LAS VEGAS – How tough is it to rope steers in Las Vegas?
Through seven go-rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, only one team has caught all seven steers. Only two other teams have caught six.
For Jim Ross Cooper of Monument, N.M., and his heading partner, Brandon Beers, it’s the nature of the beast. They’ve scored times in five rounds so far, including a 7.3-second run on Wednesday night’s seventh round. It was good enough for sixth place and worth $3,005. In all, each roper has pocketed $17,839.
Why is it so danged tough? The NFR is ProRodeo’s premier championship, and it features only the top 15 contestants in each discipline from the 2013 regular season. But the competition is set up as a challenge, so even the best in the business will be tested each round for 10 nights each December.
The arena in the Thomas & Mack Center is roughly the size of a hockey rink, so there isn’t much space to maneuver two horses and a steer. Three head of livestock going as fast as they can makes for some quick times, but also some fast moves to make it work.
Still, Beers and Cooper – sons of world champions – have a solid footing heading into the final three nights of the competition. They are sixth in the average race with a seven-run cumulative time of 40.8 seconds. Beers is sixth in the heading world standings with a little more than $115,000, while Cooper sits fourth in heeling at $123,023.
Can they make a run at this year’s team roping gold buckles? They have three nights to make it happen, and in Las Vegas, anything can happen.