A note from Chelsea Shaf­fer

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Isat on a panel by the strip­ping chute of the South Point Arena for just about ev­ery short round at the World Se­ries of Team Rop­ing Fi­nale XII. I watched the ab­ject heart­break on some rop­ers’ faces af­ter split­ting the horns for more money than they’ll make in the next few years, and I saw some shak­ing with ex­cite­ment af­ter they just caught the most im­por­tant steer of their lives. World Se­ries of

Team Rop­ing pro­ducer Troy Shelley sat next to me, telling rop­ers who went to first in the av­er­age to wait just a se­cond by the gate, just in case they would be the ones mak­ing the vic­tory lap.

Some sat there smack­ing their ropes on their legs, tak­ing their cowboy hats on and off and wip­ing their brows. Hus­bands and wives shook hands and looked deeply at each other and then back at the arena with bated breath. Some sat stoic—un­be­liev­ably so—al­most like the poise they’d drilled into them­selves be­fore back­ing in the box wasn’t ready to wear off.

By the time they got up­stairs to the South Point awards stage to talk to us me­dia types, they were out of breath and some­times, out of words. Nearly ev­ery roper re­al­ized that some­how, their lives were about to change thanks to the steer they roped that day. They re­al­ized, too, that they had just helped change their part­ners’ lives, a fact they said made it that much more sweet.

Erich Rogers and Cory Pet­ska weren’t re­ally all that dif­fer­ent Satur­day night in the Thomas & Mack. They’d just won the

world ti­tle, on a steer that did ev­ery­thing it could to take them out of con­tention. The enor­mity of the task didn’t quite sink in by the time they got back to the press room in the arena’s un­der­belly. The emo­tion hit Rogers when he re­al­ized that he’d just helped Pet­ska get his first world ti­tle—some­thing that meant more to him than win­ning it him­self.

I hope we’ve man­aged to cap­ture a glimpse of what those 10 days were like for those of you who couldn’t be there. Even more, I hope there’s some in­for­ma­tion in here that will get you to Ve­gas some­day, ei­ther for that lit­tle 10-header at the Thomas & Mack or that $12-mil­lion jack­pot down the road at the South Point.

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