PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2015 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Friday night inside Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
Today, we look at 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney, who finished the 2014 season fourth in the world standings.
World Championships: 1 (2013)
2014 BFTS Stats:
Riding Percentage: 39.68 percent
Wins: 2 (New York, Phoenix, Ariz.)
Top 10: 5
Top 5: 5
90-point Rides: 4
High Score: 94 points on Perculator (World Finals)
2014 Season Recap: J.B. Mauney’s world title defense started in stellar fashion when he tied Fabiano Vieira to win the 2014 Built Ford Tough Series opener in New York by going 4-for-4. A week later in Chicago, Mauney broke Terry Don West’s consecutive ride streak by riding his 16thconsecutive bull on the BFTS dating back to his 2013 world title run when he covered KISS Destroyer for 85.75 points.
Mauney then won THE AMERICAN less than two months later before winning his second BFTS event of the season the next week in Phoenix, Ariz. However, his momentum began to shift and it would be the second-to-last time Mauney would finish inside the Top 10 during a regular-season event.
The next Top-10 finish came in August at the second BFTS event of the second half in Thackerville, Oklahoma, when he placed third, but at a price.
Known for his ability to battle through injuries, Mauney – to his misfortune – had to contend with a riding hand injury in the first half of 2014 before Asteroid stomped on his back in Thackerville. Matters only got worse for Mauney the following week in Nashville, Tennessee, when he further injured his right hip attempting to ride Spotted Juice.
Mauney would go on to miss the PFIWestern.com Invitational in Springfield, Missouri, and, all totaled, he missed a total of five BFTS events and competed in a career-low 22 BFTS events.
Starting with Asteroid, Mauney went on to buck off a career-high 12 straight bulls before he was able to rekindle his riding ability and confidence at the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
A dominant 5-for-6 performance at the Finals helped him jump from 17th in the world standings to still finish fourth in the world in a year that he admitted was below his own standards.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride said Mauney’s fourth-place finish was still an OK season for a rider coming off a physically and emotionally draining 2013 world title run.
“Not to say he didn’t have a pretty damn good year (in 2014),” McBride said. “It was nothing great, but nothing horrible either coming off a world title.”
2014 Highlight Moment: Mauney breaks out of career-worst slump at World Finals
There is no doubt that Mauney’s World Finals performance was his defining moment last season. He could have easily packed it in and turned his focus toward 2015, but he instead rose to the challenge and proved once again that when he is relatively healthy and dialed in, there are few bull riders capable of keeping up with the Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy.
Even though he came up one ride short of winning a PBR-record fourth World Finals event title, Mauney was able to end his season on a high note after a second half that left him frustrated and beat up.
Mauney, who used a new pair of spurs in Las Vegas designed by Jerome Davis, admitted at the end of the season that he was fighting his own head and had partially been caught up with the internal pressure he put on himself to succeed as the defending World Champion. Throughout 2014 he wanted to prove that he had deserved his 2013 world title.
“I put it on myself to do better, because here the goal I set out my entire life, I achieved it,” Mauney explained. “Well, once I achieved it, I was like, ‘Well, now I have to prove that I am a World Champion.’”
McBride said that even though Mauney went through a series of ups and downs in the regular season, his performance at the Finals was nearly flawless.
“J.B. Mauney let one get away up there and other than that he looked flawless. He looked like the run he went on before he won the whole thing. He just looked dominant.”
Three of his five rides went for 90 points or more – he began the event with one all year – and he kicked his slump to the curb in the first round by staying aboard Hou’s Back for 88 points.
Mauney said that he entered the event with nothing to lose and McBride added that it was picture clear that Mauney was relaxed knowing that he had nothing to lose in Las Vegas.
“It was just that. He had nothing to lose what so ever,” McBride said. “The hype around him kind of died away and he wasn’t having to do a lot of stuff. There wasn’t a lot of talk about J.B. Mauney. He was able to let his hair down, relax, and do what everybody tried to do and that is try to have fun riding bulls, but he really was.”
2015 Outlook: Mauney enters his 10th year on the Built Ford Tough Series as a bona fide world title contender once again. He has finished within the Top 10 of the world standings in nine consecutive seasons, including six finishes inside the Top 5.
Mauney leads all active riders with 57 90-point rides and 25 event victories.
“There is definitely a lot less pressure on him this year,” McBride said. “He got to step away from it. I think he will be hungry again now to win another. I am looking for a lot of big things from J.B. the way his Finals went.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said that heading into 2015, the last two World Champions – Mauney and Silvano Alves – are the top two riders in the PBR.
Murray later added, “I think it is going to be interesting to see what J.B. does.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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