LAS VEGAS - The PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals begin tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The richest bull riding event in the world has a $2.2 million purse, and is where the 2011 PBR World Champion will be crowned and awarded the $1 million Built Ford Tough championship bonus.
BABY I'M AMAZED: During a press conference prior to the Legends Reunion, Silvano Alves said that he's amazed by what he's accomplished so far this season. He has a 2,261-point lead over Valdiron de Oliveira with only six bulls separating him from what could be his first PBR world title. With the help of three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, he added that he's trying his best and prays he can continue to ride as well as he has.
HIGH HOPES: When told that Alves once said his goal is to win four world titles, reigning World Champion and close friend Renato Nunes laughed. It wasn't that he didn't think Alves would win that many. Instead, he predicts the 23-year-old will win more than four gold buckles in his career. Nunes asked, "Who? Who is the competition?"
He said that he, Guilherme Marchi, Oliveira and others are older than Alves and will all retire within the next couple years. Nunes said that unless another younger rider steps up to challenge him, that Alves not only will set a record for the most titles, but he's likely to become the first rider in history to win back-to-back titles.
'Who? Who is the competition?'
DON'T LOOK BACK: Despite the disappointment over the way his 2010 season ended in Las Vegas, Austin Meier said he has nothing to prove. "The past is the past," he said.
Last year, he came to the Finals with a 1,300.75-point lead over Nunes. Nunes rode his first five bulls at the Finals, ending the competition five-for-six, and earned 4,369 points, including 2,500 as the event winner, to win the World Championship. He finished in the Top 5 in the first five rounds, including first place in Round 3.
Meier said 2010 was in the past the moment he shook hands with Nunes and congratulated him on his championship season. As soon as Meier left the Thomas & Mack Center, he was focused on the task ahead of him.
CRAZY TRAIN: In addition to the Top 6 riders all mathematically having a chance at the title, there is also a sense of irony in the opening round. Last year, J.B. Mauney was second in the world standings coming into the Finals, and was injured in Round 1 when Train Wreck fell on top of him. Alves has Train Wreck in the opening round this year.
Train Wreck effectively took J.B. Mauney out of the runnning in Round 1 of last year's Finals. Tonight, the bull is matched up against world leader Silvano Alves.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Tonight's opening round is the first of two ABBI Classic rounds. The top two contenders are believed to be Back Bender and Rango. Back Bender has been a season-long contender for Kent Cox, while Rango has made a late-season surge for two-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson. However, in a text message, Cody Ohl wrote, "Pure Smoke is back to 100 percent for Finals. Game on!" He later added, "I'm so pumped he is back to feeling great."
HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THE PAIN: After breaking five ribs and suffering a lacerated lung, Marchi said he can't believe how good he feels for the PBR World Finals. However, Shane Proctor said he'll take it "bull by bull" in assessing his pulled groin. It's worth noting that he completely tore the other groin a year ago, and it was healed in three to four weeks, whereas the partial tear he has this time around has been much more difficult to recover from.
Marchi said he can't believe how good he feels for the PBR World Finals.
HURT: Fan favorite McKennon Wimberly is in Las Vegas this week. He's recovering from his wreck earlier this year in Anaheim, Calif. Two weeks ago he had his injured shoulder repaired and had some screws removed from a previous leg injury.
He said his arm should still be in a sling, but that was proving uncomfortable. He was without it Monday night and joked, "I'm going to get a sign," after several people patted him on the back and grabbed his shoulder.
Wimberly said he expects to be medically released to ride bulls again in April, but that he doesn't plan to return to the BFTS until he's confident that he's able to ride bulls as well as he did prior to the wreck. He will have been out for 16 months. He added that he'll get on bulls regularly in the practice pen until he's ready to compete.
UNDER MY THUMB: It took until the final BFTS event of the season for Cody Campbell to qualify for the Finals, and then last weekend he broke the thumb on his free hand at a Touring Pro event in Canada. His hand is still bruised and swollen. Pointing out away from his hand, he joked, "You should have seen it when my knuckle was over here."
SEASON IN THE SUN: Two-time World Champion Chris Shivers has spent time rooming with Luke Snyder and Colby Yates this season, and yesterday, in an interview with Ty Murray, Justin McBride and Leah Garcia, he said he's been inspired by what world No. 10 Snyder has been able to accomplish this season. That's a high compliment coming from one of only three people in history to win more than one PBR world title.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The PBR World Champion is determined by the most Built Ford Tough Series points earned throughout the regular season and the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Moraes won the first title in 1994, and became the first two-time winner in 2001. He became the only three-time winner in 2006. The other two-time World Champions are Shivers (2000 and 2003) and McBride (2005 and 2007).
The complete list of PBR World Champions includes Nunes, 2010; Kody Lostroh, 2009; Marchi, 2008; McBride, 2007; Moraes, 2006; McBride, 2005; Mike Lee, 2004; Shivers, 2003; Ednei Caminhas, 2002; Moraes, 2001; Shivers, 2000; Cody Hart, 1999; Troy Dunn, 1998; Michael Gaffney, 1997; Owen Washburn, 1996; Tuff Hedeman, 1995; and Moraes, 1994.
VIVA, LAS VEGAS: The Built Ford Tough World Finals event winner is determined by the highest aggregate score after all rounds of competition. Only two riders have won the World Finals event and World Championship in the same season - Nunes in 2010 and Lee in 2004.
The PBR World Finals event winners include Nunes, 2010; Mauney, 2009; Robson Palermo, 2008; Wiley Petersen, 2007; L.J. Jenkins, 2006; Marchi, 2005; Lee, 2004; Jody Newberry, 2003; J.W. Hart, 2002; Snyder, 2001; Tater Porter, 2000; Murray, 1999; Reed Corder, 1998; Dunn, 1997; Ronnie Kitchens, 1996 and Dunn, 1995.
TV GUIDE: The 2011 PBR World Finals will be televised live in HD on VERSUS at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and on NBC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. DIRECTV will have the first-ever 3D broadcast of bull riding at 4 p.m. ET on DIRECTV's 3D channel, n3D™ (channel 103).
WORLD FINALS: A complete listing of events in Las Vegas and ticket information can be found here.
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