NEW YORK - The top bull riders in the world have arrived for the
first of 28 Built Ford Tough Series events in 2012.
Some haven't seen each other since the World Finals in October, while others have worked and trained together in anticipation of the 10-month-long schedule. Some have been healing from last season, and others have been riding in Touring Pro Division events or practice pens.
All are focused on winning the coveted gold buckle and the $1 million bonus paid out to the World Champion.
Dustin Elliott resolved to "quit bucking off." Ryan Dirteater, who spent the past two months training, tweeted, "Dream big and work hard to accomplish it!"
His travel partner Austin Meier also took to Twitter on his way to New York, writing, "…it's time folks. New season is here!"
The 2012 season marks the 19th time the PBR will crown a champion, and the sixth year in a row the BFTS has been to Madison Square Garden.
Valdiron de Oliveira, shown here on Flashpoint in 2011, is looking for his third New York win this weekend.
POWER RANKINGS: The rankings, which are based
on the past five events, measure rider efficiency using a variety
of statistics, including, but not limited to, wins, riding
percentage, scores, and bulls. The current Power Rankings for this
week are: 1. Fabiano Vieira 89.53; 2.
Silvano Alves 89.13; 3. Guilherme
Marchi 88.51; 4. Valdiron de Oliveira
88.43; 5. Robson Palermo 88.43; 6. Douglas
Ferreira 87.19; 7. Caleb Sanderson
86.66; 8. Aaron Roy 84.15; 9. Dirteater
83.97; 10. Rubens Barbosa 83.88.
PAST WINNERS: Last year's winner in New York was Oliveira, who finished second in the world standings. It was the second time he's won the event; he also won in 2008. J.B. Mauney is another two-time winner in New York. He won in 2007 and again in 2009, while his brother-in-law Shane Proctor won the event in 2010.
FORMAT: Each of the 40 riders will ride on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Following Round 2 on Saturday, the riders with the 10 highest cumulative scores will each compete on one more bull. Following Round 4 on Sunday, the riders with the 10 highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where they will compete with one more bull.
The overall event winner will be the rider with the highest combined score from all five rounds. There are 1,400 possible points available in New York, as the winner of the event will receive 400 points and each of the five round wins is worth 100 points plus the ride score.
LEADERBOARD: In the 27 regularly formatted BFTS events in 2011, the leader heading into the championship round won the event 19 times, including six of the last seven and eight of the last 10. Only four times last year did a rider manage to lead from start to finish. Dirteater did it in Wichita, Kan., and Paulo Lima did it in Milwaukee, while L.J. Jenkins led from wire-to-wire in Albuquerque, N.M., and again in Seattle.
'Dream big and work hard to accomplish
INJURY REPORT: There are six riders from the Top 40 who are starting 2012 on the injured list. Palermo (left shoulder), Proctor (right knee), Skeeter Kingsolver (left shoulder), Pete Farley (concussion) and Elliott Jacoby (concussion) are all out with injuries. Vieira is also out, but not injured. He is waiting for his visa status to clear before being able to return to the United States.
McKennon Wimberly, Wiley Petersen, David Kennedy and Beau Hill are all out with injuries that sidelined them in 2011. Wimberly has five exemptions, Petersen has four, Hill has three and Kennedy currently has two. Each of the injured Top 40 riders will receive one exemption for missing this week's BFTS event, and may accrue up to five.
Jacoby was originally listed in this weekend's draw. However, he is out of competition because of lingering effects from a concussion he sustained at a BFTS event last fall in Tulsa, Okla. He missed several events before trying to return to competition in Las Vegas at the World Finals. He'll be replaced by Dakota Beck.
UNSEWN: Proctor had the stitches removed from
his surgically repaired right arm this week, and begins physical
therapy today. Proctor, who broke his arm at the National Finals
Rodeo, will return to competition within the next couple of months.
His brother-in-law Mauney, who was bothered late
last season with an injured tailbone, is still sore from the
LOADED WITH BBS: Last year's top ABBI Classic bulls - Back Bender and Bad Blake - will be in New York this weekend. Both bulls are being hauled by two-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson, who partnered with Wolf Creek Cattle Company to purchase both bulls after the Finals. Robinson has 24 of the 102 bulls in New York.
FAMILIAR FACES: There are only three rematches in the opening round Friday night. Alves and Cody Campbell have both bucked off their respective bulls before, while Oliveira covered Uppercut for 87.75 points. All three previous pairings took place during the 2010 season. Alves bucked off Evil Doer in 5.3 seconds and Campbell came down off of Buckshot in 7.4 seconds.
THE LIFE OF SHORTY: Shorty Gorham was so surprised to see his friend and fellow bullfighter Frank Newsom on Twitter (@NewsomFrank) that he got off the hotel elevator on the wrong floor. As he was making his way down an escalator, an excited woman ran up to greet the bearded Gorham before proclaiming, "Oh my God, I thought you were Chuck Norris."
Shorty "Chuck Norris" Gorham helps close the New York Stock
Exchange on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Valerie
ON THE DOTTED LINE: All three of the Dickies DuraBullfighters - Gorham, Newsom and Jesse Byrne - will be signing autographs at the Penn Station K-Mart (250 W. 34th St.) form 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.
SAVING CANADIAN BACON: Byrne is excited by what he said "might be setting a record for the most Canadians competing at a single Built Ford Tough Series event." The Canadian bullfighter will be protecting several countrymen, including Roy, Ty Pozzobon, Dusty Ephrom, Tyler Thomson and Zane Lambert.
Roy finished 2011 ranked 11th in the world standings, while Pozzobon is using one of his five injury exemptions after missing much of last year with an injury to his left riding hand. Ephrom, Thomson and Lambert are all in the draw as alternates.
A FRIEND IN THE DIAMOND BUSINESS: The last time Luke Snyder was in New York was just before Christmas, when the Missouri native proposed to his girlfriend Jennifer Manna. He popped the question overlooking the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. After giving Manna a diamond ring last month, he's hoping for some bling of his own this time. "A new buckle would be nice," said Snyder.
INVASION FORCE: Gorham and Snyder were in town early along with Colby Yates, Brendon Clark and Ross Coleman to film broadcast spots for the Ford Invasion. They also attended Wednesday night's New York Knicks game and the Rangers game on Thursday after participating in the closing bell on Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange.
WHERE TO WATCH: Friday night's opening round will be streamed live at www.youtube.com/pbrnow. Rounds 2 and 3 of the Madison Square Garden Invitational will be broadcast Saturday night at 11 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network, while the final two rounds will be Sunday on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET. Please note that's NBC, not the NBC Sports Network.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray, who will provide color commentary, joins Craig Hummer in the broadcast booth, while J.W. Hart will add behind-the-chutes analysis. Mark Morgan will do dirt-level interviews Friday and Saturday, with Marty Snider taking over Sunday afternoon.
LIVE EVENT CENTER: Follow all the action from this week's BFTS event by logging on to the Event Center at www.pbr.com/live. The multimedia center provides in-arena audio, live scoring, live blogging and event-related interviews.
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