DENVER – Wallace de Oliveira walked into the Denver Coliseum with some swagger in his step for the first time in his United States career.
The 36-year-old is all smiles right now after winning the first Built Ford Tough Series event in Chicago this past weekend, and he is enjoying the peace of mind of knowing he will be on the BFTS for the foreseeable future.
When asked if the reality of being the No. 1 bull rider in the world had set in just yet, Oliveira simply shook his head and replied with a big grin, “I want more points. I want more money.”
Oliveira earned 550 points toward the world standings in Chicago and won a career-best $37,100.
Regardless, 24 hours after leaving Allstate Arena with the Chicago Invitational belt buckle, Oliveira was at the Denver BlueDEF Tour event nodding his head aboard Black Rain on Monday night.
Oliveira was tested in Chicago with bulls into and away from his hand, and he once again showed in Denver the poise and focus not to be thrown off by a redirection or unusual bucking pattern.
Black Rain left the bucking chute turning toward the right, before hopping forward few jumps and then turning back.
Oliveira’s ability to not be caught off guard in those instances was something that left nine-time World Champion Ty Murray impressed in Chicago.
“This is the only time I have ever seen him ride,” Murray said. “I thought he was awesome. No question he was the best guy here this weekend. When you look at his overall body of work. They were going into his hand, away from his hand. He was aggressive matching it right there with them. You want the best guy that weekend to be the winner and he was. It was pretty cool.
“36 years old and that is 49 in bull riding years.”
The Denver BlueDEF Tour continues Tuesday night starting at 9 p.m. ET on PBR LIVE.
Oliveira spent the majority of last year competing on the BlueDEF Tour and in the Touring Pro Division. He finished 44th in the world standings and competed in the BFTS regular season finale in Tucson, Arizona, and as an alternate at the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Oliveira rode King Buck for 86.25 points at the Finals, his only ride in three attempts.
He had been a relative unknown outside of his cup of coffee last year at the Finals.
He went 4-for-8 in three BFTS events in 2010, before returning to Brazil until last season.
Oliveira explained part of his reason for returning to Brazil was that his family was homesick. He and his wife, Ludmar, have two kids (Gabriel, 14, and Luana, 8).
“In 2010, (they were here) three months,” Oliveira said with the help of Rubens Barbosa translating. “They didn’t like it so they went back to Brazil. Then I went back.”
The right-handed rider was the last alternate in the draw in Chicago and his 88.25-point ride on Crackerjack was the eventual event-winner.
Oliveira’s family is going to stay with him this year for six months, while Oliveira will be here for the full year.
He says he wants to finally qualify for the World Finals for the first time in his career.
“I had a dream,” Oliveira said Sunday with Silvano Alves translating. “All of the cowboys want to ride in the Built Ford Tough (Finals) and win a World Championship. This year I want to stay here all year and make the Finals. I am working out and working hard every day. My goal is to stay here on the Built Ford Tough.”
Oliveira is from Goiania, Goias, and he is actually really good friends with Valdiron de Oliveira, who is from Piranhas, Goias.
The two are not related, but began traveling together to various rodeos and bull ridings in their state when they turned 18 after first meeting each other in 1997.
“He is an old man,” Valdiron joked as Wallace headed to the shark cage on Sunday to receive his belt buckle. “He is from the same (state) as me. We started riding together a long time ago. I have known him for about 10 years before I come over here. We used to ride and travel together all week.”
Wallace added, “Yes. We are longtime friends. We became friends and in 1998 we started going all year together. He is like a brother to me. He helps me all the time with whatever I need.”
While it is only one event, both Oliveiras are working out like two bottles of fine wine. They are currently the top two bull riders in the world at 36 years old.
Valdiron is scheduled to ride in Denver on Tuesday night.
Wallace leads Valdiron by 277.5 points in the standings. He is 4-for-11 in six previous TPD events, where he earned 60 points toward the standings.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh my God. I won!’ but then I realized, I rode good. I had a good draw and everything.
“I am thankful to be No. 1.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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