Loops will fly at the Cinch National Finals of Team Roping (NFTR) as more than 3,000 team ropers converge on Oklahoma City October 23-31 for their chance at a piece of the $4 million prize package. Ropers from across the U.S., South America, Mexico and Australia are expected to attend.
Produced by the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC), this is the 21st edition of the NFTR, one of the richest championships events in the western lifestyle industry. More than $15 million in cash has been awarded at USTRC sanctioned events during the 2010 season that included more than 80 team roping competitions across the nation.
“USTRC members are among the most competitive and loyal in the country and they’re the reason for the success of this sport and event,” said USTRC President Kirk Bray. “Team roping is one of the few events where, for an entry fee of anywhere between $150 and $300, you can rope for prize money in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as an unbeatable prizeline of Dodge trucks, Case tractors, Martin saddles and Gist buckles.”
Only the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, which offered $4.2 million last December, comes close and requires a $2,500 nomination fee per horse.
A highlight of the NFTR is the U.S. Open, taking place October 23-24 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, where team roping fans can see the best in team roping compete for an estimated purse of $250,000. World Champions such as Speed Williams, Clay O. Cooper, Walt Woodard, Chad Masters, Allen Bach and Clay Tryan are among the many expected to compete.
Top female ropers will also be featured at the NFTR during the Cruel Girl Championships October 28. Competing for an estimated $50,000 cash purse, women ropers from across the country have competed throughout the season in a race to become the high-money winning female roper of the year, sponsored by Cruel Girl jeans and shirts. It will be a tight race to the finish with only a few thousand dollars separating the top four. Currently in the lead is Janet Mickelson of Flagstaff, Ariz., with total earnings of $26,983, followed by Barrie Smith of Stephenville, Texas, with $24,480, Shelly Granzin of Bryan, Texas, with $24,389 and Jacque Woolman of Dayton, Texas, with $22,421.
Team roping enthusiasts can still get in on the action at the NFTR through its preliminary roping competitions, which will qualify top finishers to the “Shoot-Out” finals, as well as in the USTRC Challenge Roping and Guthrie Championships taking place throughout the week. Youngsters under age 13 are also invited to compete in the Junior Looper Championships where boys and girls show their skills on a roping “dummy” and compete for saddles, buckles, jackets and other prizes, as well.