Rodeo rides in |

Rodeo rides in

Fans flock to Steamboat series' first event of 2008 season

Branden Ferguson of Deer Trail competes in the bareback riding competition during Friday's rodeo at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. Another rodeo will be held today at 7:30 p.m.

— While the future of Triple Crown certainly is a controversial subject in Steamboat Springs, rodeo announcer John Shipley was pleased to hear from the legions of softball players in the stands of Brent Romick Rodeo Arena on Friday night.

Nearly everything went as planned Friday as the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series stormed back into Steamboat.

Buying time after a small equipment malfunction, Shipley called over the intercom, asking who among his audience hailed from out of state.

A load roar confirmed the hundreds that crammed into the grandstands near Howelsen Hill mostly had traveled to Colorado.

“Who’s here for the Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup?” Shipley asked next, referring to the car convention that should swarm the town through the weekend.


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“Who’s here from the Colorado Municipal League?” Shipley continued, mentioning the convention that figures to draw 750 tourists to town during the next week.

Again, silence.

“Triple Crown?” he tried at last, finally receiving the roar he was looking for.

No matter what their reason for being there, plenty of fans flocked to the opening rodeo of the summer and left happy after a performance by Frisbee-throwing, horse-racing clown Bennie Bob Patrick and a healthy field of cowboys.

Half of the weekend’s planned 266 competitors took to the fresh dirt Friday night.

For Jake Hamilton, competing in Steamboat for the first time, the rodeo was all he could have asked for. The 22-year-old calf-roping specialist won Friday night’s competition, snaring his animal within a blink of its dash from the starting gate. He quickly dismounted and wasted no time, tying the calf up in 10.2 seconds.

“It all starts with a good start. Get a good start and it sets your whole run,” Hamilton said. “Word of mouth brought me to Steamboat. I heard it was a good rodeo, and I’m going to try and make it back now as much as I can.”

Josh Peek didn’t have the same success. The Pueblo native was quick to catch his calf and was equally swift as he flew off his mount and tried to pull the struggling animal’s limbs together with the rope.

The calf wouldn’t have any of it, fighting and spreading its legs in every direction.

Peek, who travels the country competing in rodeos big and small, didn’t fare much better in his second event, steer wrestling.

Again, he was magnificent out of the gate, falling on his steer and flopping to the dirt in what felt like a Friday-night best. It didn’t count, however. Peek had blasted through the starting gate a moment too soon.

None of the bad luck or bad timing got the veteran cowboy down.

“Steamboat’s always one where I try to make it if I can,” Peek said.

“Tonight, that calf wasn’t very good, and when they kick like that, there’s not much you can do. The steer was really good, I just got out a little too early.

“It won’t keep me down. I was doing really well. I’ve got a lot more rodeos, and it’s always fun anyway.”

Plenty others were able to take advantage of opening night. A warm afternoon gave way to a cool evening as first-timers and rodeo fanatics alike soaked in the summer staple.

Steamboat Springs resident Maggie McElhiney, 11, came to the show with her little brother Payton, 8, her aunt Taylor Ricks and Ricks’ boyfriend, Ryan Scribailo.

Ricks and Scribailo traveled from Indiana, taking in the rodeo as a part of their vacation. Scribailo said he enjoyed his first rodeo. Maggie did, as well, but for an entirely different reason.

“I’m not even paying attention,” she said as she sat on her aunt’s lap, eyes fixated not in the center of the ring, but on the warmup track that surrounded the performance area. “I’m just here to pet the horses.”

The rodeo series continues at 7:30 p.m. today.

– To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail