National Finals Rodeo

NFR 2018: The PRCA National Finals Rodeo is always a big deal, but the 2018 edition marks the semi-retirement of one of the best cowboys in the sport. 23-time world champion Trevor Brazile is stepping back from the rodeo after this event, so it’s probably his last chance to go for No. 24.

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Brazile finished in second place last year, losing out to his brother-in-law Tuf Cooper. This year will probably be his last year competing with NFR qualifying as the goal, so it’s also the last time we’ll see him on this stage.

Canadian Curtis Cassidy will also be a name to look out for. He finished sixth in the All-Around standings, so he’ll obviously seek to improve his status as well.

“I never want to count myself out, but with such a drastic change in the way I conduct my rodeo business, if I do ever make the Finals again it’ll be a bigger story than my retirement, because I’ll have gotten it done at just a handful of rodeos,” Brazile said, per Prorodeo.com. “The good news is that this is my decision, and I’m not being forced out because I’m hurt or too old.”

Hundreds of cowboys and their fans will be in the Las Vegas valley this week. The 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo kicks off Thursdays. The 10-day event features numerous activities, including live viewing parties and drink specials. Cowboy Christmas will also be back at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It is free and open to the public.

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About 20 years ago, a long and lean athlete from a small town in Montana enjoyed college basketball success in Dillon and later found fame as a cowboy in Las Vegas. Bridger Chambers is following in the footsteps of Brad Gleason, all right.

“Man it’s awesome, that’s the only way I can describe it,” said Chambers, a steer wrestler who Thursday night will compete at his first National Finals Rodeo. “It’s a dream come true and I’m trying to soak up every moment.”

Chambers’ own horse “Rooster,” a 12-year-old sorrel gelding, did most of the heavy lifting last summer as the bulldogger earned the Vegas berth. Chambers said he will be aboard Rooster next month at the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals in Great Falls.

Meanwhile, bull rider Parker Breding of Edgar will also be part of a significant Montana contingent of cowboys at the NFR. Breding, 26, is making his third NFR appearance, and first since 2015. He enters the rodeo in second place.

“It’s pretty surreal to be back at the NFR,” Breding said. “After two subpar years, I didn’t know if the future held another NFR for me or not.”

Also competing for the next 10 days in Las Vegas as team roping cousins Clay and Brady Tryan, and barrel racer Lisa Lockhart, a South Dakota star making her 12th straight NFR appearance who has vast Montana ties

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