Behind the chutes: Anaheim


  • Guilherme Marchi‚Äôs confidence is back, and it showed in Anaheim.
  • Asteroid scored an event-high 46.75 points on Sunday.
  • Valdiron de Oliveira, Sean Willingham, J.B. Mauney and others are riding through injuries.

In This Article

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Event wins like the one this weekend have 29-year-old former World Champion Guilherme Marchi thinking he might compete for another four or five years on the Built Ford Tough Series.

"I still feel good," he said after the Anaheim Invitational, "but my hand is still bothering me. But today, this event proved to me I still can ride, and that's going to put it in my head that I can do everything. You want to, you can do it.

"I'm going to give everything this year to be tough."

Marchi was 4-for-4 at the Honda Center to edge Austin Meier, the only other rider to cover four bulls, by a cumulative score of 351.75 to 349.5 points.

Meier covered Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey for 89 points to take the lead in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, putting Marchi in a position where he had to make the whistle on Too Sexy to claim the 16th event of his career.

'I'm going to give everything this year to be tough.'

He not only earned a qualified ride, but won the round with 89.5 points. Marchi has now won at least one BFTS event in each of the past eight seasons.

"I love what I do and I respect the other riders," he said, "but this year I'm going to be tough. I wish I could ride five more years, but you never know."

Marchi's win moved him to third in the world standings, less than 500 points behind world No. 1 Valdiron de Oliveira.

He's finished six of the past seven years ranked in the Top 5, and only once, in his rookie year in 2004, has he finished the season ranked outside of the Top 10.

He turns 30 in July, and while he said he's still young, he admits the weekly travel schedule gets tiring, and he would rather spend time with his family. On a number of occasions in the past six months, he's hinted that retirement might not be far off.

This season, he said he needs to dedicate himself more than he has the past couple of years - he's been running four to five miles a day during the week and working out in the gym. For the first time in a while, his confidence is back.

He's ridden five of seven bulls in the first two weeks of the season for an average of 71.43 percent, the highest since he covered 74.8 percent in 2008 en route to the world title.

"I'm not going to talk anymore about retirement," he said. "I'm just going to ride my bulls and win the event."

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Guilherme Marchi was too good on Too Sexy, winning the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and the Anaheim Invitational in one ride on Sunday.


RETURN TO FORM: Last year's runner-up in the race for World Champion Bull made his highly anticipated 2012 debut in Anaheim. Asteroid was the high-marked bull of the event, with 46.75 points in bucking off Douglas Duncan.

"It was about what I expected," said Gene Melton of Circle T Ranch. "I don't think he was as good as he's been, but he's been laying off and getting rested up. It's a long way out here."

Melton said his prized bull got better with each subsequent outing last year. He'll have Asteroid on the West Coast for three weeks before heading back to Louisiana. 

"I watched all the bulls here," said Melton, who also had Shepherd Hills Trapper and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, "and my whole truckload was about the same. They were all maybe off a step, so I think we're right on course to get right back in the game."

BIG NAMES: This weekend's event was a who's who of celebrities and athletes. Friday night, baseball legend Reggie Jackson was at the event along with motocross star Brian Deegan.

Jackson, who owns a bull as part of the ABBI's new Backseat Buckers program, was in the ABBI suite and spent time with CBS Sports Network broadcasters Craig Hummer and J.W. Hart. Deegan shares a sponsor - Rockstar energy drink - with the PBR.

"These guys lay it down," Deegan said, adding there's no comparison between what he does and professional bull riding. "It's a little more risky, that's for sure."

When asked if he would ever try the sport, he said, "I don't know." After pondering the idea, he added, "I think on the right day, if I had to do it, I might give it a run."

Following Sunday's final two rounds, TV personality Riki Rachtman, who is known for various shows on MTV and VH1, tweeted: "Love @PBR, if my seats were any better I'd have a broken wrist and ruptured spleen."

GOING THE DISTANCE: Dusty Ephrom is known for driving his minivan from one BFTS event to another, but this weekend it was Jory Markiss and Dakota Beck who drove more than 1,100 miles overnight from Pueblo, Colo., to Anaheim, Calif.

Both competed in Colorado on Friday night and then hopped into a small rental car and drove from the front range of the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast for the start of Saturday's event. They made it to the arena with two hours to spare.

"That backseat is small," said Markiss, who was proud of their feat, "but I slept seven hours."

Ephrom and his wife Renee made the drive as well. However, he rode in Denver and skipped the Pueblo event to give himself two full days to make the drive, so they spent time in Las Vegas.

