This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rodeo isn't an Olympic sport, but with the Days of '47 Rodeo's new Olympic-like format, these games are as close to the Olympics this country's elite cowboys will get for now.
The format included four days of qualifying rounds where reigning PRCA champions and other top cowboys went head to head for a chance to compete in Monday's gold-medal round and win $50,000.
Each event featured eight cowboys and the top three were awarded with the gold, silver and bronze medals.
The first gold medalist of the night was bareback rider Wyatt Denny of Minden, Nev.
Although he ended up as the winner, Denny didn't have a hot start. He initially scored a 74, but after a re-ride about five minutes after his first effort, he earned an 88 and the gold medal.
Even with the quick turnaround between rides, Denny preferred it that way.
"Your adrenaline is really going at that point so I kind of like just getting right on it. I don't want to wait around and let my adrenaline wear off," said Denny. "I have a rib pulled off my sternum right now and that horse, when he started [there was] just a sting straight through [my] back and he hit me and I'm seeing lights. ... He kind of hurt me so I kind of wanted to just go right into the re-ride and get it over with."
Ryle Smith picked up a gold medal in steer wrestling and a bronze in tie-down roping, and with them a total of $68,000.
"This is the most money I have ever won in one day, almost times two," said Smith. "Those medals will mean a lot to me. I think it's a steppingstone for me where now maybe I believe I can do two and compete. So just the fact that I showed up here and this happened, I didn't win the $100,000 but I got close. This is special."
Tuf Cooper took first place in tie-down roping. While from Weatherford, Texas, Cooper is familiar with Utah specifically its ties to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Competing in the Days of '47 since 2008, the possibility of winning a medal gave him new motivation.
"When I was a little kid they had the Olympics here, and I would show up and rope at the old arena downtown," said Cooper. "Every time I look at that arena, that's where the guys I looked up to won their gold medals and participated in the Olympics. I thought that was so cool. When I heard they were giving these gold medals here, I was like, 'oh my goodness, I hope I win one.' It's really cool. This thing is going to be around forever, and I am going to pass it down from generation to generation."
Jr. Dees and Tle McKnight took the gold in team roping. Out of the eight duos competing in this event, only three recorded times.
Dees, 19, and McKnight, 28, were not initially set to rope together. Dees' original partner got injured while practicing and McKnight was the first man up.
"I didn't even know who I was going to get to rope with, at first, and I didn't care," said McKnight. "When they told me I was going to rope with [Dees], I knew I was going to have a chance to win it."
The duo practiced once together earlier in the week and while it may not have been the prettiest of practices, it seemed as though they got all of their kinks out.
Cody DeMoss qualified by the skin of his teeth, making it by a half-point tiebreaker, and ended up winning the gold in saddle bronc riding.
"This is definitely a feather in the hat," said DeMoss. "I had never won [Days of '47] before, even when it was just downtown. I've hardly had any luck in it. The stars lined up for me and I thank God for that."
Hailey Kinsel was the only female gold medalist, winning the girls' barrel racing.
Kinsel said she owes everything to her 6-year-old horse, Sister.
"In our sport it's everything [to have a good horse]," said Kinsel. "Nowadays they are breeding for these awesome breeding horses with awesome bloodlines that do mean a lot. But a lot of try needs to be in them, a lot of heart. She loves two things: eating and racing barrels, and she does them both great. As long as she's having fun, I'm having fun."
In the final event of the night, Sage Steele Kimzey won gold with a score of 90.
The No. 1-ranked bull rider in the nation, Kimzey set his eyes on the gold medal and didn't want to accept anything less.
"I love winning first. That's just the personality that I have," said Kimzey.
When I heard they were giving these gold medals here I was like oh my goodness I hope I win one. It's really cool. This thing is going to be around forever, and I am going to pass it down from generation to generation.. › XX