NEW YORK ― Robson Palermo does more than simply cowboy up when it comes to competing with injuries.
He knows how to win.
Two months after winning the World Finals event, despite competing with a torn rotator cuff for the second straight season, he won the opening event of the 2013 Built Ford Tough Series season, which drew a combined PBR-record crowd of nearly 43,000 fans Friday, Saturday and Sunday to Madison Square Garden.
"Since I started riding bulls here in the U.S., all the time I've been hurt," said Palermo, who is now in his eighth season on the BFTS, "but I have learned to ride through all the pain every time I've been hurt. My confidence is there. My heart is there, and my body is pretty sore, but I don't care."
Palermo, who considered having his right shoulder surgically repaired last fall, won $35,950 in New York, after claiming more than $250,000 in Las Vegas in October.
"I have learned to ride through all the pain."
While outsiders and onlookers talked about the virtues of "shutting it down" and returning 100-percent healthy, Palermo has added nearly $300,000 to his bank account, and his $2,375,834 ranks 10th on the all-time list of PBR money-earners.
The 29-year-old from Rio Branco, Brazil, who decided against surgery, said he feels fine.
However, during the off-season, he had one experience where his shoulder came out of place while sleeping. He had to drive himself to a local emergency room, where doctors had to put him out in order to "put it back in place."
"Last year was kind of rough for me," he said, "but when I came over here, I (felt) really good and I didn't think (about anything). I just came to ride bulls.
"My confidence is good and my body is also."
Palermo came from behind to win the Monster Energy Invitational.
He put 85.5 points on the board Friday night and another 86 on Saturday when he covered Sticker Shock. On Sunday, he bucked off Whiskey Cures Ugly in Round 3, and while his 171.5 points was good for the eighth pick in the bull draft, his chances of winning seemed diminished with both J.B. Mauney and Kody Lostroh advancing to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with three scores on the board.
Palermo rode Whitewater Trouble for 90 points ― the first and only 90-plus point ride of the event ― and moved one point ahead of Mauney atop the leader board with 261.5 points.
Three outs later, Aaron Roy rode Pawnbroker for 88.5 points to move even with Mauney at 260.5 points. One-by-one Chase Outlaw, Douglas Duncan, Lostroh and Mauney all came off early, and Palermo claimed the 10th regular-season event win of his career.
"I hope this year is going to be different," Palermo said. "I hope I stay healthy.
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Going into the championship round, it felt like 2009 all over again. Mauney and Lostroh, who battled until the final round of the season for the world title, were the top two riders of the weekend and both had looked flawless.
As would only be expected, Mauney took Rock & Roll with the first pick in the bull draft, while Lostroh went with King Lopez. Aside from being the rankest bull available, Rock & Roll was the Monster Money Bull, worth an additional $12,000 if ridden.
Mauney came within less than a second of winning the opening event of the season ― he bucked off at 7.37 seconds ― and afterward, his wife Lexie told him one of the bulls available would have been easier to win the event.
"That ain't my style," he replied. "I'll never be like that. I'm going for broke every time."
Mauney split second and third place with Roy. Lostroh finished the event fifth. Following the event, the Colorado cowboy Tweeted, "Finished the weekend 3 for 4 and was 5th overall, I think. Looks like it's gonna be a great year @PBR. Thanks to all the fans also."
Lostroh looked as fundamentally sound as he has since winning the gold buckle in 2009, while Mauney walked and rode much of the weekend with a much-talked-about swagger. He surprised everyone by switching to a traditional cowboy hat after years of wearing a protective helmet.
Mauney said he feels as though he can tuck his chin better without the helmet, and also has a better view of the bull.
INJURY UPDATES: Upon arriving at the airport on Sunday evening, Jenkins Tweeted, "So literally almost died on the way to the airport. Hit the wall inside tunnel horrible cab driver. Week to forget." The obnoxious cab ride came less than 24 hours after he painfully dislocated his right shoulder in Round 2 of the Monster Energy Invitational.
His riding shoulder was reduced in the training room Saturday
night, and he's expected to undergo further evaluations ― X-rays
and an MRI ― on Monday afternoon. He sat out Sunday's final two
rounds and is expected to miss both the Chicago and Winston-Salem,
N.C., events with hopes of returning to competition in Oklahoma
Late Saturday, he Tweeted: "Well tonight was horrible dislocated my shoulder and gonna be out a few weeks."
On Sunday, he said the doctor visit is a precautionary measure to make sure he didn't severely tear the cartilage or chip any of the bones. If so, he said, Dr. Tandy Freeman informed him that if any surgery is needed, the "worst case scenario" would be six months. The sharp pain he was experiencing proved excruciating and took time to reset in place, but once the medical staff was able to "roll it back in," Jenkins said he felt an instant relief.
