In 2011, no bull rider in the world has been more consistent than Valdiron de Oliveira.
The 31-year-old has covered 26 of 34 bulls for a jaw-dropping riding average of 76.47 percent. Yet the week prior to the Glendale Invitational found the planet’s top-ranked rider “practicing and preparing for bulls that go to the left.”
It paid off.
He and Shane Proctor went 4-for-4 last weekend, and Oliveira won his second Built Ford Tough Series event of the year.
“It’s good for me because I ride more easily and I don’t look behind,” said Oliveira of his event win.
“I can win some more events. I’ll try hard to win some more. Not for the money, but because I like to ride bulls. I like competition. I like this game because sometimes the guys are pretty close. I like this game.”
Oliveira’s 2011 season average is more than 14 points higher than his already impressive career average of 62.24 percent.
After 10 events, he’s had six Top 5 finishes, and his two event wins tie a season high. He’s also covered at least one bull in each of the 10 BFTS events.
“I’m trying very hard this year and I’m focused on the world title this year,” he said.
NEWS AND NOTES
Doing more with less: Chris Shivers has won 20 events and qualified for the PBR World Finals 13 times in his record-setting career. Last weekend, he was a few seconds short of winning his first event since 2009.
After finishing third in the average, he’s now ranked 17th in the world standings, despite having ridden in only five of 10 events this year. He and Robson Palermo, who is ninth in the standings, are the only Top 20 riders who have not ridden in at least nine of the 10 events so far.
A reflective 32-year-old Shivers noted that “everybody that I grew up with riding bulls is pretty much gone. I’m the only one left here in my age group. … It’s not as fun as it once was for me to show up here and try to compete at the level that I did before when nothing really mattered.”
Going sleeveless: Dustin Elliott bruised his right shoulder when he was stepped on by his third-round bull on Sunday. Top Diamond nearly tore the sleeve from Elliott’s shirt, but the Oregon-native-turned-Nebraska-resident wore the same torn shirt in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Elliott, who finished ninth in the average, said he didn’t have a second shirt in his gear bag and didn’t want his sponsors to lose out on the exposure. Afterward he donated the shirt to the Rider Relief Fund.
Riding wounded: Luke Snyder sustained a concussion when he was thrown to the ground by his second-round bull Saturday night, but checked out on Sunday and got on two more bulls. … Paulo Lima sustained bruising and an abrasion on his right ankle when he was stepped on by his third-round bull. He is currently listed as probable for Fresno, Calif. … Stormy Wing sustained sprained sternoclavicular and acromioclavicular joints and a bruised deltoid in his right shoulder (free arm) when he was hit by his bull's horn in the third round. He is currently listed as questionable for Fresno.
Exemptions exhausted: Paulo Crimber used the last of his five injury exemptions this weekend. He’s currently ranked 54th in the world standings and will have to work his way back onto the BFTS through the Touring Pro Division. After taking next weekend off, he’ll enter a two-day event in Highland Heights, Ky. “I’ve been in this spot before because of injuries and stuff, and it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I qualified for the Finals three times like that, and I still think I can do it again, if that’s the case. … To be honest with you, just to be riding again is so much fun.”
Spring training: Friday afternoon, Skeeter Kingsolver addressed the San Diego Padres and then threw out the first pitch. Saturday afternoon, FLINT RASMUSSEN and the youngest of his two daughters, Paige, visited with the Seattle Mariners. Sunday morning, Cord McCoy suited up and took batting practice with the Cleveland Indians prior to their game against the Padres.
— by Keith Ryan Cartwright
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