Monday, February 19, 2018

5 alive for Canada

As expected, Canada exactly matched what the Americans did earlier today, defeating their semi-finals opponent, 5-0.

Canada did it by scoring early in every period. Jenn Wakefield had two of the three, and Shannon Szabados had a fairly easy time of it to record the shutout by blocking 19 shots. Canada fired 49 shots on the two OAR goalies.
The win sets up another gold-medal showdown between these two titans of women’s hockey in three days' time. Russia, meanwhile, will play Finland for bronze on Wednesday.
"I think we’re just ready to play in the final," Wakefield enthused. "I don’t think too much about it. It’s what you train four years for. It’s pretty awesome. It’s what you want. You never want to play in that consolation game. It was pretty fun to go out and play in a final. It’s the Olympics. It’s the epitome of women’s hockey."
"If you look at all our games," offered Olga Sosina, "you'll see that we improved through the tournament. We created more chances in this game [compared with the first 0-5 against Canada]. But again, we had too many penalties. Now, we must go out and try to win bronze."
Canada will try to make history by winning five consecutive Olympic gold medals, something no hockey team, men or women, has ever done.
"We didn’t start the way we wanted," said Canadian forward Melodie Daoust, "but we finished really strong in the third period. That’s how we want to play moving forward. I think it was really important for us to go back to the little details and being able to adapt our game plan and switch it. This team was really big for us, and being able to finish the way we did is really good momentum heading into the next game."
Canada’s win tonight in Gangneung was hardly the all-out thrashing many expected. Indeed, the Canadians looked a little rusty (from a four-day layoff) and perhaps a little disinterested (in playing an opponent they’ve never lost to).
Be that as it may, they got the job done and have plenty of time--too much time?--to prepare for the most important game of the last four years. 
The Athletes didn't do themsevles any favours by taking too many penalties. In all, Canada had seven power plays and the Canadians were short-handed only once.
Canada got exactly the kind of start it typically gets against lesser teams, scoring early and dimming their hopes of upset right away. Tonight, it was Jennifer Wakefield who got the goal, but it was Natalie Spooner who did the heavy lifting. 
She went into the corner among a scrum of players, emerged with the puck, and got it to Wakefield in the slot. Wakefield wired a clean shot in at 1:50 for the quick lead.
The Olympic Athletes should have tied the game midway through the period. Yelena Dergachyova had the puck to the back side of Shannon Szabados with a wide-open net, but somehow she managed to poke the puck laterally, into the goalie’s pads.
"Probably a little bit of luck," Szabados said of the save. "It was a pass across, and I made the first save, but I didn’t really see it come off. So I was a little late getting there and was lucky to get a piece of it."
"We wanted to put up more of a fight," said OAR coach Alexei Chistyakov, "but we have to be realistic about [playing Canada]. It was sad that we couldn't score. In the period we were still in the game, we had a good chance but we couldn't score into an open net."
Canada then made it 2-0 with a goal early in the second. This time it was a little razzle dazzle from Melodie Daoust in the OAR end before she dished off to captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who backhanded a high shot over Valeria Tarakanova’s glove.
The third repeated a pattern asWakefield got her second of the nigth just 1:59 in. She glided out in frotn and took a quick shot that went under the arm of Tarakanova and in from a terrible angle. Just 31 seconds later, Emily Clark got to a loose puck from close range and snapped a fourth goal in.
Coach Alexei Chistyakov was in no mood and quickly replaced Tarakanova with Nadezhda Alexandrova. Still, Rebecca Johnston connected for a power-play goal at 14:08 when she smacked home her own rebound.

U.S. overruns Finns

The U.S. grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back in a 5-0 semi-final win over Finland on Monday to advance to the 2018 Olympic gold medal game.

The U.S. will face the winner of the Canada-Olympic Athletes from Russia semi-final for gold at the Gangneung Hockey Centre at 13:10 on Thursday.

"It doesn't matter who we play," said veteran Gigi Marvin. "We're so excited. This is what we came here to do."

The Americans, featuring six skaters who settled for silver at both the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics, are hoping to win their first and only Winter Games gold since 1998. The Canadians are the four-time defending champions.

Especially for North American fans, it is hard not to anticipate a revival of one of the greatest showdowns in women's sports: a U.S.-Canada final. It would take a OAR upset of Kremlin-sized proportions to prevent that.

