Welcome to the Big Leagues
–This article comes from PBRNow.com and was written by Keith Ryan Cartwirght.
PUEBLO, Colo. (March 29, 2011) – It took him until the opening round of his third event, but Ty Pozzobon finally knows what it feels like to cover a bull on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Last Friday, he rode Another Husker for 86.5 points in Round 1 of the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. Adding to the accomplishment was the fact that Another Husker had bucked him off at a Touring Pro event in Thief River Falls, Minn., last July.
“I was so excited,” Pozzobon said. “That’s an awesome bull, and things worked out really good.”
“I know exactly what he was going through coming to a couple of events and not getting a bull rode,” said fellow Canadian Aaron Roy, who made his own debut at the 2007 World Cup.
While Roy covered One Way or Another in the second round back then, he went 0-for-the-weekend twice afterward, before covering Joe Dirt for 84.25 points in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Roy knows the talented young Pozzobon from some of the PBR Canada events they’ve ridden in together.
“It’s always exciting when you have young guys like this, who want to be coming down here to ride,” Roy said. “They’re turning down opportunities in Canada, and they get their first ride, especially on a bull that bucked him off before.
“He’s definitely got the talent to be down here. It’s just getting in that groove of being able to stay on these bulls and getting used to everything down here.”
Ben Jones still remembers coming over from Australia with Troy Dunn in 1998.
His first BFTS score – 81 points on Nan Tan Lou Pan – occurred in Round 2 of his second event, in Billings, Mont. Jones, now internationally famous for his post-ride celebrations, said there wasn’t any dancing at the time, because he “was pretty humble back then.”
“I was dancing back home then,” said Jones, who added that despite the “big feeling,” he lived in the shadow of Dunn. “Over here, I was pretty timid, so I kept it all pretty quiet.”
Ryan McConnel and Pistol Robinson recalled their first qualified rides on the BFTS with precise detail.
McConnel made his big-league debut in Columbus, Ohio, at the last event of the 2006 regular season. He recalled being so nervous that he kept drinking water beforehand, and by the time he was up, he was sweating through his shirt.
McConnel remembers Marshmellow Blend spinning close to the chutes, and the judges marking him 84 points.
“I can’t tell you how good it was to get him rode,” he said, “but I can tell you it was even better when I got to the bathroom.”
He said his father Doug, a bull rider himself in his younger years, was with him to savor the ride.
Robinson also made the whistle his first time out of the chute at a BFTS event.
It was in 2008, and Robinson rode Moon Dog for 85.25 points. He went 2-for-3 that weekend in Winston-Salem, N.C., and 3-for-4 the next weekend in Anaheim, Calif., even nailing a 90-pointer on Carrillo Cartel. He finished that event third in the average for his second Top 5 finish in as many events.
“I was ready for big things,” Robinson said.
Three years later, he said he’s never felt as much pressure as he did the night he got on Moon Dog. It wasn’t that he was making his BFTS debut; just that Moon Dog was a bull top riders – even newcomers – were expected to cover.
“That night was a live night (on TV), and my phone was just blowing off the hook,” he recalled. “Everybody was sending me texts and voicemails.”
Friday night in Albuquerque, Pozzobon said he knew he had finally gotten the monkey off his back after having gone 0-for-4 at his first two events, and while he wanted to celebrate the moment, he wasn’t sure whether to jump around in the arena or simply walk out.
Canadian bullfighter Jesse Byrne was there and wanted to high-five him, but Pozzobon shook his hand instead. Roy was yelling from the back of the chutes to throw his helmet in the air. The newcomer just grinned as he made his way out.
“Yeah,” Roy admitted, “I wanted him to throw that helmet. Just so he had to walk out there and get it.”
—by Keith Ryan Cartwright