Made in America - Sage Steele Kimzey

Hailing from the heartland, Strong City, Oklahoma, Sage Steele Kimzey has declared war on former World Champion Bull Rider Don Gay’s 8-time World Champion title record.

“He is not the first guy to stand up and say he’s going to break my record,” said Gay. “But I know he is the first one to say it when he was only 12 years old,” continued the legendary bull rider who will be the in house commentator on the final night of the CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days when Sage Kimzey will be riding for his second CBR World title.

“I give it 100 percent each and every time I pull my rope,” said Kimzey from behind the chutes at a pro rodeo in Salinas, California. "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.

This story could begin in many places, it’s a story about talent that turned into greatness and it was born in middle America, in a small town where an athlete had a dream.  

Three time World Champion Bull Rider Sage Kimzey appeared on Championship Bull Riding’s 2016 Road to Cheyenne tour thirteen times and even after missing two events, Kimzey leads the CBR statistics in multiple categories, which is no surprise to the industry insiders and thousands of bull riding fans who have watched Kimzey accumulate titles, rip thru the records, and thrill audiences from coast to coast weekly on national television. 

What sets Sage apart from other cowboy athletes? According to Gay, who remains the industry standard for bull riding, he seeks out his goals.

“He looks for structure and purpose, and most importantly he focuses on commitment to his job,” added Gay who has known Kimzey since he was born and is looking forward to commentating on Kimzey’s upcoming performance.

According to Sage, his own motivation and dedication is never in question. Riding only against himself, you will never hear Kimzey discuss what other contestants are doing, only his own path and journey to success.  

Kimzey is on the Road to Cheyenne this weekend to win his fourth bull riding World Championship title. If he wins in Cheyenne on Tuesday night he will add the CBR’s $100,000 bonus to his every growing kitty. At twenty-one years old and with earnings in excess of $1,000,000, Kimzey is now faced with staying at the top where he has dreamed of being his entire life.

“Visualization... in my mind I was always practicing for the last round, the last bull, and in my head I always won, since I was three years old,” laughed Kimzey when asked to respond to the question of how to handle the pressure of being and staying at the top of the leaderboard in both the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Championship Bull Riding.   

“Success is a lousy teacher, whatever got you there is what you have to keep doing, “ said Kimzey’s College Rodeo coach who recruited the basketball playing, bull riding athlete to represent the Southwestern State Oklahoma Bull Dogs Rodeo Team.

“Sage understands and knows that better than most athletes his age,” continued Coach V.

Kimzey described his 2016 Road to Cheyenne as having many ups and downs, but once in gear and after his Bossier City event win in February after what he calls a slow start, he never took his foot off the accelerator.  

“I finally drew good enough bulls to get to the final round,” said Kimzey who admits he is enjoying the ride more than constantly looking at the outcome as he did here in 2014 when he claimed his first CBR World title.

Fans got to see more of Sage Kimzey then any other bull rider this year as he advanced seven times to the final four Shoot Out round to lead the category of third round appearances and increase his personal stat over the four Shoot Out round appearances in 2015. He also posts the most qualified rides this year at 22.Similar to his 2015 CBR season, Kimzey won just one event title this season, but where this ‘Made in America’ cowboy excels is in his consistency and his ability to see the focus of CBR competition, the valuable points of every scored ride.

“We are fortunate to get to do what we get to do, traveling the country with our friends and family,” said Kimzey.

But probably the most telling is his 89.13 average ride score for this year’s tour that even surprised him. If that was not enough good news, he finished the regular season riding 74 percent ride of the bulls he attempted, up from 71 percent in 2015, on the CBR tour, which is second to No. 2 Jacob O’Mara’s 78 percent.

Kimzey’s high marked ride score was 90 points, which he posted four times while trying to take over and retain the lead of the CBR’s World Standings.

Each and every qualified ride earns the bull rider points that make up the CBR World Standings and nobody knows that better than Sage Steele Kimzey. This year he won one of the four man Shoot Out rounds but he scored in four of the seven trips to the four man. Ironically, heading into the CBR World Finals he is exactly four scores ahead of the field of 24 bull riders.  

