Four cowboys from Central Oregon are scheduled to compete in the inaugural Elite Rodeo Athletes world championship today through Sunday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Culver’s Bobby Mote, Redmond’s Steven Peebles and Terrebonne’s Austin Foss are all in the bareback field, and Prineville’s Charly Crawford will compete in team roping.
The $1 million ERA world championship is the season-ending event of the 2016 ERA Premier Tour, which bills itself as the home of the world’s best rodeo contestants and livestock.
After five stops in its first season, the ERA tour culminates with the world championship, which will determine the circuit’s champions in bareback riding, saddle-bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.
The ERA tour includes 80 of the top cowboys and cowgirls in pro rodeo. It was started in 2015 by rodeo riders hoping to better the sport for both fans and competitors by offering a sort of “all-star” circuit, requiring less travel, but with more prize money available at its tour stops than at Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos.
Shortly after the formation of the ERA, the PRCA — long recognized as the pre-eminent competitive organization in pro rodeo — enacted bylaws to keep ERA shareholders out of PRCA rodeos.
Mote, Peebles, Foss and Crawford are all shareholders and competitors in the ERA. Mote is a four-time PRCA world bareback champion, and Peebles is the 2015 PRCA world bareback champion.
Other rodeo riders set to compete in Dallas include 23-time PRCA world champion Trevor Brazile, five-time world champion steer wrestler Luke Branquinho and three-time world champion tie-down roper Tuf Cooper.
Another Oregonian, Cody Campbell, of Summerville, is set to compete in bull riding.
The ERA world championship will include three performances: at 5 p.m. PST today and Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. All performances will be streamed live on florodeo.com, and Sunday’s final round will be broadcast on tape delay on Fox Sports 2 at 6 p.m. Nov. 28.
The fledgling ERA, which debuted in Redmond in March, canceled its final three tour stops before the Dallas championships due to projected poor attendance. The canceled stops, in St. Louis, Atlanta and New Orleans, were originally scheduled for September and October.
The abbreviated ERA tour included just five stops this year: Redmond; Nampa, Idaho, and Salt Lake City in April; Albuquerque, New Mexico, in May; and Sheridan, Wyoming, on Sept. 3.