"The rivalry has been around since before I was born," said Dani Cameranesi, who led the way against Finland with two goals and an assist. "We're all looking forward to the game, regardless who we play. Representing our country on the biggest stage is something we all dream about when we're little kids. And now we're here playing for a gold medal, which we've been preparing for all year."
Marvin, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Hilary Knight added singles for the Americans. This was America's eighth straight Olympic victory over Finland, with zero losses.
The U.S. power play, traditionally a formidable weapon, entered this game ranked seventh out of eight Olympic teams (1-for-10). However, it came to life at the right time here, clicking twice in the second period and once in the third to put the game out of reach.

"We took too many penalties today, for sure," said Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski. "They got three goals on the power play, and that was a big difference. They were really good today."
Despite losing defender Ronja Savolainen to injury on a dangerous first-period hit, the Finns persevered, but simply couldn’t keep pace with the high-octane American attack.
Facing arguably the world’s best goalie in Noora Raty on Monday, U.S. coach Robb Stauber had an intriguing choice to make between the pipes. With three capable options in Maddie Rooney, Nicole Hensley, and Alex Rigsby, he picked Rooney, the 20-year-old University of Minnesota-Duluth product who made 23 saves in the 3-1 preliminary round win over Finland and 21 saves in the 2-1 loss to Canada.

This, however, couldn't be called a goaltending duel. Rooney had a quiet time as the U.S. outshot Finland 38-14.

Raty acknowledged the reasons for the Americans' success: "They can focus on playing hockey full-time. They're true pros, they're physically in shape, and they've got good coaching.
In five Olympic semi-final appearances, the U.S. has never lost except for the famous Swedish 3-2 shootout upset at the 2006 Olympics in Turin. Monday was the first time the U.S. faced a nation other than Sweden.
Finland entered these Olympics with better odds of upsetting one of the North American superpowers than anyone else. In the preliminary round of the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, they defeated Canada 4-3 – their first win over the Canadians in IIHF history. Then they battled the host Americans in a 5-3 loss. Ultimately, coach Pasi Mustonen’s team claimed Finland’s 12th bronze medal in Women’s World history.

"We've battled Finland all year," said U.S. forward Amanda Pelkey. "They've never given us an easy game. That proves a lot to us and to the women's game."
There may still be a Finnish women's hockey medal in PyeongChang, but it won't be gold or silver.

"We'll be ready when the puck drops for the bronze medal," said Hiirikoski. "We have a really good team and have had a great tournament. We'll enjoy the moment and try to win the medal."
The Americans drew first blood on their second shot at 2:25. From behind the Finnish goal line, a forechecking Duggan centered the puck to a wide-open Marvin, who beat Raty stick side from the slot.
Midway through the first, Savolainen, a 20-year-old who plays for Sweden’s Lulea HF, was injured after a knee-on-knee collision with Duggan, slamming into the side boards in the Finnish zone. Savolainen had to be helped off to the dressing room. There was no penalty on the play, and the Finns protested.
The Americans kept coming. With under four minutes left in the first, Monique Lamoureux-Morando stickhandled to the Finnish goal and slid a backhand behind Raty, but it went wide of the post through the crease.
Camaranesi put the U.S. up 2-0 with 1:22 left in the first when she gobbled up an ill-advised Susanna Tapani pass in the Finnish zone and snapped the puck under the cross bar. The U.S. outshot Finland 11-2 in the first period, and their ability to get to quality scoring areas with their speed was taking a toll.

"Of course, we always try to keep the score close at the start, but it's a hockey game, and it's not easy," said Hiirikoski. "We have to be able to play through that."
Stauber’s women continued attacking in waves in the second period. Midway through, Karvinen had a quality chance off the rush that Hensley stymied with her right pad. Also, Savolainen returned to the game. But otherwise, Finland’s positives were few and far between.
The U.S. got an extended 5-on-3 opportunity and cashed in at 13:21, with just two seconds left in the two-man advantage. Kelly Pannek sent a beautiful cross-ice pass that Lamoureux-Davidson one-timed home from the left faceoff circle for her third goal of these Olympics. On the ensuing 5-on-4, Knight stood in front to tip Sidney Morin’s shot from the line past Raty just 34 seconds later. It was the first goal of the tournament for the 2015 and 2016 Women's Worlds MVP.

That eruption killed Finland's hopes of a comeback.

Just 45 seconds into the third period, Raty had little chance on the third U.S. power play goal. The Americans worked the puck around the zone and Brandt found Camaranesi unguarded in front for her second of the afternoon.

