Ute Mountain Roundup rodeo has a fierce return to actionCowboys ready to ride after 2020 season went bustThe first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association performance of the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo was full of high-scoring rides and fast times Thursday night to set the pace for this weekend’s competitors.“Across the board, we are seeing record numbers of contestants,” said Madelaine Gaskey, spokeswoman for the Ute Mountain Rodeo. “With no rodeos last year, everyone is coming back strong this year.”Always a fan favorite, the bull riding was packed with action. “While there were a lot of close rides to making the eight second buzzer, only two cowboys completed the task,” Gaskey said.One of those cowboys was Paulden, Arizona, cowboy JC Mortensen. He set the bar high for the weekend with his 89-point ride on Honeycutt Rodeo’s Cajun Rouge.In the timed events, New Mexico cowgirl Leia Pluemer came with one goal in mind: To reclaim her 2019 UMR barrel racing title. “With a 17.54-second run she set the pace in the barrel racing event but will have to wait till Saturday to see if she can walk away a back-to-back champion,” Gaskey said.Rising ProRodeo star Zack Jongbloed of Iowa, Louisiana, entered to compete at the Roundup in hopes to continue to climb the PRCA all-around standings. A contestant is considered an all-around cowboy if he competes in two or more events. The challenge is being successful in both, consistently. At 22 years old, Jongbloed competes in both the steer wrestling and tie-down roping events. He is currently sitting first in the steer wrestling with his 4.2-second run and is tied for second with his 12.3-second run in the tie-down roping at the Roundup.Local cowboy Tanner Lockhart of Mancos finished Thursday night in fifth place in saddle bronc riding.The rodeo will continue today and Saturday, showcasing some of the top rodeo cowboys and cowgirls in the world. On Friday frontline health care workers will be honored, and Saturday’s performance will honor the active military and veterans.The Ute Mountain Rodeo is part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo circuit.Animals are provided by Honeycutt Rodeo Inc., an award-winning PRCA stock contractor with more than eight decades of rodeo experience“Their four-legged athletes will leave fans on the edge of their seats as they experience America’s ‘first extreme sport’ of rodeo,” Gaskey said.Competition gets underway at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20, or $17 for children, for age 3 and under.On Saturday, there will be a Ute Mountain Rodeo parade down Montezuma Ave. beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday night at the fairground’s indoor arena, Texas country performer Tanner Usrey will perform at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.Information on the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo can be found on the Ute Mountain Roundup website or Facebook page.Information on the rodeo and rodeo results can be found on the PRCA website.
Riders return for 12 Hours of Mesa Verde raceLast year’s race was canceled because of coronavirus About 750 competitors from around the state and the country converged Saturday on the Montezuma County Fairgrounds and Phil’s World for the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde endurance mountain biking race.The proceeds from the event, which started in 2003 as “Ride the Lightning,” go to local youth programs. Organizations that benefit include the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center, the Good Samaritan Center, the School Community Youth Collaborative and more. According to the race website, the race has donated more than $500,000 to local youth organizations and programs with a focus on at-risk youth and youth empowerment since its inception in 2003.“We attract as many riders as we possibly can and donate every dime to charity,” said Race Director Nic McDonald. Last year’s race was canceled because of coronavirus concerns. About 750 riders registered this year. While it has not yet reached the amount of riders in past years, McDonald was happy about Saturday’s turnout. “We’re getting closer for sure,” McDonald said. “It’s a lot more than we expected.”Roughly 900 registered for the competition in 2019.The event kicked off at 7 a.m. Riders were on the trails all day until final shut-off at 8 p.m. Participants had the option to start one last lap at 6 p.m.Participants could take on the race solo or compete as a team. The 16.2-mile lap around the Phil’s World trail system Saturday was Evergreen, Colorado, resident Scott Trudeau’s first race.“I didn’t know what to expect,” Trudeau said. “I thought it was just a great experience. There’s a lot of great energy here, great people.”Trudeau, 54, was more accustomed to the steeper trails he had ridden before, but enjoyed the speed and flow 12 Hours had to offer. “I’d come back and do it again,” Trudeau said. Trudeau’s friend, Denver resident Chris Wilcox, enjoyed the support riders received along the trails. “It was a different experience for sure,” Wilcox said. “People are nice. Everyone’s pretty cool.”