New arena record set at 2019 Eagle County rodeo
EAGLE – The announcer at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo began the 2019 event by telling the crowd about the level of talent they were about to see.
Numerous world champions of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association were in attendance. How does the Eagle Fair & Rodeo attract such talent? A big part of it, announcer Scott Grover explained, was in the animals the athletes were using. Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a top livestock producer in the sport of rodeo, provided the animals for the Eagle County event, and the athletes were excited to get on them and, of course, try to stay on them.
Before the weekend was over, a new arena record had been set in the saddle bronc riding discipline by Rusty Wright, who scored a previously unattained 91 points on a Pete Carr bronc named Dirty Jacket.
“(Dirty Jacket) is now one of my favorite horses,” Wright told organizers after the event. “He’s like a ticking time bomb. As soon as the gate opens, he explodes out of there. He’s a big, strong, solid horse, and you could feel his whole body just blow up out of there. He was showy and electric. Horses like that get you excited. Every single jump, you feed off the last jump; you just try to ride them better.”
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While Wright has posted an above-90 score at one other point in his career, Saturday’s ride was the top score he had ever received at a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned event, where the score counts toward the world standings.
“As far as the PRCA goes, that’s my career best,” Wright said.
He credited the horse.
“When you draw those kinds of horses, you’re expected to win on them,” he said.
Wright also said he felt he could have ridden even better, giving him hope for another chance to receive Dirty Jacket in the random draw where a rider receives his horse.
“I hope I draw him again, because there were a couple things I could do better, where I could have been two or three more points if I’d done everything perfect,” he said. “I knew I could be at least 90 on this horse; it was up to me to ride him good. Next time I draw him, I’ll try to do those things better and maybe be 92 or 93.”
In addition to the livestock, another element of the Eagle County rodeo that attracts top talent is the fans, Grover said.
“One of the biggest reasons that this is one of the top-5 rodeos in the world, is the great rodeo fans that we have in Eagle, Colorado,” Grover said.
Following his 91-point ride, Wright said he could feel the energy from the rodeo fans in attendance.
“The fans were cheering so loud, I couldn’t help but throw my hat,” Wright said.
Wright’s ride capped off a great weekend of rodeo action, which began Wednesday night with 70 degree temperatures and a light breeze coming in from the west.
For competitors who get used to riding in 100-degree temperatures, the Eagle County rodeo is a treat.
On Wednesday, rodeo veteran Bradley Harter, a 10-time qualifier to the sport’s top competition at the National Finals Rodeo, compared himself to his colleagues who were competing in the southeast over the weekend, also trying to help punch their ticket to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December.
“They’re in Louisiana, where it’s ridiculously hot, and I’m here in God’s country,” he said with a laugh.
One of the more local athletes in the competition, Kasen Brennise, of Craig, won the tie-down roping competition on Wednesday, stopping the clock in 10.5 seconds. It was the 19-year-old’s first-ever appearance at the Eagle County rodeo.
“This is an amazing rodeo,” Brennise told organizers. “It’s one of the best circuit rodeos I’ve been to.”
– This story contains material from press releases provided by the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.