LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler Bridger Anderson picked a good time to make the fastest run of his professional career.
He stopped the clock in 3.3 seconds to win Thursday’s eighth round of the National Finals Rodeo, pocketing $30,706. That catapulted his Las Vegas earnings to nearly $85,000. What’s big is it was just his fourth paycheck in eight rounds, so it’s proof of how the roller coaster of rodeo is, especially on the sport’s biggest stage.
“There’s not a cooler place to do it,” said Anderson, who also won Monday’s fourth round. “We had a good steer, then we had to blow the barrier out and break down the wall to try to get the steer to frame up. Clayton (Hass) did a great job hazing on Metallica for Whiskers and I, and the steer framed up nicely. We just had to be patient, go down and get it.
“When he hit, I figured we were going to be quick, but I didn’t know we were going to be that quick.”
The time is just three-tenths of a second off the NFR record, which was posted by Steve Duhon in 1986 and Bryan Fields in 2001. Fellow Northwestern Oklahoma State University alumnus was 3.3 to win Tuesday’s fifth round.
Anderson entered this year’s finale 14th in the world standings. He has doubled his annual salary in a little more than a week; at $170,000, he is eighth on the money list. It’s not easy, either. While many of the competitors have hired someone to help take care of horses, Anderson has taken care of Whiskers by himself with just a little bit of help from family and friends.
“I’m going to hire someone the next time I come out,” said Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota, who first qualified for the NFR in 2020, when the event took place in Arlington, Texas, because of COVID retractions. “We’re signing (autographs) and running all over the place. In Texas, I had (college rodeo coach and hazer) Stockton Graves just say, ‘I’ll take care of everything; you just show up and bulldog.’
“That was awesome. I came out here by myself, and it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. The one thing you’re going to have to cut out is sleep, and I need sleep. I need about eight hours a night if possible, and there’s no way I’ve even come close this week.”
That’s just one of the challenges he has faced in Las Vegas, but there are plenty of others. He’s just one of the top 15 bulldoggers competing on this stage, so the competition is tight. The stresses are high, but he has found a way to manage it all and try to stay healthy.
“The biggest thing was the ‘Jesus Shot,’ ” he said of the medical assistance he receives from Next Level Health & Wellness, which sponsors cowboys during the NFR. “Cinch also got us Rodeo Performance Network to work on us a little bit. My chiropractor flew out and has been working on me the last few days, and that really helped to get me lined out with some neuromuscular balance and getting my spine lined back out.”
It takes a healthy mind and a healthy body to compete at an elite level, and Anderson is figuring out all the aspects of his business venture in Las Vegas.