LAS VEGAS – Dec. 3, 2014 — Before competition starts at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Thursday night at the Thomas and Mack Center, rising stars of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) will be competing in Las Vegas.
Becoming a member of the PRCA starts when rodeo contestants buy their permits. They then have to fill that permit by earning money competing at sanctioned rodeos before they can become a full-fledged member. The top permit holders based on money won will be competing at the 2014 PRCA Permit Holder of the Year Challenge at the South Point Equestrian Center beginning at 12 p.m. on Dec. 4, just a few hours before the first performance of the WNFR.
This is the sixth year for the Permit Holder Challenge but the first year that timed-events have been included. The competition is being held in conjunction with Benny Binion’s World Famous Bucking Horse and Bull Sale. Five contestants in each of the standard events, bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding will each compete in two rounds. Winners will be determined by the highest total score and fastest total time.
The bareback, saddle bronc and bull riders will be getting on animals that are part of the sale. That has proved to be a beneficial combination for former permit holders that won here. Last year, Sage Kimzey from Strong City, Okla., won the bull riding at the Permit Holder Challenge. This year he enters the WNFR in first place, is the Resistol Rookie of the Year and is on pace to win his first world championship.
“Competing in Las Vegas last year really lit a fire in me to be back at the WNFR this year,” Kimzey said. “I’ve dreamt and worked for this my whole life and last year was definitely a stepping stone.”
Highlighting this year’s competition is CoBurn Bradshaw from Beaver, Utah in the saddle bronc riding. Bradshaw won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s championship at the College National Finals Rodeo last June in Casper, Wyo. He is the highest money earner of all of the permit holders with over $30,000 in earnings.
Bradshaw is married and his wife just happens to be the sister of the four Wright brothers that are competing at this year’s WNFR. Cody Wright’s oldest son Rusty is also on the contestant roster in saddle bronc riding.
Another contestant with strong WNFR ties is team roper Shawn Bird from Cut Bank, Mont. Bird will rope in the Permit Challenge with Levi Lord from Sturgis, S.D., hoping to win a title. Then he will head over to the Thomas and Mack Center to watch his older brother Dustin Bird compete in the team roping.
Along with $21,000 in cash, a variety of prizes will be won by the 2014 Permit Holer of the Year Challenge contestants. It has been made possible with support from the following sponsors: RAM Rodeo; San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo; Davie Pro Rodeo; Tucson Rodeo; Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo; Association of Rodeo Committees; Brighton Field Day Festival and Rodeo; National Western Stock Show; Barstow Rodeo; Wrangler; Resistol; South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa; Cactus Ropes and the Justin Sportsmedicine Team.