By: Justin Felisko
November 13, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – It didn’t take long for Team USA head coach Justin McBride to realize last week that Cole Melancon was exactly the guy he wanted on his squad when he called the 23-year-old three days before the start of the inaugural Global Cup.
Melancon was ready to drive straight to the airport and get on a flight ASAP if that is what it took to guarantee himself a spot on Team USA.
That kind of attitude is one McBride knew would be necessary if Team USA was going to go into Edmonton and claim the Global Cup trophy on enemy soil.
It is why McBride wasn’t surprised one bit that Melancon channeled his own Justin McBride by hanging off the side of Bourbon Oak on Saturday night for the final second of his 82.5-point qualified ride.
The effort was ala McBride’s 2-second effort hanging off the side of Camo at the 2005 World Finals to win the World Championship.
“When I called that boy on Tuesday afternoon – his attitude – I was in right away with that boy,” McBride said. “I told him when he got done after that one, there is no replacement for guts. That is something you have or you don’t, and he’s got it.”
Melancon was 11 years old when McBride made his legendary ride aboard Camo.
While his wasn’t for as long or for a world title, Melancon’s ride was a key piece of Team USA’s push to the Global Cup championship.
“Yeah, that is the thing,” Melancon said. “You never let go. That is what I have been taught my whole life. You don’t let go until your head hits the ground. Sometimes it pays off and other times it doesn’t payoff and puts you into a bind.
“Tonight it paid off.”
His effort was rewarded as Team USA went on to win the Global Cup, earning Melancon and the other six riders on the team – Cooper Davis, Stormy Wing, Cody Nance, Cody Teel, Brennon Eldred and Derek Kolbaba – over $45,000 apiece.
In the grand scheme of things, Melancon’s ride proved to be a huge difference maker in Edmonton.
If Melancon had bucked off Bourbon Oak, Team USA would have only went into the Bonus Round a mere 14.25 points ahead of No. 2 Team Brazil and 16.25 points ahead of Team Canada.
Team USA instead went into the Bonus Round essentially two bulls ahead (96.75 and 98.75 points) of Brazil and Canada, which forced the two opposing countries into a must-ride situation and hope Team USA would buckoff their two bulls.
Not only was the ride a game-changer on the scoreboard, but also in mentality.
Team Captain Cooper Davis slammed the challenge button after the judges originally called Melancon for hitting the ground before the 8 seconds.
As the tense review ticked by, Team USA was on the edge of the bucking chutes eagerly waiting for the call. Once the decision went in their favor, a night after Cody Nance lost a review at the 7.97-second mark, Team USA erupted.
It was their fifth consecutive ride to start off the final night of competition inside Rogers Place.
“There’s been thousands of rides like that and a guy refuses to quit,” McBride said. “That is what Cole did. He knew this was something bigger than him. He knew there were six other guys back there depending on him to do his part, and he wasn’t going to let them down.”
In that moment, Team USA adopted a killer instinct and was ready to try and run away with the competition.
Nothing was going to stop them.
Davis was fired up about Melancon’s effort.
“Cole is not an alternate,” Davis said. “He is a great kid. He tried his guts out. We were sitting there talking about it. I know some people weren’t sure who he was. I am proud of him. There are not a whole lot of people that could have hung on to that bull like that.”
Melancon rode both of his bulls at the Global Cup after previously riding Hand Burner for 84.25 points. He finished fourth on Team USA and 13thoverall.
“This is just an honor to be here,” Melancon concluded. “To get two rode. It just feels great. I am glad I was able to be a part of it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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