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Want to ring in the New Year with a buck instead of a bang? Then the place to be is with the international Professional Bull Riders (PBR) January 5 – 7 at MSqG -- but, unless you are brave and wear chaps, the safest bet are seats on the sidelines. In addition to the winter chill, NYC will be getting a dust-up of brawn and bravado for three intense, action-packed performances, as champions and want-to-be-champions mount and try to stay on monster bulls for a mere eight seconds. Sounds easy, you say! Not on your life!The Monster Energy Buck Off lightweight vs. heavyweight edge-of-your-seat action is at 7:45 P.M. Friday, 7:45 P.M Saturday, and the New York finals at 1:45 P.M. Sunday.
The world’s Top 35 bull riders – including World Champion Cooper Davis, two-time champ J.B. Mauney, 2016 runner up Kaique Pacheco, and the youngest PBR World Champion and winner of the 2017 NYC Buck Off, five-foot-five, 130-pound cowboy, 20-year-old Jess Lockwood – battle foes 10 times their weight with only a rope wrapped around one hand.
Rookie Lockwood has had top-prize dollars and horrendous setbacks – but back he comes. In 2016, he soared to world No.1, holding that rank six weeks until suffering serious injuries, including broken ribs and being knocked unconscious in September [by world champion bull SweetPro’s Bruiser]. Each day, the riders face one bull each. Following the final round, 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.Going into MSqG at 499 rides, Mauney will be only the third PBR rider in 25 years to reach 500 qualified rides – if – and there’s always an “if” when dealing with raging mad 2,000 “beasts” – he completes a ride. The three days are a punishing competition in which one in 15 rides ends in injury. This is a brutal sport where lives can change in an instant. Mauney has has every imaginable injury, including shattered eye socket, bruised kidney and spleen, lacerated liver, and muscle, tendons, and ligaments ripped clear off bones [which required the rebuilding of a shoulder]. He and Lockwood live by the motto: “If you can’t take the pain, get out of the game.”
In each city, riders strive to win their share of the $140,000 event purse. The PBR has paid out more than $150-million, with 27 riders earning more than $1 million. In New York, more than $1.2-million has been awarded in the last decade.The PBR, “America’s fastest growing sport” (according to Forbes), features the Durabull Fighters [similar to daredevil rodeo clowns], who jump into action to deflect the bulls as soon as riders are bucked off. It goes on until only one man’s left standing.This is the 12th consecutive year in NYC for what’s called “the toughest sport on dirt.” The 18-state tour culminates with Las Vegas finals in October when the 2018 champion — the bull rider amassing the most season points, receives the World Championship belt buckle, gigantic trophy, and $1-million purse.
The PBR is a massive undertaking, traveling in 18-wheel rigs which contain the bulls’ luxury accommodations, the steel set, stalls, and, get this, 750 tons of dirt spread 8 inches deep. The Garden event opens a fierce 26-stop tour hitting Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis, St. Louis, and Sacramento. The series, produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winning David Neal Productions, is a weekly high-rated TV series on CBS, CBS Sports, and networks worldwide.
For more information, go to www.pbr.com.
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