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Vieira Siezes Opportunity to Retake No. 1 Spot in World Standings

By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 04, 2014@ 07:40:00 PM

Fabiano Vieira finished fourth in Colorado and regained the world lead. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ― The difference between winning a world title and contending for a world title is the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves and so far this season, Fabiano Vieira has done just that.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, he finished fourth in the Built Ford Tough Series event after leading all weekend, however, he dislocated his right shoulder and came down less than a second shy of riding his final bull, which would have given him his third event win of the season.

Instead of celebrating his assent back to the No. 1 position in the world standings, he was assisted to the sports medicine room where the medical staff – led by Rich Blyn – reduced his shoulder and later listed the 32-year-old as questionable for next week’s Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas.

Vieira has experienced ongoing issues with his right shoulder throughout the year.

Vieira, who reclaimed the top spot in the world standings for the first time since a two-week stand to open the season, is expected to compete next week in large part because it’s the last BFTS event leading into a sustained summer break, in which many of the top-ranked riders compete at Touring Pro Division events, as well as internationally.

Following the nationally-televised event in Las Vegas, the riders will have 13 weeks off until the BFTS resumes in Tulsa, Okla., on Aug. 15. Like many of his fellow Brazilian riders, Vieira was planning to compete all summer at PBR events in his home country.

This was the first time his shoulder came out, and it was easily reduced, however, the sports medicine staff will likely advise him to take the summer off, especially since he declined surgery earlier this season.

“No surgery,” Vieira coincidentally said in an interview Saturday night, when asked about his shoulder. “I want to make points.”

Vieira said he had been concentrating on riding one bull at time.

This weekend in Colorado Springs, he went 4-for-5, including the 15/15 Bucking Battle, progressively closing the standings gap with Guilherme Marchi on Friday and Saturday nights, before finally passing the 2008 World Champion on Sunday afternoon.

“I think he’s riding as good as anybody we have right now,” said nine-time World Champion and current PBR broadcaster Ty Murray. “I’ve seen that from him in the past. Ever since he came around, I’ve been talking pretty high about him.

“I think it’s always a learning curve for somebody to figure out how to make a living riding bulls.”

By that, Murray is referring to learning and knowing how to avoid injuries.

For a second season in a row, Vieira once again has to be consciously aware of an injury that could impact the outcome of his season. According to Murray, the difference between a World Champion and contenders is the ability to remain relatively healthy in what is the most dangerous sport in the world.

Last year, Vieira missed three weeks with a fractured right ankle, and then missed eight of the last 10 events after aggravating a left groin strain.

In 2012, he missed the first six events of the season while finalizing his immigration paperwork.

In fact, earlier this weekend, Vieira talked about the sense of urgency he feels in 2014.

At 32, he described himself as being in a position to, perhaps, win the coveted gold buckle. He also alluded to having two or three years left in his career and the fact that he cannot guarantee he’ll feel as healthy in a year or two as he did when he arrived in Colorado Springs.

He can definitely see the opportunity in front of him.

“I don’t know how fit and healthy I’ll be the next few years,” Vieira said. “Now is the time.”

However, he made certain to explain he’s not concerned with where he’s ranked in August or September, much less May or the summer months.

It’s about October.

Murray said for a rider to recognize that situation is a “big deal.”

“Every moment counts,” he said. “You have to make the most of every moment, because you don’t know which one of those moments are going to be the make or break in the end.”

One such moment came Saturday night in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, when Vieira came down off of Shepherd Hills Tested in 0.92 seconds.

Immediately, everyone inside the Broadmoor World Arena knew something had gone wrong.

Vieira challenged and asked for a review, claiming his spur had gotten hooked on the signage inside the bucking chute. He won the challenge and received a re-ride opportunity on King Buck.

Rather than fall 300.81 points behind Marchi, he rode King Buck for 89.25 points to finish second in the round behind Marchi, who had ridden Wicked for 89.5 points, putting Vieira within 31.56 points of the world lead after having been as close as 11.31 points following Round 2.

It was a huge momentum swing – despite Marchi’s own big moment – for Vieira, who carried the distinct advantage of having been 2-for-2 in the opening two rounds, while Marchi had bucked off both of his first two bulls.

Murray said converting on the re-ride, which was controversial in its own right, could prove to be a pivotal moment, in October, if the race remains as close as it’s been through early part of the season.

“I feel very, very strongly about that,” said Murray.

Murray later said, “You don’t see a lot of holes in his game. I don’t see it requiring certain bulls, and that’s the key. To me, the thing that’s going against Guilherme are bulls that go to the left, and that’s a big time chink in his armor. That weakness is going to show up. It’s going to hinder him somewhere.”

Because of a pair of injuries – Eduardo Aparecido (right groin) and Emilio Resende (left groin) – the final round went 17 deep in the average, but Marchi, who finished 18th in the average, missed the Built Ford Tough Championship Round by one spot.

After the third round, Vieira trailed Marchi by 89.56 points in the world standings, but took a 190.44 lead after earning 280 points for finishing fourth in the event.

Joao Ricardo Vieira – no relation to Fabiano – finished third and is 361.69 points behind Vieira. Two-time World Champion Silvano Alves and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee round out the Top 5 in the world standings, while back-to-back BFTS event-winner Renato Nunes moved to 19th in the world.

The last time Nunes won two consecutive events was in 2010, the same year he won the world title.

Though it’s five months away and his concerns are elsewhere, Fabiano Vieira admitted that the notion of winning a world title “is my life.”

“Since I started riding, that has been my goal,” Vieira concluded. “I wanted to be remembered for being No. 1 in the world—the best.”

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC

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