DEAR ROPER

A note from Chelsea Shaf­fer

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments -

It’s been four years since I last made the trek from Colorado to Ok­la­homa for the USTRC’s Cinch Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping. As we pre­pare this is­sue, I’m plan­ning my travel back to the Jim Norick Arena to again watch rop­ers at ev­ery level from ev­ery walk of life con­verge to com­pete for mil­lions in prize money and cov­eted na­tional ti­tles.

In 2013 on my last trip to OKC, some friends and I went to din­ner with Aaron Tsinig­ine the night be­fore the US Open, and what struck me was how quiet he was that night. I asked him why he was so re­served while the rest of us laughed and joked, and he said, “I get to rope with the Champ to­mor­row. I can’t blow it. I’m just think­ing about what I need to do.”

The quiet con­tem­pla­tion Tsinig­ine used helped him turn five steers in 32.16 sec­onds for Cooper, help­ing them win $100,320, which at that point was the big­gest win of the Tuba City, Ariz. cow­boy’s ca­reer. He was in dis­be­lief, and his fel­low Navajo rop­ers—Der­rick Be­gay and Erich Rogers—stood so proudly by him in the tro­phy room as he re­ceived his sad­dle and smiled for the cam­eras while the Champ sported that sub­tle grin for which he’s so fa­mous.

That mo­ment, and so many oth­ers like it, are what has made the USTRC’s Cinch Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping so spe­cial for the last 27 years. Farm­ers and

ranch­ers who spend their precious spare time in the roping pen hon­ing their skills pair up with col­lege kids and oil men and work­ing moms from across the coun­try to make their wildest dreams come true. Coal min­ers from West Vir­ginia take the week off work to come rope with their bud­dies and give them­selves a shot at a pay­day they could only dream about while work­ing 60-plus hours a week. And it’s been that way since its ear­li­est be­gin­nings in 1990 (page 90).

Whether you’re mak­ing the trip to OKC with us or you’re gear­ing up for your lo­cal roping club, we’ve put to­gether an is­sue fine-tuned to fire you up. Ken­dra San­tos’ piece on the dis­ap­pear­ing open rop­ings (page 84) will give you the in­side scoop on why pro­duc­ers aren’t so ea­ger to host the pros at their jack­pots, and our Com­pet­i­tive Edge sec­tion (page 58) is jam-packed with tips from the best in the game to up your catch per­cent­age.

Chelsea

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