An arctic blast is headed straight for Denver, Colorado.
Although barrel racers knew they faced the risk of cold or snowy weather when entering the qualifier for the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, they were more than willing to face a little adversity. All 140 entered are vying for one of the 40 qualification spots into the performances and to take home a piece of the $45,000 added money, but when they looked at the weather forecast for the week, most realized their chances to get inside the Denver Coliseum for the performances would be dashed. A cold front was brewing that would make typical Denver temperatures feel mild.
The rounds were set to run at 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday and Thursday morning, and barrel racers had to compete in both in order to earn a ticket to the next round. Wednesday forecasted a typical winter day in Denver: high of 49° in the morning, some gusty winds and a chance of snow. Wednesday night started to take a turn for the worst. A high of -10° with snow, that rolled into Thursday’s high of 3° with a bitter windchill.
“It’s not worth it,” said Cindy Smith, the 2022 Turquoise Circuit Champion. “I wish they’d just move both rounds to Wednesday—that would keep everybody safer.”
As it turned out, Smith was not alone in her thinking. Barrel racers from various regions took to social media on Monday, December 19, questioning whether it was possible to move both rounds of the qualifier to Wednesday, December 20, instead of holding off on the second round until Thursday so that barrel racers could have a chance to beat the blast. The National Western committee put their heads together, and the WPRA looked to the rulebook. There was a pause as both sides realized there was ambiguity in the book regarding what could be done in this unprecedented situation—there were rules directly outlining the process of moving locations or postponement, but none for moving an event forward, or directly behind another round.
A previously scheduled, closed WPRA meeting on the evening of the 19th happened at just the perfect time: WPRA leadership and circuit directors talked out the implications on horse, rider and the local Denver community, plus the committees’ input and needs, then voted and held onto their decision until the official update had been communicated with Procom.
On Tuesday, December 20, the WPRA sent the following email to members at 9:40 A.M. MST.
BRM will be following this story as it develops.