By: Justin Felisko
February 18, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Mason Lowe was 9 years old when Chris Shivers attempted to ride three-time World Champion Bull Little Yellow Jacket for $1 million in April 2003.
In one of the most historic moments in PBR history, Little Yellow Jacket bucked off Shivers in 1.5 seconds at the Broadmoor World Arena in a special matchup where Shivers could have walked away with $1 million if he had been successful.
Despite a standing ovation from the sold out World Arena crowd, Shivers, who had slammed his head against Little Yellow Jacket leaving the bucking chute, stumbled to the side of the arena and slid to the ground.
He eventually picked himself up, hustled his way out of the arena toward the under layers of World Arena before finding a corner to drop to and sunk his head into his arms.
It was a visual that never left Lowe as he began his own journey toward the PBR through steers, calves, junior bulls, amateur bulls and the PBR’s lower developmental leagues.
Now that he has finally made it to the PBR’s highest level – the Built Ford Tough Series – that image of Chris Shivers continues to sit with Lowe.
“I always watched Chris Shivers as a little kid,” Lowe said. “Like when he rode for the $1 million for the first time. Little Yellow Jacket. I remember seeing him get mad and frustrated and stuff. But if you don’t get emotionally involved in this, and you don’t put out 100 percent effort, if you don’t have that, why are you there? You are just there.”
Lowe had his own sense of disappointment earlier this year when he came up just short of his first BFTS victory in Oklahoma City despite riding SweetPro’s Bruiser for 91 points. The 22-year-old was visibly frustrated that his first career victory had slipped away and he couldn’t help but let his frustration be visible during a series of post-event interviews with CBS Sports Network and for the PBR LIVE mobile app.
“I am kind of mad when I fall off,” Lowe said. “It is me falling off. People ask me what happened, and I just said I fall off. I know what I did wrong, but what is the reason for me doing it wrong, I don’t know? I don’t know why.”
Shivers eventually went on to win the 2003 World Championship and the first-ever $1 million bonus awarded to the PBR’s season-end champion.
Lowe, currently ranked 12th in the world standings, is also in pursuit of a PBR World Championship and $1 million.
If he can be victorious this weekend at THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, he will also get an earlier crack at $1 million like his idol Shivers did in 2003.
Lowe is one of nine PBR riders competing at the THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals on Friday night at Cowtown Coliseum before this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series Kansas City Clash at the Sprint Center.
Joining Lowe in Fort Worth are Paulo Lima, Wallace de Oliveira, Valdiron de Oliveira, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, Kasey Hayes, Aaron Roy,Nevada Newman and 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi.
The Top 4 scores from the long round on Friday night will advance to a second round that same night to attempt an additional bull.
Then on Saturday and Sunday there will be an additional two waves of six riders competing each night under the same format.
Following the three days of bull riding, the Top 5 in the event average will advance to THE AMERICAN on Feb. 28 as wild cards.
The five bull riding wild cards will be eligible to win a share of the $1 million bonus that is offered to any qualifier who potentially wins one of the seven rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding during the event held the day after the PBR’s Choctaw Casino Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki.
The five bull riding wild cards will compete alongside the Top 10 riders from last year’s PBR World Standings – J.B. Mauney, Kaique Pacheco, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Fabiano Vieira, Matt Triplett, Cooper Davis, Tanner Byrne, Stetson Lawrence and Nathan Schaper – that qualified for THE AMERICAN, but are ineligible for the $1 million bonus.
“Man, I am pretty excited,” Lowe said. “I didn’t know until two weeks ago I got into it. I am going to go for sure.”
Roy added, “It was a no-brainer to me, especially when you got the exemption from the PBR to go compete for a chance at the $1 million.”
Lima, the current No. 1 bull rider in the world standings, was thrilled when he learned he was invited to THE AMERICAN Semi-finals after a broken left elbow two years ended his pursuit of qualifying for THE AMERICAN.
Lima was in the practice pen in December 2013 when his bull slammed his riding arm against the bucking cutes.
“I hoped I qualify because two years ago I was supposed to go and I went to practice and I got hurt,” Lima said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “This year I want to go, and I have been working out a lot. I have been preparing myself.”
Lowe has been in a slump since nearly winning the Oklahoma City BFTS event and is 2-for-11.
A strong performance at THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals could give him the momentum to potentially win his first BFTS event in front of a supportive Kansas City crowd, which is only 200 miles from his Exeter, Missouri, hometown.
“You have to put that on the back of your mind and start fresh and go harder at it the next week,” Lowe said. “I just have to keep my mind at it. Don’t get caught being lazy. It is pretty easy to. Getting up here is big accomplishment to me, but don’t get to comfortable with it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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