By: Justin Felisko
November 29, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Kaique Pacheco took off the white medical tape wrapped around his riding wrist and tossed it toward the ground inside the locker room at T-Mobile Arena.
The 21-year-old let out a sigh and began to pack up his gear following a second consecutive runner-up finish in the PBR World Championship.
Of course, Pacheco was frustrated that he let a golden opportunity slip by earlier this month at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals, but he also didn’t want to make excuses or dwell on what could have been.
“It wasn’t my time,” Pacheco said with the help of Silvano Alves translating. “I am still very happy. I had a great year this year. I rode good bulls at the Finals. I am very happy because I rode good all year. I still have time in my career.”
Pacheco had entered the last day of the World Finals No. 1 in the world standings with a slim 226.58-point lead on eventual World Champion Cooper Davis.
Davis won Round 5 of the World Finals with a 91-point ride on Catfish John to overtake the world lead, while Pacheco tried to keep pace with an 81-point ride on his re-ride bull, Crossed Fingers.
In the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, it appeared as if Pacheco had a World Championship-ride on the edge of his fingers before being slid off the back of Slinger Jr. at the 6.46-second mark to the shock of many inside T-Mobile Arena.
The buckoff clinched the world title for Davis, and Pacheco missed out on the PBR’s prestigious gold buckle despite being ranked atop the world standings for nine of the final 11 weeks of the season.
Slinger Jr. outsmarted Pacheco, the second-year bull rider admitted.
“The last bull I got on was hard,” Pacheco said. “All the time I watched video of him. For all of the bull rides, if a right-hand rider, he go left. If left hand, he go right. Today he go different. He went right and into my hand. I stayed focus all the time. I put the rope in the middle so it wouldn’t move. He went right, but I don’t know.”
Pacheco then shrugs his shoulders in defeat.
He knows he still made significant gains in 2016.
Pacheco led the PBR with 52 qualified rides and 98 attempts. He became just the fourth rider to surpass the 50-ride mark in the last six years and his 53.06 riding percentage was the second-best in the organization and a career-high.
He wound up 488.42 points behind Davis in the final PBR world standings after winning three events, including Last Cowboy Standing, a 15/15 Bucking Battle in Eugene, Oregon, and placing in the Top 5 at seven BFTS events.
“I felt confident and better than last year,” Pacheco said.
2016 also featured the debut of the Netflix docuseries “Fearless.”
Pacheco never thought being a bull rider would make him famous.
A world title would only add to his fame.
“I want to inspire new riders,” he said. “I definitely want to make a mark with my career, but I never thought about being famous. Of course, it came with the career, but I just want to make my mark.”
So how close was Pacheco toward winning the 2016 world title?
A ride on Slinger Jr. may have been enough, or potentially one or two more rides throughout the season could have been the difference. Pacheco finished in second or third-place at five events in the final three months of the season.
Regardless, Pacheco says he is ready to move on and look ahead to 2017.
Pacheco begins his 2017 season this coming weekend at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Hidalgo, Texas. The event begins at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday and 2 p.m. CT on Sunday at State Farm Arena.
Current world leader Matt Triplett, three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, Fabiano Vieira, 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa, 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro and Jorge Valdiviezo are tentatively scheduled to compete.
“God has a decision for my life,” Pacheco said. “My life is good and I will be ready for next year.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.