Daddy Daughter Dance: Cheyenne Frontier Days adds Breakaway to event lineup, and announces more changes
Starting this year, Cheyenne Frontier Days will add breakaway roping to its repertoire of events.
Breakaway roping, a women’s event similar to the tie-down roping, is described as the cowgirl roping the calf, but the rope “breaks away,” as she quickly stops, and the cowgirl does not dismount, flank or tie the animal.
Last year, breakaway roping was included in several PRCA rodeos, including Pendleton, Ore. This year, it will be part of rodeos in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Libby, Montana, and others. It is often a Women’s Pro Rodeo Association-sanctioned event; in Cheyenne, it will not be sanctioned by the WPRA.
CFD’s inclusion of the event is in response to Frontier Days ticket buyers, says Tom Hirsig, CEO of Frontier Days. “Our consumer research tells us that our fans want to see more women in our events, and it’s simple for novice fans to understand. It will add a new fan base for rodeo.” Frontier Days has surveyed fans and responded to their requests. “If you don’t listen to your ticket buyers, you probably need to quit doing what you’re doing,” Hirsig said.
Two hundred breakaway ropers will compete in Cheyenne, with $10,000 in prize money. The Cheyenne Frontier Days breakaway champion will receive a buckle and saddle, just like the champs from the other events.
Cheyenne is also changing its format.
In the past, each contestant made two runs or competed on two head.
This year, in the timed events, each contestant in the tie-down, steer wrestling and the teams in the team roping will make two runs in slack. The top forty on two head will advance to the performances. Those forty contestants will be split into four sets, with ten in each set.
Each set of ten competes in two performances, back to back. The top four places: first through fourth, are paid each day, and the top four from each set advance to the finals, which will be the last day, this year July 28.
The finals will be in a “sudden death” format – those sixteen cowboys start from scratch; their times are not carried over. The fastest guy wins. One hundred-fifty cowboys will be allowed to enter each timed event (150 teams in the team roping.)
In the rough stock events, seventy-two bareback riders, seventy-two saddle bronc riders, and 120 bull riders will be allowed to enter.
The first six performances (July 20-25) will be called the quarter-finals, with each cowboy riding once during those days.
For the barebacks and saddle broncs, the top four scores from each day advance to the semi-finals on Fri., July 26 and Sat., July 27, where they compete again. Out of those two performances, the top six each day advance to the finals on Sun., July 28.
In the bull riding, the top six scores from each day (July 20-25) will advance to the semi-finals on July 26 and 27, making eighteen bull riders on the 26th and eighteen on the 27th. The top eighteen from July 26 and 27 combined advance to the finals on July 28.
As for the barrel racing, it will work in a similar fashion as the roughstock. Two hundred-fifty cowgirls will compete in slack with the top 72 advancing to the performances July 20-25, considered the quarter-finals. The top four from each of the quarter-finals advance to the semi-finals July 26-27, and the top six from the each of the semi-finals July 26-27 go on to the finals on July 28.
There are several reasons for the format change, Hirsig said.
Many fans at Cheyenne are not rodeo savvy, he said. “Eighty-five percent of the fans in Cheyenne are people who have never been to a rodeo before, or they go to one rodeo a year. We have a very novice fan base,” he said. “People consider this a bucket list rodeo, and we want to have something they understand, and to entice them to come back.”
It also evens out the disadvantage that weather causes for contestants. “That time of year, we battle the weather. We can get huge rainstorms,” he said. With the new format, “you compete against guys who are in the same weather conditions as you are.” Hirsig gave the example of a situation where during a rodeo performance, it rains and the arena is muddy. Under the old format, “if I’m competing in the mud, I’m competing against guys who are in performances later in the week where it’s 85 degrees and dry.”
It also makes it easier for the barrel racers. “They really like it,” Hirsig said, “because they get to run in the same conditions as the girls they compete against.” Last year’s weather at Frontier Days was exceptionally wet. “It rained every day last year,” Hirsig said, “and not just light drizzle. It poured and hailed every afternoon.”
For the bareback, saddle bronc and bull riders, the new format is an advantage. It was difficult to have bucking horses or bulls that were evenly matched, Hirsig said, for the entire set of cowboys. Now, with a dozen or a dozen and a half cowboys competing in the quarter-, semi- and finals it will be more likely they get evenly matched bucking animals and the luck of the draw is reduced. “It’s easy to build a pen of twelve even horses,” he said. “It’s hard to build a pen of 72 (even) horses. The roughstock guys are really excited about this because they believe it evens the playing field.”
The new format will also help build rodeo fans. “Rodeo has always had this struggle of building stars,” Hirsig said. “Now (the announcer) can talk somebody up. (With the previous format), if we had (24-time world champion) Trevor Brazile at our rodeo, fans might see him for a minute. This year, if he does well, we can say, he’ll be back for our finals.”
As the rodeo has been set up in the past, fans might not see the winners compete, and there’s no way to know what athletes will advance to the finals until the second-to-last rodeo performance is over. “How can you sell a finals to people,” Hirsig said, “when you don’t know who’s qualified for it, until nearly the end?”
For the steer roping, 125 entries will be accepted. The steer ropers will make both of their runs in slack. The top twelve will advance to the finals on July 28.
Purse money will also increase from $50,000 per event to $65,000 per event. Hirsig said the rodeo will be televised by The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV, and the money earned from the television rights will go towards the increase in purse money.
Hirsig, who won the steer roping at the Daddy of ‘Em All in 2002, is the great-great-nephew of one of the founders of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Last year, 1,400 contestants competed at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
For more information on the event, visit the website at http://www.cfdrodeo.com.