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Kelly Timberman never had the chance to rodeo with Chris LeDoux, who died five years ago from a rare liver cancer at the age of 56.

But Timberman, the 34-year-old bareback bronc rider from Mills, was always a LeDoux fan.

“My dad rodeoed with [LeDoux],” Timberman said. “And I remember Chris used to sing sometimes after our rodeos.”

LeDoux won the 1976 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world bareback title and was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2005. The former Kaycee cowboy was also an accomplished country singer and songwriter and a noted artist.

Saturday, Timberman was one of many cowboys from around the region who had the chance to pay tribute to LeDoux at “A Tribute to Chris LeDoux” Rodeo in Casper.

The rodeo featured former and likely future world champions as well as numerous cowboys who will compete at next month’s National Finals Rodeo.

And they were all there because of LeDoux.

“Chris LeDoux exemplified everything rodeo is about,” Timberman said. “He epitomized how you wanted to ride bareback.

“And there was a lot of truth to his songs. … We used to listen to ‘em all the time on the road.

“Chris LeDoux was the most successful cowboy I can think of.”

Timberman is blazing a pretty good trail himself.

He won the PRCA world bareback title in 2004 and next month will compete in his eighth NFR. Timberman has won more than $82,000 this year and enters the NFR No. 8 in the world standings. He’ll compete in the Mountain States Circuit Finals in Denver next week as a last tune-up before the NFR.

“I can’t wait to get to the Vegas,” Timberman said. “I just want to get all the kinks out before heading to the NFR. Right now this is just fuel for the fire.”

Timberman added some extra fuel over the weekend as he competed in both team roping – with former Casper College cowboy O.J. Huxtable – and steer wrestling.

He has competed in jackpot rodeos for years, but steer wrestling is something relatively new to Timberman.

“I’ve done it in circuit rodeos this year,” Timberman said. “It’s just a heckuva workout. It’s fast-paced and it’s aggressive. … It’s a challenge.

“Heck, I just enjoy every aspect of rodeo, so why not?”

The fact that Timberman gets to compete in his specialty event as well as trying his hand at two others makes perfect sense to the current Casper College assistant rodeo coach. And doing it in front of some friendly faces only adds to the enjoyment.

“Having this rodeo in my hometown is great,” Timberman said. “I tell you what, it doesn’t get much better than this.”

Contact sports reporter Jack Nowlin at (307) 266-0528 or jack.nowlin@trib.com.

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