The Race to Finals Continues to Heat Up

By: Justin Felisko
September 24, 2016

Jorge Valdiviezo moved up to No. 31 in the World Standings Saturday night. Photos: Andy Watson /

Jorge Valdiviezo moved up to No. 31 in the World Standings Saturday night. Photos: Andy Watson /

PUEBLO, Colo. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Rumble in the Rockies, presented by Cooper Tires, on Saturday night at Broadmoor World Arena.

Valdiviezo and Blanco make moves in race to World Finals (9-24-16)

The 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals may be five events away, but time is of the essence for riders on the bubble of the world standings.

Jorge Valdiviezo and Luis Blanco understand that point and made the most of their opportunities in Round 1.

Valdiviezo rode Bad Grandma for 85.75 points to finish the round in fourth place. More importantly, the 27-year-old earned 40 points toward the world standings to move from 37th to 31st in the world standings.

“I definitely needed that one,” Valdiviezo said. “This ride helps me a lot. He went into my hand and I never quit. I just hang on and I tightened my knees. The rest worked.”

Valdiviezo has been riding with a new bull rope since last weekend in Charlotte. The Baja California, Mexico, bull rider has been riding with a new American-style bull rope (MX Bull Ropes) that was made in Mexico.

“I started with a new bull rope because my last one is a little old and I had some trouble with it going opposite (direction),” Valdiviezo said. “Especially at this level, the bulls are so fast. I was having trouble with my free hand. MX Bull Ropes in Mexico has started sponsoring me and they are very good.”

On a night where there were only nine qualified rides, Luis Blanco was the only other bubble rider to come through and hit the 8-second mark. Blanco covered 941 Brown Sugar for 84 points and tied for sixth-place in the round.

Blanco earned 10 world points and is tied for 34th in the world standings. He leads No. 36 Cody Heffernan, who received his PBR Australia champion belt buckle earlier in the day, by 15.84 points.

“Every week when the Built Ford Tough finish, the World Finals begin the next week,” Blanco said. “I am in and out, in and out. It is a lot of pressure for us. We are the last guys. Everybody is trying really hard to make it.”

Blanco is the first rider to cover Brown Sugar in seven outs at all levels of competition.

“When I see my draw, I was worried because when I find the Probullstats standings, nobody stay on that bull,” Blanco said. “I find that video of Jess Lockwood (1.99 seconds) in Thackerville and I said, ‘Wow that bull is rank.’ I talk to him this morning, and he said that bull is ‘strong when he turn right.’ He said, ‘Put your chest up and ride jump for jump.’ That is what I do. I was really focused. In my mind, I am 1 second in front of the bull. I didn’t try to see which way he would go, I just went with him.”

Blanco has drawn Scary Harry for Round 2 and Valdiviezo has a matchup against CRG’s Love Bites (1-0, BFTS).

“I just try to ride each bull that is coming my way and don’t think about how I have to do,” Blanco concluded. “I am leaving it alone and just doing it.”

Dirteater wins round and gains 100 world points; Pacheco still in contention

Ryan Dirteater has as many event wins as world leader Kaique Pacheco, and the Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider took a big step toward potentially winning his fourth Saturday night.

Dirteater rode Herbie Husker for 87.75 points to claim the round victory and 100 world points.

“The stock contractor said he would be around to the right, but he didn’t do that,” Dirteater said with a chuckle. “I just rode jump for jump. He made a couple of rounds to the left and it worked out.”

The round win is Dirteater’s fourth of the season.

The No. 7 bull rider in the world standings also gained ground on Pacheco, who placed eighth in the round with an 83.75-point ride aboard Cheap Trick 2. Dirteater is 1,792.83 points behind Pacheco in the world standings.

“Every bull ride is very important with four more events after this one,” Dirteater said. “Coming down to the Finals, it is a good time to be on fire. I just have to keep riding my bulls and do my job.”

Both riders will look to win their fourth event Sunday afternoon at Broadmoor World Arena.

Dirteater will take on CRG’s Native Gangster (0-0, BFTS), while Pacheco has a Round 2 meeting with Bad Moon Rising (4-3, BFTS). Pacheco has been bucked off twice by Bad Moon Rising.

“Really, just get a good night’s rest, workout in the morning and be ready to go tomorrow,” Dirteater concluded.

Earlier in the day, Dirteater joined Chase Outlaw and cheered on a group of runners at the Rider Relief Fund Support the Sport 5K at Quail Park. The trail run helped raised money for the Rider Relief Fund.

“It is very important to support the Rider Relief Fund because when we get hurt they are there to help take care of our doctor bills and stuff we have at home,” he said. “It is always great to be there and support. I didn’t run because I have bad knees, but I was there.”

Jess Lockwood took second in the round after an 87.25-point ride on Rebel Yell. The 18-year-old is ninth in the world standings and earned 60 world points.

Cody Nance placed third in Round 1, earning 50 points toward the world standings with an 86-point trip aboard Slash.

Joao Ricardo Vieira rounded out the Top 5 with 84.25 points on Dirty Little Secret. Vieira picked up 30 points toward the world standings for the effort.

Mason Lowe starts a new habit

Mason Lowe may be starting a new habit next week when he returns home to Exeter, Missouri.

Lowe missed last weekend’s event in Charlotte because of a left groin injury and returned to competition by riding Powder Keg for 84 points.

“It feels good when you ride one right,” Lowe said. “He kind of had me leaning back, but once he turned back I got over him and took some pressure off everything.”

Lowe’s new habit is starting a workout regimen.

The 23-year-old went to the gym at the hotel on Saturday morning for the first time since he was 16 years old and was extremely pleased with how he rode and felt during the Rumble in the Rockies.

“I don’t want to get buff, I just want to get in shape,” Lowe said. “This is a new thing. I went when I was 16 for a week, but other than that I never been in a gym. I ran for a few miles and I lifted a little bit.

“I feel a lot better than I have been. I had been feeling kind of weak. I realized that around the house and was just too lazy to do it.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Tyler Harr broke a right rib when he was stepped on by Flint after the bull bucked him off in 2.81 seconds. He is doubtful for Round 2.

Nevada Newman sustained a burner (brachial plexus neurapraxia) of his left (riding) arm when he landed on his shoulder and the side of his head as he was thrown High Chaparral (2.71 seconds). He is questionable for Round 2.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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