For a city known for its hipsters, Portland showed there are fans new and old of bull riding. Long lines of cowboys and cowgirls had already formed outside the Moda Center an hour before the event started.
On Feb. 28, cowboys from all over the world transformed the Moda Center into the next stop on the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) BlueDEF Velocity Tour.
Don’t know anything about bull riding? Here’s a basic understanding. The rider needs to stay on for eight seconds and if the rider succeeds, the judges give a score from 0-100 points based on the preformance of the rider and bull.
The crowd was already showing excitement after the national anthem. “The crowd was unbelievable,” said Matt West, the PBR announcer. “The people who come here are energetic and ready to not just watch the show, but ready to be a part of the show.”
When Brazil native Luis Blanco, 26, started off the PBR with a qualifying ride and a score of 83.5, it only electrified the fans more.
“I go off the applause, you know what I mean, it drives me and it was there all night, so the whole thing was awesome,” said Matt Merritt, the PBR entertainer.
American Weberson Duarte, 28, received a score of 85 after his qualifying ride, setting a high score to beat early in the event.
Blanco’s traveling partner and fellow Brazilian, Wallace Vieira de Oliveria, 35, didn’t qualify on his first ride but managed to keep his head in the game. He set the new high score of 85.5 on his second ride later in the event. With his family in Brazil, Blanco considers Oliveria a brother.
A few of the riders were offered a re-ride, which is given when the bull competes poorly, affecting the ride portion of the score. John Smith was granted a re-ride after his bull, Long Haired Outlaw, gave a terrible performance, which included sitting in the dirt. Smith accepted the re-ride and got a 76.5.
Marco Eguchi was offered a re-ride too, but declined and stayed with his 75.5 score.
A young rider from Idaho, Roscoe Jarboe, 18, showed his talent by receiving a score of 84.5 for his first ride and received a score of 85 after his second ride.
As for being a young professional bull rider, Jarboe said, “I don’t think it’s any different than any of the older guys. I’ve been doing it my whole life, raised around it. It’s nice to get out of the house and explore the world.”
Some of the places Jarboe has been include Canada and Boston, and soon he’ll be going to Brazil and Australia. For training, Jarboe rides horses bareback, hits the gym and works on his cardio and core. Having a strong core is important for bull riders.
Oliveria, Blanco, Jarboe, Duarte, Smith and Eguchi were among the 10 bull riders in the championship round facing the top 10 bulls. The riders seemed to be no match for the bulls as they were being bucked off left and right.
Then it was Blanco’s time to ride. He looked good as he was the first rider to reach the eight seconds.
“This bull bucked me off two weeks ago, and it’s hard to ride him again, especially in the championship round,” said Blanco.
In 2012, Blanco received his highest score of 93. On Saturday he received 91, which he called a “good deal.”
After a few more riders failed to reach eight seconds, Oliveria was the last rider with the chance to knock Blanco out of first place. The crowd got loud as the people rose to their feet. Oliveria’s ride qualified scoring an impressive 88.5.
Blanco said, “Feels really great. Great chance to win a Velocity right here.” He was glad that Oliveria had a successful ride and finished second. “It’s not competition between the bull riders, it’s competition with the bulls,” said Blanco.
It’s not a mainstream sport, yet, but many consider it the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.
“Portland just showed us that they are serious and it was really good,” said Merritt. “I’m sure we’ll be back for another round of this.”
“Thanks to everyone who came,” said West. “Thanks to you guys for being here. Because if there’s not people in the seats than we’re just watching a bunch of guys get on bulls. The fans are what makes this fun.”