The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States. The NFR welcomes the top 15 money list winners during the current season of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos to compete for the privilege of calling themselves world champions.
The NFR is hosted annually during the first full week of December at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of The University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The event is aired live on CBS Sports. To signify how special this event is, the dirt that gets used at the rodeo is a ‘special dirt’ and the dirt is stored on the UNLV campus until the NFR the following year.
The NFR is the final rodeo event on the PRCA schedule and world championship titles go to the overall money winners throughout the year, but not necessarily to the winners of the NRF.
There are 8 different events that cowboys and cowgirls can compete in at the NFR namely:
- Bareback riding
- Steer wrestling
- Team roping
- Saddle bronc riding
- Tie-down roping
- Steer roping
- Bull riding
- Barrel racing.
Bull riding is arguably the most well-known event out of the line-up, but when the NFR rolls into town all of these events will be jam-packed with action from the best in the rodeo industry.
The NFR was held for the first time in 1959 and it has been an annual feature at the Thomas & Mack Center arena since 1984. Last year 170 966 fans attended the NFR over the course of the 10 days that the event runs for, tickets for 2018 are already sold out and it is an event not to be missed.
Competition at the NFR is very tough and only the best of the best will showcase their talent at the NFR. One of the surprise competitors is 47-year-old team roper Kory Koontz. Koontz and his partner Egusquiza secured their berth to the NFR before the last regular season event of the season. At one of the final rodeos of the season at the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo Koontz and his partner cruised to victory laying down the marker for their competitors at the NFR. Koontz never imagined himself still doing this at the age of 47, 40 was always the cut off line that he established for himself. Koontz has a 23-year-old partner and spending time with a young cowboy has definitely helped Koontz to regain his sense of youth.
Koontz can’t say enough about his partner, Egusquiza, Koontz admits that his experience along with Egusquiza’s youth and enthusiasm makes them a pair that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Koontz might be a veteran at the NFR, this will be the 22nd trip that he has earned to the NFR, but he is still just as competitive and eager to win as he was when he competed at his first NFR.
Koontz hasn’t won a world title and a win at the NFR along with a world title will be the cherry on top of an excellent rodeo career for Koontz.
Koontz has done the math and he realizes the importance of the NRF. Historically the team that wins the most at the NFR is the team that ends up being crowned world champions.
Can Koontz cap of a marvelous career with a world title? This question will remain unanswered until December, but one thing is for sure, Koontz has paid his dues, he has a good partner and he is ready to win that elusive world title that he has been yearning for the past 22 years.