Austin Meier also sustained a bruised abdomen when he was kicked after dismounting his second-round bull on Saturday. He did not take a re-ride bull, but competed on Sunday. He was one of 17 riders to earn two scores, but missed the final round.
Duncan sustained a bloody nose when his face struck the ground in Round 1. Jory Markiss aggravated a pre-existing left ankle injury when he was thrown to the ground in Round 2. Billy Robinson sustained a bruised throat when he was struck by RMEF Gunpowder & Lead's horn, while in the chute. He was able to compete on the bull later in the performance.
Edevaldo Ferreira was competing with a sprained left knee (MCL), sustained in Brazil. Other riders returning to competition included Nathan Schaper and Markus Mariluch.
Schaper returned after being out after biceps surgery. Mariluch returned after being out with a surgically-reconstructed shoulder. He got on his first bull 18 days ago. According to a Tweet sent that night, the temperature was only five degrees, but he was able to make the whistle. Mariluch was 2-for-4 this weekend in New York.
As expected, Valdiron de Oliveira is out after apparently having had back surgery in Brazil. His expected return to competition is unknown, however, his agency said they were told he is aiming for early February. Guilherme Marchi, whose only update was obtained from Facebook, said he read that Oliveira was progressing and doing well in his recovery.
Marco Eguchi is out with an injury sustained in Brazil. He is reported to be probable for Chicago. Justin Koon is out following surgery for a wrist injury sustained last season, while Eneias Barbosa is out with an injury sustained in Brazil.
On the bovine front, Joe's Boot Shop Bad Blake was scratched from the draw on Saturday. He recently had a horn removed and Reece Arnold, who handles the bull pen for Wolf Creek Cattle Co., noticed the area around the stitches appeared to have been bloodied. Arnold decided to go ahead and wait for Bad Blake to make his 2013 debut next week in Chicago.
He was replaced in the draw by Dark Shadow.
MISSING IN ACTION: Paulo Lima and Davi Henrique were both listed in the original draw, however, neither were in New York this weekend. Lima was injured at an event in Brazil, but that injury was not communicated to the PBR, thus he was listed as an alternate in place of Eguchi.
At no time was he confirmed to appear. He will not be penalized for missing the BFTS event, and neither will Henrique, who was unable to be reached to confirm whether or not he was going to be in the U.S.
SCHOOL DAYS: Friday night, as Ty Murray was leaving Madison Square Garden, he was approached in an elevator by a woman who said she was Mariluch's first grade teacher in Elko, Nev. Now living in New York ― note: Elko's population is 18,000 compared to 1.7 million in Manhattan alone ― Ms. Simmons was excited to see Mariluch compete.
So excited, she shared several childhood stories with Murray, including how Mariluch would hide in the boys room and refuse to come out when called. Simmons, who later told Leah Garcia she would bribe him with pizza to do his math, said she would stand at the door and call him back to the classroom.
"I don't gotta learn how to read," Mariluch replied. "I'm going to be a cowboy."
Mariluch, who embraced Simmons behind the chutes on Sunday after qualifying for the championship round, said, "I don't know if I got the reading thing down. I don't like it."
MONSTER GUEST LIST: This weekend's event brought out a slew of Monster athletes, including Kyle Busch, Dominick Cruz and Vaughn Gittin Jr., along with actor Tim Lister.
Busch, 27, is known for his "win or go home" attitude, and is one of the most polarizing figures in NASCAR. The 2009 Nationwide Series Champion said, "I never had an opportunity to see one of these before. I came in here with an open mind and didn't know what to expect. These guys are pretty badass."
"I came in here with an open mind and didn't know what to expect. These guys are pretty badass."
Cruz, 27, who is nicknamed, "The Dominator," is the current UFC bantamweight champion. He has a career record of 19-1 with six knockouts, one submission and 12 decisions. Gittin, 31, is a professional drift car driver, while Lister has been in more than 90 films, and is best known as the neighborhood bully Deebo from the cult classic "Friday."
Sunday afternoon, James Dolan, the President and CEO of Cablevision Systems Corporation and Executive Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, sat in the front row for the final round of competition. Dolan is most recognized in the sports world as owner of both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.
IN THE HOUSE: In addition to co-founders Murray and Cody Lambert, who are actively involved in BFTS events, fellow co-founders Michael Gaffney and David Fournier, along with Ring of Honor members Randy Bernard and Adriano Moraes were in New York.
Gaffney indicated he will be at nearly half the BFTS events and Moraes said he'd be attending as many as five BFTS events during the 20th anniversary season. Bernard was recently named CEO of RFD-TV/Rural TV.
Throughout the season, the PBR will celebrate its history and feature the "Top 20 Moments" in its history. The celebration will conclude in October at the World Finals with the third-annual Heroes & Legends gathering on Oct. 22 at the South Point Hotel.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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