Cheyenne Frontier Days opens with successful Cinch Rodeo Shootout |

Cheyenne Frontier Days opens with successful Cinch Rodeo Shootout

Take a $10,000 prize and add in team titles and fan interaction, along with top cowboys and top stock from Smith Pro Rodeo, and Cheyenne Frontier Days had the recipe for a sure-fire success with the new Cinch Shootout at the "Daddy of 'em All."

Tony Bruguiere | | Richmond Champion, bareback champion at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, won $10,000 as the event champion in the CFD Cinch Shootout. Champion had an 82 on his first go and scored 93 points on R.D. Mercer from Smith Pro Rodeo in the final round.

Eight of the best rodeos in the country were represented by a bareback rider, barrel racer, saddle bronc rider, steer wrestler and bull rider.

Competition was definitely tough.

Tony Bruguiere | | Cody Whitney, the defending (and two-time) Cheyenne Frontier Days champion, was bucked off and shattered his clavicle when his bull stepped on him during the Cinch Rodeo Shootout.

In the first round, each of those contestants put out their best effort to be among the top four in their respective discipline and advance to the final round.

The finals featured a winner take all purse of $10,000.

Tony Bruguiere | | Lisa Lockhart was invited to the Cheyenne Cinch Rodeo Shootout by winning in Houston. Lockhart ran the pattern in a blistering 17.359 seconds and turned a faster 16.97 in the final round to win the $10,000.

Additionally, the rodeo's teams accumulated points towards a championship and $6,000 to be split among the competitors.

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Along with the team from Cheyenne Frontier Days, other rodeos that were represented included the Reno Rodeo; San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo; Rodeo Austin; National Western Stock Show Rodeo (Denver); Rodeo Houston; Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo; and the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede.

Tony Bruguiere | | Saddle Bronc rider Taos Muncy qualified for the CFD Cinch Rodeo Shootout by winning in Austin. He finished one point ahead of Cody Taton, the NWSS champion, with 93 points on Smith Rodeo's Going South to win the $10,000.

There was a tie for the team title between the National Western Stock Show Rodeo and Rodeo Austin. Each of the competitors got $600 for being part of the team.

In all, $70,000 was paid to Friday afternoon's participants. A new development for this event allowed fans to text matchups and positions for the final four competitors.

Tony Bruguiere | | Saddle Bronc rider Taos Muncy happily lifts aloft his $10,000 money bundle for winning his event at the Cinch Shootout. CFD General Chairman, Darin Westby (left) made the cash presentation to the winners.

In the bareback riding, the winning matchup was between Smith Pro Rodeo's Storm Cloud and Richmond Champion representing the National Western Stock Show Rodeo. Champion, from The Woodlands, Texas, scored 93-points to earn his $10,000 bonus.

Asked how he liked the Shootout format, Champion replied, "Awesome — can't beat it. Eight guys who are the best in the business against top horses. Cut them in half and bring the best back for a shootout. It's not an everyday event."

Tony Bruguiere | | Texan K.C. Jones, the steer wrestler on the Rodeo Austin team, was the man to beat in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Cinch Shootout. Jones had the best time in the first round with a 9.29 second run and followed with an even faster time of 8.8 seconds in the final round to win the $10,000.

"The crowd gets into it." Champion continued, "The crowd gets to choose what horse we get on. It involves them and gets them into it. They have their favorites obviously and they have their horses picked. It builds excitement for us because we're here to entertain. We're here to make a living but it makes it that much easier when you've got a crowd behind you."

Winning the bull riding was four-time and reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world champion J.W. Harris representing the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Harris, from Mullin, Texas, finished second in the first round to advance behind Sage Kimzey from Strong City, Okla., who rode for the National Western Stock Show. Kimzey is currently in the lead in the PRCA world standings and Harris is in second.

Tony Bruguiere | | Bull Rider, J.W. Harris qualified for the CFD Cinch Shootout by winning at the Fort Worth Stock Show. Harris' winning ride at Cheyenne of 90 points on Smith Pro Rodeo's Sipping Pendleton gave him the $10,000 winner’s prize.

In the final round, Kimzey bucked off and Harris rode for 90 points. The bull that took him to the championship was Smith Pro Rodeo's Sipping Pendleton.

"I really like the Cinch Shootouts," Harris said. "I thought it was neat how they let the fans pick the animals. At the other ones, in the final round the guys get to go out there and pick the animals that they want to ride, but here they changed it up a little bit and let the fans pick the animal and I like that better because it gets the fans involved in what is going on. They get to kind of control our destiny. They get involved in what's going on and aren't just sitting there watching. They can say 'I picked the winning ride' and I thought it was pretty cool."

Tony Bruguiere | | Event champions from top rodeos went head-to-head at the first Cinch Shootout to kick off Cheyenne Frontier Days. Colorado cowboy Wade Sumpter, who was the Steer Wrestling champion at the Calgary Stampede, turned in a 9.87 second run for his first go at the CFD Shootout.

The Cinch Shootouts are not new and have been done at other rodeos.

Cheyenne Frontier Days General Chairman Darin Westby, explains why CFD brought the Cinch Shootout to Frontier Days.

"We have done focus groups and market research and our fans and our consumer base all said that they wanted us to mix things up and try something new. They wanted an add-on product. We toured the rest of the country and a lot of the other rodeos and they started that shootout format. We decided that we would jump on board and give that a shot as well."

Westby was very pleased with the first try with the Cinch Shootout.

"This year we had about 4,000 people in the stands. I think everybody that came out liked it. It was a great performance. I think they all loved it. I think they like the format and the short rodeo. Entertainment was high. Engagement was high with our 'text to win' format. We're very excited about how all that turned out. We will absolutely do it again. We will give it another shot and see if it gets bigger and better."

Westby is looking forward to a big year for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

"Right now rodeo is up about 6 percent over last year. Our ticket sales are looking very good for our professional PRCA performances. Our night shows are looking great. We've got a strong lineup. Everything is just clicking along like clockwork. We get some good weather and it's going to be awesome."

Other winners here were Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., in the barrel race representing Rodeo Houston; K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, for Rodeo Austin in the steer wrestling; and Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., in saddle bronc riding for Rodeo Austin. ❖