Rodeo veteran takes Copenhagen Cup

The metamorphosis of Kelly Wardell is complete. The 38-year-old bareback rider from Bellevue, Idaho, who has battled injuries and age in his quest for a world title, won the championship in his event here Saturday in the $470,000 Copenhagen Cup of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour.The metamorphosis of Kelly Wardell is complete. The 38-year-old bareback rider from Bellevue, Idaho, who has battled injuries and age in his quest for a world title, won the championship in his event here Saturday in the $470,000 Copenhagen Cup of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour.

Story originally posted by Horsecity.com Staff

The metamorphosis of Kelly Wardell is complete.

The 38-year-old bareback rider from Bellevue, Idaho, who has battled injuries and age in his quest for a world title, won the championship in his event here Saturday in the $470,000 Copenhagen Cup of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour. Wardell rode Skoal’s Cool Alley for 91 points in the final round to take the win at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He earned $19,095.

Three years ago he missed most of the season after injuring his shoulder. Wardell joined the PRCA in 1985 but didn’t reach the National Finals Rodeo until 1996. He’s qualified two additional times for the NFR.

The Copenhagen Cup Finale was the culminating event of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour. The top 12 contestants in each event qualified for the Cup by competing on the 10-city Wrangler ProRodeo Tour. At the Cup, the top eight after two rounds qualified for the semifinals. Then, the top four competed in a sudden-death final round.

TNN will air the second round of the Finale on June 23 at 9 p.m. (EDT/PDT) and the semi-final and final rounds June 24 at 9 p.m.

Wardell is determined to claim a world title before his career ends. However, this week he was more interested in earning a trip to Salt Lake. The winner of each event at the MGM earned a qualification to a rodeo to be held next February in conjunction with the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Wardell’s traveling partner, Rocky Steagall of California, had already claimed a trip to Salt Lake by winning at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

"When I came here, my goal was to go to the Olympic rodeo," said Wardell. "Rocky was already headed there, and now I am, too" Wardell reached the finals by sharing 87-point top honors in the semifinals with William Pittman and by claiming first in Thursday’s round.

Another veteran cowboy, Bud Longbrake of Dupree, S.D., won the saddle bronc riding title. Longbrake, also 38 years old, scored a record 91 points on Skoal’s Rio Bravo in the final round. He also won the semifinal round, and finished the rodeo with $15,275.

The calf roping title went to Blair Burk of Durant, Okla., who tied his final round calf in 8.4 seconds. He reached the finals by finishing second in the semifinals. Burk, who has finished third in the Jack Daniel’s World Standings each of the past three seasons, earned $20,954.

World champion bull rider Cody Hancock, who suffered a severe laceration in his jaw during a final-round wreck after a successful ride, scored 94 points on Mister USA of Diamond G Rodeo. He earned $22,749.

Reese Kerr and Michael Jones took the team roping title with a final-round effort of 5.0 seconds. Each earned $14,488.

The steer wrestling Cup was claimed by Jason Lahr, who won the final round in 3.5 seconds and the semifinal round in 4.3 seconds. He left Las Vegas with $20,660.

Two-time world champion Sherry Cervi of Marana, Ariz., was the top barrel racer at the MGM, recording a 13.56-second run in the finals. She earned $18,017.