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Bareback rider Mason Clements hopes to clean up at NFR

Updated December 6, 2018 - 10:09 pm

On Tuesday, two days before pro rodeo’s Super Bowl was to begin for the 34th time in Las Vegas, Mason Clements was driving around town with myriad things to do.

Such as his laundry.

Two days before the most recent pro football Super Bowl, it is extremely doubtful that quarterbacks Nick Foles and Tom Brady were tooling around Minneapolis in search of a laundromat.

That is only one of the ways in which pro rodeo’s Super Bowl, which started its 10-day run Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center, differs from pro football’s Super Bowl.

Another is that most of the cowboys really need the money at stake in the National Finals Rodeo. Winning players at the Super Bowl receive $112,000 each, which is about equal to what they would find in their sofa cushions. In the football Super Bowl, it’s mostly about the prestige and perhaps visiting one of Walt Disney’s theme parks as Walt’s guest if one has a really good game.

The NFR divvies up more than $10 million among the cowboys and cowgirls, and each night it pays $26,230.77 to win one of the ridin’ and ropin’ events.

At the end of 10 days, those who have ridden and roped best over the long haul get another check for $253,846.15, for having the best average score.

(The spare change after the decimal point must drive the NFR bean counters crazy.)

Balancing the checkbook

In the rodeo Super Bowl, it’s about breaking even for the year and paying off trucks and, if you have a real nice week in Las Vegas, perhaps setting aside a down payment on a home, said Clements, a 26-year-old bareback rider who is sort of from Henderson, having spent the first five years of his life there, although the entry list says he’s mostly from Springville, Utah.

Springville is close to Provo (6 miles) and Salt Lake City (43 miles), and Clements said he has a good view of the mountains from his place.

“I mean, anywhere in Utah you can see snowcapped mountains and all that good stuff,” he said. “But it’s right around the city, it’s in town. It’s not around the countryside by any means.”

He was speaking of his apartment on the third floor of his complex. Clements said he’s getting awfully tired of climbing stairs, which isn’t much fun when one is entering the NFR with a torn ACL in his left knee, making it a matching set. Clements suffered a similar injury to his right knee in 2016 when he finished 18th in the world standings.

Last year, he sneaked into the NFR as the 15th and final qualifier. He rode well. He finished 10th. He pocketed $80,000 and paid off rodeo bills.

For the first time, he’s virtually debt free.

Now Mason Clements wants what every cowboy wants: A home on the range. A home on the Wasatch Range, which stretches south from the Idaho-Utah border to where the people are. The deer and antelope might make better neighbors. They tend not to play their music loud.

Breathing room

“I’ll be able to get out (of town) and have some property and have some horses and things like that,” Clements said of the prospect of riding bucking horses in his home away from home — his mom, Tracy, and sister, Sarah, still live here. “A couple of acres would be nice.”

He said that’s another good thing about qualifying for the NFR: It’s two more weeks he won’t be spending in that third-floor apartment, even if the view ain’t half bad.

“I’m either on the road rodeoing, or gone hunting, or just out doing something,” said Clements, the latest in a line of accomplished bareback riders from Utah that includes his good pal Kaycee Feild, who won four straight NFR gold buckles from 2011 to 2014, and Kaycee’s dad, Lewis, a Hall of Fame cowboy who won three all-around championships and two in bareback.

“I don’t like being there.”

In December, he would much rather be here, where the money is.

As he drove around Las Vegas, looking for a place to do his laundry and the myriad other things, he spoke of the importance of getting off to a fast start at the NFR: “It’s Vegas, you’ve got 10 days to make it count, don’t miss your chance,” he said.

On opening night, Clements drew a horse named Colorado Bulldog and rode him to a score of 86.5 points. He finished second in the go-round and earned $20,730.77.

The NFR was 10 minutes old, and Mason Clements already was on his way to giving his landlord notice.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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