LAS VEGAS – A crowd of 16,793, packed the Thomas and Mack Centre for the opening performance of the 57th Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo sponsored by Pendleton Whisky. Over the next ten nights 119 competitors are in the “Entertainment Capital”, vying for their chance at the $10 million payout and the 2015 World Championship titles.
One of the biggest stories of the finals so far, is the unfortunate incident suffered by seven-time World Champion Team Roper, Jake Barnes. Barnes is recovering from a traumatic brain injury and broken ankle, after a horse fell on him while he was practicing at his Scottsdale, Ariz., arena on Nov. 27. Four-time WNFR Qualifier JoJo LeMond replaced Barnes to partner with two-time WNFR Qualifying Heeler Junior Nogueira of Scottsdale, Ariz. LeMon is the first injury replacement at the WNFR since 20-time WNFR Qualifier and seven-time Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Rod Hay withdrew in 2010 (after breaking his femur in 25 pieces).
Canadian Contestants in World Standings:
7th Bareback Riding: Orin Larsen, Inglis Man.
12th Saddle Bronc: Zeke Thurston, Big Valley, Alta.
14th Bareback Riding: Clint Laye, Cadogan, Alta.
14th Steer Wrestling: Tanner Milan, Cochrane, Alta.
15th Barrel Racing: Deb Guelly, Okotoks, Alta.
15th Saddle Bronc: Tyrel Larsen, Inglis, Man.
WNFR Go-Round Winners:
Bareback: Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, abaord D&H Cattle’s Dilly Bar, 84.5 points
Steer Wrestling: K.C. Jones, of Decatur, Texas, 3.4 seconds
Saddle Bronc Riding: Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla., 86.5 points aboard Andrews Rodeo’s Fire Lane
Team Roping: Aaron Tsinigine of Tuba City, AZ, & Ryan Motes of Weatherford Texas, 4.10 seconds
Tie-Down Roping: Trevor Brazileof Decatur, Texas, 6.8 seconds
Barrel Racing: Cassidy Kruse of Gillett, Wyo., 13.84 seconds
Bull Riding: Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont., 86.5 points on Smith Harper & Morgan’s Magic Bullet
Top Stock of the Night:
Bareback: Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Betty Boop
Saddle Bronc: Kesler Rodeo’s Nickels and Dimes
Bull Riding: Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Crystal Deal