Cameranesi wasn't shy about assigning credit for her semi-final success: "I saw Hannah Brandt and Amanda Kessel working hard in the corners and they gave me nice passes in the slot. Both goals I owe to my linemates."

The U.S. offence, which has lagged behind its pace of 22 goals in five games from Sochi, appears to be gathering steam.

"We've been working on getting the puck to the net," said Cameranesi. "We've been playing well, but in our last game there were a few bounces that didn't go in. We're working hard, getting gritty, and hopefully banging in a few."

It would also appear that Rooney has the inside track to start in goal in the gold medal game. Hensley, who backstopped the Americans to a 3-2 overtime win over Canada at the 2017 Women’s Worlds, sat on the bench versus Finland. Rigsby, who replaced Jessie Vetter in the 7-5 gold medal win at the 2015 Women’s Worlds and blanked Canada 1-0 in overtime in the 2016 final, has yet to play at these Olympics.

Goaltending will be exponentially more important in the final, especially if the U.S. faces Canada. The Americans fired 45 shots at Canada's Genevieve Lacasse in the preliminary-round loss and only one got past her. Indeed, everything is magnified when the most important game on the women's hockey calendar comes around every four years.

"It's going to be a tough battle no matter who we end up with and quite frankly I'm glad our game is done and we did our part," said Stauber. "We're going to be in the gold medal game, and that's the most important thing."


