CALGARY, Alberta ― J.B. Mauney was brushing his teeth Sunday morning before heading out to Showdown Sunday at the Calgary Stampede when he looked into the mirror and flashed a smile.
"I feel it," Mauney said to his wife Lexie. "It's going to be a good day."
Lexie simply smiled in return.
"I know when he is feeling it, he thinks he is going to ride," she said. "There is not a bull that they are going to run under him that I don't think he can't ride when he has that confidence."
Sure enough, J.B.'s confidence reigned supreme on Sunday afternoon as he capped off the 101st Calgary Stampede by riding Bombs Away for 91.5 points to become the first two-time $100,000 Calgary Stampede bull riding champion.
"To be able to come multiple times and actually win it twice, there is no better feeling."
Once it was official, the 26-year-old looked up into the stands and flashed that same confident grin from earlier in the morning towards his wife. She too, stared back down on him with a proud grin from ear to ear.
"I have been watching this rodeo on TV ever since I was a little biddy, and to be able to come multiple times and actually win it twice, there is no better feeling," said Mauney, who also won the Stampede in 2009.
It's been quite a while since Lexie saw her husband flash that confident grin prior to a bull riding event. She was there when Mauney returned home at the end of the first half of the Built Ford Tough Series in late May, battered and beaten, both physically and mentally, from the grind of the PBR's toughest circuit.
Lexie watched during June as Mauney recovered from three broken ribs, two that he suffered on a practice bull prior to Last Cowboy Standing, at their home in Mooresville, N.C.
Beyond the physical toll the BFTS took on him, Mauney also needed a break mentally. So he took some time to clear his mind and rekindle that competitive fire by staying away from the arena.
After many days of farming and bailing hay, the 5-foot-10 rider was ready to return to the arena healthy and confident.
Lexie knew it was time, and on Sunday she saw that J.B.'s fire and confidence was back.
"There at the end of the PBR, he was having a rough time, down on himself," Lexie said. "But I know when he has that little spark back in him, he is ready to go. I couldn't be any prouder of him. He went through a rough spot there for a little bit and he really needed this."
Mauney said that after he rode his first bull ― Jay Black for 85 points ― on Tuesday he had a pretty good feeling he could make a run for the Stampede championship.
"I felt good when I came up here," Mauney said. "After that first bull, I felt like I was on a roll. I felt great."
Mauney didn't only feel great, he looked great.
He took home the big payday after finishing the week going 6-for-6, riding every bull he climbed aboard. Mauney finished the Stampede with the two highest-scored rides of the week, a 92-point ride on Grand Slam on Wednesday and Sunday's 91.5-point effort on Bombs Away.
The Mooresville, N.C., native was able to beat out Tanner Byrne (90.5 on Pop Evil), J.W. Harris (88.5 on Grand Slam) and Ty Pozzobon (88 on Rainy Nights) for the $100,000 in the competitive final round.
Mauney, who finished second in Pool B play this week, advanced to Sunday's final round by riding Risky Remedy for 87 points earlier in the afternoon.
"(Bombs Away) was snatching on me pretty hard," Mauney said. "He wasn't as easy as they made him out to be. He was making me work for it pretty hard. I was happy to just get him rode.
"(Risky Remedy) was just a really good bull. I guess the way he bucks, the judges like him. It worked out perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better bull in either round."
After winning the title in 2009, Mauney admits he blew through his winnings pretty quickly. At the time, he was 22 years old and had no responsibilities to worry about. No one was relying on him like his wife Lexie and 2-year-old daughter, Bella, do now.
"If I didn't ride, and didn't make any money, I was the one who didn't eat," Mauney said. "Now it's changed a lot. There is a lot more riding on it now then just me."
J.B. Mauney rides Aftershock for 84.5 points during the first round of the Kansas City Built Ford Tough Series. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.
Therefore, this time around Mauney plans on making a down payment on a new house about 15 minutes away from his family's current home in North Carolina. The potential five-bedroom home comes with a barn and 30 acres of property.
Mauney likes his privacy when he returns home from the BFTS, and the potential new home is tucked in the country away from the city and its neighbors. It will offer him and his family a nice, peaceful and calming escape from the rigors of the sport.
"The older you get, having a family, the more it means to win this amount of money at one time," Mauney said. "We went and looked at (the house) before. I was kind of banking on winning this $100,000.
"It always works good when you have a little incentive to hang on tighter," Mauney laughed.
However, Mauney also wants to use his winnings to help Lexie buy something special when they return home to North Carolina. Monday, the two are looking into buying a potential barrel racing horse for Lexie, who used to compete before she gave up the sport to travel with J.B. on the BFTS.
"We didn't want to go our separate ways, and she put her barrel racing life on the backburner," Mauney said. "That would be like me putting bull riding on the backburner, and that is a hard thing to do. I couldn't ask for a better wife. She stands behind me, supports me in whatever I do. If I ride or get slammed hard, she is right there to pick me up and make me feel better.
"Hopefully, it works out. I am ready to watch her race some barrels, too."
Mauney and Lexie will take the next couple of days at home enjoying the victory before they pack on up and head down to Ft. Myers, Fla., for the Touring Pro Division's RMEF Big Bull Tour event on Friday and Saturday.
There is no more resting, said Mauney. The iron is hot and he is ready to strike.
"After that break, I am ready to go," he said. "I'm going to keep going and keep the fire rolling. You don't want to let it get cold. My confidence is as high as it can be."
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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