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September 18, 2008 3:01 am

Asay rides again

Written by Tribune Staff

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Powell bull rider Kanin Asay has overcome injuries sustained during a rodeo in Oregon in early July and is riding again after a two-month absence from the sport. Above, Asay competes in the Pendleton Round-Up Friday, Sept. 12. Courtesy photo/Hubbell Photography

Powell cowboy continues to chase second WNFR berth

Kanin Asay, Powell's well-known bull riding personality who was severely injured during a competition in Oregon in early July, is back and making headlines after an almost two-month absence from the sport he loves.

Asay, during the time of year known as Cowboy Christmas, was riding Corey-Horst Rodeo Company's 301 Cry Baby when he suffered multiple injuries, including a damaged spleen, facial fractures and concussion. The life-threatening incident sidelined the rider for the remainder of July and most of August. Those injuries also left him with plenty of downtime to simply think and get himself mentally and physically ready to ride again.

“You don't realize how much you miss something until you can't do something you love,” Asay said. “I had plenty of time to think about things, and I was determined to get back and ride again.”

The first ride for Asay took place Aug. 29 on a practice bull at the Cody Nite Rodeo. He said the bull started slow but quickly picked up momentum and gained an advantage as the ride continued.

“I had three or four good rounds on him, but then he got me out of shape and I panicked,” Asay said. “Right then I knew I wasn't mentally ready.”

During the first week of September, Asay took another shot at riding, this time at the Lewiston Round-Up in Idaho. Unlike his ride in Cody the week before, Asay said everything clicked like it did before he was injured during July. The result was an 88-point ride, and it helped him take first place.

“It felt really good,” he said. “I was more ready mentally. I felt the same as I did before I got hurt. It felt normal again.”

Since his appearance in Lewiston, Asay has ridden in two more rodeos, including the Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon. He will be in action again today (Thursday) in El Paso, Texas and will compete in Oklahoma this weekend.

“I'm taking it one ride at a time,” said Asay, who qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time in his career last year. “I want to make the finals again. I'll just keep riding and leave it in the Lord's hands.”

Asay, who was in the top five in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings at the time of his injury, has slipped to 14th. The good news for him is that the top 15 in those standings qualify for the WNFR. However, he knows as well as anyone that anything can happen as he attempts to earn another trip to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl of rodeos.

According to the PRCA's standings, Asay has $65,870 in winnings for the year. He's close on the heels of 13th-place Spud Jones of Tohatchi, N.M., who has won $68,870 so far. Behind Asay in the standings are Idaho's Marcus Michaelis (15th, $65,382) and Texas' Dave Samsel (16th, $63,601).

“I don't look at the standings, but I hear about them,” Asay said. “It's getting down to crunch time, so I'll try to ride every bull I get on and do the best I can. If I can stay consistent, I should be OK.”

In closing, Asay said he appreciated all of the support the people of Powell and the rodeo world have offered during the past few months while he was recovering from his injuries.

“Everyone has been great, and I've had a lot of support” Asay said. “My family, the rodeo guys, friends and people in and around Powell have done a lot for me. I've been blessed, that's for sure.”