PUEBLO, Colo. – Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger stood off to the side as the confetti began raining upon the floor of T-Mobile Arena.
Berger leaned over the edge of the fence and looked on while Jess Lockwood started to celebrate his 2017 World Championship and H.D. Page began making his way up the stairs to the makeshift stage to receive a second consecutive World Champion Bull title for SweetPro’s Bruiser.
As Page posed for photos with the $100,000 World Champion Bull check, Berger let out a sigh and sunk his shoulders.
The Mandan, North Dakota, stock contractor tried to not let his disappointment show, but it was clear on Berger’s face that the 2017 PBR World Finals left him upset.
Pearl Harbor put forth a valiant effort at the World Finals, but his 45.25- and 45.75-point outings were not enough for him to usurp Bruiser and win the 2017 World Champion Bull title.
All Berger could say was, “We will just have to wait again until next year.”
Less than a week later, and Berger’s disappointment was still there after watching Pearl Harbor post 45.75- and 46-point bull scores at the PBR Global Cup.
“It still ain’t enough,” Berger said. “He is a great bull. Two trips like that at the PBR (Finals) and it could have been a different story.”
Pearl Harbor disposed of Kaique Pacheco and Zane Lambert in Edmonton with the power and force that he was missing in Las Vegas.
Lambert got about halfway before Pearl Harbor whipped him off to the side.
“I have ridden those rank ones into my hand, and I just kind of got a little bit behind and Pearl Harbor had a really good day today,” Lambert said. “He bucked. He kind of got me a little raised up, and when I chucked I was just a little bit behind and that was all it took for Pearl Harbor to hand me my ass.”
It was almost like pouring salt in an open wound for Berger.
“It really does,” Berger said. “It frustrates the heck out of me. He is a great bull and I love the bull win, lose or draw. Like I said, all we can do is try next year. Bruiser is a hell of a bull. There is no doubt about it. He never really has a bad day and that is something that happened. Hopefully we can do it next year.”
Despite finishing runner-up in in the World Championship race, 2017 was still a banner year for Pearl Harbor.
The 6-year-old bovine athlete finished the season 12-2 on the BFTS with a career-high 45.96 average bull score. The 12 buckoffs and average bull score were both career-highs for Pearl Harbor.
He was ridden three times in 16 outs overall, not including his perfect 2-0 performance at the Global Cup.
“He was just so strong and hard, and whips, and he is just the total package,” Berger said. “He really is.”
Berger wasn’t just proud of Pearl Harbor, but all of his bulls in Edmonton.
The reigning Stock Contractor of the Year brought 35 bulls north of the border and they had 47 outs overall.
“I am excited about him and about some of my young bulls,” Berger added. “I think we will be talking about Moleek in the mix net year. It was a successful trip up here. These bulls had 2,100-some miles put on them. They had one night’s rest in Mandan and then came up here, and I have to say they performed awful well for what we had to go through.
“Now we get them home and get them rested.”
Berger is turning his focus to Newtown, North Dakota, where he is hosting this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event on Friday and Saturday night at the Four Bears Casino & Lodge.
2017 World Champion runner-up Derek Kolbaba is set to make his 2018 season debut on Friday night, and he will be joined by other top riders such as Fabiano Vieira and Rubens Barbosa.
Berger had thought about bucking Pearl Harbor in Newtown, but he was leaning toward just letting Pearl Harbor take a lap in the arena and watch from the sidelines.
Either way, 2018 will be a big year for Pearl Harbor as he tries to finally deliver Berger that World Champion Bull title he so badly desires.
“All we can do is battle back and throw our hat back into the ring and try and get it next year,” Berger concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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