By: Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
There are few shortcuts in life but there is one for ladies hoping to get a shot at the life changing money available at the 2022 Women’s Rodeo World Championship (WRWC)—the new WRWC Qualifier Series.
The Qualifier Series (QS) consists of a group of events from Florida to Arizona which offer ladies a single event step into the WRWC. Ladies must simply 1) enter the QS event, 2) be one of at least five ladies to nominate it on the WCRA’s VRQ, and 3) be the highest placing nominated contestant in the event’s average or finals (as applicable).
That cowgirl then earns a guaranteed position in the Qualifying Rounds of the WRWC.
The 2022 WRWC makes the move back to Texas for its third installment, with preliminary rounds held at Cowtown Coliseum in the historic Stockyards and the final rounds at Dickies Arena, both in Fort Worth. The event also moves up the calendar to May 16-18 to coincide with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Finals.
What hasn’t changed is the huge payout — $750,000, the largest ever offered for a women’s rodeo event with $60,000 going to the winner of each discipline, breakaway roping, heading, heeling and barrel racing along with the $20,000 bonus to the All Around —or the leveling concept of PRO and CHALLENGER competition pools to allow athletes at all levels the chance to compete against those of similar abilities.
The event is the result of the collaboration of the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) and PBR and has awarded more than $1.5 million in its first two years. The 2021 Main Event (finals round) was broadcast on CBS on October 31, breaking records for any rodeo event with 2.3 million viewers.
“This type of payout for women team ropers is such a great opportunity,” said Kelsey Barry of Charlotte, Texas. “All girl team roping has exploded in the last few years. In my opinion, the level of competition is at an all-time high.”
Barry will be a participant for the first time in 2022 after earning a spot by virtue of being the highest finishing roper at the VIP Team Roping Championship in Morristown, Arizona on December 4, 2021, one of the 2022 QS events.
“I think the new Qualifying Series are pretty neat because that was my first nomination of the year and now I don’t have to spend money on nomination fees going forward,” Barry noted. She is a header competing as a CHALLENGER. “I’ve secured a spot into the finals without having to remain at the top of the leader board.”
Besides the QS generic qualifications being given, the only other way athletes can earn their position in Fort Worth is by being ranked in the top 20 on the PRO or CHALLENGER Leaderboards for Segment W22 or through a QS event.
Qualifier Series events have already secured positions for a number of cowgirls, from well known PRO athletes like breakaway roper Martha Angelone, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping Finalist, heeler Jessy Remsburg, a Women’s Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) World Champion, and young gun barrel racer Jada Trosper, a Finalist from the first WRWC.
Up-and-coming CHALLENGER athletes have also benefited from the QS events, including Barry who not only earned her spot at Fort Worth but also picked up some cash through another unique feature of the QS events, VRQ Fast Cash.
VRQ Fast Cash is paid at each event, provided there are at least five nominations in a disciplines class, and represents 40% of the nomination fees paid.
“I did get $250 for the VRQ fast cash, which was great, because that covered the initial nomination fee!”
In addition, QS events offer expanded points to 20th position in every paid round, helping contestants advance on their respective Leaderboards even if they don’t win first.
Barry sees other advantages of the expanded points.
“For me, these WRWC qualifiers and expanded points jackpots where you can enter and draw give me the opportunity to rope with heelers that I wouldn’t normally be able to enter with,” she said. “That is a big advantage for me because I’m able to have a chance at drawing the best heelers.”
These points being awarded are also important to all of the Pro and Challenger athletes to give them an advantage with competition order, and the race to win the Pro and Challenger World Championship and the All-Around title.
Meanwhile, for Barry and other QS champs, all that remains now is to set a strategy and practice up.
“Preparing for the world championship setup really won’t look much different than my normal practice,” Barry said, “but running to the hip is my comfort zone, so my game plan to prepare for Fort Worth is to work on getting it on the horns quicker and focusing on my handles, really just getting more aggressive.”
Watching the 2021 event provided some tips and motivation for Barry as well.
“I watched some of the championships at Vegas and it definitely didn’t seem like a just go catch set up, which is awesome. The last round was good watching because it was so tough. It gives us women team ropers motivation for the world championship and of course, the great payout, to work towards.”
“Team Roping gives me something outside of my full-time job to set goals for myself and work on, so I’m excited to start getting ready for Fort Worth.”
The final stops on the 2022 QS Schedule are:
January 22, NBHA Arizona Super Show Race #2, Buckeye, Arizona (barrel racing)
January 29, National Team Roping League Finals, Jacksonville, Florida (breakaway and team roping)
February 12, Hearts on Fire Ladies Team Roping WRWC Qualifier Series, Casa Grande, Arizona (team roping)
February 18 & 20, Royal Crown Open Barrel Race, Buckeye, Arizona (barrel racing)
March 19 & 20, Wylie Hicks Jr. Memorial Roping, Amarillo, Texas (breakaway and team roping)