Sage Kimzey – The Complexity of Greatness

This story could begin in many places, it’s a story about talent turned into greatness and where it began.

Sage Kimzey is a great bull rider. What is a great bull rider and how do riders get there? Is greatness born or made? Is greatness the result of talent or practice? The striving for greatness is a fundamental human drive, and without it we would be deprived of some of the greatest moments in sports history.

Last year was the beginning of Sage Kimzey’s dominance in the bull riding arena. He no doubt has talent as he sits at the top of the field of 15 bull riders with $174,600.58 in earnings, $52,353.89 above the No. 2 cowboy Parker Breding.

Of the 15 cowboys competing in this year’s 2015 edition of the National Finals Rodeo, the smart bet is on Kimzey who at age 21 carries two World Championships in his pocket and his 2014 NFR appearance broke rodeo records in several categories.

But what is his special talent within bull riding? And how, where, and when did it begin?

It's the burning question asked by media personalities, so-called rodeo experts, and probably most of his colleagues.

The champ will tell you that in growing up second place was never an option or good enough for him.  

“If you won second, you weren’t the best. It was not a condemning light or bad thing, just the way it was.”

After two plus years of watching and talking to Sage before during and after CBR and PRCA competitions, I believe Kimzey has a rare talent found in elite athletes of every sport… Kimzey owns the ability to diagnose the ride and the bull and more importantly, he possesses the skill to react as it is happening. The results - he packs a wallup to the rest of the field.

In his mind, he has been there before and therefore does not panic… ever. But in the end, as I look at video after video, Kimzey’s talent does not come down to a formula because formulas are rational, and whatever Kimzey has, it isn't entirely rational. It's a kid who grew up in the truck going to rodeos, who is burning to be here, for whom every second is meaningful, who wakes up in the morning and says, "Today is my day to be a champion!”

It's deeply and purposefully irrational, because it's built on a love of bull riding and the rodeo lifestyle that can't be explained… but holds everything together anyway.



Kimzey worked hard this year and won 13 rodeos and was co-champion at two. Some of his wins are the season’s biggest rodeos like Pendleton, Ore., Spanish Fork, Utah, and both the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale, and the rodeo in Ellensburg, Wash. He is the 2014 CBR World Champion and won multiple events on the 2015 Mahindra Road to Cheyenne as well.

Sage began his career in 2013 and broke the record of the most money on a PRCA permit. During his rookie year in 2014, he was awarded Rookie of the Year, and in that year at the NFR he won four rounds, and the average on his way to his first PRCA World Champion title. He was the first to achieve both titles since Bill Kornell in 1963.

Sage was raised in the truck going to a rodeo. His father, Ted Kimzey, was a PRCA barrelman. Sage and his sister Dusta were childhood trick riders. Dusta runs barrels and Sage’s younger brother Trey also competes in rodeo.



How did he develop his skill? Deliberate Practice + Time = Talent.

“I was a rookie last year and I didn’t have the answers to what it would take to stay motivated and this year the road was not as trying, I knew what to expect.”

“I don’t lift weights, I concentrate on ballistic stretching, and getting real loose. I am not getting on as many as last year.”

But don’t let him fool you, he is mentally preparing 24/7.

“I think about bull riding nonstop and watch film… all of it… there is something to be learned from everything. The sport has evolved but is still the same,” said Kimzey.  

Kimzey who felt like (78 qualified rides of 108 attempts) he stayed on a lot more bulls this year. He has only bucked off one bull from the middle of August to Stephenville, which was a month and a half without bucking off.  He enters Vegas with a 72.22 riding percentage, almost ten points higher than in 2014.

“This year I had a game plan, I knew where I wanted to go and went where the money was good and cool prizes, added the champ. Just exactly what is a cool prize to Kimzey? “A Brockman custom rifle at Gooding, a cool Pocket watch from Pendleton, kind of off the wall stuff is what I like.”



Known to be a student of film, Kimzey is pleased with this year’s selection of bull power. He has reviewed the list of selected bulls for the NFR and believes it will come down to, “who can ride 10 kind of contest.”

“I have looked at the list; I think there will be a lot of 90 points rides; lots more bulls you can be a lot more points on… in the past there has been really hard to ride bulls, but not as many you could get high scores on.”

Kimzey would like to get the round one jitters off his shoulder with a draw like Long John of D&H Cattle Company, from Ardmore, Oklahoma.



“I am very healthy this year, I have had very few problems; broken knuckle in my riding hand, but it’s all healed and feeling good.”



“In my mind I have always been there.”

“The ambiance of the NFR and me getting to live out an absolute long life dream is indescribable. All I ever wanted to do is compete at the Thomas and Mack Center. When I was growing up getting on the bucking barrels and machine, to me it was always the 10th round at the Thomas and Mack, the bull riding World Championship on the line and me riding for it.”

Las Vegas will be a different kind of test for Sage this year. Coming in as the leader will be a new challenge, but one he no doubt will rise to meet.


Career Highlights

2014 CBR and PRCA World Champion


2015 PRCA Professional Highlights

PRCA bull riding earnings $174,600.58

• Won the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo

• Won the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale (Ellensburg, Wash.)

• Won the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up

• Won the Wrangler Champions Challenge Finale (Omaha, Neb.)

• Won the Wrangler Champions Challenge (Logandale, Nev.)

• Won the Redding (Calif.) Wrangler Champions Challenge

• Won the Spanish Fork (Utah) Fiesta Days Rodeo

• Won the Lawton (Okla.) Rangers Rodeo

• Won the Gooding (Idaho) Pro Rodeo

• Won the Range Days Rodeo (Rapid City, S.D.)

• Won the Cassia County Fair & Rodeo (Burley, Idaho)

• Won the Pasadena (Texas) Livestock Show & Rodeo

• Won the Division 2 Qualifying Xtreme Bulls Event (Oklahoma City, Okla.)

• Co-champion at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days

• Co-champion at the Cattleman Days Rodeo (Ashland, Mo.)