The 21-year-old bull rider from Strong City, Oklahoma is coming off of an incredible two and a half years of bull riding. During his 2014 season he won both the CBR and PRCA World Championship titles. His PRCA World title win was as a rookie, a pro-rodeo feat that has only been done by one other rookie bull rider in the PRCA decades ago.

“It gets tough. It’s a grueling 300 days out of the year when we’re on the road, but there’s nothing more rewarding either,” Kimzey says.

In 2015 we could have seen him have a sophomore slump, but he didn’t. He had a slower start and minor injuries which he took in stride and still managed six top ten finishes and rode three of four he attempted at last year’s World Finals for his second place finish in last year’s World Standings. 

“Shoot, relatively healthy for this sport is a whole lot different than healthy for any other sport, as long as we’re still alive, breathing or kicking, we’re still going to get on bulls and just power through,” he laughs.

And no surprise, after winning back to back Rodeo Houston titles in 2015 (and 2016) Kimzey, fueled by the month of March where he won over $100,000 in one month for two consecutive years, Kimzey quickly picked up steam and his PRCA standings earned his second PRCA World Championship in Las Vegas last December.

“It’s awesome. You get to meet all the fans that come out and support us. Going to different cities and having people you know that are rooting for you that are actually in your corner, it’s pretty special having that  fan base and having all the support I do,” reiterated Kimzey.

 What does Sage Kimzey tell those fans and kids waiting in line for a selfie with Sage?

“You can do anything you set your mind to, your future is up to you, he tells kids and fans,” according to Kimzey.”

“Without hard work it doesn’t matter how good you are,” added Sage. “That’s a valuable lesson I learned early.” 

So what do we think sage Kimzey is doing two days before he attempts to be the second bull rider in the history of CBR to win the Championship twice?

Riding bulls is obviously the only answer to that question… including qualifying for the short round in Salinas, California where he will ride the night before the CBR World Championships. 

 As a known student of his craft, there is no doubt that Sage Kimzey is familiar with the line-up of bulls now making their way across the country to Wyoming, but my guess is he is thinking about each and every one he has been on and reviewing data on those he has not attempted. But there is one bull he is thinking about more than others, 050 Gold Buckle, owned by Championship Pro Rodeo.

“He bucked me off in Fort Worth, he was better than me that day, I made the mistake, but I want another shot at him,” declared Kimzey.

Besides titles and monetary rewards, Kimzey is enjoying the Road to Cheyenne more these days. Taking time to soak in the local culture keeps him relaxed. Making television, radio, and fan appearances is part of his weekly routine, but this year he is really excited to be going up with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds on Monday in Cheyenne. Kimzey will receive three hours of intense training before taking flight on Monday morning.


It’s All in the Family

Kimzey expects the entire Kimzey gang in Cheyenne including his girlfriend and current traveling partner Alexis Bloomer. “My whole family has been behind me my whole life,” said Kimzey.

“My Mom has always been my rock and I couldn’t be more thankful for my family. They are the reason I am where I am.”

According to Kimzey his mom, Jennifer, spent half of her life loading them all up and making sure they got to where we they were supposed to be and practiced when they were supposed to be practicing.

Kimzey hopes at this point that his Mom and Dad can enjoy the ride he and his rodeo siblings are forging.

“We are all finally at a place in our athletic careers that our parents can hopefully enjoy all the good work they did,” continued the oldest of the Kimzey tribe.

Kimzey’s younger brother Trey is currently riding at the National High School Rodeo Finals competing in bull riding. Kimzey said they are in constant contact. Kimzey also finds time to chat with sister Dusta who leads the “Tricked Out” trick riding entertainment side of the family and also gives motivational speeches to up and coming rodeo hopefuls. Sage’s Dad, former National Finals Rodeo barrel man, Ted Kimzey will be behind the chutes and cheering his phenom son on from the Frontier Park Arena.