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A Battle on the Beach

PUEBLO, Colo. – Valdiron de Oliveira was 20 years old the last time he competed in a bull riding event on a beach in his native state of Goias, Brazil.

Oliveira vaguely remembers climbing aboard his bulls and looking out into an arena that was half sand, half water.

“It was 100 miles north of my house,” Oliviera said. “I did good, but I had a lot of friends that would be bucked into the water.”

This Saturday’s Monster Energy Bulls on the Beach 15/15 Bucking Battle in Huntington Beach, California, may not feature fresh salt water floating in the arena, but the air will certainly be budding with anticipation at the corner of Huntington Street and Pacific Coast Highway with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

The event takes place at 2 p.m. PT, and can be seen on PBR LIVE. It will also be broadcast nationally on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports.

Joao Ricardo Vieira, Fabiano Vieira, Silvano Alves, Guilherme Marchi, Mike Lee, Matt Triplett, Cody Nance, Gage Gay, Eduardo Aparecido, Chase Outlaw, Oliveira, Marco Eguchi, Emilio Resende, Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing are slated to compete.

L.J. Jenkins, J.B. Mauney and Markus Mariluch withdrew from the event due to injuries.

Triplett is scheduled to be a guest on “ROME” on Wednesday afternoon and the segment will air at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

He is excited to be a part of a historic event for the PBR in Huntington Beach.

“This is going to be fun,” Triplett said. “It’s going to be a cool experience on the beach doing something we have never done before.”

The 15 riders will participate in a random bull draw at the Huntington Beach Pier, Pier Plaza on Friday. They will be randomly paired with a bull from a pen including, Fire Rock; Stanley FatMax; Mick E Mouse; Jeremiah; Alright, Alright, Alright; Hungry Eyes; LL Cool J; Mr. Bull; Riding Dirty; No Restraint; Oklahoma Bell; I’m a Gangster Too; Walk Off; Buck Dynasty; Velvet Rain and Bushwacker.  

Mick E Mouse, Bushwacker and I’m a Gangster Too are World Champion Bull contenders, who will make their first out during the World Finals five days later.

Obviously, there is a difference for the bull riders competing outside near the Pacific Ocean compared to an indoor BFTS event.

“Yeah, it is a large difference,” Oliviera said. “There is a lot of sand and outside is always a different deal.”

The 15/15 Bucking Battle brings back memories of the 2010 Built Ford Tough Road to Las Vegas Times Square event in New York, which also took place just before the Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Oliviera, Mike Lee and Silvano Alves are the only riders competing in Huntington Beach that also competed in Times Square.

Lee and Oliviera tied for third place in 2010. Lee rode Chicken Lickin for 84.5 points, while Oliviera rode Bird Creek for 84.5 points.

“In (Times Square), we never got on bulls there before,” Oliveira said. “You would see all of the people walking around. It was cool.”

Huntington Beach is one final opportunity for the top riders to gain additional points toward the world title race. The event winner will receive 200 points and second place receives 180 points, this continues down on a graduated scale to 20 points for 10th place.

Lee believes Huntington Beach will also be a marquee event similar to Times Square.

“It is definitely a unique event,” Lee said. “I’m pretty sure we have never done a bull riding on a beach before. It will be interesting to see how they set the dirt up. I bet there is going to be a good amount of people there. It is a good tourist area.”

Speaking of the world title race, 15/15 Bucking Battles have been beneficial to the Top 4 riders in the world standings. Joao Ricardo Vieira (Anaheim, Calif.), Silvano Alves (Fresno, Calif.), Fabiano Vieira (Nampa, Idaho) and Guilherme Marchi (Colorado Springs, Colo.) have all won a 15/15 this season.

Joao Ricardo Vieira enters the event leading No. 2 Fabiano Vieira (-511.63 points), No. 3 Alves (-736.69) and No. 4 Marchi (1,019.19).

Lee, who has won both BFTS outdoor events this season, enters the event fifth in the world standings and could use the additional points to shave some of his 1,674.69-point deficit off world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira’s lead.

The 2004 World Champion seemingly always rises to the occasion in outdoor events and had ridden six of seven bulls attempted in Laughlin, Nevada, and Thackerville, Oklahoma, in August.

Lee is excited to give Southern California a taste of the PBR.

“I imagine a lot of people will want to go to that,” Lee concluded. “I bet it will be really good.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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