Aug 3, 2022
Silver-Lining Will Help Kimzey Cope with Disappointing Season-Ending Injury
Here we go with part four of Gold Buckle Buzz, a series of exclusive interviews with each 2021 PRCA World Champion. Please enjoy PRCA World Champion bull rider Sage Kimzey.
By Brian Hurlburt
Unfortunately, sometimes the closer things are, the farther away they seem to get.
It’s a paradox, and one that Sage Kimzey, the 7-time PRCA World Champion bull rider, will have plenty of time to contemplate during the remainder of the 2022 season.
His pursuit of a record-tying eighth gold buckle is on hold due to season-ending injury.
Kimzey finally succumbed to a recurring left shoulder issue this summer. Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Severe Weather was responsible for the final straw that put Sage down for the count. The bull bucked Kimzey off June 10 during the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo in Weatherford, Texas.
Kimzey underwent successful surgery July 21.
“It’s not ideal, but I’ve needed to have this done for a while and it is what it is,” Kimzey said, just hours prior to the procedure.
Kimzey’s life goal has been to catch and surpass Don Gay’s record of eight bull riding world titles. The NFR this December was supposed to be a coronation.
Kimzey’s chances of tying Gay looked very good, given he has won the previous seven world titles during seasons that ended in the Thomas & Mack Center. His lone miss was in 2020 when the NFR moved to Texas during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Coming back to Las Vegas in 2021 was good and it was almost a feeling of coming home,” Kimzey said “Winning six of them in a row and then losing the one in Texas was kind of weird. It felt very good to get back on that Vegas stage for number seven. This is what we all dreamed about since we were little kids. To be claimed the best and be claimed the world champion, it always feels good.”
Now, Kimzey will have to wait at least another year for those good feelings to return and the opportunity to join his hero with eight gold buckles.
With the uncertainty of rehab now looming, Sage was quick to offer some Sage wisdom.
“This is obviously the biggest setback of my professional career to date, but there is a silver lining to everything, and the fact that it has allowed me to spend pretty much all summer with my family, and then even more time in the fall, is amazing,” said Kimzey, who became a father for the first time this year. ”I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It is all a part of God’s plan. The injury has given me the opportunity to take a step back and just appreciate everything in my life.”
While fans will miss Kimzey on the dirt, he is already making plans to be a big part of the NFR. Expect to see him all over during the 10 days and nights in Vegas.
“I know one thing, the NFR is still going to be a great event, but there is no doubt that it is a bummer that this will be the first time that I have missed the NFR since I turned pro,” Kimzey said. “Hopefully everything goes smoothly with the rehab and I am back competing there next year. But even though I am not competing in 2022, I am looking forward to taking in the NFR from a fan perspective. I will enjoy my time out there and I hope everybody else does, too. I am sure I will go over and catch a little bit of the Junior World Finals and I will be around at Cowboy Christmas doing a few autograph sessions. I think the biggest change this year will be that we are not going to have any long, stress-filled nights. That will be a pretty big change.”
Kimzey expects to be out for six to eight months following the procedure and before he is back riding bulls. He will be in a mobilizer for the first six to eight weeks and then the rehab process will begin. Following the surgery, Kimzey took to social media to update his fans.
“Dr. Elhassan performed my surgery and did a great job fixing the complexity of my injury,” Kimzey wrote. “I had a totally torn and atrophied subscapularis, displaced bicep tendon, broken collar bone, several tears in my labrum, so he grafted bone to stabilize it … It goes on and on. I’m very fortunate to have rode with this since high school and I look forward to being back 100%.”
During our phone call prior to the surgery, the light-hearted Kimzey had an inkling about what was ahead.
“Dr. Elhassan is a great doctor and he told me during our pre-op meeting that all of this isn’t a big deal and he has done a lot of these with great success, but when he told me what he was going to do, it sounded like a big project to me,” Kimzey said with a laugh.
There is going to be a lot that Kimzey misses about riding bulls during his time away. The vibe in the arena, first and foremost.
“The competition itself is something that I will really miss and just going up against the other guys, but there is something special about the roar of a crowd whenever you step off and you know you are 90 points,” Kimzey said. “Then you win the bull ride and everybody goes wild. Those moments are what I will miss the most.”
And NFR and rodeo fans will surely miss “going wild” for a Sage 90 bull ride.
Note: Kimzey was riding up to his standards prior to the injury. Even more than a month after his season ended, Kimzey was still fourth in the world rankings with $115,633.