SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Two-time World Champion Silvano Alves glared into the CBS Sports Network cameras and offered a celebratory roar last weekend at Bridgestone Arena.
The 26-year-old had just rode Rango for 92.25 points for his first 90-point ride of 2014. Alves was sitting in position for his first Built Ford Tough Series win of the year before Chase Outlaw rode Mr. Bull to win the Jack Daniel’s Invitational.
Still, it was the second time in as many rides that Alves pumped his riding vest, threw his hands confidently into the air toward the Nashville crowd and echoed a shout to all of the viewers at home.
Alves doesn’t have to holler though. His message was loud and clear.
His Nashville performance pushed him to fourth in the world standings and he sits only 360 points behind current world leader Guilherme Marchi heading into this weekend’s PFIWestern.com Invitational in Springfield, where he faces Diesel in Round 1 on Friday night at JQH Arena
He is right on the doorstep of taking over the world lead for the first time this season.
“Oh it (was) an important event because I (was) 3-for-3 and (gained) more points before Finals,” Alves said.
It appeared as if it was only a matter of time before the champion bull rider would come through with a 3-for-3 performance during this final stretch run before the Built Ford Tough World Finals in October – there are five regular season events and one special 15/15 Bucking Battle in Huntington Beach, California, remaining.
The Pilar Do Sul, Brazil, native had been quietly keeping his name in the world title consideration and, for at least one week, Alves was the latest contender to flash his championship pedigree in a year where no title contender has been able to separate himself from the pack.
Prior to riding Rango, Alves covered Delco, a bull that previously bested him two other times, for 87.5 points in Round 2, and he covered Sue for 79.5 points in Round 1.
It was his first 90-plus ride of the season and also his third second-place finish of 2014. He also is two rides away from reaching 250 career BFTS rides.
“It is very exciting because some time before break, maybe two months before break, I started to ride good,” Alves said. “Then after the break I rode good, too. Last week (Thackerville, Oklahoma), I did not ride good because of a not good draw.”
In April, Alves had used a 4-for-4 showing in Billings, Montana, to crack the Top 5 of the world standings for the first time all year. At that point, he was 1,380.81 points out of the top spot.
Alves was seemingly thinking one-step ahead in Nashville. Inside the locker room after his second-round ride on Delco, he began to meticulously analyze the list of bulls for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. He would glance up at friend and roommate Emilio Resende and ask a question or two about a certain bull, before pulling up Probullstats.com on his iPhone and studying video and numbers of the various bulls.
It’s been a trying year for Alves. He dealt with a right shoulder injury in the early portion of the first half and his riding average (48.57 percent) sits below 50 percent for the first time in his career.
Still, there he is right within striking distance of becoming the second rider in PBR history to win three world titles after shaving off just more than 1,000 points in six BFTS events and the summer break since Billings.
Adriano Moraes, the only rider to win three World Championships thus far, says Alves is in the conversation already as one of the all-time greats.
“I think Silvano is going to go down in history as the most talented guy,” Moraes said. “He is very talented. No doubt about it. Nobody can question that. They may question his strategies, but nobody can question his capabilities. We know what he is capable of. It is stupid not to say he is one of the best to ever live.”
Alves is the fastest rider in PBR history to reach the $1 million, $2 million and $3 million mark in career earnings.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said last month, “He is always a threat. He is the master and as good as anybody I have ever seen in my career at avoiding injury and staying healthy. That is a big tool in your tool chest if you are able to do that. ”
Beyond his physical talents, what Moraes really has been impressed with by Alves has been his impalpable confidence. He isn’t fazed by much and remains stoically on task.
Many World Champions have talked about how after they win their first world title that it is that much harder to mentally prepare to go through that draining process all over again.
Yet, Alves nearly won three-in-a-row if not for J.B. Mauney’s historic comeback last year.
“Yeah, that is why we admire Silvano so much because he won back-to-back,” said Moraes, who took seven years to win his second world title in 2001. “It is very mentally demanding to be a World Champion.”
It is why Alves’ nonchalant response to being asked if he was ever worried about possibly not being in contention this year was fitting.
Alves shrugged and smiled, before saying, “I don’t know.”
He later added with another smile and stare:
“I just need to get scores on bulls and not fall off.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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