CBR Colorado River Chute Out

Why would anyone climb aboard 2,000 pounds of pissed off animal knowing anything could happen and not always in a good way? Ask any bull rider that question and they will tell you it’s all about the challenge and feeding a passion words just can’t explain.
Country music’s Chris LeDoux was right. It’s a natural high, an addiction, a lust for adrenaline that only that 8-second ride can satisfy.
All the preparation and practice comes down to that one moment when the 140-lb. cowboy eases himself onto the back of the bull he’s drawn and makes that last wrap of the rope around his hand. His heart is pounding in his chest as he takes that final deep breath, gives the nod and it becomes a contest between man and beast as the two of them explode into the arena, each determined to do what they have to, to succeed. It is a thing of beauty to see that mental battle in full force—the twisting and turning of the bull trying to get rid of a cowboy who’s ready for anything the animal throws at him.
But then things don’t always go according to plan, and therein lies the rub when it comes to the most dangerous sport on earth. It is that element of danger that also makes bull riding one of most popular sports on earth.
The best explanation is no explanation—it is best to experience it for yourself as a spectator, to see why a guy would do this for a living. There are no fat contracts that other sports offer their players. These guys show up because they can’t help themselves. They love it, breathe it and live it. They pay their entry fees and let nature take its course.
It is this caliber of cowboy who will compete in the Colorado River Chute Out presented by the Laughlin Tourism Commission and Championship Bull Riding on Saturday, September 9, at the Laughlin Event Center (8 p.m., gates open at 6:30 p.m.).
Seating ranges from air-conditioned Dream Seats priced at $250 per person, Suite Seats at $150 per person to grandstand seating at $50 per person and bleacher seating at $25 per person. They can be purchased at laughlineventcenter.com; edgewater-casino.com; or by calling 877-344-1187.
The Laughlin Event Center is located at 500 E. Bruce Woodbury Drive directly behind the Laughlin Outlet Center. There is no on-site parking. People are encouraged to park at a nearby hotel or the mall and walk to the venue. Some hotels may be offering shuttle service.

The event…
Bull riding fans will see the best in the business and they will have the rare opportunity to see the No. 1 bull rider in the world that has six -world titles to his credit, Sage Kimzey.
“Sage Kimzey is the best bull rider in the world right now,” said Tuff Hedeman, who would know a little something about that himself. Hedeman is a four-time world champion and earned his place in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Now he produces the nationally televised Road to Cheyenne Tour for CBR.
“Kimzey rides fundamentally flawless and has the mind and the athletic ability to stay healthy,” he added.
“When I show up, my job is to ride bulls,” says Kimzey. “I have dedicated ninety percent of my life to riding bulls and honing my craft to be in the position I am in today. I love what I do and there is no other better job in the world than getting to ride bulls.”
Right on his heels is Eli Vastbinder, who will be defending his champion title at the Laughlin event, and wants that first-place buckle so bad he can taste it. The 26-year-old cowboy from Statesville, North Carolina turned in nine 90-point rides this season, including two at the CBR World Finals. He returns to Laughlin, with payback on his mind after finishing a heartbreaking six points behind Kimzey in July at the CBR year-end World Championship at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Vastbinder was the first and the last bull rider to make a qualified ride in Laughlin last year as he rode three bulls to win the lion’s share of the $30,000 prize package, beating Kimzey by 1.5 points.
“When I won last year, I was thinking about the events I did do good at, and I try and repeat my pattern of when I won,” Vastbinder said.
“It’s a new season full of new opportunities and I’m gonna do my best to make sure I’m the one holding the gold buckle at the end of the road this year,” he added.
This year’s competition will feature the CBR 8 Second Format, which features a three-round, no-guarantee tournament-style format. The only way for bull riders to earn a paycheck is to ride better than the rest of the 24-man field. The field of competition which starts with 24 riders, then the top 12 scores return for the semi-final round and then four in the Chute Out where they will battle for more than $30,000 in prize money. Competition culminates when the final four bull riders get a third chance to ride in a winner-takes-all ending.
Working to keep the cowboys safe in the arena are bull fighters Beau Schueth, Bryce Redo and Brandon Loden.
The Laughlin event is the third stop on the 12-month tournament-style event. In addition to prize money, bull riders accumulate points, which qualify them for the World Finals, part of the Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration held in Wyoming in July. At the end of the World Finals, the contestant who has the most points will be crowned the world champion and receive a $100,000 bonus.
This event also will feature the “other side of the ride,” CBR’s Million Dollar Bull Team Challenge. Bull owners from all around the country will bring three bulls that are featured during the first two rounds of competition. The bulls are competing for points based on their performance in the arena. Additionally, the time the bull rider stays on is added to the bull’s score. At the end of the night, the owner with the three highest-scoring bulls will receive $20,000.
Hedeman and the bull riders will be available after the event for autographs and photos.

