Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series wraps up Saturday

Season-long races to come down to final rides at Brent Romick

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The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series starts at 6 p.m. today and Saturday, when barbecue sales begin. Pre-rodeo entertainment is from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., and events start at 7:30 at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. Tickets are $15 at the gate for adults and $8 for children ages 7 to 15. Children ages 6 and younger are free.

— Not taking into account whether he snores, keeps the bathroom clean or washes his own dishes, the line for husband of the year may start behind Craig’s Mitch Walz.

Walz, a longtime participant in the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, is locked in a virtual dead heat in the season-long No. 11 Team Roping standings with his wife, Kaley.

Success at the rodeo is important to the family, Mitch said: “That’s how we pay our bills. We take it seriously.”

It’s important, but he was quick to give a little ground even before he saddled up.

“Ya know,” he said, “I hope she beats me.”

That doesn’t mean he won’t be trying his best. Mitch previously has won season championships in other events and is a regular at the pay window. No. 11 Team Roping matches up riders based on a handicapping system, allowing teams of fathers and sons, husbands and wives or friends experienced and novice to ride together.

“If someone has to beat me,” he said, “I sure hope it’s her.”

The riders Walz will be only two of the dozens of cowboys and cowgirls loading up for one last crack at 2010 season-long championships.

The standings in nearly every event are tight as the 10-week summer series comes to an end with 7:30 p.m. performances today and Saturday at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat.

That should make for exciting riding up and down a loaded docket, but some events will feature more local interest than others.

The bull riding is one of the most popular events of the rodeo and this week will feature Hayden’s Jake Booco riding to try to rally from third place to capture the season title.

The saddle bronc riding, meanwhile, always provides season-ending highlights. Not only is the season championship up for grabs — there’s a tight three-way race for the Steamboat Springs buckle that will be given to all champs — but $2,000 and a commemorative rifle also will be handed out in the 19th annual Pat Mantle saddle bronc riding contest.

The top six riders from the season earn the right to ride for the extra booty in the season’s last event Saturday night. Rodeo board member John Shipley said 10 of the top 15 riders in this summer’s series are expected to be on hand, and all have the opportunity to break into the top six.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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