By: Justin Felisko
July 29, 2016
BIG SKY, Mont. – Oh how much a difference one year makes.
When Cooper Davis nods his head on Friday night during the Big Sky, Montana, BlueDEF Tour event, he will be a much more highly-decorated and well-known bull rider.
At this time last year, Davis was Top 20 in the world standings and hadn’t even begun his now well- documented diet/workout plan that led to him losing 24 pounds before the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
These days, Davis is ninth in the world standings, the 2015 World Finals event winner and a trendy 2016 World Champion pick heading into the second half of the Built Ford Tough Series.
He also arrives at the Big Sky Town Center Sage Brush field in the picturesque Montana resort town as the only rider to have made 8 seconds on Crossfire (91.5 points at the 2016 Ty Murray Invitational) on the Built Ford Tough Series and one of only three to have ridden Crossfire at any level of competition.
Davis, who rode Beaver Creek Beau for 92.5 points at the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank and Trust BlueDEF Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota, said that ride still sits as the toughest of his career.
“I have been more points in other places, but as far as riding a bucking bull that was probably the toughest I ever got by,” Davis said. “I can remember it pretty well from the time I nodded my head to about 5 seconds when he started stepping ahead and started jerking on me. It was one of those moments when you can either throw your chin back and let him have you or you can pick a spot and get off.”
Crossfire is not scheduled to buck in Big Sky, but stock contractor Chad Berger did confirm that 2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid, Beaver Creek Beau and Smooth Operator are scheduled to have outs Saturday night.
Fans can watch the Big Sky BlueDEF Tour event exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 8:50 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday.
Stetson Lawrence is one of 15 riders ranked inside the Top 35 tentatively scheduled to be competing in Big Sky over the course of the two day events.
No. 8 Wallace de Oliveira and No. 14 Robson Palermo join Davis as Top 15 riders competing.
Davis has drawn Say I Won’t Playboy (17-6, BFTS) for Round 1 in Big Sky.
Crossfire is 26-1 in four years BFTS for an average bull score of 43.9 points. The potential 2016 World Champion bull contender is 11-1 this season and is averaging a career-high 44.42 points per BFTS out.
“He is one of those bulls that you know where he is going to be every time,” Davis said. “He is going to be to the right and moving ahead a little bit and tightening up at times. He is going to keep trying you until either he beats you or you are going to be a bunch of points on him. There really are no tricks to him. You just have to try, try, try.
“I wasn’t in control the whole ride. That is for sure. If you watch it back and listen to Ty Murray. He is going to tell you he liked it so much because I wasn’t in the perfect position. You just have to keep fighting for it and there have been times where I can walk out of the arena 99.9 percent of the time because I gave it my all. But that was one time I gave it my all and it paid off.”
Davis had Murray fired up during the CBS Sports Network broadcast that afternoon.
“Man, this looks really good,” Murray said. “I love it when we are able to get reminded what professional bull riding at the highest level is supposed to look like. He is not always where he wants to be. Look at him getting pulled down. Look at his feet looking back behind him, but he knows where he needs to try to get to. To see him keep hustling with the same intensity of the bull, that is stuff right there that gets me fired up. That is what it is supposed to look like when you are talking about a world- class ride.”
That ride paired with his 88-point ride on Who Dey to win the Young Guns Challenge at the 2016 J.W. Hart BlueDEF Tour event, and his overall commitment to the sport, has also led PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert to say that Davis is his favorite to win the 2016 title if he can get past J.B. Mauney.
“Crossfire likes to spin to the right and he is strong,” Lambert said. “He reminds me of Shepherd Hills Tested with how big and strong he is. It takes a really good bull rider. I think there is no doubt Cooper will be a World Champion contender. In fact, I said I thought he would win it this year and that is probably a little disrespectful to J.B. though, so I am not going to stay to many more times. I don’t think J.B. is finished yet either.”
When asked about Lambert’s prediction in Bismarck, a bashful Davis responded, “I hope he is right. He was right about losing the weight so if he is right about this, I don’t know.
“I might have to start hanging out around him more.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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