More about Hedeman and the CBR philosophy…
Tuff Hedemen started riding bulls at a very young age and never outgrew it, but then who says a guy has to outgrow something that’s in his blood?
Embarking on a rodeo career at the age of 4, he worked his way through the ranks of bull riding, eventually earning the New Mexico High School Rodeo Association Championship in 1980 and multiple top honors in collegiate bronc riding, bull riding, team roping and steer wrestling. After securing the National Collegiate Finals Championship in 1983, Hedeman turned pro and began touring and claiming titles with his best friend and top bull rider, Lane Frost. During that time Hedemen’s credits included three World Championships—his first in 1986, when he set a world record with $137,061 in earnings, his second in 1989, just five months after the death of Frost at Cheyenne Frontier Days, and his third in 1991.
Shortly thereafter Hedeman co-founded the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and secured the 1995 PBR World Championship title despite his infamous head-on collision with Bodacious—a wreck that resulted in over 13 hours of reconstructive surgery.
In 2005, he was elected president of the CBR.
“I’m not great at telling everybody how great it is, I just want to encourage people to come and experience it for themselves. That’s what we have the most success in, in creating interest and excitement,” Hedeman told the Laughlin Entertainer.
Turns out, he’s also a bit of a romantic.
“The cool thing for us coming to Laughlin, it’s a different venue than what we typically do at our events,” he said “The majority are inside, climate controlled, and what not. Being outside with the sunsets in and around Laughlin and that area are just beautiful. It can be hot all day, but then in the desert, it cools off and makes it nice at night. You can look out and see the river and the casinos, just the backdrop of it is pretty cool.
“We’re excited to come there, as always. It’s a unique setting for us and what my job really is, is to make sure if you come to the event, whether you’re a top-ranked rider or you’re a contractor or a sponsor, but most importantly a fan, that you have fun, that you have a pleasant experience,” he said. “So that’s what we do, that’s our strong suit in that you don’t have to be a knowledgeable bull riding fan, you don’t have to know who Sage Kimzey is, and you don’t really have to know why a guy scored 86 instead of 91. We try to present it to where it’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s fast-paced and we just try to make them fun.
“That’s kind of the spirit of our organization, enjoy what you do, work hard, and do a good job,” he added.
The CBR also offers bull riders the chance to earn a little extra money.
“That’s basically what our tour caters to and what it’s for,” he said. “It caters to the guys that still want to go to rodeos, who still want to go to the National Finals Rodeo. What this does is provide them with an additional income, that if I was riding I would like to have.
“Sage Kimzey, for example, you can look at what he’s done the last few years in both the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and our events and others and they’ve benefitted tremendously from those opportunities. He’s the best there is. It’s cool to see that.
“What was important to me—was just being able to go and compete at the highest level I could for the most prize money and whatever was available,” he said. “In certain associations, they’d try to make you exclusive to them, and you had to do this and you had to do that. I always felt it was kind of nonsense being you’re an independent contractor—they try to treat you like an employee, but you’re not.
“The CBR is a good thing from a rider’s standpoint. Those guys that compete at our events they know what our philosophy is and what my philosophy is—it’s for the guys who ride,” Hedemen said.
“But when your producing events, it’s really for everybody. The most important thing for me is the people who come and buy tickets and sit in the stands—they’re the most important ones there. It’s easy for me to assemble all the things I do for the event, like bringing in the trucks, the sound, the video, this, that and the other but, if people don’t have the interest or the desire to come watch, to spend their hard-earned money to buy a ticket, then I’m done. I’ve always been mindful of that.
“I got to ride professionally because people actually bought a ticket to come see it, not necessarily to come see me, but to see the event, whether it be a rodeo or a bull riding event,” he said. “That’s a big part of our focus, but really it’s not that hard. If you’re good to everybody that’s involved, it’s really not that hard. Just use some common sense, work hard and be fair, and then you’ll be okay. It’s not hard to do the right thing.
“People ask me all the time if I miss it,” Hedeman said. “I really don’t. I’m kind of a realist, you know? When it’s done, it’s done. I don’t sit around and dwell and wish about the past, I really don’t. I’m pretty excited that I got to do it, but soon as I was done, I was done. I really enjoy what I’m doing now.”
This is where the cowboy rides away.
“That’s it, yes ma’am.”

CBR Colorado River Chute Out
The Laughlin Event Center
8 p.m.; gates open 6:30 p.m. (See Showtimes for tickets)