Cinch Super Shootout Rodeo at National Western draws big reactions from crowd and competitors |

Cinch Super Shootout Rodeo at National Western draws big reactions from crowd and competitors

A member of the Westernaires gallops with a long, flowing American Flag under the beam of a spotlight before the start of action in the National Western Stock Show's Cinch Super Shootout rodeo on Thursday night, January 14, 2016.

2016 NWSS Cinch Super Shootout Winners:

Bareback: Winn Ratliff

Steer Wrestling: Dakota Eldridge

Saddle Bronc: Sam Spreadborough

Barrel Racing: Mary Walker

Bull Riding: Riker Carter

Winning Team: Team Cheyenne Frontier Days

The format invited champions from other rodeos to create seven teams, with each team consisting of five contestants, each representing a category: bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, and bull riding. Those contestants competed in a traditional shootout format, with the top three in each event advancing to a “shootout round” where the winner pocketed $10,000.

The thirty-five competitors kicked off the rodeo at 7 p.m., as introductions including fireworks, flames and pumped-up music got the crowd cheering. With just seven contestants in each event, the action was fast-paced and full of energy.

The bareback cowboys hit the arena first and the field was shaved to three after Orin Larson, Tim O’Connell and Winn Ratliff scored solid 85+ point rides to advance into the shootout round for a chance at the $10,000 prize. The Colorado crowd was treated to two of the three being hometown cowboys, but Louisiana contestant Ratliff crashed the party in a big way.

Riding Calgary Stampede’s Walleye Rocket, Ratliff hung on for a wild ride and 82 points to best Larson and O’Connell.

“It got a little wild and western, right there, at first,” Ratliff said about his winning ride. “She blew up and was a crowd pleaser, but I felt like I made a good strong ride. Anytime you score 82, you’re kind of like, well, that could be good or that could be bad. I did my part – what I came to do – and it all worked out.”

It worked out for popular Texas barrel racer Mary Walker, as well. Riding Latte, who has brought her great success in the last four years, Walker turned in a pair of fifteen second times to win the Cinch Shootout title. After placing second in the advancing round, Walker was the only rider of the three to leave every barrel upright in the shootout round. The win gave her three shootout format victories at the National Western in the last four years.

“I love the shootouts,” Walker said with a grin. “I think the fans understand it really well, and that helps a lot. The format is quick, there is no downtime, and they get right to it. For us, we really enjoy that. It is not as many events, but it is still a lot of fun, and that is what we are here for. We’re here for the fans, we are here to put a show on and be professional about what we do, so I think the fans really enjoy it.”

The energy level and enthusiasm of the fans seemed to have a positive impact on the contestants.

“Oh, it helps get the intensity up for us,” Ratliff said. “Any time you’ve got a crowd that is into the sport, it makes my job easier to turn on my motivation switch and get ready. You want to do your best and you want to make them happy. And not only that, you kind of want to show out in front of them and know you did everything you could.”

After steer wrestlers impressed the fans with a pair of scores that were four seconds or less, the saddle bronc cowboys hit the dirt and helped get them in full throat. Joe Lufkin was bucked off, but Clay Elliot threw down a challenge with 82.5 points aboard Urgent Delivery. That left Australian Sam Spreadborough to go for the $10,000 prize aboard a big, flashy paint horse from Cervi Championship Rodeo named Greeley Hat Works Bare Naked. The athletic paint ripped off one high kick after another while Spreadborough spurred with his toes out. The end result was a crowd-pleasing 86-point ride to win the title and the big check.

Last, but not least, came the bull riders to close out the show. Always a crowd favorite, the final event had the added appeal of seeing whether Riker Carter could accumulate two $10,000 National Western checks in six days. On the stock show’s opening day, Carter won the Colorado vs. The World Rodeo and its $10,000 prize. Going up against Lon Danley and Clayton Savage in this contest, the trio all drew high quality bulls.

Danley cracked the gate first and set the tone with 79 points aboard a white speckled bull named Summer Nights. Just staying aboard was impressive, and the cowboy celebrated inside the arena with a flying chest bump against rodeo barrelman Justin Rumford. After Clayton Savage was unsuccessful in his bid, Carter was ready in the chute to see if he could pocket another $10,000.

With the crowd on his side, Carter rode a spinning and bucking Smashing Success to 83 points and another payday that eclipsed his prior NWSS earnings.

“I’ve won more money in the last six days than I have won in the last five years here,” Carter said with a grin. “It’s awesome.”

A big part of the reason for the enthusiasm from both contestants and the crowd was the quality of stock paired with the fast paced format.

“The stock contractors that (brought) these animals, they’ve been to the NFR, which is our super bowl,” Ratliff said. “You know they have good quality, so it is a matter of us showing up to ride and doing our job.”

The stock contractors also enjoyed the shootout format.

“The crowd gets into it more than they do a regular rodeo because they know who the winner is when they leave,” said Binion Cervi of Cervi Championship Rodeo. “The shootout format is the future. We love them. We’ve got to get everybody on board with it.” ❖

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