Here are three things we learned from the St. Louis Invitational, presented by Express Employment, this weekend at Scottrade Center.
Teel becomes third rider to conquer Seven Dust on Unleash The Beast
The blood was trickling down the right side of Cody Teel’s neck while his hands were shaking as the adrenaline of his 88.5-point ride on Seven Dustbegan to wear off.
The 2012 PRCA champion was struggling to stand as his aggravated left torn MCL was throbbing intensely.
Still, becoming only the third man to ever reach 8 seconds on Gene Owen and Jane Clark’s bovine athlete in 38 outs at the premier level was worth the price of pain.
“It hurts now,” Teel said. “It is starting to hit me. This is really big. A bull like that, you just kind of look past it as best as you can. I knew I was going to have him before the draft even start. You can never count yourself out. I have learned that over the years. As long as I am entered, I will have a chance.
“You have to just keep trying.”
Teel had the last pick of the 15-rider, championship-round draft.
The only other time Seven Dust has been ridden in 53 career outs at any level of competition was in 2015 at the Calgary Stampede by Stetson Lawrence (89.5 points).
It took a lot of try for Teel during the championship round.
Seven Dust came out of the chutes with force and things got hairy for Teel halfway through the ride when Seven Dust changed directions. Teel was then sent flying over the front end of Seven Dust and took a horn to his neck once the 8-second buzzer went off.
“I lost sight of him,” Teel said. “I started kicking loose with my outside foot and I was trying to make contact and I knew it was going to come down to the whistle. A little luck never hurts.”
The ride propelled Teel to a fourth-place finish (165 world points) and moved him to 14th in the world standings.
Teel had aggravated his left knee, which he first injured in Jan. 2015, during his Round 1 buckoff against Rio Delight (5.44 seconds).
The 25-year-old credited the PBR sports medicine team for helping get prepared to ride on Sunday. Teel rode Mental Revenge for 82.25 points in Round 2.
“The guys in sports medicine are awesome,” Teel said. “Those guys have been around the sport so long that they know just what to do. I dang sure couldn’t do it without Dave (Edwards), Rich (Blyn) and Tandy (Freeman).
Byrne wins 24 hours after grandfather passes away
Tanner Byrne had a heavy heart on Sunday afternoon after learning late Saturday night that his grandfather, Marvin, had passed away at 97 years old. Marvin served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.
Marvin was always a big supporter of Byrne’s bull riding career, and Byrne believes there is no question that Marvin was looking down on him on Sunday afternoon when he rode Bad Beagle for 88.75 points to win the St. Louis Invitational.
“Yeah, my dad phoned me last night after I rode and told me,” an emotional Byrne said. “He was the leader of the pack. I know he was definitely with me today riding and we will miss him forever. I always say my idol is my dad and my grandpa.”
Tanner’s championship-round ride ended Bad Beagle’s streak of 18 consecutive buckoffs. Byrne then looked on as Ueberson Duarte bucked off Big Dutch in 3.85 seconds to seal Byrne’s third career victory.
Byrne selected Bad Beagle with the second pick of the championship-round draft.
“I hate that picking stuff to start with,” Byrne said. “I would rather they would just throw one under me and let me do my best. The first one that popped out to me today when I looked at that list was him. I saw some videos of him from over the years and it looked like that was the one for me. I picked him and it worked out great. He can go either way. I have been really liking them away from my hand right now and he did that. He was right in the door to the left, away from my hand, and it felt good.”
Byrne began the path to his third career victory by riding Picking Up Pennies for 83 points in Round 1 and turning down a re-ride in Round 2 following his 77.25-point ride on Lil Moody.
The win pushed Byrne from No. 36 to No. 12 in the world standings after he earned 475 world points. 
“This sport is crazy, the stuff you go through mentally and physically,” Byrne said. “I had been fighting it man. I was hurt all last year. I was trying to scrounge up a season fighting injuries and losing my best friend (Ty Pozzobon). It is a crazy sport. On days like this, I love it more than anything. On the bad days, sometimes you just wish you could stay home.”
Castro wins championship round; Pearl Harbor claims top bull honors
Luciano de Castro is now on the doorstep of the world No. 1 ranking thanks to his career-high 90.25-point ride on Shownuff.
The talented 21-year-old, Brazilian bull rider moved his free arm emphatically and smoothly as he worked his way to a sensational championship-round victory on Sunday.
“I am very happy to ride this bull because he had bucked me off one time,” Castro said via Rubens Barbosa. “I saw this bull was left behind in the draft and I am very happy to stay on this bull. This is my highest score.”
Castro, who began the weekend ranked No. 12 in the world, finished second overall for the second time in the past four weeks. He earned 370 world points to move to third in the world standings heading into next weekend’s WinStar World Casino & Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki.
The 2015 PBR Brazil champion trails world No. 1 Dener Barbosa by 570 points.
“I am very happy to be there with the best bull riders,” Castro said. “I hope to stay in the Top 5 and make good rides all year.”
Dener Barbosa finished 1-for-2 and missed the championship round for the first time in 2018.
Rounding out the Top 5 in St. Louis behind Byrne and Castro was Keyshawn Whitehorse (2-for-3, 265 world points), Teel and Derek Kolbaba(1-for-3, 110 world points).
Kolbaba was absolutely flung by Pearl Harbor in a quick 2.5 seconds during the championship round. It was the fourth time the two have squared off. Pearl Harbor was the YETI “Built For The Wild” Bull of the Event with a 45.5-point score.
“Should have been higher,” reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger said. “We tied a rope over him to make sure he didn’t come out backwards. He just manhandled Derek, and Derek is a good hand. I think the world of Derek Kolbaba. He will reach right in the hat and he has traits of J.B. Mauney in him. He don’t back down from nothing. To go in there and pick Pearl Harbor with a lot of bulls in there is ballsy.”
Pearl Harbor is next scheduled to buck at next weekend’s Iron Cowboy.
