“It’s a little chilly today. It’s supposed to get down to 55 tonight.”
While those conditions seem like a heat wave compared to the blizzard his family was experiencing in the home state of Kansas, it was actually about right for team roping practice and playing golf.
At least that’s the opinion of one of the top professional team ropers in the world.
Just days after finishing 12th in the year-end team roping header standings of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Blaine Linaweaver was in Arizona roping 20 to 25 practice steers a day, anticipating the 2010 rodeo trail.
A native of Leavenworth, Kan., where his folks and other relatives live or are nearby, Linaweaver clarified, “I always practice a lot, but I’m roping more now getting ready for the big winter rodeos. It’s important to keep the same ole routine every run.”
He intends to compete in 12 to 14 major professional rodeos during the next couple of months.
Now living at Irvine, California, Linaweaver admitted, “I followed my wife, Michele, out here.”
Michele works for an advertising agency, is an inspiration for Blaine’s success, does his internet webpage and accompanied him on the rodeo break, which also included time on golf courses.
While rodeo is Linaweaver’s profession, golf is his “out of the arena passion,” with the Tatum Ranch right there in Arizona having his favorite course.
It’s been said Linaweaver was born with a rope clenched in his fist, which may be a fable, but the native Kansan is a true legend.
On March 10, 2001, Linaweaver and his roping partner, heeler Jori Levy, set the world’s fastest time in team roping when their run at San Angelo, Texas, stopped the clock in 3.5 seconds. “That record still stands,” Michele proudly complimented.
A lifelong roper whose inspiration was champion team roper Jake Barnes, Linaweaver was a Kansas High School Rodeo Association champion and competed in the National high School Rodeo Finals for three years. He went on to excel as a roper for the Fort Scott Community College Team.
After being champion team roping header in the United Rodeo Association five years, including an all-around championship in 1999, with calf roping also on his resume, Linaweaver hit the professional circuit full time. He actually joined the PRCA in 1997.
Already collecting more than 34 champion team ropier saddles and 110 buckles by 2000, Linaweaver was the Great Lakes Circuit champion team roping header, won the American Royal and was a final round qualifier at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
It set the pace for his next season, which included not only his record-setting run, but his first qualification to compete at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Linaweaver won $60,000 during the finals, placing in five go-rounds including the second go, and finished fifth in the world standings with more than $100,000 in earnings.
“That sure was a good year,” he critiqued.
Again qualifying and competing successfully at the National Finals in 2004 and 2005, Linaweaver didn’t make it back into that roping arena until 2009. “I won $24,000 at the Tour Finale in Omaha, Nebraska, which moved me into the top 15 and qualified me for the National Finals,” he recalled.
At the finals, the 34-year-old, 6-foot, 235-pound cowboy roped with Justin Davis of Cottonwood, Calif. “We ended up seventh in the average and won a total of $23,498 a piece,” Linaweaver tallied. The twosome had a time of 92.6 seconds in eight qualifying runs out of ten go-rounds.
Linaweaver’s total 2009 earnings were $97,116, for the 12th place standing. Davis collected $78,813, during the year to be 15th in the world.
Throughout the year, Linaweaver noted, “I usually rope five or six steers a day on my good horse, and another eight or ten on my practice horse.” Following the finals, Linaweaver’s adrenalin was really flowing for the winter circuit of the new year, and his practice pace picked up sharply.
Along with consistent practice, Linaweaver emphasized that his roping partner and his horse are of equal importance.
“I roped with seven different partners last year, and that’s too many,” Linaweaver evaluated. “It’s important to rope with the same partner, so we each know how the other one is going to handle a steer in different situations.
“I plan to rope all year with Brandon Bates. We’ve roped together successfully in the past, and I think that will be an advantage for this year,” Linaweaver predicted.
Importance of quality horses was stressed by Linaweaver, who has four horses now. “I am really fortunate to have these horses,” he said. “I roped on my gray horse called Blue in all ten rounds at the finals, and he just worked great.”
Pablo and Tango were also credited for being outstanding practice and backup horses.
Actually living in town, Linaweaver keeps his horses at Rancho Mission Viejo at San Juan Capistrano, Ca., where he also practices when not on the road..
Along with professional rodeos, Linaweaver competes regularly at jackpot team ropings, with the Bob Feist Invitational and the Westar at Ellensburg, Washington, being his two favorites.
Linaweaver’s dad, Jerry lives at Leavenworth and is involved in riding cutting horses. Brothers, Jerry Jr. and Mark, also live in eastern Kansas, and they are regulars in team roping competitions as well, collecting their share of the pots.
As if Linaweaver isn’t busy enough with practice, competition and golf, he also gives private roping lessons.
What are Linaweaver’s goals as he heads into the new year? “I want to win as much as I can and qualify for the National Finals again. I’d sure like to win some at the Tour Finales along the way,” he anticipated.
Of course, Linaweaver’s ultimate goal: “Be the next world champion team roping header.”