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If you’ve never been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, this is an event you must attend, at least once in a lifetime. NFR 2017 marks the 33rd year for the Wrangler NFR to be held in Las Vegas
It’s not so easy anymore for Ryder Wright to get lost in the sea of Stetsons and Justin Boots at the rodeo arena — no matter if he’s close to home in Beaver County or not.
The fans of professional NFR 2017 know his face. That’s what a breakout performance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will do for a cowboy.
“I was just so busy yesterday,” Wright said, explaining why it took him more than a day to find time for an interview with The Spectrum & Daily News.
“Then today I had to sign autographs.”
His signature is worth a lot more these days, too. The 18-year-old from Utah’s first family of rodeo captured the attention of the rodeo world in December with an historic performance at his first NFR, winning five of 10 rounds in saddle bronc riding and collecting some $141,000 over the 10 days to finish fourth in the world.
Along the way, Wright joined Hall of Fame saddle bronc rider Robert Etbauer as the only cowboy in the 58-year history of the national finals to win four consecutive rounds.
Less than 24 hours after an 85-point performance on Wednesday night at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota — a ride that earned him second place and nearly doubled his 2017 winnings to $6,820 — Wright could only describe his NFR odyssey as “unreal.”
He won the opening four rounds inside the Thomas & Mack Center, catapulting from 14th in the standings to within a few dollars of the world lead. The sport humbled Wright over the next four rounds, though, as he failed to score another point. His ninth-go win was sandwiched by victories by his dad, Cody, a two-time world champion whose success on a bucking horse put Milford on the rodeo map.
The Feb. 14-17 American will be televised on RFD-TV, a cable channel dedicated to rural issues and interests. The channel can be found on DirecTV (345) and DISH Network (231) in Cedar City and St. George, as well as Central TelCom (71) and Charter (74) in Iron County.