COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ― A chance to make history drew the interest of a pair of Chinese announcers – Neal Chen and Vegeta “Wiggit” Wang – for the upcoming PBR events in China.
Tentatively scheduled to start in early August, Chen and Wang will serve as in-announcers at the events in Qingdao, China, and spent this past weekend in Colorado Springs watching their U.S. counterparts Brandon Bates and Clint Adkins, as well as entertainer Flint Rasmussen and event music director Marc Stephenson.
Chen, 21, and Wang, 24, will also be in Las Vegas next week for the Last Cowboy Standing.
Chen has never witnessed a bull riding event before.
“I never got to know it before,” said Chen. “It’s brand new to me. It blows my mind.”
Chen and Wang were both enamored with the size of the crowd at the Broadmoor World Arena and how loud it was throughout the two-hour-plus event during the past three days. Unlike Chinese sporting events, both said the American crowd was more interactive.
However, they feel the PBR events in China will eventually create the same nonstop energy and excitement.
“First of all, I think it’s exciting,” said Wang. “It makes me feel passion. The riders are tough men and, as you know, when I saw the show tonight it’s so loud and exciting.”
Chen added, “It’s beyond what I imagined. The most important thing is the cooperation between the crew. They’re doing amazing jobs.”
Chen and Wang not only met with key production staff members working on the Built Ford Tough Series, but they also sat through rehearsals all three days of the event and met individually with others, including Casey Duggan, director of special events, domestic & international, who is also serving as their host.
Chen is a senior in college and will be graduating next month from Communication University of China, which is located in Beijing, with a degree in TV broadcasting. Wang has been working as a sports broadcaster covering soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Both said they are anxious about the new venture.
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Though the sport of bull riding will be new to Chinese audiences, Chen said the energy level naturally created by watching the most dangerous sport in the world coupled with the ease of following it from one round to the next will translate with the Chinese culture and attract new audiences despite their unfamiliarity with the cowboy way of life.
“When I first started I worried about it because we have a different culture,” Wang said. “In America, you have the cowboy culture and everybody loves the cowboy. The cowboy is a hero.
“After seeing last night I’m pretty sure it will be popular in China.”
Having seen Bates and Adkins work, Chen said he and Wang will need to adjust their presentation to accommodate audiences in their home country, who are not used to dancing and cheering throughout an event the way American audiences respond to particular songs.
“It’s not going to be the same as here because we don’t have the funny guy,” Chen said. “We don’t have Flint there. Maybe I’m going to be the funny guy at the same time, but not the same person.”
Chen said that he foresees walking through the crowd and engaging them during events in an effort to create the aforementioned interaction with them.
Wang, who is making his first trip to the U.S., said the key will be the passion audiences develop for the sport. He feels that passion could run deeper than soccer and basketball, both of which are popular in China.
Wang also noted that in between outs it’ll be critical to explain the history of the sport as well as talk about individual riders in effort to create popular stars with the Chinese fan base.
“I think the sport can make them passionate and excited because it’s full of energy,” Wang said.
“That’s why I think it’s really popular.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC
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