Rodeo series ends this weekend

Steamboat's Travis Darling eyes saddle bronc crown

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Rodeo schedule

6 p.m. Pre-rodeo barbeque starts

6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Pre-rodeo live entertainment

7:30 p.m. Rodeo starts

Ticket prices

Adults: $15

Children ages 7 to 15: $8

Children 6 and younger: free

Tickets are available at F.M. Light & Sons, Ghost Ranch Saloon, Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Steamboat Grand, Gondola General, Information Center/Vacation Services in Gondola Square, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Steamboat Central Reservations.

All tickets are general admission.

— There will be a lot on the line tonight when Travis Darling rolls into the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs, kicking off the final weekend of summer roping and riding in Steamboat.

Darling will be wrapping up his second season at his hometown rodeo, and at 20 years old, with friends and family sure to be cheering him on from the stands, he'll have a chance to be a champion.

A pile of money, a commemorative rifle and a belt buckle are on the line.

Darling leads the season-long saddle bronc riding standings, but when the gate swings open and his grip tightens, he said, it will be just another weekend at the rodeo.

"This rodeo is just another weekend, another way to make some money and have some fun," Darling said.

He's had plenty of fun in Steamboat this summer, winning twice and landing in the money on several other occasions. That streak of success has him poised for a championship weekend.

He could wrap up the saddle bronc title and claim the belt buckle that goes along with it tonight.

Then he could add the Pat Mantle saddle bronc riding competition Saturday night, adding the $2,000 check and replica 1866 Winchester rifle.

"That's what we rodeo for," he said. "At first, I was just going to Steamboat to win money and see how the end of the year worked out, but it ended up being pretty good for me."

Darling grew up in Steamboat Springs but finished high school in Ignacio. He spent his spring and early summer riding for Casper College in Wyoming but has taken to the road for the bulk of the summer.

He said it's been a successful venture and one he hopes will serve as a springboard to a career in rodeo.

"Next year is when I really want to start traveling more and getting to more rodeos - some of the big money ones," he said.

Darling will be just one of the many cowboys descending on Steamboat this weekend hoping to grab a share of the end-of-the-season loot. The 10-week, 20-performance rodeo comes to an end Saturday night. From a hotly contested season-long race in Pee Wee barrel racing to a neck-and-neck fight for the steer wrestling title, it will be a big weekend at the arena.

"I'm excited. I'm amped up for this weekend," rodeo announcer John Shipley said. "We have a lot of events that will be really close."

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