By: Justin Felisko
October 08, 2016
NAMPA, Idaho –Silvano Alves threw his bull rope over his right shoulder and began walking through the gray, concrete and claustrophobic corridor toward the locker room inside the Ford Idaho Center.
The three-time World Champion walked past the four lights on the left walls that nearly 18 months ago helped cast the shadow of two members of the PBR sports medicine team carrying the hobbled Alves through the dungiest hallway on the Built Ford Tough Series.
It was on April 11, 2015, in Nampa, Idaho, at the Ford Idaho Center where Alves’ career was forever altered.
Alves, then fourth in the world standings, had been bucked off by Legal Tender in 3.88 seconds and sustained the first injury of his career, a fractured left hip. Since then, Alves has been trying to regain his championship form after undergoing surgery and missing just about four months.
On Friday, though, Alves made his own way through his concrete house of horrors.
He peeled down the hallway after riding Cowtown Slinger for 82.75 points in Round 1. World leader Kaique Pacheco popped out of the locker room and gave Alves a celebratory hug as he headed toward the bucking chutes.
By himself, Alves then peered inside the sports medicine room and let a small smile creep across his face as he kept walking to the empty locker room. Unintentionally, Alves then took an exact seat in the same spot where Pacheco helped him change out of his riding jeans last year with his crutches resting against the back wall.
Alves couldn’t help but have a huge smile on his face.
“It was not a lot of points, but it is still special,” Alves said.
Alves won his first regular-season event since his broken hip last week in Eugene, Oregon.
He returned to the scene of his fateful injury this week and was able to put those demons to rest once and for all.
“I was nervous because I got hurt here last year, but right now it is good,” Alves said. “When I left my house this morning, I just told myself to keep strong. I talked to my family and said to be strong this weekend. This is a normal event.”
Nampa was more, though, then simply the place where he sustained his first injury. The Ford Idaho Center was also the coming out party for Alves when he won his BFTS debut event by going 4-for-4 in 2010.
For as much as the Gem State has bad memories for him, it also is the home to the beginning of his legendary career.
“My first event in the United States started here and almost my last event was here,” Alves said. “I remember my first time here, the guys never saw me, and I rode four bulls. They all said, ‘Oh my, who is this guy?’”
Alves was excited for his fourth showdown against Cowtown Slinger before Round 1. That was until he saw Nevada Newman lying motionless on the dirt after being injured during the ride before Alves was supposed to nod his head.
Newman had been knocked unconscious when Big Sky fell and rolled over the rookie bull rider.
Alves admitted he couldn’t help the flood of emotions that overcame him as his mind raced back to his own perils in Nampa.
“Oh, my God,” Alves thought.
“Once I saw Nevada get up and start walking again, I was relaxed.”
Alves then wet his lips inside the bucking chute and inserted his mouth piece. He intently focused forward, not fazed by Cowtown Slinger’s wild horns or the bull’s slight bit of uneasiness.
Valdiron de Oliveira placed his right arm in front of Alves and gave the 29-year-old a safety valve just in case Cowtown Slinger tried to slam Alves forward in the chutes prior to the gate open. Still, Oliveira knew Alves had a determined look of confidence.
Alves was no longer fearful.
“In the chutes today, you saw more concentration,” Oliveira said. “He felt good. He wasn’t hurt. Before he was a little nervous when he returned. He wasn’t flexible. He was tight. He is loose now.
“I feel like Silvano knows. He is very calm, relaxed. Everything is good.”
Alves has ridden four in a row. It is his best streak since beginning the season with five BFTS, and eight overall, consecutive rides before Cochise smashed Alves’ head during the New York 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“I am very comfortable,” Alves said. “My body is stronger. There is more confidence. I have power for any bulls. My body and everything is good now.”
The reality is a fourth gold buckle is likely out of the picture for the No. 20 ranked bull rider in the world standings.
However, Alves has put some thought toward winning a second World Finals event title next month at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6 at T-Mobile Arena.
“Right now, it is very important to win last week,” he said. “It gives me more confidence for World Finals. I am anxious for the Finals now. I am excited to ride at all the (BFTS) events and the Finals too.
“I have a good chance to win the Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.