LAS VEGAS ― Everyone who's ever had success in Las Vegas will readily admit the key is not changing what you've done all season long.
With that said, Round 1 of the World Finals concluded right on script with J.B. Mauney finishing second in the event average with 88.75 points followed by Silvano Alves declining a re-ride option and electing to keep 73.75 points on the leaderboard on a night when only 13 riders made the whistle.
Alves was pounding his chest after fighting his way to the 8-second whistle and narrowly escaping serious injury when All Shook Up fell to the ground as the crowd inside the Thomas & Mack Center roared.
Hollywood screenwriters couldn't have penned a more dramatic opening.
The reigning two-time World Champion finished 13th in the average, while Mauney earned a total of 438.75 points to close within 173.5 points of the world lead. However, it's now Mauney's title to win or lose.
By deciding to decline a chance to better his score, Alves is at a disadvantage going forward this week with he and Mauney now separated by 11 places in the average that's worth 2,500 points to the winner. In the event both riders finish the season finale a perfect 6-for-6, Alves will now have at least 10 spots to make up in the average in the next five rounds.
"After all the talk and the questions and everything I just tried to keep it simple, have fun," Mauney said after watching Alves.
Mauney steadfastly has said he's not here to keep an eye on the world standings or the event average.
Instead his plan is to keep it simple and have fun.
"No, I'm not worried," he said. "I'm going to go at it each night and let it all hang out and give it everything I have. That's all I can do. The rest will take care of itself."
When asked about making his way back on the chutes to watch Alves, he said he's enjoyed watching him ride. When asked about Alves' decision to turn down a re-ride, he replied, "I didn't know with being here, but, well, the way he's went about things it's worked two years in a row."
He added, "We're all here for the same reason and if he makes a great bull ride I want to be there to see it and if somebody else makes a great ride I want to be there to see it. That's just how bull riding is; it's not against each other. It's against the bulls."
And Wednesday night the ABBI Classic bulls clearly won the battle.
The top riders only accounted for seven qualified rides in the first 29 outs going into the intermission before six of the Top 10 riders in the world standings finished off the opening round with a flurry of qualified rides.
Cody Nance won the round with 89 points on Roy, who is the half-brother to Bushwacker, who will be out Thursday night in Round 2 along with the other World Champion Bull contenders. It was also announced earlier Wednesday the winner of next season's Iron Cowboy Invitational will have a chance to ride Bushwacker for a $1 million bonus at AT&T Stadium (formerly known as Cowboy Stadium), in Arlington, Texas, on March 1, 2014.
Rounding out the Top 5 riders were Guilherme Marchi, 87.5 points; Renato Nunes, 87.25 points; and Markus Mariluch, 87 points.
Marchi has been on an emotional tear of late and brought it with him to Las Vegas.
"My confidence is back," said Marchi, who won the title in 2008 after three consecutive second-place finishes and surprised everyone a year ago by finishing second behind Alves. "It's the World Finals, there's a lot of money in the game and that's why I dedicated more to come here this week. I wish to win this Finals and I feel great.
"I wish my family here with me, but, you know, sometimes your life changes. I'm focused on winning this Finals and put pressure on the (top two) guys in the world."
Round 2 takes place Thursday beginning at 9 p.m. ET
Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough
Built Ford Tough World Finals
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
Event Leaders (Round 1-Event points)
1. Cody Nance, 89-89.00 points.
2. J. B. Mauney, 88.75-88.75 points.
3. Guilherme Marchi, 87.5-87.50 points.
4. Renato Nunes, 87.25-87.25 points.
5. Markus Mariluch, 87-87.00 points.
6. Eduardo Aparecido, 86.75-86.75 points.
7. Ryan Dirteater, 86.25-86.25 points.
8. L.J. Jenkins, 86-86.00 points.
9. Ty Pozzobon, 85.5-85.50 points.
10. Claudio Crisostomo, 83.25-83.25 points.
11. Shane Proctor, 81.25-81.25 points.
12. Matt Triplett, 80.25-80.25 points.
13. Silvano Alves, 73.75-73.75 points.
Alex Aparecido Marcilio, 0-0.00 points.
Austin Meier, 0-0.00 points.
Ben Jones, 0-0.00 points.
Billy Robinson, 0-0.00 points.
Brant Atwood, 0-0.00 points.
Brendon Clark, 0-0.00 points.
Chase Outlaw, 0-0.00 points.
Chris Lowe, 0-0.00 points.
Douglas Duncan, 0-0.00 points.
Edevaldo Ferreira, 0-0.00 points.
Emilio Resende, 0-0.00 points.
Fabiano Vieira, 0-0.00 points.
Gustavo Pedrero, 0-0.00 points.
Joao Ricardo Vieira, 0-0.00 points.
Jordan Hupp, 0-0.00 points.
Jory Markiss, 0-0.00 points.
Kody Lostroh, 0-0.00 points.
Lachlan Richardson, 0-0.00 points.
Luke Snyder, 0-0.00 points.
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