“Show the World” by Rob Bailey is his summer song. With the heavy bass playing in his head, Sage Kimzey makes his way to the chutes where a ton of animal awaits him. He performs the exact same ritual each time he climbs onto the bull’s back. He nods, the chute opens and they’re off. The bull flies into the air and comes down like a Mack truck, all the while Kimzey stays safe inside his glass box. He does this for 8-seconds almost every night.
“Most bull riders that get bucked off, buck themselves off. It’s nothing that the bull actually does. I just try to stay square and act like the glass box is circling me,” Kimzey said.
Oh, that’s it?
If you have ever seen Kimzey ride, he makes it look so easy. While the whirl of mass and muscle, twist, turns, spins, and jumps under him, he is a board.
Kimzey’s, job this season is to win all the rodeos.
So far he’s won Salt Lake – 90 pts, Calgary Stampede – 91 pts, Edmonton,
Alberta – 88 pts, Riverton, WY – 90.5 pts. He was a co-champion at the Redding Rodeo, he’s won a few Xtreme Bulls, a CBR world title (his third) and a $20,000 bonus for riding Pearl Harbor (one of Chad Berger’s rankest bulls) in Bismarck, ND. And it’s still early August. If things keep going well for him, he will be making his fourth appearance at the WNFR where in 2014, 2015 and 2016 he became the rst PRCA contestant to win world titles each of his rst three years as a member. At present, he’s about $40,000 ahead of 2nd place in the PRCA standings.
It’s hard to imagine, but he used to struggle with bulls that went away from his hand.
“I was always really small growing up. I did okay in junior high and then probably the end of my sophomore year in high school was when it all just kinda came together and I started winning quite a bit. I just kept working on it and really focused for years on those bulls that went left because those were the only bulls that were throwing me off. It took a while, I guess I’m a slow learner, but it finally kinda took off. It doesn’t matter what way they go now. I just like bulls that buck hard,” Kimzey said.
He started winning a lot of open rodeos around his home state of Oklahoma his junior year in high school, then he broke his hand the summer of his senior year. Regardless, he was not able to get his PRCA card until his second-semester in college because he graduated high school at 17.
“As far as learning and maturing and growing as a bull rider, that spring of my freshman year of college – would have been 2013 – everything kind of took off. Everything was good and the rest is history.”
Kimzey’s a well-mannered young man who is surprisingly articulate for a guy in his early 20s. His mom was a barrel racer/ rodeo queen and his dad was a barrel man/clown. From Strong City, Oklahoma, a blip-town on the map, Kimzey played basketball and wrestled and got on a lot of practice bulls.
“I spent my time working my tail off to get to the point where I am now. You know, now I like to keep my riding weight at right around 145, I’m pretty particular about the weight I ride at. But other than that, I don’t have a specific training that I have to do all the time,” Kimzey said. “I just try to keep it simple, but make sure everything is perfect. I’m kind of a perfectionist as far as riding goes. But really after you get everything ready, I just clear my head and give it to him like you would anything else.”
Kimzey’s work ethic comes into play every time he is on the back of a bull. This summer, it was especially beneficial when he met up with Pearl Harbor, a 6-year-old beast athlete that has been ridden only four times in 43 outs. Well …five, now.
“Chad [Berger] called me and asked me if I’d be interested in getting on him, as a bounty bull at the Mandan Xtreme Bulls. Obviously, if you ever get a shot to get on a bull of that caliber, whether it’s for $20,000 or not, most of us bull riders are probably going to take it. And it was pretty awesome. I got on a really great bull. It was just an all around awesome night.”
For Kimzey, every ride comes down to collecting gold buckles and that’s his most important job.
Kimzey said. “I don’t expect anything less than perfection from myself. It’s a lot of weight on my shoulders, but at the same time I embrace it, I know there’s a target on my back. That’s okay with me. I kind of enjoy the spot. It took me a while before I got used to being number one, but now it’s a place that I’m very comfortable in.”