Rain makes staying on bulls tough for riders at PBR stop
The only thing attaching a bull rider to an extremely angry bull is a length of rope.
The rope is coated with rosin, a type of pitch that makes the rope sticky and easier to hold.
On Thursday night at the Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division event at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, a heavy rain soaked the arena while forks of lightning lit the sky.
The rain also neutralized the rosin, giving the rope a plastic quality, as well as making the roughly 1,500-pound bulls soaking wet and extremely slick.
So, it made sense that Texas cowboy Derek Powell would end his eventual championship ride flat on his back. After narrowly clearing the eight-second ride mark, Powell was thrown into a somersault off his bull.
The bull’s hind legs came down on the side of Powell’s rib cage — one last victory for the bulls that night — before Powell walked off with help from medical personnel.
Powell’s combined total of 172.5 points across two rides beat Missoula, Mont., cowboy Jory Markiss by one point. The top two finishers were among a handful of riders who stayed seated on the bull for two full rides.
Justin Granger, an Arizona cowboy, finished third with a score of 171.
No single ride scored more than 90 points.
Fewer than 10 of the 40 riders at the event qualified for the finals with a complete eight-second ride.
Longmont cowboy and 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh was one of the riders who was tossed by a wet bull.
The bull’s shoulders buckled low before the bull reared back. On a second rocking motion, Lostroh slid up the back of the bull and tumbled clear of the hind legs.
The wet weather had made the rope attached to the bull wet while he was sitting in the uncovered bucking chute, and that ended up costing Lostroh on his only ride of the night.
“When it’s wet, windy, cold conditions, it makes it harder to hang on,” Lostroh said. “The only way we really have of hanging on is a rope. When the rosin on the rope gets wet it gets slick, and the bull is already wet. It’s a nearly impossible task.
“The re-ride bull was great, but my rope was wet, and it just slipped out of my hand. You can’t ride them without a rope, doesn’t matter how good you are.”
Lostroh said the Grand Junction stop, while equally important with other PBR Tour stops in terms of points, carries extra significance as riders near qualifying for the PBR National Finals in Las Vegas this fall.
The wet weather cost many riders chances to qualify. Silvano Alves, currently the top-ranked bull rider in the world, has a 50 percent ride rate in mostly dry conditions. The wet conditions made the cowboys who completed the rides that much more impressive, Lostroh said.
“It’s always been a good event (in Grand Junction),” Lostroh said. “The bulls are always bucking. Tonight the weather just made it hard for guys to stay on. We’re entering the final stretch, so everything counts, and the guys who stayed on are that much closer.”
Complete results for the PBR Tour stop in Grand Junction will be posted at http://www.pbr.com.