This week, especially today and tomorrow, you will hear mention of the “slack round” at the CNFR. It does not mean that the contestants slack off when they go, it is not a practice and it certainly carries just as much weight towards winning a National Championship as the evening performances that will start tomorrow evening. With right at 400 contestants, how do they make sure each one gets a fair chance at running 3 times? This week we will have the opportunity to see nearly 1,254 rodeo runs, barrel runs, goat runs, bronc rides, bull rides, etc. But not every run will be in an evening performance. To make it fair, every person will have an opportunity to perform in one evening performance- that really is part of the thrill of making it to the College National Finals Rodeo. For those that are lucky enough to qualify in their hometown- there is no other feeling like it.

So, back to Slack- with so many contestant to each have their turn the only way to make it work is to give everyone one evening performance and two slack performances. Both the first and second rounds of the rodeo will be completed by tomorrow about this time. Then they split all the contestants up between the 4 evening performances, Tuesday through Friday. If they did all three rounds in an evening performance we would be here for approximately three weeks- or we would sit through all night rodeos in this one week. While it sounds appealing to me, the goal is to keep it entertaining and make it a good strong production for the audience! One other thing to mention is that the contestants’ times or scores from each round will be added up to determine the Champion. At the end of the week, the low time, for the timed events, and the high score in the rough stock will be your National Champion.

During one interview this morning, one young cowboy, not too much younger than me, really, mentioned that as soon as he knew he was going to qualify for Casper, he started getting up early in the mornings to practice. There is just no other way to get ready to ride a bronc at 8 in the morning. Typically the rough stock riders don’t have to perform in the slack rounds so they aren’t quite used to getting up this early! Sure hope they get a good stretch in before they get on!