Colorado Vs. The World Rodeo brings biggest one day prizes in state rodeo history to National Western | TheFencePost.com

Colorado Vs. The World Rodeo brings biggest one day prizes in state rodeo history to National Western

Story and photos Lincoln Rogers

Between a shootout format and a head-to-head title round, the excitement of the event brought big crowds to its three rodeo performances on Jan. 9.

The first two performances whittled down 100 invited contestants to 40, where 20 from each team, sponsored by Cinch Jeans and CenturyLink, then met in Saturday night's championship round for a chance to advance to the head-to-head match up. In that final match up, a winner from each team in every event squared off against one another with $10,000 on the line. Add to the mix lots of lights, fireworks, flames, music and arena entertainment, and it was a high octane event for everyone involved.

"The crowd was awesome," said Utah cowboy Jake Wright, who won the saddle bronc title with an 84-point ride to best his own nephew and pocket $10,000. "You couldn't ask for a better atmosphere today. They were into it."

The Wright family has produced numerous top flight rodeo cowboys, so while it wasn't unusual to see a family competition, it still made for an entertaining contest.

"It's a lot of fun to rodeo with family," he said, adding that it's more than a little family competition that drives him. "It's me against the horse. If I don't do my part, I don't win."

The steer wrestlers also helped build the crowd's energy. Seth Brockman and Trell Etbauer made the title round after solid times in the previous rounds. Etbauer threw down the gauntlet with a great effort to stop the timers in 4.16 seconds. Not fazed at all, Brockman slid off his horse even quicker to win the $10,000 check with a crowd-pleasing time of 3.59 seconds.

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On top of family rivalries and tight competition, local contestants helped pump excitement into the Denver Coliseum. The bareback competition whittled the field down to Clint Laye and Colorado cowboy Orin Larson. Larson, from Parker, Colo., went first aboard a Harry Vold Rodeo bronc named Painted Coast. The flashy bucker high-kicked Larson to 84 points, which Laye wasn't able to match.

"I love it," Larson said about the rodeo's format and being able to choose the bronc he would ride in the head to head matchup. "I heard they all bucked good and it's kind of a 'pick your poison,' and it worked out. (Painted Coast) was just a nice horse and I can't wait to get on him again."

He was enthusiastic about winning a big rodeo in his state with a hometown crowd cheering him on.

"It is definitely a cool thing," Larson said. "I've never had a hometown rodeo and this is the closest thing I have had. So it is definitely a good first experience."

The enthusiastic crowd had the chance to cheer on another Colorado competitor, as they were treated to Colorado cowgirl Kim Schulze making the head-to-head round against New Zealand native Carmel Wright in barrel racing. Wright's horse had been flying all day through the patterns inside the Denver Coliseum and the head-to-head matchup saw more of the same. Wright competed first and threw down a blistering time of 15.237 seconds. With the fans getting loud, Schulze put in the effort, but her turn on the third barrel went wide and put her more than a second behind Wright on the scoreboard. The three runs in one day for more than $10,000 was an experience Wright clearly enjoyed.

"It is amazing," Wright said. "I love (the format). Three runs in one day for a horse is my only hesitation, but she just got tougher and tougher. She has so much heart. If you ask for it, she lays her heart and soul down. The third time in the arena, it was getting tough (and) I knew I was going to have to ride the hair off her. She is amazing."

On top off all the previous excitement, the bull riders went last and left the crowd happy.

Kanin Asay earned a spot in the head-to-head round due to his higher score over the rest of his teammates in the morning's performance, despite being bucked off in the Saturday night round. Idaho bull rider Riker Carter was the only cowboy to make two successful rides to send him into the head-to-head matchup against the well-known Asay. Both riders bore down for their matchup and didn't disappoint.

Asay rode first, drawing Sandi's Dream from 4L & Diamond S Rodeo. The white bull with black ears spun hard to the left while kicking high the entire ride. Asay stayed aboard and earned 85.5 points to put the pressure on Carter.

The pressure didn't seem to knock Carter off his game, however, as he successfully rode an athletic bull named Haunted Mesa (4L & Diamond S Rodeo) that tried to yank the cowboy down the second they cleared the chute.

"That bull was really good," Carter said. "Right out of there, he kind of pulled me down and about had me on his head, so I just sat up and took the fight to him."

Taking the fight to Haunted Mesa meant staying square while the spotted bucker spun to the right a few times, stopped and kicked high, and then spun back to the left while continuing to kick. Once the horn sounded, it was celebration time for Carter.

"I was jacked," he said. "I was so excited. I loved it. I hope they invite me back next year, too." ❖

Winners from 2016 Colorado vs. The World Rodeo:

Bareback – Orin Larson (Colo.)

Steer Wrestling – Seth Brockman (Wyo.)

Saddle Bronc – Jake Wright (Utah)

Barrel Racing – Carmel Wright (New Zealand)

Bull Riding – Riker Carter (Idaho)