With five days remaining until the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in Biloxi, Mississippi, PBR.com will take a look at the Top 5 riders in the world standings before the stretch run to the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals officially begins.
Today, we look at Nathan Schaper, who is currently fifth in the world standings.
FIRST HALF RECAP: Schaper is having a breakthrough year during his fourth season on the BFTS. The 24-year-old has already set career highs with 26 qualified rides and a 45 percent riding average through the first 18 events of the season. Not only did Schaper earn the victory in Billings, Montana, Schaper has used consistency this season to also set career-highs in Top-5 finishes (6) and Top-10 finishes (8). He has won four BFTS rounds this season, none better than his 89-point ride on SweetPro’s Long John in Kansas City, Missouri.
BEST FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE: Schaper earned a season-high 460 points at his victory in Billings with a 4-for-4 performance. It was a standard example of Schaper taking things one bull at a time to earn his second career victory and jump to seventh in the world standings. Schaper clinched the victory by riding King Buck for 87.5 points in the championship round. He placed second in the round, his only round placement of the weekend. He rode Toby (83.25 points), Westley’s Pet (84.5 points) and Slash (85.25 points) earlier in the event for his perfect weekend. The Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider actually finished the entire weekend in Billings 5-for-5 after riding Modified Clyde for 87.5 points to finish the 15/15 Bucking Battle in fourth place.
FIRST HALF TOP RIDE: 89 points on SweetPro’s Long John in Kansas City, Missouri.
A DIFFERENT SUMMER: Schaper found himself in an unusual situation this summer. The World Champion contender had spent the last three summers either rehabbing from an injury or hitting the summer grind hard to try and stay within the Top 35 of the world standings. This year, Schaper’s strong first half let him take a month off this summer and he has been able to focus on resting his body and mind for his first run at a world title.
“In years past, I was kind of on the verge of needing to go to Touring Pros to stay on tour,” Schaper said. “This time, I wanted to let my body rest. I thought about it a little bit. I wanted to make the last eight cup events in the fall count. I wanted more time off to come back stronger here and put more emphasis on doing good at that and finishing the year strong. Time at home has been relaxing and that has done a lot more for me then going every weekend.”
Schaper went 4-for-4 to win the Williston, North Dakota, Touring Pro Division event in June and recently went 1-for-3 at the Big Sky BlueDEF Velocity Tour event. Overall this summer, Schaper has gone 7-for-16 in limited action and earned 82.5 points to move ahead of Valdiron de Oliveira for the No. 5 ranking.
NECESSARY CONSISTENCY: Schaper has only posted two rides that were marked over 88 points this season, which puts a premium on Schaper needing to put together multiple rides per event to try and cut into Joao Ricardo Vieira’s world lead.
Yet, unlike the riders ahead of him in the world standings, Schaper has stayed relatively healthy this season.
He is not only healthy, but he is motivated.
“You have to keep setting new goals and trying to accomplish them,” Schaper said. “You have to have bigger expectations. I am five right now, but I can’t sit back and think, ‘Wow, that is really awesome.’ I have to move on to bigger expectations. I have to think five is not a really good spot for me. I need to be No. 1.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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