S. returned to Fresno, and has kindly agreed to tell us about her adventures this time around.
|Flint "protects" Brady Simms on the shark cage|
To be honest, I waited a little too long before writing this, so it may be more brief than the usual as details are escaping me by the moment. I'll be sure to pad with a lot of photos. Friday is also kind of a blur as I worked a half day before driving the nearly four hours to Fresno through not great traffic, checking into the hotel, and hustling over to the event.
There's nothing very new or exciting about the pre-event festivities, except the fan club now has something called PBR Passport. You get a card that hooks up to your information, and you get it scanned at the events you attend for the chance to win prizes. Most of the prizes seemed pretty good too, like VIP tickets to the same event next year, or $500. Unfortunately, I didn't win any of them, but at least they seemed worthwhile. Also, they've gotten rid of the Bass Pro Shops shooting arrows at the deer practice target or the fishing thing, and now you have to guess the monetary total of the items Luke Synder is putting in his cart at Bass Pro Shops. Amazingly, someone won this on Friday.
|Silvano Alves stands alone...|
Anyway, I was keen to go to the Friday event for multiple reasons. Firstly, the PBR kept going on about testing a new chute clock, and I was very curious to see what that meant. Secondly, it was to be the first event after ABQ where the invitees J.W. Harris and Guytin Tsosie would be competing with a 5 event invitation. And finally, and most importantly, it would be my chance to see Bushwacker buck in person in the 15/15. So let's run it down:
Chute clock: I was curious but filled with trepidation about the PBR's latest foray into screwing around with the rules. On the positive side, I think it does really help the guys to have a clear visual cue about where they are with the timing, rather than it totally being the whim of the chute judge, who might be yelling something incoherent. However, one minute is really not a lot of time, and since the judges have "discretion" to add several more 20 second intervals, it's all just as arbitrary as before. And while it's hard to make a direct attribution, I feel like there were a lot more nasty wrecks and hangups than I am used to seeing, and one has to wonder how much of that might be due to guys hustling to get out before the minute runs out. So far, not a fan. Bulls are unpredictable and both rider and bull safety need to be considered-- at the least, the initial clock time should be increased.
|Horrified amusement or amused horror?|
J.W. Harris and Guytin Tsosie: J.W. Harris showed he is the real deal to the PBR audience with a pretty little ride on Hot Blooded. Guytin Tsosie unfortunately did not do as well. I suspect he got overwhelmed and was trying too hard-- he was overriding the bulls. Thankfully he seems to have figured things out since.
Bushwacker: They actually trotted him out in the introductions, although I don't think he really appreciated it, as he spent the whole time circling around near the chutes, apparently wondering why he was there and just wanting to leave. I think he knows his job and he knew this wasn't it. Bushwacker is huge, by the way! And, although we only got a few seconds of action from him as he dumped L.J. Jenkins, I was very happy to have seen him buck in person.
|Kody Lostroh and Valdiron de Oliveira|
At the end of the 15/15, there actually were a number of rides, but Silvano Alves was triumphant with a Silvano-of-old style ride on Rango. He was pumped up after the ride, but it was extremely bizarre the way the PBR had a handler or two trot him up on the shark cage, where he just stood by himself, doffing his hat, until they told him to come down. I hope that looked better on camera because it was super awkward in person.
The other notable thing about Friday's event was that Brandon Bates wasn't there, so the in-arena announcers were Clint Adkins and Matt West. I enjoyed West's calm take on things, and his response to Flint's twerking speaks for us all.
|Young guns Gage Gay and Matt Triplett|
Oh, and since the entrance for the on-the-dirt fan club signing was all the way around the arena from us and we were in row B, we were unable to get on the dirt (well, maybe we could have, but it would have been after most of the cowboys went around). I guess if we'd left before Bushwacker bucked, we could have made it, but I wasn't going to do that. It's too bad there isn't an easier way for this to play out, but I suppose there's always next time.
On Saturday, we had made plans to meet up with a fun PBR friend and enjoy the day (for some reason, this was an evening event). After ending up in a gun store because it looked like the hipster coffee place (Clovis, what can you do?) and breakfast, we ambled to Boot Barn, because we had coupons and because there were cowboys there. I didn't end up buying anything at Boot Barn, but I did get some photos that kind of made up for the inability to capitalize on the on-the-dirt signing the night before. We got a nice tour of various parts of Fresno with our pal, and ended up chatting with some of the Brazilian riders at the hotel, who were kind enough to pose for a photo -- Emilio Resende seemed especially pleased by this.
The bulls by and large were fairly decent at this event, although many were pretty squirrelly; probably bulls act up at all events but we just don't see it on TV, for obvious time saving reasons. In another not-seen-on-TV-moment, we got to experience the event itself being delayed in order to fit into airing live on CBS Sports Network. The in-arena announcers kept us up to date with overtime shenanigans of whatever we were waiting for, while Flint did his thing.
Flint discovered that pickup man Julio Moreno's horse really didn't like him, so he spent some time taunting the poor thing. He's lucky the horse didn't give him a swift kick. Speaking of Flint, since I no longer pay to see the LEC stream, even though his act has not really changed, it was more bearable. Also, Matt West gave him some new material by having attended a Miley Cyrus concert by himself. Good for him.
|Flint tempts fate|
Not much terribly notable happened at the event overall , although there were a fair amount of rides. also, Cody Lambert must have yanked Stone Sober from the Championship Round after his performance at the 15/15, since he wasn't there and Hair Trigger was.
I do hope, however, that someone told Tanner Byrne, who was so elated after his ride, the last one in the round, and who clearly thought he won, that the crowd was booing his score and that he hadn't won, not him. He looked really confused, poor guy. I'm sure his time will come, even if it ended up being Cody Nance's victory this time.
|Unique artwork transportation provided by...|
There was one amusing little story I can tell about Saturday. I had done a drawing for Robson Palermo, but he didn't come out either night, I assume because he was pretty battered. I decided to ask Renato Nunes, who I had previously done a drawing for, if he could maybe take it to Robson. He seemed pretty confused by this request, and more confused by what to do with it as he did his rounds, but he agreed to take it. His ultimate decision was to put the drawing down the back of his jeans, which was quite an entertaining image. It may be the only artwork transported by cowboy jeans.
So, in conclusion, chute clock reception is mixed, Bushwacker is a plus, PBR friends are definitely a positive, and amusing cowboy moments keep us all entertained. The recipe for another successful trip to Fresno. Too bad I had to drive back home for four hours right after leaving the event...
Thanks to S. for sharing her tales of Fresno! Hopefully I managed to insert her photos in a somewhat organized fashion.