Samora qualifies for 1st national finals rodeo

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — For the past 27 years, Las Vegas has gone country for 10 days in December.

Sin City plays host to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), where world championships are decided.

This year’s rodeo is Dec. 6–15, and will feature 10 nights of the best contestants from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Up for grabs is more than $6 million in prize money. Hoping to get a big share of that is bull rider Cody Samora from Cortez, who enters the competition in eighth-place with $80,593 in regular season earnings. This is his first qualification for rodeo’s championship event. Samora is one of four contestants from Colorado that will be competing.

Along with bull riding, the rodeo will crown champions in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and women’s barrel racing. To qualify for the WNFR, contestants had to be among the top 15 in the world standings.

Cowboys and cowgirls traveled across the United States paying their own entry fees and expenses, hoping to earn enough money to be among the elite athletes that advance to rodeo’s Super Bowl event.

The WNFR has seen continued growth in prize money and fan support since it moved to Las Vegas. Each contestant will compete in 10 individual rounds, which will pay the winner $18,257. On Saturday, Dec. 15, total scores and times will be added together for average placing. First-place in that category will win $46,820 and a saddle, as the WNFR champion.

World championships are determined by adding a contestant’s WNFR and regular season earnings together. Those champions have the esteemed honor of wearing the traditional gold buckle that signifies they are the world’s best in the sport of rodeo.