ARLINGTON, Texas – Three-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey is right on the cusp of cracking the Top 35 of the PBR’s world standings following his victory at RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN on Sunday afternoon, but Kimzey says he still has “no immediate plans” of attempting to ride in the PBR.
During THE AMERICAN’s post-event press conference, Kimzey referenced the fact that his decision is more of a lifestyle choice more so than money.
According to Kimzey, he had already earned over $80,000 at different rodeo associations before winning $433,333.33 at THE AMERICAN on Sunday.
“I have no doubt that I can,” Kimzey said in a follow-up interview with PBR.com “I have nothing to prove to anybody as far as that goes. I know who I am as a bull rider and as a person. As far as proving anything to anybody, I don’t have anything to prove in my mind. It does really come down to lifestyle and longevity. It is hard to stay healthy in the PBR. The top dogs will tell you it is hard to stay healthy for the whole year. To me, I just really love rodeoing. I love the lifestyle. I love the people. Coming to these big events are a nice change of pace, but I don’t know at this point in my life if it is really what I want to be doing every weekend.”
Kimzey won THE AMERICAN bull riding, which was sanctioned by the PBR, with an 89.5-point ride on Uncle Tink in the Shoot-Out Round after riding Deep Water for 85.5 points in the long round.
PBR rookie Claudio Montanha Jr. continued his impressive start to his career with a second-place finish. Montanha rode Bottom’s Up for 89 points in the Shoot-Out Round for $25,000.
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi and Kaique Pacheco were bucked off in the Shoot-Out Round.
Kimzey earned a $333,333.33 winner’s bonus on Sunday after the fan invite split the $1 million qualifier bonus with Cody DeMoss (saddle bronc riding) and Hailey Kinsel (barrel racing).
Last year, Kimzey failed to qualify for the 2016 PBR World Finals after receiving an invite to the Velocity Tour Finals for being the defending PRCA champion, where he went 1-for-3.
After earning 80 points toward the PBR world standings for his victory on Sunday, why doesn’t Kimzey try and ride for an entire season in the PBR if he is so confident he can?
THE AMERICAN and Calgary Stampede, which Kimzey won in 2015, are prestigious bull ridings against some of the top riders in the world, but there is no tougher pen of bulls than the Built Ford Tough Series and the PBR World Finals.
The Strong City, Oklahoma, bull rider could potentially go to a Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event and make up the 40 world points necessary to try and qualify for the BFTS and make a run at a PBR World Championship.
“I might, but I really hadn’t thought about that,” Kimzey said. “I could even go to Velocity, or I don’t know how close on the alternate list I would be to get into a Built Ford if a couple guys are hurt or whatever. We will see how it goes. If I have a free weekend, I will definitely play the field and kind of see where my heart takes me. That is one thing, I always follow my heart and my mind and where I feel like I should be that weekend. Where I really want to be.
"Right now we are really busy with the big, winter indoor rodeos. It kind of calms down in the spring, maybe I will throw the idea in.”
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride, who was working THE AMERICAN television broadcast, said this weekend is just another example of why he would like to see what Kimzey can do for an entire season against the rankest bulls in the world.
“He kind of threw down a gauntlet, if you will, in his winning interview,” McBride said. “He had a great event. He rode two good bulls. Then said everybody wanted me matched up against the PBR guys and I guess you seen what happens. That is his choice, but I think if you talk that way, people would love to see him come compete for a full season.
“I would love to see him do it because I think he is a really good bull rider. He is just dominating rodeoing.”
Kimzey explained after the event that even though the PBR lifestyle isn’t for him, at this time, he respects the PBR riders that have been able to handle the rigors of the PBR schedule.
“They have my utmost respect,” Kimzey said. “They are getting on rank bucking bulls for 32 weeks out of the year. They have my utmost respect. It is the lifestyle they chose. It was how they wanted to do it. They have my utmost respect because I know it is tough.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert agreed with McBride that Kimzey rode well at THE AMERICAN, but believes the PBR can offer him further opportunities.
“He won it and he did good,” Lambert said. “He rode two good bulls and congratulations to him. It doesn’t make sense to me why he wouldn’t want to ride for more money and on a bigger stage with a better competitive opportunity, but that is his decision.”
Kimzey is next scheduled to ride at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo next weekend, so he would be unavailable to ride at the Worcester, Massachusetts, Velocity Tour event next Saturday.
He also added the fact that if he were to crack the Top 30 of the PBR world standings, he would then be obligated, by rule, to ride at all Built Ford Tough Series events, which would be a conflict for his rodeo schedule.
According to the PBR rule book (126.96.36.199), all riders ranked inside the Top 30 of the world standings have to ride at every BFTS event unless otherwise excused with either an injury exemption or excused absence.
But what about a rider such as 2011 PRCA champion Shane Proctor, who recently won the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bull riding average title after competing for a full PBR season?
“Shane’s a machine too,” Kimzey said. “His body can take punishment and take it and take it. He can just keep pushing through. It is hard on your body. I am getting on 150 bulls already throughout the year as it sits. To add more to that schedule would be pretty tough on me. I am getting to a point to where I can pick and choose rodeos a little more and go to bigger places. Maybe I am moving toward the idea of doing both of them.
“Like I said, I am really happy with where I am at and what I am doing. I am a 22-year-old kid raking in over half a million dollars a year in prize money.”
Kimzey may have no immediate plans and be happy with where he is at, but he did say the PBR is certainly in the back of his mind.
“I am not ever going to rule it out,” Kimzey said. “You never know what the future is going to hold and where my heart is going to take me. Right now, it is not in the immediate future, but I am not going to say never.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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