Posted: Jan 22, 2013 7:09 PM by MTN News
COLORADO SPRINGS - As part of its ongoing commitment to increasing the popularity of the cowboy sport, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will launch a special made-for-TV series of Champions Challenge rodeos this year on Great American Country (GAC), featuring 10 top competitors in each event and the sport's best livestock.
There will be four Champions Challenge rodeos aired in a one-hour format in 2013, starting with the May 18 Redding (Calif.) event, which will air at 5 p.m. (ET) on July 7 and then be rebroadcast at 9 a.m. on July 13. Subsequent events will be held in Amarillo, Texas; Kissimmee, Fla., and Winnie, Texas. (See full schedule below.)
Each of these events, except for Kissimmee, will be held in conjunction with a regularly-scheduled PRCA rodeo and will offer $80,000 in additional prize money which, at least initially, will not be counted in the world standings.
"You have the best guys going against the best stock in a one-head event," said four-time World Champion Bareback Rider Bobby Mote. "From the competitor's standpoint that's exciting, knowing you are going against the best in every rodeo. And it's a great opportunity for the fans to watch the same guys in each broadcast. It's difficult to promote the sport when you might be seeing 12 totally different guys from one telecast to the next. That's why the (Wrangler) NFR is so unique. You are seeing the 15 best guys every night. The Champions Challenge is a step in the right direction for the sport."
Commitments have been received from all eight reigning PRCA World Champions - All-Around Cowboy Trevor Brazile, Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild, Steer Wrestler Luke Branquinho, Team Roper (Header) Chad Masters, Team Roper (Heeler) Jade Corkill, Saddle Bronc Rider Jesse Wright, Tie-down Roper Tuf Cooper and Bull Rider Cody Teel.
"This is the future of ProRodeo on television," says PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman. "Over the last 70 years, we've tried to figure out the optimal method for TV coverage, and now we know: Showcasing our top athletes - contestants and livestock - is our greatest opportunity to create a new fan base as well as to reward our existing fans, by ensuring they see the best of the best."
The top seven finishers in each event from the 2012 world standings were automatically invited to participate. Two of the remaining three spots will go to whoever is leading the 2013 world standings and the 2013 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour standings 30 days before each Champions Challenge event.
The last spot will be awarded to the host rodeo's defending champion. If, as is the case with Kissimmee, there is no defending champion, the final spot will go to the highest-ranked competitor in the 2013 standings who is not already in the field.
The format will be a 10-person, single-round rodeo with the wins going to the fastest times and highest scores.
GAC's team of announcers for the series is the same one that works the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo each December with Jeff Medders, Joe Beaver and Butch Knowles in the booth and Suzanne Alexander handling interviews and feature inserts.
Medders has announced the Wrangler NFR for the past 19 years while Knowles, who won the 1987 NFR saddle bronc riding average title, has been providing expert commentary for 24 years and eight-time World Champion Beaver for the last four years. Alexander joined the team in 2011, working the nightly pre-NFR reports from the ProRodeo Fan Zone.
Medders, Knowles and Beaver have all received the PRCA's Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Award.
CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE SCHEDULE
Location Date Air date/time (ET) Re-broadcast
Redding, Calif. May 18 July 7 (5 p.m.) July 13 (9 a.m.)
Amarillo, Texas Sept. 18 Oct. 6 (5 p.m.) Oct. 12 (9 a.m.)
Kissimmee, Fla. Oct. 5 Oct. 20 (5 p.m.) Oct. 26 (9 a.m.)
Winnie, Texas Oct. 30 Nov. 10 (5 p.m.) Nov. 16 (9 a.m.)