PBR tour returns to Casper
The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Casper Invitational returns to the Casper Events Center Oct. 9-10. The first weekend of the event, held Oct. 2-3, featured 45 cowboys nightly, including two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood, Daylon Swearingen, Boudreaux Campbell and Ky Hamilton.
Veteran Bull Rider Wallace Vieira de Oliveria of Goiania, Brazil, claimed the Friday night win. Oliveria collected 38 points at the event, which bumped him from his number 63 ranking to number 45.
On Oct. 3, 21-year-old Roy, Utah native Kyler Oliver, captured the victory. Looking to qualify for his first PBR World Finals, Oliver advanced from being ranked at number 87 in the world prior to the event, up 31 rankings to number 56. Oliver’s win in Casper was his first career-win in the league.
Success a family affair
Glad to have the win under his belt, Oliver looks to the second weekend of the event in Casper enthusiastically. After a slow start to the year, he shares he hasn’t been to many events this season, but has done well at the events he’s been able to attend.
“I’m excited to come back to Casper for the event Oct. 9,” says Oliver. “I’m feeling really confident going in after last weekend.”
Oliver studied the bulls that bucked Oct. 2-3 in Casper, and one of his traveling partners rode the bull he’s drawn for Oct. 9. He explains it’s nice to know what to expect from a bull before getting on.
On riding bulls professionally for the PBR, Oliver says, “It’s the best job I could ever have. Not many people get to travel around the country doing what they love, and if they do well enough, get paid to do it.”
“We have to put our bodies on the line, and sometimes it can be dangerous,” he continues. “But, the journey along the way is worth way more than any of the money we win.”
Oliver credits his family for his career in rodeo. He shares his grandpa Tim and uncles Shane and Hadley have been his main supporters, role models and teachers.
]“A lot of people don’t understand how much of a family event rodeo is,” Oliver says. “Even the people I’ve met rodeoing in the PBR seem like family. I feel like I have a whole bunch of brothers, and that’s really cool to me.”
The cowboy shares some advice, saying it is important to take believing in personal ability to the next level.
“We’re all equal. It’s a matter of keeping our chins up and not getting down on ourselves for not being perfect,” he shares. “We need to put our minds to it and believe we can do anything if we work hard enough.”
Oliver will compete Oct. 9 in Casper before heading to Tulsa, Okla. for the Express Ranches Classic.
Rodeoing through COVID-19
River Stephenson, a Blackfoot, Idaho cowboy, will compete at the Casper Events Center for the second week. Stephenson looks to remain competitive this weekend.
“I feel motivated and focused coming back to Casper for an aggressive performance this weekend,” he says. “I was a little hesitant this last weekend, and I’m ready to go hard from start to finish this weekend.”
Stephenson, who has been riding bulls professionally for five years, says the competition is what keeps him hooked in the sport.
“Riders and bulls are constantly getting better, and being pushed is the greatest challenge,” he shares. “I learn something from everybody I watch – from stock contractors to fellow competitors.”
The cowboy has one event win, two finishes in the top five and three finishes in the top 10 so far in the 2020 season. He believes the COVID-19 pandemic has presented rodeo athletes with unique challenges and opportunities.
“I think COVID-19 has made a lot of bull riders a lot better,” he states. “There weren’t near as many events to attend this year, and at every event I’ve seen a lot more effort.”
“I feel like this has been one of the hardest years since I’ve been riding bulls professionally,” he continues. “That says something, because I think every year it gets tougher. The events this year made bull riders better and it brings the whole sport to a new level.”
Stephenson also shares he was thankful for the opportunity to rodeo during the pandemic and is grateful for everyone involved in making that happen.
“Everybody in the industry knows how many hoops COVID-19 has presented them to jump through,” he says. “I’m grateful for the people who have kept their noses down and buckled down all around the industry to keep things going because it hasn’t been easy on anybody.”
“Hats off to everybody out there working to keep things going,” he shares. “I know nothing is a given with everything going on, and I appreciate all of their work.”
Averi Hales is the editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.