Wyoming cowboy defends his Cheyenne Frontier Days title
The 2013 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo was big enough as it was, boasting 1,000-plus contestants and paying out nearly $900,000 in total prize money.
The added drama of intermittent rain, big rides, unexpected lead changes and Mountain States Circuit success in the July 28 championship round only made the action bigger.
With bull riding opening and closing the final performance, it was only fitting the suspense would come down to whether Wyoming-born competitor Cody Whitney could defend his 2012 CFD title.
Tied for fourth place and down 12 points from the leader entering the short go, Whitney needed a good ride and a few breaks to see a second consecutive buckle.
Aboard Frontier Rodeo Company’s Swamp Dog, Whitney notched 89 points to win the round and leapfrog the rest of the field for the CFD title.
Asked afterward about the rare air of holding consecutive titles at the historic venue, Whitney let his good humor and confidence flow.
“I’ll just have to go for the turkey, I guess,” he said with a grin about going for win No. 3 next year.
A follow-up question to Whitney about what makes Cheyenne the “Daddy of ‘em All” produced a similar response.
“It’s the Daddy of ‘em all because, since the day you are born, you hear about the NFR and the ‘Daddy of ‘em All’ in that order,” the bull rider stated. “If you win Cheyenne, it’s great. If you win twice in a row — in my opinion, I don’t know what it’s like to win a world title, but I’m going to soon — I’m pretty sure it’s a similar feeling.”
As a veteran cowboy who knows what it’s like to win world titles, Trevor Brazile also earned a consecutive Cheyenne buckle, his just happened to be in two separate events.
Winning the team roping title last year, Brazile returned to the short go in the traditional steer roping event to pick up another title and more money on his way to making PRCA history.
Sitting 3.5 seconds behind the leader, Brazile displayed his clutch ability by posting the best score of the championship round with a 17.4-second effort. When the leader, Dan Fisher, could only manage 22.0 seconds, the title was in Brazile’s hands.
Judging from his enthusiasm afterward, winning Cheyenne never gets old.
“I’ve got newspaper clippings on my wall from when my dad used to rope here,” Brazile described about the nature of Cheyenne’s rodeo. “Just watching my heroes compete in this arena, and knowing the heritage and tradition that goes along with it. To be able to come here and compete, much less be successful, it just makes it a really sweet ride.”
Speaking of really sweet rides, it took a pair of them to vault both a bareback and a saddle bronc rider into improbable buckles at the “Daddy of ‘em All.”
Rookie bareback rider and first-time CFD contestant Taylor Price of Huntsville, Tex., came to Cheyenne without expectations, but left with one of the most prestigious titles in the entire sport.
Leading a talented field by just one point in the final round, Price watched Ryan Gray wow the crowd with a 91-point ride on Full Baggage that put the Washington cowboy in the driver’s seat of the event.
But Price drew an outstanding horse of his own in Frontier Rodeo’s Show Stopper and the bronc didn’t disappoint, catapulting the young cowboy to a 91-point score of his own and a sweet taste of victory.
“I didn’t think I had a chance to win it,” Price acknowledged afterward. “To win it is an amazing feeling. I’m just really excited.”
Asked about competing in the CFD short-go, the Texas cowboy admitted his awe.
“I can’t even explain what I felt when I nodded my head,” he said about his experience in the chutes. “It was surreal. It’s hard to explain. It’s just amazing. Riding here is just a different kind of feeling.”
Amazing was also a term for saddle bronc contestant Wade Sundell’s ride in the final round. With a steady rain falling, the Iowa cowboy rode Frontier Rodeo’s Maple Leaf to rev the crowd and post 90 points in the process.
The score allowed him to make up seven points and tie his good friend Chad Ferley for the CFD title.
“Whoo-Hooo!” Sundell yelled with a grin when asked about the horse he drew.
“This is the greatest rodeo,” agreed fellow champion Ferley. “I think I’ve been coming for 12 or 13 years now. The best I ever finished was second. So, to come in this year and split it with Wade? I love it. It’s great.”
Their excitement was also matched by Colorado barrel racer Christy Loflin.
After years of “donating my money” to the Wyoming rodeo, as she put it, Loflin broke through last year to capture second place in the average on her mare, Movin.
Little did she know, that was just a warm up.
After approaching the arena record early with a time of 17.07 seconds (Kristie Peterson holds the record of 17.03), Loflin made her lead stand and earned the CFD title, along with over $16,000 in prize money.
To say she was happy would be an understatement.
“I can’t even really put it into words,” Loflin described through a grin that wouldn’t fade. “I still can’t believe it. Somebody needs to pinch me. It’s just a pretty special day.”
Asked whether she thought all those attempts with little success would eventually lead to a CFD win, her answer was emphatic.
“Never. Never, ever,” Loflin repeated with enthusiasm. “I have come here so many times. It was still an honor to be here. It’s the biggest rodeo in our circuit. To get a check here is phenomenal.”
Another Colorado barrel racer doing well in Cheyenne was Paige Conrado, who ended up sixth in the average.
“That was really cool to have the circuit girls up there,” she said about the trio of Coloradans making the short go. “It’s kind of awesome. You are competing against the top girls in the country. I was just really happy and thankful to be there.”
After the rodeo action in the championship round, “really happy and thankful to be there,” could also describe the crowd that filled the massive grandstands at the 2013 Cheyenne Frontier Days. ❖
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