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Alves Says Mental Toughness is Key to Success in Vegas

PUEBLO, Colo. – Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves doesn’t know exactly what advice he would give the 50 riders preparing to compete at Last Cowboy Standing, the featured event of Cowboy Spring Break, this weekend, but he does believe that it takes a certain level of mental toughness to succeed in Las Vegas.

Alves has had unprecedented success in Las Vegas during his six-year BFTS career. Alves has gone 25-for-30 (83.33 percent) at the World Finals, won three gold buckles, two Last Cowboy Standing titles and one World Finals event average.

Therefore, if there is anyone that knows what it takes to prepare for this coming weekend’s PBR Major, it is Alves.

“Technically, you need to mentally relax,” Alves, who has gone 4-for-6 at Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas, said with the help of Miriaham Contreras translating, “but you do have to prepare physically to be able to ride those caliber of bulls there. You need to let the mental (stress) go.”

Past Last Cowboy Standing winners include Guilherme Marchi (2014) and Luke Snyder (2011).

Alves (broken left hip) will be missing his first Las Vegas PBR event since first competing in Vegas at the 2010 World Cup. In that non-BFTS event, Alves went 3-for-6 before beginning his 25-for-30 run on the BFTS at the 2010 World Finals, where he went 5-for-6.

He says it was actually at the World Cup where he began to gain the confidence he has since shown in Las Vegas.

“Ever since the World Cup, I have ridden well there,” he said. “I have always ridden well there. I think that is why, mentally, I am so comfortable there. I know I am going to do well in Las Vegas.”

Alves recorded his first 90-point ride on American soil at any PBR level during the World Cup when he covered Big Tex for 90.5 points.

It was just one of a series of qualified rides in Vegas that keep adding confidence to his already composed mentality.

“Every guy is different,” Alves said. “You can’t really tell them what to do, but to me, I have always enjoyed riding in Vegas. When I get there, for some reason, I am very comfortable. I am not nervous. I just like it there. I feel very comfortable and relaxed when I go Vegas.”

When asked who he thought the favorite this weekend was, he jokingly replied, “I am going to win.”

This year is different for Alves than past years.

Instead of mentally preparing for Last Cowboy Standing, he has been home recovering from hip surgery after fracturing it when he was hit by Legal Tender during Round 1 of the Nampa, Idaho, BFTS event last month.

Alves’ next step in his recovery process is a follow-up appointment on May 26 that may result in Alves being cleared of using his crutches.

If the hip has healed, there is a possibility he could begin physical therapy and get one step closer toward returning in time for the second-half BFTS opener in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Aug. 7.

“Everything is good,” Alves said. “I am feeling better. The doctor told me there is a chance I may be able to get rid of the crutches and start physical therapy, but it is up to the doctors.”

Alves had competed in 145 consecutive BFTS events since making his debut in 2010, and was fourth in the world standings at the time of the injury.  He has since dropped to eighth in the world standings, but he has only lost 122.5 points on the No. 1 position – he trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 909.17 points.

The reigning World Champion understood he wouldn’t be able to escape significant injury forever and that it was simply a matter of time before he was bit by the injury bug.

“Every time you ride you think about it,” Alves said. “I knew it would happen to me at some time.”

The reigning World Champion said that while he is saddened to not be able to compete, he is still not concerned about his pursuit of a fourth world title.

“I am good. I am not worried about it,” Alves said. “I am not stressed about it because when I went out I was fourth (in the standings). I don’t feel like I am at that big of a disadvantage.

“I hope to God I come back better than I was when I was out. My goal is to come back and ride better. I started off very good this year. The most important thing for me is to come back and ride well.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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