Anybody still pining for patriotism (or the chance to watch America assert its dominance over smaller, weaker countries with limited fast-food options) better circle April 16-18 on their calendars, because the top cowboys in the country are putting their pride on the line in a no-holds-barred international thrill ride.
The Professional Bull Riders World Cup is coming to Las Vegas, and the top-ranked American team is ready to electrify the crowd with incredible athleticism and wardrobes right out of the Marlboro Man’s closet. “This is what it’s all about,” Team USA member Austin Meier says. “It’s as big as it gets, and we dang sure want to show everybody what we can do. You’re going to be looking at five American cowboys that don’t want to do anything but win.”
While Meier’s confidence and adorable ethnocentrism is dang near infectious, the highly decorated bull-riding veteran recognizes that the road to victory is going to be paved with hard work, clean living and everything else that Major League Baseball has fought tirelessly to rid its sport of. “This is a whole other ballgame out there and we’re not taking anything for granted. Four other countries want it just as bad as we do,” he says.
The event, which will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center, will feature teams from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Australia competing in six rounds of bull-riding action over three nights, with all 25 riders competing in each round.
“The intensity at this event is off the charts,” says Meier, who leads the PBR Built Ford Tough Series standings. “It’s dozens of the best riders in the world competing for their country. Shoot, I’m honestly getting excited just thinking about it.”
Scheduled to join Meier of Kinta, Okla., on Team USA are reigning world champion Kody Lostroh of Longmont, Colo.; J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C.; Jordan Hupp of Cheyenne, Wyo.; and McKennon Wimberly of Cool, Texas. Teams were allowed to make roster adjustments until April 12, after which changes are allowed only because of injuries.
This year’s event will be especially meaningful for the red, white and blue riders as it will mark the first time the competition is held on American soil. “Nobody’s ever won this thing on their home turf before,” Meier says. “It’s us against the world, and this time we have the crowd behind us.”
Meier is also quick to note just how much bringing home the gold will mean to his team. “It’s a great honor to represent your country,” he says. “We want to show the world where the best riders really come from.”
With the PBR World Finals in October and the National Finals Rodeo in December both being held at the Thomas & Mack, Meier says Las Vegas is the perfect place for one of the biggest bull-riding spectacles of the year. “Bright lights, big money and some of the rowdiest folks in one building sounds like just another day back home,” he jokes. “Vegas is a great American town that loves the cowboys, and we’re excited to put on a hell of a show for them.”
After all, there are few things more American than a good old-fashioned rodeo. “When the dust clears and it’s all done, we’ll be representing our country as champions,” Meier says. “They go spinnin’ and we go winnin’! Just how it is.”