LAS VEGAS It was pure coincidence that the opening night of the PBR World Finals fell on Halloween but that didn't mean they weren't going to take advantage of it. Many fans turned out in costumes, notable among them being a group representing the "Rookies of the Year" Reese Cates, Pistol Robinson and Kolt Donaldson. Upon further inspection it was revealed that the costumed fans were none other than Donaldson's mom and Cates' mom and aunt.
"You guys shave just about as often," joked famed bull fighter and court jester Flint Rasmussen.
Other costumes included Cruella De Vil and her human Dalmatian, a group of girls dressed as Native Americans, holding signs that read, "let's play cowboys and Indians" and the Swamp Thing, to whom Rasmussen awarded "fan of the night" honors.
Rasmussen also plugged a new action figure that has been released depicting him inside a barrel.
"It's me in a little hat in a little barrel and it's funny, funny, funny," he said, clapping his hands.
For the third year, the champions of PBR's international tours in Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Australia all have a chance to compete at the PBR World Finals. If they ride all three bulls or break into the ranks of the top 45 riders on the U.S. PBR tour, they will have a chance to compete in the second weekend of the Finals.
Last year at this time, Billy Robinson had his jaw wired shut and was on a purely liquid diet. That doesn't mean he wasn't at the PBR World Finals he was, and he competed. He just didn't feel so hot while he doing it. This year he was healthy and ready to compete only he barely qualified. Grateful once again just to be in the competition, the rider took main stage as the eighth rider in the first round. This time around he put his heart and determination on display and went the full eight seconds on Optimist Prime for 88.75 points. For many reasons, he had never felt better.
Dickies' Worker of the Year
Hale Hughes, an oilfield roughneck and safety manager from Woodville, Texas, was chosen as "Worker of the Year" by Dickies, and won a new Ford F-150, an ATV, $1,000, a free trip to the PBR World Finals and a chance at $1 million at the Dickies 500 NASCAR race.
"We've had low valleys," Hughes said, "but this is quite a peak."
It was a tough night for Colby Yates and Luke Snyder. Both riders covered their bulls for 87 and 86.25 points, but it was not without a price. Yates was viciously kicked in the head after being bucked off his bull Slow Ride, forcing the sports medicine staff to rush onto the arena floor for treatment. Luckily, Yates was able to walk out on his own power, as was Snyder, who got caught up under the hooves of his bull Hypnotic. The two were the only visible injuries of the night.
Rookie(s) of the Year
The Rookie of the Year Race, which has been close all season, is all coming down to these finals. Reese Cates stands in first place, with Pistol Robinson and Kolt Donaldson close behind him.
"We're only talking about $6,000 between these guys in the Daisy Rookie of the Year race," said PBR announcer Justin McKee. "Pistol Robinson is a couple thousand bucks out."
Robinson narrowed the margin, riding the bull Bad Brad for 85.75 points, while Cates narrowly missed his ride going 7.97 seconds on Fraggle Rock.
Pike Pole Challenge
Cates was one of three riders to hit the buzzer after his ride and use the "Pike Pole Challenge." The challenge allows the riders to dispute the judge's ruling on time and rule infractions. After a slow-motion replay, Shane Proctor got his 7.9 seconds on Cadillac Man overturned to score 84.75 points, but both Cates and Harve Stewart saw their rulings stand, and suffered a $500 deduction. For Cates, that made his Rookie of the Year margin even slimmer.
After the first night of competition, both Justin McBride and Adriano Moraes have seven bulls left to ride in their illustrious bull riding careers. Both would badly like to win the overall average, as they are out of contention for the title of World Champion. McBride only announced his retirement 10 days ago here in Las Vegas, so he hasn't had quite the time that Moraes has had to ponder his legacy, but there's one thing they both agree on if they get on a bull, they're going to ride him. Both riders did just that in the first round, covering their bulls for 88 points (McBride) and 87.5 points (Moraes) respectively. Not a bad beginning to the end for two larger than life superstars.