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Health Biggest Factor in Vieira’s Pursuit of First World Title

By: Justin Felisko August 13, 2014@ 04:00:00 PM

Fabiano Vieira starts the second half of the 2014 season in second place.

PUEBLO, Colo. – With two days remaining until the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, PBR.com continues its look at the Top 5 riders in the world standings before the stretch run to the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals officially begins.

Today, we look at Fabiano Vieira, who is currently second in the world standings.

FIRST HALF RECAP: Vieira has put himself in his greatest position to win a world title since 2011 when he finished fifth in the world standings. The 32-year-old posted a 61.84 percent riding average that season and this year he is riding at a 62 percent pace. His 31 rides in 16 events already surpassed his 22 rides in the same amount of BFTS events last year. However, the major storyline for Vieira during the first half came during the Rumble in the Rockies when he dislocated his right shoulder when he was tossed to the ground by Cowtown Slinger on the final ride of the night. Sports medicine was able to put his shoulder back into place, but it was the latest setback for Vieira, who had been competing with a torn rotator cuff since March.

It was the same bull that Vieira rode for 89.25 points on April 4 to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Boise, Idaho.

Vieira’s 4-for-5 performance helped him regain the top spot in the world standings for the first time since the second week of the season following a second-place showing at the Chicago Invitational, but the damage was done and he missed Last Cowboy Standing and Guilherme Marchi retook the lead in the world standings. Overall, Vieira won two events (New York & Sacramento, California), claimed four round victories and placed first in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Chicago. He spent four weeks ranked second in the world prior to the summer break, as well.

BEST FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE: The Perola, Brazil, native started the season off with a bang and split the event win at the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden with defending World Champion J.B. Mauney after an impressive 4-for-4 performance in the Big Apple. Vieira wasted no time in New York, riding his first bull (Messy Mossy) for 88.25 points. He then continued his fast start the following week in Chicago, riding three more consecutive bulls to begin the year 7-for-7 and find himself on the top of the standings.

TOP FIRST HALF RIDE: 90 points on White Lie at the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

GRITTING HIS TEETH AND GETTING IT DONE: Vieira, who missed 11 events last year with a fractured right ankle and left groin strain, has been adamant on multiple occasions this year that he refuses to get surgery on his injured shoulder. Instead, he spent the summer rehabbing the injury with Fernando Escobar in Decatur, Texas, and rarely competing. Yet when he did, Vieira showed glimpses of his world title potential. In Bismarck, North Dakota, he conquered the previously unridden Apollo Stripes for 91.5 points in the championship round to win the first night of Chad Berger’s Touring Pro Division event.

The ride capped a 2-for-2 night for Vieira and left PBR LIVE commentator Justin McBride, who suffered a similar injury in 2007, impressed with the cowboy’s gutsy effort.

Just last week McBride reiterated that Vieira is his favorite right now for the world title, barring the shoulder injury, of course.

“If his shoulder stays in, he is the champ to me,” McBride said. “I think he is the best bull rider in the world right now. He has a ways to go. I was trying to rehab like a crazy dude trying to get it as strong as I could and then they taped it to where it couldn’t go back a certain point. If he can keep it in, whatever that takes for him to do it, I think he is the champ.”

Vieira also won the Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing Invitational in Guymon, Oklahoma, on July 26 with his 2-for-2 performance, which included an event-best 86.5 points on Wiggin Out.

J.W. Hart says that it even looks like Vieira has become a stronger rider since the injury.

“I thought he rode better with the shoulder injury,” Hart said. “I thought he rode better once he got hurt.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Check out Fabiano Vieira’s first half in pictures

Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said the shoulder will be a hindrance on Vieira’s chances of winning that long desired world title.

Right now, he is the best,” Murray said earlier this week. “Right now, if you put everybody healthy and at their best I would put him as the winner, but the fact of the matter is he is not healthy and at his best. Going back talking about Mike Lee and Silvano (Alves), they do a great job of staying healthy and that is a big part of this game.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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