Chris Shivers is not looking like the guy who is two days from retirement. With his second straight go round win at the 2012 Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas, Shivers looks more like the PBR’s most decorated rider, a two-time World Champion who was the first rider in PBR history to win $1 million as the champion.
In fact, the two guys are the same. Shivers decided earlier this season to make 2012 his final year. After being injured just a few weeks after that announcement, Shivers missed much of the season but still qualified to his record setting 15th World Finals.
After bucking off just shy of a likely third round win, Shivers has been on a tear. On Friday night, October 26, he extended his own record for 90 point rides with 90.75 aboard Shepherd Hills Sod Buster. He has made 94 of them in his career, double the next closest rider.
The ride came just moments following an intermission ceremony for retiring athletes in the PBR during which the Louisiana cowboy broke down to tears as he tried to explain how much bull riding meant to him.
“Everything I’ve got is because of this sport,” Shivers said. “I’ll talk to you more later; right now I have to go because I’m fixing to start crying and I’ve got business to take care of down there,” added pointing to the chutes.
The fans have recognized the emotion of the event, delivering huge cheers for the PBR’s second highest career money winner and one of just three champions with more than one title. With each qualified score, they raise the roof with noise.
“I’ve spent a lot of time this last week thinking about what I really want to do,” Shivers said after the round, “and that’s to win the World Finals.” Incredibly, it is the only title that Shivers has never claimed. “That’s what I came to do.”
When asked if he might reconsider retiring, Shivers declined. “I know what I want to do and that’s to spend time with my family.”
Shivers relied upon his family for his pick for Round 4. He told the crowd on Friday night that his son wanted him to pick Chicken on a Chain. The two former World Champs have never met and Round 4 will be Chicken’s last out before he retires as well.
Meanwhile, Luke Snyder won second in the round again with his score of 90 points on Tremors. He leads the average, seeking his second World Finals title after first winning it in 2001 in his rookie season.
With three rounds in the books, the riders are showing the wear-and-tear of the season, none more than Austin Meier and Robson Palermo. Palermo’s left knee was dislocated in the chutes last night as he tried to board Nitro Carillo Cartel. While the action moved to another rider, the Justin Sportsmedicine team worked to put the knee back in place and tape it there.
Showing the grit for which Palermo is known, he got back on the bull and knocked another ride out. He scored 89.75 points and is the only other rider who has covered each of his bulls thus far.
Meier is also being showered with cheers. The cowboy is suffering from multiple injuries but gutted out another ride in Round 3. Though he was only 86 points, he is fourth in the average behind Snyder, Palermo and Shivers. Of the top six riders, he is the highest ranked in the average, keeping his title hopes alive.
After three rounds of the Finals, the world title race is only getting closer. Silvano Alves is clinging to his lead and made another qualified ride in Round 3 to stay 11 in the average. Only the top 15 in that average will advance to the Championship Round on Sunday, October 28; with the standings as tight as they are, the champion will come from one of those riders.
Also competing with severe injuries is second ranked Valdiron de Oliveira. The thirty-three year old has a herniated disc in his back and nerve damage in a leg. But he also fought through the pain in Round 3 to get a qualified score. The 86.5 wasn’t enough to win a round but kept his title hopes alive. He is eighth in the average and just over 200 points behind Alves.
Elsewhere amongst the top five riders, Guilherme Marchi made the whistle for the first time this week while J.B. Mauney was disqualified for slapping his bull. L.J. Jenkins came down early again. The riders are 12, 13 and splitting 14 respectively, on the bubble for the Championship round. They will definitely need to ride during the final two long rounds to have a chance.
Round 4 will not get any easier for the riders. Mauney drafted Shepherd Hills Tested, the top Classic bull of the 2012 season. This could be worth a round win but it’s very easy to come down early on this tough, young bull too. Snyder has Prince Albert, the same bull Shivers won Round 2 aboard. Palermo has Dark Shadow, a bull he has ridden twice in the past, while Meier has newer bull Chainsaw.
Marchi has Super Cool Cat, who dispatched Ben Jones in Round 2, while Jenkins has Smiling Bob. Alves has Bono and de Oliveira has Wilson. Neither are high scoring bulls but both men have the capability to gather more points towards the title with their picks.
The PBR World Finals continues Saturday night, October 27 at 6 p.m. Pacific time and Sunday, October 28 at 11:30 a.m. Sunday’s performance will include Round 5 and the Championship Round during which the chase for World Champion Bull between Bushwacker and Asteroid will continue. The bulls are tied after their opening outs in Round 1 and they went 1-2 a year ago as well.
The riders are vying for what remaining points they can earn toward the World Championship. Each round win is worth 400 bonus points plus the score earned while the average is worth 2,500 points. There are still 4,000 points possible, though improbable, meaning that the top nine riders are still mathematically in the hunt.