There’s a good reason bull riding always gets saved for last at a rodeo. It’s without a doubt the most exciting thing to happen in western sporting events and caps off a performance with the highest drama and most compelling action every night. Part of the fun of the Professional Bull Riders is that you get hoof-stomping, horn-slinging, cowboy-punishing action from the time the chute boss says “GO!”, but the Treasure Valley got a new taste of bull riding excitement this past weekend as the PBR rolled into town and showed us the thrills of crunch time in a new light.
We’re accustomed to having the PBR here, but since it’s usually Springtime when they’re around, the action is exciting, but the standings haven’t quite gelled enough to put a substantial amount of pressure on riders quite yet. This year, it was time to borrow a term from baseball, though: Welcome to October. Going into the DeWalt FlexVolt Invitational, there were only three opportunities left on the Built Ford Tough Series calendar before the Finals hits Vegas in early November. With just that piece of the puzzle, every ride inside the Ford Idaho Center was immediately more important than any we’ve ever seen there. From J. B. Mauney, Cooper Davis, and Kaique Pacheco fighting for the top, all the way to riders vying to eke into the last of the 40 roster slots selected for the Finals, every out mattered in a very, very big way.
Injuries played a huge part in this year’s event as well. Having been on as many head as the riders have by this point, the floor was awash in medical tape and war stories. If compelling drama was the goal, the injury situation more than provided that on its own! Nevada Newman ended up underneath a bull Friday night, knocked out cold and assisted off the arena floor by medical personnel, only to be right back in the chute on Saturday’s “Man Up Night“, giving his all to stay in contention. New Zealand’s Fraser Babbington fought a wrist injury to the extremes, actually reversing his riding hand and going palm-down into his bull rope, hoping it would just let him last the necessary eight seconds. Despite the fact that neither rider covered a bull over the weekend, the effort put forward by the riders in this late-season was the very definition of “cowboy try,” and left an arena full of fans in amazement.
At the end of it all, J. B. Mauney took away the high marks for the event, walking away with a pile of points for the Finals. His position was cemented by going 92.5 on D&H Cattle Co.’s Stone Sober, covering the top-25 bull for the first time in a very long stretch, and only after a prolonged bout inside the chutes. The ride was the stuff of legend, and will be the subject of conversation around these parts for a while.
Speaking of “these parts”, local favorite Shane Proctor represented the PNW by taking the Friday evening round, and with it, a boost toward his numbers for the Finals. Cooper Davis and Chase Outlaw helped fill out the top five for the event, along with the extremely exciting Marco Eguchi. We got to see Beaver Creek Beau, Jeremiah, and Sweet Pro’s Bruiser, among others, making moves across the tops of the bull ranks as well, and with the cowboys in top form, everyone got the other’s best, ride after ride after ride.
Bull riding is intrinsically exciting, and the PBR has devised a way to maximize that excitement with extremely high production quality, and a top-notch roster of athletes. It turns out that the deep into the season, the level only gets cranked up, and in the case of the Nampa event, it lived up to the name of the title sponsor. The coolest thing about the FlexVolt line is the variety of voltage levels that modify to different tools for different purposes. It turns out that the FlexVolt Invitational in the late season cranked the charge up in Nampa. Way up.