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.
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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.