LAS VEGAS - Ever since the Built Ford Tough Series resumed following the summer break, Ty Murray said each week has left him and others with more questions than answers.
The same has held true after the first three of six rounds at the World Finals.
"That's what's kept this thing so interesting," said Murray, in
his daily podcast he's recording each morning while he's in Las
Vegas for the Finals.
Still unable to predict a World Champion with only two days left to the season, Murray simply said, "It's going to come right down to it."
The one certainty he spoke of Saturday morning was his hope that some of the other storylines unfolding haven't gone unnoticed.
Two-time World Champion Chris Shivers has won the past two rounds and is going to match up with Chicken on a Chain in Round 4.
Both former Champions are retiring after the conclusion of the World Finals.
Murray called it a sentimental matchup, in which if both of them have the type of day they're capable of, it could become a great moment in both their careers. He said in many ways Chicken is the Shivers of the bucking bull industry.
Winning the Finals event is the one accomplishment that has eluded Shivers.
"It looks like he's in a good place to do it," said Murray, who added that the 33-year-old was one tick away from three round wins. "I cannot wait to see what this guy is going to get done here."
Murray has been equally excited watching Luke Snyder.
Snyder is leading the event average and, along with Robson Palermo, has covered all three of his bulls.
In talking about Snyder, Murray said the 30-year-old has rediscovered his love for the sport and the challenge that comes with it. He added that from the outside Synder, who is set to marry his girlfriend Jen Manna next Saturday, is doing great in his personal life and, likewise, doing great in his professional life.
Snyder has always been one to enjoy life, but the key to success is the fact that he's been refocused and rededicated.
"He has himself in a really good place and it's good to see him riding so good," Murray said. "It's good to see him doing what we know he's capable of ever since he was a rookie."
After it was announced that Palermo had dislocated his kneecap in the bucking chute, on Friday night, Murray could only say, "Unbelievable."
He added, "If there's a guy that we know that can compete with injuries we know it's Robson. because he has his entire career."
Palermo won the Finals last year - the second time he's done so - with a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder of his riding arm.
While everyone involved in the sport of bull riding deals with injuries, Murray said, every year Palermo has one or two injuries that keeps him from doing what he ought to do. Having won the Finals twice and contending for a third Finals title is an indication that he's good enough to win a world title.
"How good he's doing with two bad shoulders and a bad kneecap and all the other ailments he's had, that shows you how good Robson Palermo is," Murray said.
"Imagine him healthy just one time."
One rider who has been healthy for the nearly three seasons he's been competing on the BFTS is Silvano Alves.
The reigning World Champion is currently ranked No. 1 in the world standings, but has only a 203.25-point lead over Valdiron de Oliveira.
Murray said it's funny to him that Alves, who is vying to become the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back World Championships, doesn't have a more substantial lead over the other Top 6 contenders, which is why he and others don't agree with his strategy.
Right now all six - Alves, Oliveira, L.J. Jenkins, Guilherme Marchi, J.B. Mauney and Austin Meier - are in the Top 15 of the World Finals average.
One pressing question is whether or not Round 4 will be the night that narrows the field.
If the Finals were over right now, Oliveira would win the title, Meier would be second and Alves would be third - but there are two more long rounds before the Top 10 in the average battle it out one last time Sunday afternoon in the Championship Round.
"The fact of the matter is, it's not over now," Murray said.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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