PRCA: Cowboys Head to Las Vegas for Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Vance PennCorrespondent INovember 30, 2011

PRCA: Cowboys Head to Las Vegas for Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

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    Held annually since 1958, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA) hosts the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for 10 days each December. 

    For the 27th year, the event returns to the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where the Top 15 contestants in each of seven events will compete at the "Super Bowl of Rodeo" for $6 million dollars in prize money.

Bareback Bronc Riding

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    The most physically demanding of all the rodeo sports, bareback bronc riding also has one of the highest injury rates. Cowboys attempt to complete the 8-second ride using a leaned-back spurring style with nothing to hold them onto the horse besides a one-handed "rigging" similar to a suitcase handle.

    Scoring is 50 points for the rider, 50 points for the horse. Perfect score is 100. Highest score wins.

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Kayce Feild and Will Lowe

    Champion Prediction: Will Lowe

Steer Wrestling

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    It's also known as the "Big Man's Sport." In steer wrestling, a horse-mounted rider chases down a running steer, dismounts from the horse to the steer, and wrestles it to the ground by its horns. Animal right groups often protest the sport but Injury to contestants is far more likely, and occurs more often, than to animals.

    Scoring: Timed event, fastest time wins

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750, 000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Dean Gorsuch, Billy Bugenig, Luke Branquinho

    Champion Prediction: Dean Gorsuch

Saddle Bronc Riding

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    The "classic event" of rodeo, saddle bronc riding is a direct result of the ranch hand lifestyle. Cowboys attempt to complete the 8-second ride using a stylized spurring motion with a rein and specialized saddle.

    Scoring is 50 points for the rider, 50 points for the horse. Perfect score is 100. Highest score wins.

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Taos Muncy, Cody Wright

    Champion Prediction: Cody Wright

Tie-Down Roping

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    The most technically difficult of rodeo events is the tie-down roping, formerly known as calf roping. In this event a mounted rider chases down a running calf, ropes it, dismounts, runs to the calf and restrains it by tying three of its legs together. A 10-second penalty is assessed for breaking the barrier and not allowing the calf a head start.

    Scoring: Timed event. Fastest time wins

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Tuf Cooper, Hunter Herrin, Trevor Brazile

    Champion Prediction: Tuf Cooper

Team Roping

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    The only "partner" event in rodeo is team roping. Two mounted riders, a header and a heeler, chase down a steer (typically a Corriente) and attempt to rope it as fast as possible. The header ropes the steer around the horns, although around the neck is permissible, while the heeler attempts to rope both back feet (a 5-second penalty is assessed for roping only one leg). A 10-second penalty is added for breaking the barrier and not giving the steer a head start.

    Header:

    Scoring: Timed event. Fastest time wins.

    Field: Top 15 Contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Derrick Begay, Clay Tryan

    Champion Prediction: Clay Tryan

     

    Heeler:

    Scoring: Timed event. Fastest time wins

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Cesar de la Cruz, Travis Graves

    Champion Prediction: Travis Graves

Bull Riding

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    "The most dangerous 8 seconds in sports" best describes the bull riding event. A rider attempts to complete the 8-second ride one-handed while holding onto a braided rope wrapped around the animal while not touching the animal with the free hand. Extra points are awarded for stylized spurring during the ride.

    Scoring: 50 points for the rider, 50 points for the bull. Perfect score is 100

    Field: Top 15 contestants

    Rounds: 10

    Prize Money: $58,000 per round, $750,000 total (includes average)

    Top World Title Contenders: Shane Proctor, J.W. Harris

    Champion Prediction: Shane Proctor

All-Around

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    The All-Around Cowboy championship is awarded to the cowboy who wins the most money in two events, with a minimum of $3,000 won in each event. 

    Top World Title Contenders: Trevor Brazile, Shane Proctor

    Prediction: Trevor Brazile

Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association

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    The Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA) is the oldest and largest of the rodeo sanctioning bodies in the United States. Each year they sanction over 650 rodeos which are attended by nearly 23 million fans. They enjoy a membership of over 9,000 contestants in the United States and Canada.