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May 30—PALMER — Even before the bulls started spinning and snorting Saturday night in front of a packed house at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, six-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey spotted a challenge to hanging on in the Last Frontier.

Rain from the day before had ended, but temperatures remained in the low 50s as some 4,500 fans crowded into the arena to witness the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Alaska debut.

Kimzey is from Salado, Texas, and like most of the 38 cowboys who made the long trip north with the PRCA’s Xtreme Bulls tour, he missed feeling the heat.

Riding bulls in cool weather “poses some new challenges,” he said.

“It’s gonna be a lot harder for the guys to hold onto their ropes, because the rosin doesn’t get as sticky as it does whenever it’s hot and humid, and that will be the one hardship that all the guys face — being able to hang on to their bull rope so the bull doesn’t jerk it from our grip.”

By the time all 38 cowboys took a turn on one of the Canadian bulls from the Outlaw Buckers stock contractors of Alberta, the man-versus-beast battle was dead even — Cowboys 19, Bulls 19. Nineteen cowboys hung on for the required eight seconds to receive a score; 19 didn’t.

Claiming the first-place prize of $5,330 was 28-year-old Roscoe Jarboe of New Plymouth, Idaho. He rode a bull named Brahma Boots Chrome to a score of 90.

“I had seen that bull a lot, and I never had been on him, and I really, really wanted to get on him and I was glad to draw him here,” Jarboe told “He is a good bull who turned his head and did his deal. I knew when I made the whistle I would be near the top, and I was thrilled to hear my score.”

As the winner, Jarboe rode a “bounty bull” at the end of the night for a chance to win five ounces of gold. The bull, Midnight Party, prevailed, and Jarboe had to make do with a $5,330 paycheck and a commemorative rifle.

“I got bucked off in about three seconds, but it didn’t take away from the excitement of winning and coming to Alaska for the first time,” he said. “This trip is something that will carry on with me for a long time. The scenery here is awesome.”

The weather was cool and overcast, but it wasn’t cloudy enough to hide the mountains.

“It takes a little longer to warm up and get loose,” Kimzey said, but world-class rodeo bulls are world-class rodeo bulls no matter where they are, and the same with world-class cowboys.

Kimzey, who has made more than $2.5 million in the sport, finished eighth with a score of 84.5 points on Ritchie Bros Blue Monkey.

Fifty-one bulls from Outlaw Buckers Rodeo traveled more than 2,000 miles by trailer from Alberta to Palmer in recent days. “They’re high-level bulls,” Kimzey said.

Coupled with a high-level field of cowboys, the event was a treat for Alaska rodeo fans.

“It’s something a lot of the patrons here haven’t seen before, bull riding at the top level in Alaska like this, so it’s cool we get to bring this to a whole new audience,” Kimzey said. “I mean, you’ve got probably a bunch of rural cowboy-type people here, and they get to enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes.”

And the cowboys get a chance to come to Alaska, a trip most had never made before, Kimzey said.

“It’s a little colder than what we’re used to but you couldn’t ask for any (prettier) scenery,” he said. “To have the opportunity to come up here and take in some of the sights and sounds from the Last Frontier and to get on a bull and hopefully get paid to come up here? It’s pretty awesome for sure.”

The Xtreme Bulls competition was part of four days of rodeo action at the fairground. Rodeo Alaska is kicking off its season with events Friday and Sunday, and a kids’ rodeo is scheduled for Monday.

Saturday’s top 8

1. Roscoe Jarboe, 90 points, $5,330; 2. Clayton Sellars, 88.5, $4,086; 3. Denton Fugate, 88, $3,020; 4. (tie) Boudreaux Campbell and Ruger Piva, 87.5, $1,599 each; 6. Mason Spain, 86, $888; 7. Jordan Spears, 85.5, $711; 8. Sage Kimzey, 84.5, $533.

Photographer Bill Roth contributed from Palmer.