DULUTH, Ga. – As the chilly air swirled around Gas South Arena Sunday afternoon, it was colder than a typical day should’ve been in Duluth, Georgia. Perhaps related to the incoming storm, the fact that it’s late January or simply just a one-off occasion.
Or maybe, the cold front was a sign that “The Ice Man,” Kaique Pacheco would prevail during the weekend’s PBR Gwinnett Chute Out.
After picking up a second-place finish last weekend in the Windy City and besting his Round 1 opponent Saturday night, YETI Yonder, for 87.5 points in front of a sold-out crowd in northern Georgia, one could feel the confidence oozing out of Pacheco.
Stepping to the plate Sunday during Round 2, this time paired against Cherry Bomb, the arena could sense the Brazilian was primed for success. But the audience, alongside the rider, would have to wait a bit longer, as Pacheco was awarded a re-ride after his first attempt aboard the bovine.
“Get that bull out of the way and give me the next one,” Pacheco shared walking back to the locker room for a quick reset before the re-ride.
“I’m really happy to ride my bulls. That’s my job to hold on. I still have one more, just keeping my focus on that right now.”
Next up was a matchup with Chanler’s Dream. With the crowd seemingly supporting the athlete and his right to another, this time fair and uninterrupted ride, the suspense built, and so did the veteran’s odds of making the short round as he bested the bull for 82.75 points.
With his ticket punched to the championship round, Pacheco selected to compete against UTZ BesTex Smokestack in the bull draft, which marked the bovine talent’s first PBR out.
Always ready for a good challenge, Pacheco found himself as one of two riders to complete a perfect 2-for-2 start to the weekend and, respectively, was slotted as the second-to-last rider to compete.
Readying for his matchup, calm, cool and collected, as always, Pacheco exited the gates aboard the bovine athlete in stunning fashion.
Announcers, crowd and fellow athletes alike verbally supporting him, he spun around atop the bull, meeting the requisite 8 before celebrating as the only cowboy on the night to go 3-for-3.
“I know he’s a really good bull, Blake Sharp just bought that bull,” he shared during a CBS Sports Network interview. “He’s bucked in the PRCA before. He has a lot of great records and I’m really happy to have the opportunity to beat that bull for the first time.”
Affectionately winning the crowd over, if he hadn’t before, he concluded his night by thanking the dedicated fans who packed Gas South Arena for the two-day showcase.
“I want to say thank you to all of the fans who came out and saw us right here, that’s really important, your support for each of us bull riders,” Pacheco shared as he addressed the crowd.
Never deterred by his less-than-ideal opening sequence of the 2023 Unleash The Beast campaign, recognizing the balance has been key for Pacheco.
“In life, you have some ups and downs, and that happens, that’s part of life, part of the game. I need to just keep going, keep working hard to be better each time.”
Noting his unusual beginning of the season, perspective plays a huge role in the veteran’s approach. On the dirt and within many aspects of life.
“I’m really happy to ride my bulls and do my job and win the event this weekend. I started a little slow at the beginning of the year, but I’m happy to get back, I’ve been working hard for that.”
Despite the slow start to the year, the 2018 World Champion understands his main goal each weekend.
“My occupation is to ride bulls for my job, that’s what I decided to do for a living.”
Making a living indeed, amidst a six-out ride streak, he’s racked up $63,031 in winnings in the past eight days.
Pacheco earned 126 Unleash The Beast points for the win Sunday, and after picking up an even 100 points last weekend for his runner-up finish in Chicago, the World Champion heads into Indianapolis as the No. 3 ranked rider in the world.
Now just 145 Unleash The Beast points behind No. 1 Andrew Alvidrez, Pacheco will look to tighten the race to be crowned the 2023 World Champion when Unleash The Beast rolls into Indianapolis Jan. 28-29 for the PBR ZipRecruiter Invitational.
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson