Steamboat Springs Late in Friday night’s rodeo, the first of the Steamboat Springs Rodeo Series’ 20-performance summer season, announcer John Shipley called to the audience, Triple Crown children, Mustang lovers and plenty of locals.
“Who you gonna bet on?” he said, his voice bellowing across Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs. “Who you gonna bet on? The bull or the man?”
He was trying to fire the crowd up, and it worked. They stomped their feet and roared as the next cowboy climbed atop his bull and prepared to enter the ring, hundreds of enthused fans behind him.
The crowd cheered for the cowboy, but the smart money was on the bull, especially on this night when the wild stock seemed to have the run of the place.
The bulls bucked and the saddle broncs threw. The steers squirmed away and the calves eluded the lasso. Mankind seemed to only conquer one beast Friday night, and to be fair, Rambo, the lamb in the 3- to 5-year-old ram scramble, didn’t seem to understand the rules, running directly into the large crowd of children and slowing giving them ample opportunity to pluck the ribbon from his back and win a belt buckle.
“That’s just how it goes sometimes,” said Justin Roselle, in town from Greeley to compete in tie-down roping.
He didn’t have the worst night. He was one of the few in his event to pull down then tie up his calf, and he ended the night in third place.
With one night of rodeo to go this week and more than a dozen competitors with a chance to beat his time, he’s unlikely to make the money, and he wasn’t happy with his performance.
Still, he wasn’t too down about it.
“It’s good to be back up to Steamboat. I always enjoy this rodeo,” he said. “The calves this year seem really good. You have to take it one night at a time. If you didn’t get your calf, you just have to start over the next night.”
Jed Moore, of Cheyenne, Wyo., could share in the emotion. Moore is no stranger to Steamboat. He did his student teaching at Strawberry Park Elementary School and used his time in town to figure out skiing, a skill he’s put to good use in winning each of the past two Cowboy Downhill races.
On Friday, he successfully rode his bull, Round House. He was one of just two to accomplish that much, but he also wasn’t overly pleased.
“It wasn’t one of my prettier rides, but it got the job done,” he said. “There is some really top-end stock here. I try not to let what everyone else is doing affect my rides, but sometimes there does get to be some momentum one way or the other.
“Nothing against the cowboys, but there were just some great bulls here tonight.”
Friday night was the opening salvo of a war that will rage all season. Cowboys and bucking stock will face off again 19 more times before the rodeo leaves town, and the next battle is at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the rodeo arena.