Lincoln Electric is a proud sponsor of Silvano Alves.
(August 10, 2013) - - With two-thirds of the season behind us and nine more events to go before the World Finals, it's starting to look like defending World Champion Silvano Alves is going to make it three in a row. He took the lead in Nampa, Idaho, back in April, and extended it by winning the Last Cowboy Standing in May.
Over the summer, he's added to his lead by doing well at Touring Pro and international events. He's turned in more than 30 qualified rides during that span, 25 of those at big events in Brazil. The biggest question at the beginning of the season was whether or not Alves wanted to pursue a third straight title, because it's clear that he's more than capable of accomplishing it.
Almost every rider who competes at a Built Ford Tough Series event is capable of winning it, but winning the World Championship is a marathon, and the healthiest and most consistent riders have a huge advantage.
Alves has not been the most consistent over the past 12-18 months - Fabiano Vieira actually has a slight edge on him there. But, Alves has certainly been healthier than his closest rivals, and that has played a huge role in his success. Several riders have had the numbers and the opportunity at times to overtake him, but injuries have held them back. Ultimately, not losing time to injury gives Alves extra chances at points. He's been on more bulls in PBR competition than any other rider since the beginning of the 2011 season, and he makes the most of those extra outs by turning in more qualified rides than anyone else as well.
The summer run of Touring Pro events has been good to a number of riders. Jory Markiss jumped from 28th to 15h in the world standings, Chase Outlaw moved from 17th to eighth, Mike Lee moved from 15th to seventh, and Cody Nance moved from sixth to third. But, for all that hard work, none of those guys really gained a lot of ground on Alves, who had the fifth largest gain in points over the summer. In the World Championship race, Alves is like the tortoise, and almost everyone else is like the hare. To beat him, they'll have to become as consistent as he is.
Among the bulls, Bushwacker has garnered the most attention all season, and look for that trend to continue through to the World Finals. He's been all over the mainstream media this summer, and on the season he's averaged more than a point better than defending World Champion Bull Asteroid. Asteroid is really the only bull that has shown he can upset Bushwacker from time to time, but he hasn't done it this season. At this point, Bushwacker is the overwhelming favorite to win his second World Champion Bull title this season.
The question of whether Bushwacker may be the best bull in the history of the sport has been raised a number of times this season. Everyone has an opinion, but there is a strong statistical argument that he is. There are two bulls that have higher career marks - Bodacious and Dillinger. Both of those bulls competed under a slightly different judging system that allowed for higher scores. Bushwacker's buckoff record is more impressive than both of them. If we look at performance + difficulty, Bushwacker could retire today and it may be another 20 years before any bull tops his numbers.
Although there are clear favorites in the World Championship rider and bull races, there is plenty of time left for contenders to catch up. Alves will have to stay consistent to stay ahead, and Bushwacker can't afford to have an off day at the World Finals.