By: Justin Felisko
July 12, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – For four consecutive years, Fabiano Vieira turned down an opportunity to compete at the Calgary Stampede, instead choosing to take the summer off and stay in his native Brazil.
Finally, last year, Vieira decided to compete at “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” after Joao Ricardo Vieira and Marco Eguchi returned from the 2014 Calgary Stampede raving about the event.
These days, Fabiano Vieira, who finished 2-for-5 at the 2015 Stampede, has no plans on turning down his invitation.
The No. 3 ranked rider in the world standings returns to the Calgary Stampede Tuesday set to compete in a loaded Pool B division.
“I had a chance to come in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and 2014,” Vieira said in May. “I never came. 2015, I came last year and it was really a nice event. There is a lot of money. It is a big event with good bulls. I have come only one time, but I am going to come again this year.”
The winner of each of the nine rodeo disciplines pockets $100,000.
Pool B features J.B. Mauney – the reigning PBR World Champion and two-time Stampede champion – and two-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey, who is the defending Stampede champion.
“I feel a lot better when I go up there,” Mauney told MonsterEnergy.com. “The main thing for me is being on break for pretty much the whole month of June.”
Mauney was bucked off by Sheep Creek last year in the championship round, costing him a chance at winning the event. Sheep Creek was marked 46.5 points and he eventually earned a bid to the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals. Ever since then, he has been a full-time Built Ford Tough Series bovine athlete.
Vieira said he quickly realized that the bull power in Canada is no walk in the park. Yes, it may not be as tough as a BFTS event, but there is always a couple of bulls that end up standing out and eventually earning a chance to show what they got south of the U.S. – Canada border.
“They have good bulls that American stock contractors then buy,” Vieira said. “They are now four or five bulls that have been at Calgary.”
Pool B is much deeper than just Mauney, Kimzey and Vieira. Pool B also contains three riders ranked inside the Top-15 of the world standings – No. 8 Cooper Davis, No. 13 Tanner Byrne and No. 14 Robson Palermo.
“I’ve been counting down these days to get here and I’m just ready to get it going,” Davis said.
The other four riders filling out the 10-man division are Stetson Lawrence, ranked 21st in the PBR world standings, Josh Birks, Cody Teel and Clayton Foltyn.
Vieira knows the best path to getting a chance at winning the $100,000 is by placing in the Top 4 of Pool B, a task that is easier said than done.
“Calgary’s qualifications, you need to ride good and earn money to get back to the short go,” he said.
Riders battle it out for four days in highly-contested pool play with the goal of advancing to Showdown Sunday as one of the pool’s top four money earners. If they don’t make it, then they can jockey with the remaining riders on Wild Card Saturday for the final two spots.
The 33-year-old arrives in Calgary on a good note after winning both nights of the Rock Springs, Texas, Touring Pro Division events on July 1-2. He went 4-for-4 in Texas after returning to the United States at the end of June.
Vieira spent a month in Brazil visiting family and friends following Last Cowboy Standing.
“It had been six months since I had seen my mom and my family,” Vieira said. “I was able to go back to Brazil and see my mom and family. I am more relaxed now.”
Vieira added before the break that he was looking forward for some time off after banging his chronic right shoulder against the chutes in Billings, Montana, while being bucked off by Rocky.
He went on to finish the first half 1-for-8 following the collision.
“Yeah. My shoulder got hurt in Billings (on the) first bull,” Vieira admitted. “I was sore. The bull put me in the side of the chutes. My bad shoulder. It has been sore. I was riding good and I was second in the world. Then I bucked off six in a row. My hand was getting tired, sore. Too many events. Too many bulls. Now I was able to relax and feel good.”
The time off has rejuvenated him for the second half, and for the Calgary Stampede.
He trails world leader Kaique Pacheco by 220.84 points in the world standings and knows he is right in the mix at potentially winning his first world title come November.
“I am just more focused now with the summer starting,” Vieira said. “I will keep trying. I ask for God to help me and I need to ride good. I feel very, very stronger than I ever been.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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