This year’s Wrangler National Finals in Vegas were great and all of the other activities that went with it kept one real busy during their stay.
My two weeks there started and ended at the South Point Hotel and Casino, which made everything easy to attend from the PRCA convention to the WNFR and the World Series Team Ropings, plus some great shopping in their Exhibition Hall and Priefert Arena areas.

Things started out with the PRCA announcing many new concepts in the organization along with getting back some of the larger rodeos that had gone independent. 2019 looks exciting for the PRCA with CEO George Taylor presenting some of the new changes including a new logo for the association. Mainly the new logo states that PRCA is ProRodeo.com. One of the main goals is to continue to build a larger fan base and last year that was accomplished by more social media and TV. The best cowboys competing at the best rodeos is another goal, as well as continuing to embrace the spirit of the West. The money continues to increase for the contestants as does the sponsorship list. You can catch up on all the new changes by going to their website.

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This year’s Finals were fun and exciting to watch each night as many of the races changed and in many events it came down to the last performances to see who was going to be the champion. In the timed events, it seemed like most contestants treated the Finals as 10 separate rodeos and went for the win every night with the lucrative payoffs in the go-rounds. This tended to put some of them out of the average after the first couple of performances. This seems to be the mindset of most of the contestants and isn’t always understood by the one-time spectator, but the true rodeo fan sees their strategy. If this is going to be the trend, then maybe the payoff should be adjusted so the goes pay more money and less money in the average. I don’t have the answer but the Thomas and Mack Arena does not let one recover from a bad start or a bad draw, which doesn’t let the best cowboys display their talents in a consistent manner. This forces them to go for it every run.
It’s not ’til midway through the week that you see contestants settle down a little if they think they are looking good in the average. The barrel race is what it is in that smaller arena and we saw some fantastic runs turned in by some great contestants and their super horses. I don’t think I have ever seen the times so close so many nights to determine the round winners.
The rough stock events were super good this year with great stock to match the talents of the contestants. The saddle bronc pens seemed to be much stronger than in years past and my Resistol’s off to all of the contractors for their fine stock.
There is some talk of possibly doing away with the mark­out rule at the Finals. There seems to be mixed feelings about this and it is being discussed. The riders tell you that it’s to their advantage to mark one out properly but if they miss one out it shouldn’t cost them the score. It will be interesting as to what comes of it. Maybe a point reduction in the score or just ignore it.

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The winter ropings have been getting hammered on the West Coast by a very wet and stormy winter. Even with many of the events taking place under cover or indoors, it is still making travel to and from these events very difficult, thus bringing the number of teams down. Arizona continues to be the place to be in the winter if you want to rope any day of the week. They even got off to a slow start with weather affecting some of their ropings. Many ropers find their way to Arizona during the winter months and find that there isn’t any lack of a place to rope if that’s what you came for.

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The spring ropings are being advertised and look strong and hopefully the weather lends itself to bring good numbers to all of the ropings coming up. Check out the ads in this issue and see where you want to break out at to get back in the groove. The biggest problem with the wet winters out west is that one can’t keep themselves or their horses in shape between ropings.

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The Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial Roping is always a good one to catch up with friends and see some of the best ropers in the business compete for some big dollars. Hope to see you this next month at some of the spring ropings.

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For those of you who haven’t yet done your annual equipment check and maintenance, put it on your to do list. If you don’t check your rigs yourself, then get them to your local trailer specialist and have them checked out for you and your horse’s safety.

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Had a blast at this year’s Cowboy Downhill presented by Steamboat Ski Corporation. This year marked the 45th year of this event and saw many good cowboys and cowgirls hit the slopes for some fun in the snow. I got to share the microphone again with John Shipley this year to call all of the action on the slope. John did an outstanding job at the awards banquet and gave the grand prize to Colin Wolfe, a steer wrestler from Wenatchee, Wash., who won both events. Colin had won the Timed Event Race race last year and won the Stampede Race as well this year. Thanks to all of the sponsors who make this happen every year.
Catch you down the road.


Olympic skier Billy Kidd with Bob Feist at the Cowboy Downhill January 22 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Billy started this event 45 years ago, along with Larry Mahan.


Canadian Bronc Rider Dawson Hay put on a heck of a show with his spectacular wreck during the Downhill. He walked away with a broken nose and a concussion, but never missed a beat. Event producer JC Trujillo approves of his tenacity.

 

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