Young cowboys to get shot at Steamboat rodeo

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One of the smaller 2-year-old bulls that will be used for the junior bull riding roams the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena Thursday afternoon. The smaller bulls have less power than those ridden by the professional cowboys and less experience. However, Brent Romick thinks many of them will become stars on the PBR and PRCA tours in the future.

— As chairman of board for the Steamboat Springs Professional Rodeo Series, Brent Romick knows Steamboat hosts some of the best rodeos in the country.

But that doesn't mean they can't get better.

"You can't rest on your laurels," Romick said. "You've always got to look to the future and look for ways to get better."

Romick sees good things for the rodeo series' future, and it begins tonight when, for the first time, the 10-week series will feature junior bull riding as part of the regular weekend performances. Bringing younger riders into the mix is a move Romick thinks will make the series stronger as a whole, and could also pay off several years from now when the young competitors rise through the professional ranks.

It's also a chance for rodeo fans to get a glimpse of some of Bad Company Rodeo's top young bucking stock before it hits the big time.

"Cowboys always seem to remember the little things," Romick said. "I'm sure that these young cowboys will remember us down the road, and they will be back."

The junior event will feature athletes between the ages of 12 and 15 on the backs of two-year-old bulls. The bulls are slightly smaller and less aggressive than those used by the professional riders.

This weekend's rodeos - and the holiday rodeos Tuesday and Wednesday - will open with between six and eight junior bull riders. It will then shift to the first session of pro bull riding before the timed events begin.

Romick said the Steamboat rodeo wants to provide a stage for young bull riders and young animals to learn the sport in a safe environment. He also expects it to provide another entertaining event that should become a regular part of the rodeo in Steamboat.

But the full impact of adding junior bull riding might not be felt for a few weeks. Romick expects the junior bull riders to help fill out the rodeo when contestant entries drop off later in July and August.

Traditionally, the first few rodeos of the summer in Steamboat draw large fields of competitors. But as the season stretches on and cowboys get hurt or start to run out of money, the entries can drop.

But Romick insists that's not the main reason to host the junior events.

"It wouldn't matter if I had more bull riders than I needed every week in Steamboat, I would still want to do this event," Romick said. "Anybody with a passion for the sport rodeo wants these young athletes to have a place to showcase their talent, learn the sport and continue the sport we all love."

Romick said changes in Colorado law have made it easier to host junior bull riding, and that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association fully supports the addition of junior bull riding. Romick said he is also looking into the possibility of bringing junior barrel racing to the rodeo.

"I think that the rodeo needs to make changes every year," Romick said. "We are here to entertain people, and we can't just keep doing the same thing every year."

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