Like in baseball, the name World Series of Team Roping, is more hyperbole than reality. There aren’t teams from around the world vying for qualifications into the Las Vegas and Guthrie, Okla., Finales. However, the WSTR took its first step toward that reality by approving a qualifier in Italy.
Rodeo and team roping in Europe first became popular in the late 1970s when over a half million U.S. troops occupied Germany. Many of them were cowboys and they formed the European Rodeo Cowboys Association. Later, EuroDisney in Paris hosted Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show that featured Wrangler NFR ropers Chris Lawson, Ryon Tittel, BFI winner Rocky Carpenter and steer roper Jeff Wheelis—as well as many other good ropers and roughstock hands.
One of those ropers was Mike Crouch, who grew up in Vega, Texas. After his stint there, he moved from France to Italy to begin the Academy of Roping in Tuscany with Roberto Brembilla.
"I had hundreds of people pass through the school and learn the basics of using a rope," Crouch said.
In 2003, he married an Italian, Erika, and moved to Piedmont, which is in northwest Italy. In 2007, they formed the European Team Roping Championship.
"We averaged 95 teams per roping and had 122 at our biggest roping this year," Crouch said. "In 2009, we had six Italian ropers attend the USTRC finals in Oklahoma City. One even won a rotation."
Now, Crouch is throwing the support of a continent behind the World Series of Team Roping.
"We are very excited about this roping, which will be held Sept. 11 and 12 at the Cowboys Guest Ranch in Voghera, which is a great facility," Crouch said. "We chose the WSTR because it gives our ropers a chance to go to Vegas, to see the Finals and to compete in the best roping of the year for novice ropers."
Using a Hot Heels and Marremani cattle, which is an Italian breed very similar to Longhorns, ropers from Italy, France, Germany and Poland will practice for their shot to qualify for the World Series Finale in Las Vegas this December.
"The roping will be a round robin to give every roper an equal chance to win," Crouch said. "We expect to get 20 headers and 20 heelers for the roping. The high point European-born-and-raised roper gets the finals position for Vegas. The roping is open to whoever wants to enter, but the finals position goes to the high point roper of the weekend. We are also giving World Series buckles to the winners of the roping and to the high point junior and lady roper. The winner will choose his or her partner for Vegas. He can bring a partner from Europe or rope with someone in the states."