It’s billed as the “Toughest Sport on Earth” and it’s coming to Germain Arena this weekend.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Big Bull Professional Bull Riding (PBR) Touring Pro Division is the 11th stop on the tour’s circuit. Twenty-seven riders will test their skills against top bulls weighing in excess of 1,600 pounds.
Among the riders will be 23-year-old Ricky Brack of Golden Gate Estates. The 6-foot-2 Brack is a graduate of Palmetto Ridge High School and has been riding bulls since he was 15 years old.
Also entered are 2009 PBR Rookie of the Year Cody Nance and 2008 PBR Rookie of the Year Reese Cates.
Though riders are able to maintain their mount for just a few seconds, when it’s an angry, kicking bull, it can seem like a lifetime.
“Main thing I hear is, I’ll hear me breathing real hard. And I’ll hear the bull’s hooves hitting the ground,” Brack said in a 2006 article on the sport. “It just sounds like — not like a hammer hitting something — just like a slow stomp and then like an echo. Like you can feel the vibrations in the ground. It slows down very much. Eight seconds is a very long time.”
And it doesn’t always end well.
“I’ve been stomped a lot,” he said. “That’s just the risk you got to deal with, and you know it’s gonna happen.”
According to the PBR website, the Touring Pro Division is the new 2011 minor-league tour of the PBR. As with the previous minor-league tours, it offers up-and-coming bull riders and riders not competing on the elite Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) the opportunity to compete in PBR-sanctioned events while earning money to qualify them for the BDTS World Finals.
Once the season begins, the world’s Top 40 bull riders have five BFTS events to secure their positions on that elite tour. After the fifth event, the bottom five riders (based on points) are dropped from the BFTS. The Top 5 Touring Pro Division riders (based on money earned) are then allowed to move into those five positions.
The Touring Pro Division rider who accumulates the most winnings for the 15 events will be given an entry into the BFTS events at Milwaukee on Sept. 9 and 10, Springfield, Mo., on Sept. 16 and 18, and Wichita, Kan., on Sept. 23 and 24.
The rider will also receive an RMEF-sponsored hunt, a limited-edition rifle from Browning, and a set of tires from Cooper Tires.
But it’s more than the chance to make it to the big time that keeps Brack strapping himself again and again on top of a raging bull.
“You’ve got to have the heart to do it,” he said. “You gotta want to do it when you’re bleeding, when you’re sore, when you’re cold, when you’re busted up — busted lip, hands bruised, any time. Any time of the day, any time of the year. You just gotta have the heart to do it.”
Ticket prices start at $12 and are on sale at the box office at Germain Arena, www.Ticketmaster.com, and by telephone at (800) 745-3000.