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Steamboat Magazine

A Trifecta of Champions

06/03/2024 12:04PM ● By Ski Town Media Staff
(Photo: World Champion bareback rider, Keenan Hayes. Courtesy of Michael Pintar.)

Steamboat Springs, CO - When Keenan Hayes became the first rookie ever to win the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback riding world championship last December, he cemented a Routt County legacy.

Keenan is a third-generation rodeo rider out of Hayden. His father, Donnie, is a retired bareback and saddle bronc rider, and his grandfather, John, was the first bareback rider in the family. His sister, Kaitlynn, has competed in barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping.

“A cowboy with a winning streak that outshone even the brightest stars,” reported Richard Sutherland of, after Keenan’s historic 90-point ride in the final event of the 2023 season.
(J.C. Trujillo (left) and Chad Bedell (right). Courtesy of Hart Van Denburg/CPR News and Maribou Ranch.)

Keenan is not the first local competitor to bring home a world championship. North Routt cowboy Chad Bedell took the world title in steer wrestling in 1996. And before him, South Routt’s J.C. Trujillo won the bareback crown in 1981. Fittingly, in the same year Keenan brought the winning buckle to Routt County, J.C. was elected to the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, the top honor a rodeo rider can achieve.

Is it something in the water that turns local rodeo competitors into world champions?

“It’s a testament to our rodeo,” says Brent Romick of the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series. “We  aspire to create an athletic environment that raises champions. We need to invest in our youth, our junior rodeos. My big goal is to raise more champions.”

In celebration of Routt County’s most recent world championship, the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series is presenting a Keenan Hayes event on opening weekend, Friday and Saturday, June 21-​​22. Then during Fourth of July week, the local rodeo hosts the National Ladies Ranch Bronco Riding Championship.

For five to six weeks this summer, the Steamboat Rodeo is including breakaway roping. In this women’s event, riders must rope a calf, but do not need to dismount and tie it. Instead, they are judged by how quickly the rope breaks free from the saddle horn.

The Steamboat Pro Rodeo is held every Friday and Saturday, June 21-Aug. 24, as well as July 3-4 at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena downtown. The fun starts at 6 p.m., with music and food. The rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit