Behind the Chutes: Seattle, Day 1

SEATTLE – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Seattle Invitational on Friday night at KeyArena.

Alternates earn crucial points

Being close to the Built Ford Tough Series cutline is no fun task for any rider and Rubens Barbosa and Douglas Duncan took steps to get further away from it during Round 1.

Barbosa placed second in the round with an 87.5-point ride on Guns and Donuts to earn 60 points toward the world standings and move from 31st in the world to 28th.

Duncan finished tied for fourth in Round 1 with his 86.5-point ride on Moose Jaw, picking up 35 points toward the standings.

“I did need it,” Duncan said. “It hadn’t been going my way lately. I hadn’t spurred one in a while, so it felt good.”

Five of Duncan’s buckoffs this season have come at 6 seconds or later, which is one-fourth of his 20 total buckoffs.

The ride also snaps his streak of seven consecutive buckoffs.

“I try to win every time, but a bunch of dumb stuff has been happening,” Duncan said. “I slapped a couple of bulls and rode quite a bit and haven’t closed the deal.”

Those kind of close-calls only have added to his frustration.

“I know what I am capable of and I feel like I am a World Champion-caliber bull rider and shouldn’t be anywhere near the cutline, so it just gets frustrating,” Duncan said. “I was tired of answering questions about why I haven’t done good and why I haven’t done this.

“I just had it on my mind today. I didn’t care what I had drawn. I didn’t even look until right before I came out here. It didn’t matter what they ran underneath me. I was confident.”

Cooper Davis spurring for success; wins Round 1 with career-high ride

Cooper Davis knows he needs to stay aggressive and not clamp down when he is trying to earn a qualified ride on the BFTS.

Sometimes he just needs to cut it loose and try and spur his opposing bull.

Case and point on Friday night in Round 1 when the 21-year-old rookie bull rider began his weekend with a career-high, 89-point ride on Big Cool to win his first career BFTS round.

“Everything is going the way it needs to go and I feel comfortable,” Davis said. “I have been on that bull before. I got on him at Calgary last year and he threw me off at 5 seconds. I knew he would get stronger coming up through there so I just kept going to him and it all worked out.”

Davis started to feel comfortable around the 5-second mark and then turned to spurring Big Cool.

J.W. (Harris) said I just needed to start kicking loose and that is what I did,” Davis said. “It kind of reminded me that’s how I ride and I have more fun doing it that way. I am not really clamping down too much. That is where I kind of get into a bind. Sometimes I will clamp down and not make the moves I need to.

“If I am kicking loose then I am doing everything right and feel a lot more comfortable that way.”

Davis has gone 4-for-8 since beginning the 2015 season 0-for-11.

The 100 points he earned for winning the round moves him from 26th in the world standings to 23rd.

“After it is all said and done, those 100 points help out a lot and I am off the cutline,” Davis said. “It is all about having fun now and it is uphill from here.”

Now that Davis has a BFTS round win under his belt, what is the next goal?

“I am shooting for an event win here,” Davis replied. “I have a good bull for tomorrow (Woody), and, if I do my part, hopefully I will have a good pick in the short round and stay on him and come out with a win.”

It was over before the 8-second mark even arrived

Chad Berger knew right when Cooper Tires Brown Sugar went left into Joao Ricardo Vieira’s hand that his bull was in trouble against the No. 2 bull rider in the world.

Brown Sugar played right into Joao Ricardo Vieira’s wheelhouse, and Vieira made easy work of him for 89.75 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night.

“Joao made a very nice ride on Brown Sugar,” Berger said. “Joao is as good as anybody into his hand and Brown Sugar made a mistake. If he had any chance of bucking him off he had to go right, and then Joao still has good enough timing where it would have been a task for Brown Sugar. That was the only way he was going to buck him off tonight. He decided to go into Joao’s hand and I just knew there was no chance as long as he stayed to the left.”

It was the only qualified ride in the 15/15 and the win helped Vieira shed an additional 150 points off Matt Triplett’s world lead.

“He was a good bull,” Vieira said. “Chad Berger is the best contractor and he chatted with me. It was a good ride to win the 15/15.”

The bulls went 14-1 in the 15/15 Bucking Battle – their greatest showing so far in three Bucking Battle’s this season. Five of the riders (Ryan DirteaterGuilherme Marchi, Valdiron de Oliveira and Silvano Alves) competing made it past the 5-second mark, only to then fall short of the 8-second whistle.

Vieira rode Bottle Rocket for 86.5 points earlier in the evening to finish Round 1 tied for fourth place with Duncan and earn 35 points toward the standings.

The 30-year-old heads into his Round 2 matchup against Cowboy Up only 200 points back of world leader Matt Triplett after beginning the weekend trailing by 385 points.

Triplett was out due to his torn left MCL, but he was in attendance to watch his three bulls (King George, Tornado Alley and Off The Rez) buck in Round 1.

Smooth Operator, another of Berger’s bulls, bucked off J.W. Harris in 3.33 seconds and was the high-marked bull of the 15/15 Bucking Battle with 46 points.

“He is very deceiving,” Harris said. “He looks like he is really hopping and skipping real bad and I was focused on really setting my hips so I had weight on my feet and that was the bad thing to do on him. I did the exact wrong thing on him.”

“I really think he made a bold statement today,” Berger said. “He is the real deal.”

Smooth Operator improves to a perfect 15-0 on the BFTS and the 46-point marking is a career high.

Smooth Operator will try to cap off his weekend with another impressive out during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Saturday night.

“We are going to put him to the test and he is either going to make it or not,” Berger said.

Injury Updates

Tanner Byrne was a late addition to the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night after Stormy Wing failed the PBR Sports Medicine concussion test prior to Round 1.

Byrne was returning to competition from a sprained left thumb (riding hand) and bucked off Uptown Funk in 5.46 seconds during Round 1 and Fire Rock in 3.32 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Markus Mariluch (surgery on his torn right biceps) also returned to action in Seattle, but was bucked off by I Got This in 7.62 seconds during Round 1.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, there were six riders competing with injuries in Round 1: L.J. Jenkins (unstable right shoulder); Eduardo Aparecido (sprained left shoulder, free arm); Duncan (right shoulder contusion, free arm); Ryan Dirteater (unstable left knee); Dave Mason (sprained left riding hand) and Alexandre Cardozo (right elbow sprain).

Nine riders were listed as officially out of competition: Triplett (left knee, MCL); Reese Cates (torn right biceps, riding arm) J.B. Mauney (left knee); Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction); Ty Pozzobon (concussion); Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture); Billy Robinson (left PCL tear); Chase Outlaw (right shoulder dislocation/torn rotator cuff) and Cody Nance (pelvis sprain).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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