PUEBLO, Colo. – There are three titles in the sport of professional bull riding that Joao Ricardo Vieira has his sights on winning.
The first, obviously, is being crowned the PBR World Champion and winning its accompanying $1 million bonus. The other two titles he hopes to one day win are the Calgary Stampede title, as well as a victory at the rodeo in his hometown of Itatinga, Brazil.
Vieira will get his third chance at winning a Calgary Stampede championship beginning this weekend.
The 31-year-old is one of 10 riders set to compete in Pool A of the Calgary Stampede on Friday afternoon at the Stampede Fairgrounds.
“It is a dream and one of three titles I would like to earn in my career,” Vieira said from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Thursday afternoon.
The Calgary Stampede will be Vieira’s first event since taking time off to heal his hyperextended left following the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank and Trust BlueDEF Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“It is better,” Vieira said. “I did not try (any practice bulls) since Bismarck. I will test my arm today.”
Vieira is currently fourth in the world standings and trails world leader Kaique Pacheco by 370.33 points.
Pacheco turned down an invitation to compete at this year’s Calgary Stampede, instead opting to spend extra time with his family in Brazil.
No Brazilian-born bull rider has won the Calgary Stampede since three-time PBR World Champion Adriano Moraes won the 1994 title.
Each Stampede champion in the nine different rodeo disciplines earns $100,000.
Vieira is the only Brazilian rider competing in Pool A, while world No. 3 Fabiano Vieira and No. 14 Robson Palermo are competing in Pool B.
He failed to advance to Showdown Sunday last year, but Vieira nearly won the Stampede in 2014 when he won the long round on Showdown Sunday with an 89.5-point ride on Proper Ripped a day after winning the Wild Card Saturday round with an 87-point ride on Good Time Earl. However, Vieira was bucked off by South Fork in the championship round.
2011 Calgary Stampede champion Shane Proctor is returning to Calgary for the first time in three years. Proctor was scheduled to compete at the Stampede two years ago before he had to undergo reconstructive right shoulder surgery days before the Stampede would have begun. Proctor failed to qualify for last year’s event after missing the remainder of the 2014 season.
Now he is finally back in Calgary thanks to his third place finish in the 2015 PRCA bull riding standings.
“It is one of my favorite events of all time,” Proctor said. “It is one of the best ones there is, just the whole atmosphere is great.”
Proctor won the 2011 Calgary Stampede by riding Bombs Away for 91 points in the championship round.
It was one of a series of highlights that year for Proctor, who went on to win the 2011 PRCA championship.
“That year I won a ton,” Proctor said.
However, it is also the same year in which he shattered his left arm attempting to ride Black Attack at the Nationals Final Rodeo, resulting in Dr. Tandy Freeman inserting two plates and 16 screws into Proctor’s arm.
Proctor underwent a procedure following Last Cowboy Standing in May to have the plates and screws removed.
Fellow Built Ford Tough Series riders Ryan Dirteater and Nathan Schaper are also competing at the Calgary Stampede.
The other six riders competing in Pool A are Chandler Bownds, Dakota Buttar, Tanner Girletz, Zane Lambert, a former BFTS rider, Devon Mezei and Jared Parsonage.
Pool B begins on Tuesday. The other eight riders competing with Fabiano Vieira and Palermo in Pool B consist of J.B. Mauney, Cooper Davis, Tanner Byrne, Stetson Lawrence, Sage Kimzey, Josh Birks, Cody Teel and Clayton Foltyn.
Mauney is a two-time Calgary Stampede champion, while Kimzey – the reigning PRCA bull riding champion, won the title last year.
The format for the Stampede, which has a combined $2 million worth of prize money up for grabs for the nine rodeo events, is different than a BFTS event.
Riders battle it out for four days in highly-contested pool play with the goal of advancing to Showdown Sunday as one of the pool’s top four money earners. If they don’t make it, then they can jockey with the remaining riders on Wild Card Saturday for the final two spots.
However, once Sunday arrives, the slates are wiped clean and the Calgary Stampede champion will be the rider who posts the single highest-marked ride in the championship round, featuring the top four riders following Sunday’s long round.
The Top-6 finishers at the Calgary Stampede will be awarded points toward the PBR world standings like a standard Touring Pro Division event. Riders that place in the Top-4 of a round will earn points as follows: 20, 15, 10, 5.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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