Breakaway leagues usually end up as broken dreams. But the Pro Bull Riders started 21 years ago in an Arizona motel room with $12,000 in a cowboy hat, and this week the riders compete for $2.2 million in the World Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
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The chairman of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association board, which governs the popular 10-day rodeo held in Las Vegas for nearly three decades, said Monday that his board wants to make a counter offer that would keep the NFR in Las Vegas after 2014.
Las Vegas lost the prized National Finals Rodeo when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association board voted 6-3 Sunday to reject Sin City’s offer to keep the NFR past 2014 and to pursue a more lucrative offer to move the Super Bowl of rodeo to Central Florida near Disney World and Orlando.
By now, the cowboys and cowgirls of the National Finals Rodeo are headed back to Stephenville, Texas, where it seems most of them are from, and to the other dusty cow towns. Or they will be headed home shortly, because I heard Las Vegas is plumb out of whiskey.
There’s never a dull moment during the 10-day run of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center. Trevor Brazile already has won his 11th all-around title and a record-breaking 19th world championship gold buckle.
Well folks, we’re here again. On the precipice of history, with just one more round remaining at this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, only two hours of competition separate certain contestants from gold buckles and immortality.
Saturday, Dec. 14
There are many rodeo superstitions — from always shave before a performance (to clean yourself up for Lady Luck) to never compete with change in your pocket (because that might be all you will win) — but the biggest of them all is setting your hat on a bed.
Friday, Dec. 13
Clay O’Brien Cooper is old enough to be the father of many of his team roping peers. Yet Father Time still hasn’t caught up to the 52-year-old, who is competing in his 27th National Finals Rodeo, his 23rd at the Thomas &Mack Center.
Defending champion Tuf Cooper came into the National Finals Rodeo with a big lead in tie-down roping, but he’s being challenged by five-time world champ Cody Ohl, all-around champ Trevor Brazile, Shane Hanchey and Scott Kourmos. Cooper is trying to become the first tie-down roper to win three straight world titles since his father, rodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper, won five in a row from 1980 to 1984.
Jule Hazen has been stellar so far in steer wrestling at the National Finals Rodeo and is challenging Casey Martin for the gold buckle. Martin had led the standings most of the year. Bray Armes, Dean Gorsuch and Dakota Eldridge, one of three Nevada cowboys in the NFR, also have shown well in Las Vegas.
Countless cowboys have been crowned world champions in Las Vegas since the city started hosting the National Finals Rodeo in 1985, but only four Nevada natives have won world titles in the 77-year history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Even among cowboys, bull riders are cut from a different cloth. If you’re willing to get aboard a 2,000-pound, whirling, snot-blowing beast who would love nothing more than to snap you in half, well, the circuits in your brain are definitely wired a bit differently.
Paige Nicholson’s life will never be the same. The 22-year-old from Lawrence, Miss., realized a lifelong dream Monday when she was crowned Miss Rodeo America 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Thursday, Dec. 12
When the National Finals Rodeo wraps up on Saturday night at the Thomas &Mack Center, Kaleb Driggers and Travis Graves will head their separate ways, which is not uncommon in team roping, even among the best duos.
Most Pro Rodeo cowboys’ careers have a shelf life, but tie-down roper Shane Slack is getting a second chance at glory 17 years down the line.
Tyler Pearson is Mississippi born and raised but a fan of Alabama football, which is understandable given the Crimson Tide have owned their series against the Rebels like Nick Saban does all hearts in Tuscaloosa.
There was a certain amount of pressure on the young woman who sang the national anthem before the fourth performance of the NFR on Sunday night. And this is why Jackie Schmillen spent most of Sunday in her room at the LVH, making animal noises with her throat.
After last year’s National Finals Rodeo, when Tuf Cooper went home to Decatur, Texas, with a second straight gold buckle as the world’s best tie-down roper, some fans got the idea that Cooper needed to up his social media presence.
Tuesday, Dec. 10
Struggling to get up off the Thomas & Mack Center arena floor after being bucked off in Round 4, bareback rider Casey Colletti was at his lowest point of the week.