Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo strikes gold in 2022
Colorado Springs rodeo pays out million dollar purse by hosting inaugural NFR Open
From 1858 to 1861, approximately 100,000 people rushed to the Pikes Peak region in search of gold. The motto “Pikes Peak or Bust” was coined as prospectors would know they were close when they first caught a glimpse of the iconic peak. Little did those prospectors know that 160 years later, people would still be heading to “Pikes Peak or Bust” and striking gold when they arrived.
The inaugural “NFR Open powered by RAM” was held at 2022’s Cinch Jeans Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo from July 13-16. What used to be called the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo was moved from Kissimmee, Fla., to the more centrally located Colorado Springs, Colo., and renamed the NFR Open. According to the PRCA, it is the most prestigious rodeo under the PRCA circuit system and features two contestants in each event from each of the 12 U.S. circuits, plus Canada, which brings more than 200 contestants to compete over five rounds in the prestigious rodeo. With such an important rodeo, changing locations was a significant move.
“For the PRCA to choose us to host the NFR Open was a huge honor,” said Dan Ferguson, Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Board president. Ferguson noted the advantage of Pikes Peak or Bust’s close location to the PRCA headquarters and ProRodeo Hall of Fame, its more central access for contestants throughout the country and from Canada, and its championship style format from being a Cinch sponsored rodeo that would smoothly transition to the NFR Open’s similar format.
“There were a lot of things in our favor,” said Ferguson about meeting the needs of the PRCA to hold their circuit championship rodeo. “They were looking for an established rodeo that had a good fan base and the beauty for us is that we really didn’t have to change our rodeo to accommodate their format. There was a lot of strong competition,” Ferguson added. “It is tremendous to be able to match up with them.”
BIG MONEY, BIG CROWDS
With a million dollar total payout up for grabs by contestants, livestock and other PRCA members, the top animal and rodeo athlete talent in the sport showed up to compete in front of sold out crowds at the 6,500-seat Norris Penrose Event Center. As Ferguson mentioned, those big crowds were one factor in helping the PRCA choose the Colorado Springs event to host the high-profile rodeo.
“We sold out last year for all practical purposes,” Ferguson noted. “Since 2019, our performances have been pretty well maxed out and we were an absolute sell-out this year. The fans really respond to that championship style format.”
“One of the reasons the PRCA wanted to move it here is because Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo already had sellout crowds for five performances,” agreed Kirsten Vold of Vold Rodeo Company, one of the most decorated and respected stock contracting companies in the sport. Vold Rodeo Company has been the stock contractor in the Colorado Springs venue for nearly 50 years, and Vold was the lead stock contractor or “chute boss” of the 17 total stock contractors on hand for the NFR Open.
“It was a great venue to move to, to locate to, because they already had the fan base,” Vold continued while discussing that fan base’s familiarity and enthusiasm for the championship style format that Pikes Peak or Bust had already been running. “It was a very easy transition as far as that goes. We didn’t have to shorten the RAM Circuit Finals from what it has been and we didn’t need to add any performances in the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. It just worked out. Some of the things were close enough alike that it was an easy transition.”
A crowd pleasing portion of the championship format was the high pressure final that determined the national circuit champions. The top eight contestants in each event qualified over two rounds of previous action to move ahead into Saturday night’s semi-final round. In that round, all the contestants started with a clean slate and the top four scores or times then moved ahead with a clean slate again into a sudden death round where the winner in each event would earn the title of national champion. The NFR Open called that sudden death round the Gold Buckle Round. It seems gold and Pikes Peak just go hand in hand.
MONEY AND PRIZES
True to its name, winners of the Gold Buckle Round dug up riches that would also count towards world standings and earning a possible spot at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. On top of the money, each winner also received a four seater Polaris vehicle, a trophy saddle and a Montana Silversmith buckle. The high dollar earner of the rodeo, called the RAM Top Gun, was breakaway roper Martha Angelone, who took home an event-best $25,765. As a result of earning the RAM Top Gun Award, Angelone was given a voucher for a new RAM truck. The prize money and prizes handed out were reminders to Saturday night’s sold out crowd of the high status of the NFR Open.
Once the dust settled on Saturday night’s Gold Buckle Round, organizers of the historic Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo felt the move into hosting the high-profile rodeo went well.
“You know, it probably could not have gone better,” said Ferguson. “Everybody has been really positive. Our fans were pleased with the new additions and they loved the rodeo. Our facility handled it quite well and I think it showed really well. I think it was a resounding success.”
With the NFR Open bringing its elite stature, Gold Buckle Round, and million dollar purse to an already iconic regional rodeo like Pikes Peak or Bust, it is easy to look at the real Pikes Peak towering near Colorado Springs and quote Mark Twain: “There’s gold in them thar hills.”
2022 Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo NFR Open National Champions:
Bareback: Ty Pope
Steer Wrestling: Kyle Irwin
Team Roping: Blake Hirdes and Dalton Pearce
Saddle Bronc: Kade Bruno
Tie Down Roping: Taylor Santos
Breakaway Roping: Martha Angelone
Barrel Racing: Cheyenne Allan
Bull Riding: Braidy Randolph
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