INJURY UPDATES: According to an injury report submitted by Dr. Tandy Freeman, Valdiron de Oliveira aggravated a right shoulder (riding arm) separation sustained in Denver. Sean Willingham rode with a sore right elbow (riding arm), which was also injured in Denver. Rubens Barbosa aggravated an old groin injury during his first-round ride in Anaheim and then sustained a right-ankle sprain when he was thrown from his second-round bull. J.B. Mauney competed with a sprained left wrist (riding hand) sustained in Denver. He is expected to have X-rays this week for a possible fracture. Ty Pozzobon rode with a wrist sprain sustained in Denver and a sprained right knee sustained in New York. Stormy Wing has a probable broken toe sustained in Denver. Aaron Roy was in Anaheim despite torn cartilage in his right knee sustained in Pueblo. Corey Navarre bruised his right shoulder (free arm) and rotator cuff when he landed on his elbow as he was thrown from his third-round bull in Anaheim.

YATES TO TRY TO RETURN: "I don't feel very good this week," said Colby Yates, who was in Anaheim, but didn't compete after sustaining a rib injury a week earlier in New York. "I definitely broke a couple ribs and separated some ribs. It's not fun. It really hurts, but I'm going to try next weekend.

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Colby Yates is struggling with broken ribs suffered last week in New York.

"I got hit right square in the eye and it didn't even faze me, so I was thinking 'This is great. I'm OK.'"

He said the bull stepped all over him, but his ribs are the only lingering result. He has not had X-rays, but can feel two broken ribs.

"If I sneeze I go to the ground," said Yates, who knows it'll hurt a week from now but plans to compete in Portland. "We're at a time right now where it's not a good time. I have to go. I just have to tough it out."

PALERMO ON TRACK: Robson Palermo continues to make progress in his rehabilitation process. He's been in Brazil for nearly two months training with professional soccer players, but flew to Anaheim for sponsor obligations and an autograph signing with PBR fans.

"I feel really good and I feel ready to go," he said, "but I'm going to take time and build my body. I've never had time to do this, and I'm going to try and come back really strong."

'I feel really good and I feel ready to go, but I'm going to take time and build my body. I've never had time to do this, and I'm going to try and come back really strong.'

Palermo knows he's missing a lot of opportunities and it's not fun watching, but he is determined to be 100-percent healthy when he returns. He's been training seven to eight hours a day. One aspect of the regimen calls for him and three others to be tied together and jog backwards for as long as 45 minutes at a time. He hopes that by working with the soccer players on his knees, shoulders and back, he will be in the best shape of his life.

"Those guys train really hard," said Palermo, who has not set a timetable for his return. He does plan to return stateside in February, but likely won't compete again until March. "I've been training really hard, too."

ENTERTAINER HONORS: PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen was honored for the second time in four months. Last fall he was inducted into the Pendleton (Oregon) Roundup Hall of Fame, and Sunday he received the Dr. Keith Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit.

"It would have been cool to be there," he said, "but it doesn't lessen the award."

Rasmussen was nominated by his wife, who happened to be competing there in the barrel racing competition. Katie accepted the award on his behalf. He worked the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals nine times in a 10-year span, and has continued to represent "the great state of Montana" every time he's introduced at a BFTS event.

His first Montana finals came in 1995 at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls in front of 4,500 people. At the time, he thought that would be the pinnacle of his career.

"The first rodeos I did were in Montana," Rasmussen said. "The first pro rodeos I did were in Montana. I thought that would be the peak of my career. I didn't think I'd ever work at the National Finals or these big PBR events."

FOOD NETWORK TONIGHT: Yates and Pistol Robinson are featured on an episode of Food Network Heatseekers tonight at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT. Fans can tune to watch two PBR riders from Texas try their hand at eating "hot food."

FATIGUE: Last week the Top 40 riders in the world combined to ride 71 of 138 bulls for a riding average of 51.45 percent, with 31 of 40 riders making the whistle at least once. After most of the Top 40 competed at Touring Pro Division events in Denver and Pueblo, they combined for just 36 of 100 in Anaheim, with only 24 of 40 riders covering at least one bull. Most are heading home for the week before leaving for Portland, Ore., on Friday.

UP NEXT: The BFTS will travel up the West Coast to Oregon for the Portland Invitational at the Rose Quarter on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. PT, and Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m. PT. Tickets are available at the Rose Quarter box office,, and by telephone at 877-789-7376.

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