By: Justin Felisko
March 01, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi tried not to rub the stitches on the bottom of his chin as he reminisced upon his last two events.
Prior to his 10th-place finish this past weekend in St. Louis, Marchi had a rough go of it inside the arena.
Marchi was first backboarded out of the arena in Anaheim, California, after he was knocked unconscious when Spotted Demon kicked him in the back of the head at the Honda Center.
Then, following a two-week hiatus, Marchi passed the PBR concussion protocol and returned to compete at the Frontier Communications Iron Cowboy and RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN. On just his second bull back from the concussion, Marchi had his chin split open during his 83-point ride on Stanley FatMax at THE AMERICAN.
The question that remains? Has the 14-year veteran decided if he will ever trade in his cowboy hat for a helmet?
“I don’t get on any bulls with a helmet yet,” Marchi said. “My chin still has stitches. I am going to wait a little bit more and see maybe if I will wear one later. I think I am not going to be comfortable with the helmet, but I need to get on a couple of bulls. I need to see. If I use the helmet and feel good, I will wear one. If not, I am going to stay with my cowboy hat.”
Marchi said that while he enjoys the fact that he has a choice between a helmet or a cowboy hat, he is in full support of the PBR’s rule that any contestant born on or after Oct. 15, 1994 has to wear a helmet.
“It is not a negative,” Marchi said. “I learn to ride with the hat since the first bull I got on. I never used a helmet. I think I used a helmet one time in my life and I didn’t feel good. I wish I can learn how to use a helmet. It can save my life.
“Pretty soon it is going to be mandatory for everybody. It is already mandatory for the young kids. It is a good thing for all of the young kids. The sport is so tough. We have seen a lot of accidents with bulls that stepped on some guys’ helmets and smashed the helmet. If they didn’t have the helmet, it could have been worse.”
The 34-year-old is grandfathered into the old rule that allows a rider to choose between one or the other, but Marchi did say he wished growing up in Brazil that he had learned to ride with a helmet.
However, after 589 qualified rides on the Built Ford Tough Series, and another couple hundred more at other events, it is hard for him to confidently make the switch.
Marchi said that when he put a helmet on before that he felt claustrophobic and didn’t have his normal vision.
“I wish I could have had a helmet before when I started,” he said. “When I first put the helmet on, I couldn’t see nothing. I panicked. I had double vision. I sat with the helmet for 20 minutes and I started to feel better and more comfortable.”
Marchi is currently 25th in the world standings heading into this weekend’s Jacksonville Invitational.
Fans can watch Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE Saturday night beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Marchi is 8-for-22 in seven events and is looking to qualify for the PBR World Finals for the 14th consecutive season.
The Brazilian bull rider picked up career rides 588 and 589 last weekend when he covered Red Rocket for 85.75 points and Dirt Road for 81 points.
He is on pace to become the first rider to reach 600 BFTS rides.
“I am still kind of feeling slow,” Marchi said. “I do not have enough confidence yet. I felt that at the Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN. Today, he hit me on the elbow a little bit and the hand. I was scared to hit my head again, but God is with me and make me strong and believe in myself. I got it done. I am so blessed for everything.”
He has drawn Red Fury (0-2, BFTS) for Round 1.
“When you have a helmet you may have more confidence, but it depends,” he said. “Every rider is different. J.B. (Mauney) always used a helmet and then sometime he decided to take off the helmet and ride with a cowboy hat.
“Let’s see what I do. I don’t know.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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