Behind the Chutes: Colorado Springs, Day 1

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night at the Built Ford Tough Rumble in the Rockies at The Broadmoor World Arena.

Triplett busts out of slump and cuts into Joao Ricardo Vieira’s world lead

Matt Triplett finally busted out of his 0-for-7 slump that had caused him tremendous frustration at the past two Built Ford Tough Series since returning from his torn left MCL by riding both of his bulls in Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Triplett officially ended his buckoff streak by riding Bert for 85.25 points in Round 1 to finish in sixth place heading into Sunday’s final day of competition.

The 23-year-old then used his Round 1 ride as a confidence booster heading into the 15/15 Bucking Battle, where he took care of business aboard Redbone for 87 points to tie for second-place with Cooper Davis.

“This is huge,” Triplett said. “I had just come back from an injury and that was playing in the back of my head. I had just lost first place in the standings and I just let all of it get to me. I was just going through the flow. I kind of came back expecting to be where I was at before I got hurt and that is not what life is all about. You have to keep working for it.”

Triplett and Davis, who rode Cowboy’s Dancehall’s Panda Trax, earned 82.5 points toward the world standings.

The second-place finish helps Triplett cut Joao Ricardo Vieira’s world lead to 335 points.

Vieira was bucked off by Gangster Bucks (7.44 seconds) in Round 1 and Little Red Jacket (6.26 seconds) in the 15/15.

Fabiano Vieira won the 15/15 Bucking Battle with a 90.25-point ride on Diesel. It was Fabiano’s first 90-point ride since covering White Lie for 90 points at the 2014 Ty Murray Invitational last season.

“It’s been a long time since I have been 90 points,” Fabiano Vieira said. “I may have to have a party.”

Triplett spent this week getting back to the basics that helped him succeed earlier this season.

He went to yoga every day and even got on some practice bulls at Ty Rinaldo’s ranch in Larkspur, Colorado, which is roughly 30 miles north of Colorado Springs.

“I went to his place and got on two practice bulls and then it started clicking again,” Triplett said. “I am feeling good and am ready to go.”

Davis not fazed by first appearance on national television

Just before the television cameras were turned on for this weekend’s CBS national broadcast, 21-year-old rookie bull rider Cooper Davis calmly brushed off the fact that he was about to make his first appearance in a 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Instead, Davis said he was quite confident he would ride Cowboy’s Dancehall’s Panda Trax.

Davis proved he was not all talk, and the young bull rider opened the 15/15 Bucking Battle with the second-highest score (87 points) of his young career.

“It is real cool, especially getting a ride on a bull that doesn’t get rode much,” Davis said. “I am happy I got some points toward the rookie (race) and the world standings.”

Davis is the fourth rider in 20 BFTS outs to make the 8-second mark on Panda Trax.

He has now earned points toward the standings in seven consecutive events.

Davis also showed no fear or intimidation about being Panda Trax’s first opponent after the bovine athlete crumbled up Kasey Hayes like a folding chair last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.

“That bull is mean and I have seen him all year long,” Davis said. “You know that when you hit the ground he is going to be after you and you have to be scrambling.”

Davis took a tiny shot from Panda Trax following his qualified ride.

“He was a little faster than I was today, but I got away clean,” he concluded.

Sweet Pro’s Long John and Percolator showcase bull power

Sweet Pro’s Long John got some sweet revenge on Nathan Schaper in the athletes’ first meeting since Schaper rode him for 89 points in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this season.

Their second meeting of 2015 went much better for Long John as the bull was able to dislodge Schaper in 3.45 seconds and earn a 46.75-point bull score in his second consecutive out.

“He was really good,” said PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert. “He was outstanding. When H.D. brings him, he bucks harder. He just seems to have his best days when H.D. brings him.”

Schaper said that it wasn’t a matter of Long John being stronger than he was in Kansas City – Long John was marked only 43.5 points in that trip. Instead, the 24-year-old explained that he just couldn’t get his timing down quick enough once the gate swung open.

“I still like the bull,” Schaper said. “You just have to do things right. You can’t screw up. I never got on time with him. I don’t know why I left bad. I was just out of time from the get-go and then you feel everything.”

Schaper’s good friend J.W. Harris once again helped another top bull on the Built Ford Tough Series look tremendous.

This time it was Percolator being marked 46 points after he extended and elongated his body high in the air to dump the four-time PRCA champion in 2.87 seconds.

Harris has faced World Champion Bull contenders Mick E Mouse and Smooth Operator this season and previously took on Long John last year.

Percolator was previously marked 46 points at the Ty Murray Invitational when he bucked off Stormy Wing in 4.54 seconds. Jeff Robinson’s bull has been marked 45 points or higher in six consecutive outs.

Lambert said that Percolator has developed some more drop in his bucking style compared to earlier this year.

“Percolator was outstanding too,” Lambert said. “He was really good. Away from your hand he is tough and you can’t be late on him. He has a little more drop than he had in the beginning of the year, but he still hangs in the air and a left-hander that is real committed will ride him. A right-hander has his hands full.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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