COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Bull rider Fred Boettcher (Rice Lake, Wis.) will compete in this weekend's Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championship presented by the Texas Stampede as an alternate to both reigning world champion bull rider Matt Austin and first alternate Wesley Silcox, who are injured and cannot compete.
Austin (Wills Point, Texas) qualified for the Dallas event by finishing as the runner-up at both the Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out, held in May in Tulsa, Okla., and the Wrangler ProRodeo Summer Tour Finale six weeks ago in Omaha, Neb. However, he suffered abdominal and groin tears Oct. 19 at the Trinity Valley Exposition in Liberty, Texas.
Silcox (Sweet, Idaho), ranked third in the latest ProRodeo Cowboys World Standings, was next in line to replace Austin. He, too, was recently injured and needed surgery Nov. 6 to repair torn cartilage in his knee and also has a sore shoulder, thanks to a hangup and collision at a bull riding event last month in Kansas City, Mo.
So, Boettcher, a five-time Wrangler NFR qualifier and seven-time Tour Finale contestant, changed his weekend plans that now will include at least two attempts to ride ProRodeo's best bulls and compete for part of a $470,000 purse at the American Airlines Center, starting Friday.
CBS is broadcasting the event's top rides and runs at 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 18.
Boettcher is ranked 22nd in the latest world standings, some $11,000 out of the 15th and final qualifying spot for the Wrangler NFR.
"You hate to see anything bad happen to your friends," Boettcher said. "Yeah, I'm excited to have an opportunity to ride and make the Finals. It's in my hands now. I'll take a little luck any day, but I feel bad for my friends."
Both Austin and Silcox expect to be healthy enough to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Nov. 30-Dec. 9 in Las Vegas.
"It kind of gets frustrating because riding bulls is what I love to do, and I can't do it right now," Austin said. "Heck, I want to get on some practice bulls and can't do it. I'm riding one every day in my head, though, that's for sure."
Silcox, who made his Wrangler NFR debut in 2005, qualified for the Pace Chute-out and has been one of the PRCA's top bull riders this season.
"I got thrown off, and my hand got stuck in my rope," said Silcox, recalling his accident in Kansas City. "He jerked me down and then he kind of fell on me."