one of the top bull riders on this year's tour. He won $30,000 earlier this year in Denver.
Rodeo announcer Bob Feist, who has announced the PBR finals six times in his career, expects Steamboat to be one of the top touring events in the country this summer.
"There are several really good match ups, but Owen Washburn has drawn a bull, Rock N Wolf, that will be a good one to watch," Feist said. " I'm not sure if it will be the best match up, but these are two of the most talented athletes you will ever see."
Feist added that several of the cowboys who will be here are battling to maintain their positions on either the Bud Light Cup or Touring Pro lists. The cowboys have to be in the top-45 in the world to be invited to Bud Light Cup events, of which there are 27 over the summer.
Touring events like the one in Steamboat Springs are the only way the riders can earn the money to break into the top group of riders.
"This is one of the largest weekend's for the touring pros," Feist said. "The event in Steamboat is big, but there are also other competitions in Landcastser, Calif., Grand Junction and Gainesville, Texas."
Feist said there will be a lot of top riders in Steamboat, but there are a lot of lesser know riders who could make a name for themselves.
Colorado riders to watch will include Judd Mortensen, who is living in Pyramid, Scot Wheatley from Kremmling and Nate Thorson from Grand Junction. Chance Kling is from Peyton and Marlin Etcheverry is from Fruita.
To win the Steamboat event, the cowboys will need to stay on for at least eight seconds. In last year's final round, only one bull rider, Chad Denton was able to stay on top until the buzzer.
"The philosophy I had when I lined up the bulls for the short go was it's a 90 or nothing," Romick said. "There are never any guarantees in bull riding, but on paper this looks like a great event."
The gates at the arena will open at noon with live entertainment and a pre-event barbecue. First round action is set for 2 p.m. and the finals will follow.
Pre-sale tickets are available at the PBR Truck, which will be at the free concert and vintage fly-in on Saturday. It will also be a Soda Creek at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org