Las Vegas is the Wild Wild West. At least for the next 10 days.
The world’s best cowboys and cowgirls will congregate in Las Vegas for the 60th annual National Finals Rodeo, which runs from Thursday to Dec. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Dozens of cowboys and cowgirls will compete in seven events for world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Here are six worth watching:
1. Trevor Brazile
The 42-year-old native of Decatur, Texas, became a rodeo legend in part because of his dominance in Las Vegas. He has the most all-around world championships with 13 and the most overall world championships with 23, the last of which he won in 2015. Brazile announced recently that this probably will be his final NFR, though he still plans to compete part time.
2. Tim O’Connell
O’Connell, 27, of Zwingle, Iowa, is the two-time defending world champion bareback rider and has victories in 23 events this season. He sits atop the standings with earnings of more than $187,000, leading second-place Caleb Bennett of Tremonton, Utah, by $15,000.
3. Sage Kimzey
The Strong City, Oklahoma, native is one of the sport’s young stars at 24 and is the four-time reigning world champion bull rider. He became the youngest millionaire in PRCA history during the 2016 NFR and has more than $297,000 in earnings this year, with victories in 20 events.
4. Jacobs Crawley/ Ryder Wright
Crawley, of Boerne, Texas, won the 2015 saddle bronc riding world championship and is in line to secure his second world title with an event-leading $168,000 in earnings this season. But the 30-year-old has stiff competition from Beaver, Utah, native Ryder Wright, a 21-year-old who trails by $3,000. Crawley and Wright have combined for 39 victories this season.
5. Hailey Kinsel
The 24-year-old from Cotulla, Texas, broke the arena barrel racing record twice during the NFR last year. She’s built on her success with a dominant 2018 season and sits atop the standings with almost $193,000 in earnings, about $46,000 more than reigning world champ Nellie Miller, who is second.
What: 60th annual National Finals Rodeo
When: 7 p.m., Thursday to Dec. 15
Where: Thomas & Mack Center
TV: CBS Sports Network
All-around: Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, $239,857.01
Bareback riding: Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, $187,249.91
Steer wrestling: Curtis Cassidy, Donalda, Alberta, $106,009.32
Team roping (headers): Clay Smith, Broken Bow, Okla., $115,344.55
Team roping (heelers): Junior Nogueira, Burleson, Texas, $115,935.52
Saddle bronc riding: Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, $168,100.71
Tie-down roping: Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., $136,577.32
Barrel racing: Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas, $192,834.44
Bull riding: Sage Kimzey, Strong City, Okla., $297,025.65