PUEBLO, Colo. – There was plenty of doubt last year that two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney may never be able to compete again after sustaining a career-threatening shoulder injury at the 2017 Calgary Stampede.
Not only did Mauney make a miraculous return to competition at the 2017 PBR World Finals in less than four months, but the future Ring of Honor inductee is now set to ride at the location of where his career nearly came to an abrupt halt on July 14, 2017.
Mauney has accepted an invitation to compete at the 2018 Calgary Stampede, which begins on Friday, after No. 2 Claudio Montanha Jr. informed Stampede officials that he would be unable to compete because of visa issues.
The 31-year-old will ride in Pool B beginning on July 10.
Mauney – a two-time Calgary Stampede winner (2009 & 2013) – now gets an opportunity to erase the demons of last year after being carried off on a backboard after Cowahbunga stepped on him following Mauney’s 90.5-point ride.
The North Carolina cowboy has competed at every Calgary Stampede since at least 2008, and he would love to replace the lifeless image of him from last year by winning a record-setting third Calgary Stampede title this year.
“It would be special,” Mauney said. “Last year, I was doing pretty good up there, and was winning it. Then I got my arm torn off. Hopefully this year I will be going home with the big bronze instead.”
The Calgary Stampede awards a bronze to each event winner at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Mauney looked to be well on his way to a Calgary Stampede championship last summer before Cowahbunga stepped on him during the finale of Pool B competition.
The richest bull rider in Western sports immediately lay limp in the arena and was in tremendous pain before being tended to by the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
The ride was Mauney’s second round win in four days. His 3-for-4 performance garnered him a Pool-B winning $15,000.
Instead of chasing a victory on Showdown Sunday in Calgary, Mauney instead had his right shoulder in a sling with surgery on the horizon.
Normally Freeman inserts somewhere between 4-6 anchors for a normal, uncomplicated shoulder dislocation.
Mauney’s surgery, though, involved Freeman repairing torn ligaments, his rotator cuff, a transplantation of Mauney’s bicep tendon and removal of bone fragments.
Freeman compared Mauney’s severe injury to having a grenade go off inside his shoulder.
Mauney was fifth in the PBR world standings at the time of his injury, and he was well in the hunt for a record-tying third World Championship.
“I feel like I could have,” Maueny said of potentially winning a third world title last year. “I took a little time off and went to Calgary. Heck, that was the best I have felt in a while.
“I ended up feeling worse when I came home.”
Mauney has yet to regain his World Championship form in 2018.
The 12-time PBR World Finals qualifier is 34th in the world standings after a multitude of injuries, including lingering effects from his Calgary Stampede wreck, have hindered him.
Mauney tore his groin at the season-opening Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden and then broke his T1 and T2 vertebrae in his back when the late Pearl Harbor bucked him off in 2.17 seconds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and folded him over like a cheap lawn chair on April 6.
He is 7-for-22 (31.82 percent) in seven premier series events and 10-for-31 (32.25 percent) at all levels.
Mauney returned to competition from his broken back last month in Bismarck, North Dakota, at Chad Berger’s $100,000 Match of Champions.
The 2006 PBR Rookie of the Year went 0-for-4 in his return.
“I should have got on some bulls before I went up there, and I didn’t,” Mauney said. “Going from not being on anything since April and getting on five bulls in two days can wear a guy who hasn’t been on anything down.”
Mauney’s first three buckoffs came in 4.5 seconds or less.
However, his last buckoff was 6.42 seconds on Midnight Rain.
“My timing was a little off,” Mauney admitted. “The last bull, I felt like I was moving like I am supposed to be. The first couple I was clamped down on them and I wasn’t moving off my butt. If I clamp down, I can’t ride a stick horse to water.
“As long as I keep moving, I ride pretty good. I feel like on that last bull I started getting them kinks kind of knocked out. I started moving and I wasn’t clamping.”
After realizing he was a little rusty in Bismarck, Mauney doesn’t plan on making the same mistake for Calgary.
He will be getting on practice bulls as soon as Wednesday.
“I was going to load them up this evening, but it just come through and rained a little bit,” Mauney said. “I will wait until tomorrow and get on some good practice bulls.”
Will Mauney reflect on what happened last year and how his career has changed when he climbs back inside the chutes at the Stampede’s Grandstand Infield next week?
“Shit no,” Mauney replied. “I don’t think about anything like that. It could have happened anywhere – or when you get on today or tomorrow.
“I am showing up to ride and win.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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