By: Justin Felisko
January 02, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2017 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top-5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
Today, we look at Ryan Dirteater, who finished the 2016 season fourth in the world standings.
No. 4 Ryan Dirteater
World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: fourth (2016)
2016 BFTS Stats:
Riding Percentage: 44.59 percent
Top Ride: 89.75 points on Brutus at the 2016 World Finals
Wins: 4 (Phoenix; Little Rock, Arkansas; Springfield, Missouri; World Finals)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 0
Round Wins: 5
Top 10: 8
Top 5: 8
90-point Rides: 0
2016 Recap: Ryan Dirteater capped off a career-year with a stunning victory at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
It was not that Dirteater hadn’t shown the ability to be a contender in 2016, he had entered the season-culminating event with three Built Ford Tough Series victories on the season, but it was the way in which Dirteater won his first Finals title that stood out.
Dirteater became just the fourth rider since 2000 to ride every bull at the World Finals, going a perfect 6-for-6 at the PBR’s first Finals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
He finished only 1,382.09 points behind 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis in the world standings, but his season performance was one of feast or famine, which is what made his Finals performance somewhat unexpected.
The 27-year-old failed to earn any world points in 32 percent of the BFTS events he competed in. He put up goose eggs in eight regular-season events, as well as seven 15/15 Bucking Battles.
Still, Dirteater came through in the biggest way in Las Vegas, clinching the $250,000 World Finals victory with a career-high 89.75-point ride on Brutus.
It was one of multiple personal records for Dirteater in 2016.
2016 was simply a record year for Dirteater, who grew fond of the Eric Church hit-single “Record Year” earlier in the season.
His fourth-place finish in the world standings was a career-best. He also set career-highs in event victories (4), qualified rides (33) and riding percentage (44.59 percent).
Dirteater first hit payday in Phoenix when he rode Cooper Tire’s Brown Sugar for 87.25 points to earn his first BFTS win since winning the Wichita, Kansas, event in September 2011.
A month later, Dirteater conquered I’m a Gangster Too (86.5 points) for the third time in 10 career attempts to notch win No. 2 on the season.
His third victory came in September when he went 4-for-4 in Springfield, Missouri.
Dirteater had historically been plagued by serious leg injuries in the past, but this year also ended up being one of his healthiest to date – outside of a collapsed lung in August just before the resumption of the BFTS.
2017 Outlook: Dirteater had never finished inside the Top 10 of the world standings in his eight-year BFTS career until last year’s work of brilliance at the World Finals.
So what is in store for his ninth year on the BFTS?
Time will tell if 2016 was a one-time deal for Dirteater or a sign of him reaching a new level in his career.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said that winning the World Finals may just be the turning point in Dirteater’s career.
Instead of being a middle of the pack bull rider, the win may just have given Dirteater the added confidence to realize he can compete for a world title a year after finishing fourth in the world standings.
“Ryan Dirteater has been a really good bull rider for a long time, and he just won the World Finals, so he should realize he is a contender on the biggest stage against the biggest bulls,” Lambert said. “He should figure out as well as he has done in the past, he still has underachieved for as good as he is.
“If he comes out with that kind of confidence (from the Finals), he definitely has that kind of talent.”
Similar to Joao Ricardo Vieira in 2015, when Vieira used PBR Majors to stay in the world title race, Dirteater’s four victories, especially his Finals win, propelled him to such a career-year in 2016.
Again, like Vieira, he will need to ride with the consistency he showed at the Finals compared to his career average of 40.59 percent, if he hopes to join Davis, J.B. Mauney and Troy Dunn as riders who have won the world title a year after being victorious at the Finals.
“A guy has to know he belongs there before he can do it,” Lambert said. “He has known he has always belonged on the Built Ford Tough Series and that he was a really good bull rider, but winning the World Finals should tell him, and riding all his bulls there, that the bulls aren’t going to get too tough and there is no one staring in his way but himself.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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