For the first time ever, the Women's Professional Rodeo Association and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will crown a joint breakaway world champion at the Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping (NFBR)—awarding a $200,000 purse at its three-day event.
The PRCA and the WPRA have been working together for the last year to promote breakaway roping and grow the sport, and this year's NFBR will share Arlington, Texas's Globe Life Field with the NFR.
“We are thrilled that we’ve been able to move breakaway roping to this point and so appreciative of the good people at Wrangler, for helping us make this possible,” said George Taylor, chief executive officer of the PRCA, in a release from the association Sept. 23. “We’re giving our fans everything they wanted and more at the Wrangler NFR this year. This 10-day event–the Super Bowl of rodeo–will be a spectacular fan experience.”
The Wrangler NFBR will take place over three days during the Wrangler NFR this year. Cowgirls competing for this first world championship will be in the arena December 8-10, 2020. The Wrangler NFBR will be a separate ticketed event from the Wrangler NFR.
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“We are excited about this new chapter in the storied history of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association,” said Doreen Wintermute, CEO of the WPRA. “While the WPRA has crowned a world champion in the breakaway roping dating back to the 70s this will be the first time it will be held on ProRodeo’s grandest stage. We are thankful for our partnership with the PRCA to grow this women’s discipline and this is a huge step to have this inaugural Breakaway National Finals event alongside the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.”
While the format and payout breakdown are yet to be announced, WPRA Roping Director Jolee Jordan said they've been working with the PRCA to hammer out those details.
"When we started talking about this process, it was when the NFR was still in Vegas," Jordan said. "The idea was to offer a Finals for these ladies off-site, like the National Finals of Steer Roping, until such a time when it could be included with all of the events at the NFR. It's exciting that they can be in the same venue this year.
"I'm glad it's all coming together," Jordan continued. "2020 has been such a strange year, and such a strange year to be our first full year of this partnership. It's pretty exciting to have a Finals event in a year like this, as it hasn't been a foregone conclusion for a lot of other associations. Our ladies have proven their professionalism and their ability, and it's great to have another event for them to compete in."
Part of the $200,000 in added money will come from the revenue-sharing agreement with the PRCA, Jordan said, while another portion of it comes from long-standing WPRA sponsors like Wrangler.
For breakaway ropers—including WPRA World Champion Lari Dee Guy, who is well inside the top 15 and will get a chance at some of the $200,000 purse—this is a long time coming.
"I'm from Texas, so this is really meaningful that the first time we get this opportunity on this stage is in my home state," Guy, of Abilene, said. "I'm so thankful for the added money, and for the opportunity to be on this stage. This is a great step in the right direction and a good move by the leadership of the WPRA and PRCA. I look forward to the day we're roping for equal money, in the main performance, alongside all other events so the same fans who come to watch the best of the best can see us, too. We got to this point thanks to the tireless work of those who came before us, who believed in women's rodeo and who pounded the pavement for decades supporting women's roping across the country, and they never weakened in their advocacy for this sport. I believe if we keep expecting greatness from ourselves and telling the story of breakaway roping every chance we get, more great things will come."
“We’re a newer event and trying to earn our stripes like anybody else,” added Jordan Fabrizio, who also sits inside this year's top 15. “To have the opportunity to be in that environment, in that venue and compete at that level it’s just a spectacular opportunity for the sport of breakaway, the sport of rodeo, and for women and girls coming up.”
The $200,000 NFBR will have the most added money in breakaway roping history. The World Champions Rodeo Alliance's Women's Rodeo World Championships—set for this November in Las Vegas—will also boast a massive payout, but the NFBR should eclipse it.
The other NFR events will pay at least $750,000 per event to create a $6 million payout this year (down from the $10 million it pays in Las Vegas).
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams praised the decision to name a world champion cowgirl roper at this year’s event.
“I couldn’t be prouder that the PRCA has selected Arlington for the inaugural Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping in December,” Williams said. “We can’t wait to crown the world champion breakaway cowgirl at Globe Life Field, the new gold standard venue not only for Major League Baseball but also for many special events, especially rodeo!”
The WPRA will also crown its own world champions in Waco, Texas, Nov. 12-15. Those world champions will be determined by the WPRA's separate roping world standings—standings that include many jackpot and smaller rodeo association earnings. The association has managed the barrel racing this way for years, crowning a world champ based on jackpot earnings at its world finals, as well as a ProRodeo world champion crowned at the NFR. TRJ
The PRCA's Sept. 23 press release was used in this reporting.