PUEBLO, Colo. – Over the course of the next five Built Ford Tough Series events, the Top 15 riders in the world standings will have a major opportunity to set themselves up in good position in the world standings heading into the summer break.
Starting with this coming weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle in Seattle, there will be five consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battles – all which that will be televised on CBS network television – leading up to the marquee event of the 2015 first half: Last Cowboy Standing.
Last Cowboy Standing is the feature event of the inaugural Cowboy Spring Break on May 22-24 and it is the next PBR Major on the 2015 schedule that will award an extremely important 600 bonus points to the event winner.
Just as Joao Ricardo Vieira used the first PBR Major (Iron Cowboy) to turnaround his season in Arlington, Texas, and become a Top-5 bull rider in the world by standings, the same opportunity awaits one successful rider come the final round of Last Cowboy Standing on May 23.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said he likes the PBR Majors format, especially when it comes to the Last Cowboy Standing events vs. the old bracket-style format for Iron Cowboy.
“I think that is a good deal. It is a tougher event to win than most events,” he said. “I like it when they have to earn it. With our old format, where they didn’t have to make the whistle and they could beat somebody on time, that would have been disappointing for someone to make that big of a jump in the standings and not make the whistle.”
There will be additional opportunities for the Top 15 riders in the world standings to begin to position themselves toward the ultimate goal of winning the 2015 World Championship in the upcoming 15/15 Bucking Battles.
The Top-5 finishers in each 15/15 are awarded more points (150, 90, 75, 60, 45) toward the world standings compared to a standard BFTS round (100, 60, 50, 40, 30).
“It is a very important stretch, but every week is a very important part of the stretch,” Lambert said. “Every week the 100 points they get for winning a (regular BFTS) round is just as important this time of year as it is in October. The 100 points is still 100 points.”
There is a potential 2,100 bonus points available to the Top 15 riders in the world standings during this stretch of 15/15 Bucking Battles, and Lambert believes there will be a shift in the standings before the first half of the BFTS is all said and done.
“You are going to see the standings change,” Lambert said. “You are going to see the guys that have been up there – Matt Triplett, Silvano (Alves), Joao (Ricardo Vieira), J.W. Harris – are going to stay up close to the front of it, but you are going to see one or two guys kind of make a run for it now.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said that it is important for the riders to not get caught up in the additional money ($21,000) and bonus points available.
Instead, they must remain focused on the task at hand when they get ready to nod their head inside the bucking chute.
“From our standpoint it looks different, but from the riders’ standpoint, they have to keep doing what they are doing and keep their focus on what they can affect,” Murray said. “I don’t think as a bull rider that you look at it that way. I know I didn’t. The game plan doesn’t change for me. It is still about making great rides. It is still about winning. To me it isn’t about the first event, the last event, the middle event, double the points, triple the points. For me, it was important to treat it all the same.”
Eduardo Aparecido (New York) and Chase Outlaw (St. Louis) are the two 15/15 Bucking Battle winners this year.
Aparecido will be in Friday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle, along with three-time World Champion Alves and 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi. Alves and Marchi are tied with 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes for the most 15/15 wins (2) in PBR history.
“From the rider mentality, it is always the same,” Murray said. “You have to keep your full focus in a short place where you just keep going for it.”
Marchi will meet Beaver Creek Beau (21-1, BFTS) for the third time in his career this weekend and will try to duplicate Ben Jones’ success on Chad Berger’s bovine athlete from last week.
Alves will try to solve Walk Off (30-3, BFTS) – one of the three-time World Champion’s toughest opponents. Walk Off eliminated Alves from Iron Cowboy in 2.34 seconds, and Alves has lasted an average of 4.14 seconds on Jeff Robinson’s bull.
There are four additional rematches this weekend: Fabiano Vieira vs. Hang Time (11-0, BFTS); Kaique Pacheco vs. Percolator (19-10, BFTS); Stetson Lawrence vs. Roy (10-2, BFTS) and Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Modified Clyde (19-7, BFTS).
Oliveira is the only rider to have ridden his bull during the previous matchup. He rode Modified Clyde for 87.5 points earlier this season at the Sacramento Invitational.
While the opportunity is a big one for all 15 riders, there is an added opportunity for riders on the tail end of the Top 15 of the standings. Due to injuries to Triplett, Reese Cates, J.B. Mauney and Chase Outlaw, No. 16-20 riders Mike Lee, Shane Proctor, Aparecido, Ryan Dirteater and Stormy Wing are competing in this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle for not just more points, but for a piece of the $21,000 up for grabs.
Murray said that beyond staying healthy for the final two months of the season, the other key for riders is to just stick with what is working for them and, if they are in a slump, to get rid of any bad habits that are hindering their performance.
“You can’t teach a school on it because everyone’s brain works differently,” Murray concluded. “What motivates me may not be what motivates the next guy. You see some guys that want to stay loose. You see some guys that want to get pumped up. You see some guys that want to know the stats and exactly what they want to do.
“For me, it was about keeping it simple and remembering the only thing that matters was the bull ahead of me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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