Eagle County Rodeo storms out of gates | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Rodeo storms out of gates

Ian Cropp
Rodeo SM 8-2-06

EAGLE – Welcome home, Cody Gerard. The Eagle Valley grad made his debut Wednesday night at the county rodeo he grew up watching, and placed second in the tie down event with a score of 11.2.”It’s kind of hard. It’s your hometown rodeo,” Gerard said. “You know everybody, and there are a lot more distractions. You’ve just gotta focus harder. You’ve just gotta look at it as another rodeo, and try and win something.”Gerard had to focus quickly, too. As the first competitor in the first event, Gerard didn’t have much time to observe.”It kind of stinks being out there first. Going later is much nicer,” Gerard said.

Like most of the other riders, Gerard is on the road again today, hitting up two rodeos in as many days before he returns for his second appearance in the Eagle County Rodeo Saturday.There were some at Wednesday’s rodeo who made their inaugural appearance at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, like No. 8-ranked bareback rider Jess Davis.”I’m liking it,” said Davis, who had the best run of the day. “It’s a pretty nice arena, the horses are good and there’s a big crowd, which really helps out a lot.”And others, like Ty Hillman, competed in their second rodeo of the day.”We were in Henderson in the morning,” Hillman said. “Tomorrow, we’ll be in Gillette(, Wyo.,), Sidney, Nebraska, Friday, and back here Saturday for the second event.”RespiteFor many of the competitors from south of Colorado, Eagle offered a cool respite from the hot Texas sun.

“Everyone here is complaining about how hot it was, but I’m thinking, ‘Man it’s a dream,'” said Aaron Walker of Fort Worth, Texas. “Everyone kind of has the same game plan. When it’s real warm, come up (to Colorado), and when it’s cold again, go back down to Texas.”Walker, who will be bullriding today, enjoyed a day of rest after a long stint at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.”It’s good to get out of (Cheyenne) and relax and not have to worry about anything,” Walker said.While the traveling life may be tough on the competitors, it doesn’t seem to take much of a toll on the horses.”The horses have it well,” Hillman said. “They’ve got feed, water and sawdust (in the trailer) and it’s cool in there. The horses aren’t roughing it.” Full nightThe competitors weren’t just there for their events. Most showed up a bit before their runs, and stayed for a while after.

“I usually help out the bareback riders. Then they help me out,” said saddle bronc rider Jake Griffin.Hillman had another reason for staying to watch the barrel race.”My girlfriend barrel races, so she makes me pay attention and keep track of the times for her,” Hillman said. In addition to the classic rodeo events, family night showcased the Freedom Riders, young riders from throughout the county. The large crowd was also treated to the announcing of Les Ohlhauser and antics of clown Leon Coffee.The rodeo continues today and runs through Saturday.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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