Injury Updates
Mason Lowe was able to ride Lunatic for 83.25 points in Round 2 despite a left groin strain from Saturday night. Lowe later bucked off Speed Demon in 3.44 seconds in the championship round, but still picked up 35 points toward the world standings.
Lowe is 77th in the world standings heading into his final guaranteed event before being subject to the cutline following Iron Cowboy.
Marco Eguchi was diagnosed with a neck strain by Dr. Tandy Freeman following his 4.64-second buckoff against Mr. Jim in Round 1. Eguchi was then disqualified (chute clock) in Round 2. 
Eldred gaining confidence with his injured groin
Brennon Eldred had a nice little jolt to his step when he walked into the Scottrade Center shortly after 5 p.m. despite the fact that he had bucked off his last four bulls and had begun the year 4-for-14.
Eldred has been battling a right groin injury for the last three months since partially tearing it during the PBR Global Cup and the nagging injury had begun to affect his mental confidence.
However, when Eldred arrived for Round 1 he said he felt like he was ready to turn to things around and knew he just had to trust himself and his groin.
Talking is one thing though. Following through is another.
Eldred did that by riding Constant Sorrow for 86.5 points to finish Round 1 in second place behind Derek Kolbaba (87.5 points on Cyclone) for 60 world points.
“That was big for me,” Eldred said. “I had been struggling here lately and I just finally am starting to feel good and confident in myself and my body. I feel like everything is starting to fall into place.
“That bull was really good. He went a couple and turned back to the right into my hand. He had me working and about halfway he switched it up and went back left. It felt really good to get tapped off and finish strong.”
Things got a little hairy following the ride as Eldred was stepped on by Constant Sorrow before Matador Jerky Bullfighter Cooper Waln took a horn to the face, shattering his glasses in the process.
“He just stepped on me once and I was a lot better off than Cooper,” Eldred said. “My hat is off to that guy. He saved my ass.”
Dr. Tandy Freeman had to stitch up Waln, who is filling in for Jesse Byrne this week, just below his right eye during sections 3 and 4 before Waln returned for the final 10 rides of the night.
Eldred will look to win his first career event on Championship Sunday and will attempt to get things started when he takes on Rising Sun (4-5, PBR UTB) in Round 2.
Kolbaba cracks Top 10 of the world standings with round win
Derek Kolbaba woke up on Saturday morning and looked outside his hotel room at Lumiere Place in downtown St. Louis and was happy to see remnants of home.
The St. Louis area had some snow showers on Saturday and Kolbaba could sit back and enjoy the fluffy snowflakes falling as if he was back in Walla Walla, Washington, not having to worry about any travel delays due to weather.
It was only a week ago that Kolbaba missed Round 1 of the Caterpillar Classic after mechanical issues with his scheduled aircraft prevented him from making it in time to Kansas City.
Kolbaba still finished in fourth place in Kansas City, but he ould only wonder what could have been if not for his travel issues.
Therefore, the 21-year-old made sure to make the most of his opportunity of arriving a day before the St. Louis Invitational by winning Round 1 with 87.5 points on Cyclone.
“I wasn’t going to miss it this time,” Kolbaba said. “Heck, I am just having fun. I feel like I know what the heck is going on. I have been here before and know you have to capitalize on that. A lot of it is just dumbing it down a little bit. You take it one bull at a time. Stick to the basics and let everything just kind of flow.”
Kolbaba’s second round win moves him up to ninth in the world standings after entering The Gateway City ranked 11th.
He takes on Uncle Si (6-0, PBR UTB) in Round 2 on Sunday.
This is the first time Kolbaba has been ranked inside the Top 10 since finishing runner-up to Jess Lockwood in the 2017 world title race.
Kolbaba trails world leader Dener Barbosa by 820 points. Barbosa (4.94 seconds on Little Bob) and No. 2 Claudio Montanha Jr. (6.76 seconds vs. Speckled Hat) both bucked off in Round 1.
“It fires me up,” Kolbaba said. “Last year I took the good with the bad. It was good because I made a lot of good rides and it helped me with my confidence. It was bad because you finish up second, it is going to put a fire in you. However many events we are into it nowadays, it time to start gunning for that top spot and finish it off.”
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 1 behind Kolbaba and Eldred was Keyshawn Whitehorse (86.25 points on Tractor Tippin), Paulo Lima(86.25 points on Bezerk) and Luciano de Castro (85.5 points on SpringerMountain).
Ueberson Duarte gets first career ride
Ueberson Duarte never, ever expected to find himself competing on the PBR 25th: Unleash The Beast and picking up the first qualified ride of his career – 82.5 points on High Roller – on Saturday night.
“There are no words for this,” Duarte said. “I just want to say thank you everybody to give me the opportunity to be here and just have fun. I wasn’t nervous. I was just calm and relaxed. I just want to enjoy every ride.”
At 31 years old, Duarte is not your standard Brazilian bull rider either.
The Itambacuri, Brazil, native actually never got on a bull in his home country. Instead, it wasn’t until he moved to Danbury, Connecticut, in the mid-2000s that he decided to get on a bull. He eventually moved to Texas a few years later.
A week after winning the Youngstown, Ohio, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event, the No. 38 ranked rider in the world standings will attempt to get a ride aboard Acting Crazy (14-5, PBR UTB) on Championship Sunday and pursue a full-time spot on Unleash The Beast.
St. Louis is only Duarte’s third event at any level this year after breaking his left foot and right ankle at an open bull riding event last November in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
“This is a dream come true,” Duarte said. “I just want to ride. When you put your life in God’s hands you can do anything. He has something better for us. You make a plan and his plan is always better than what we try to plan.”
2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood learned this week that his left knee injury was worse than originally thought, but that still isn’t going to keep him from riding this weekend at the St. Louis Invitational, presented by Express Employment Professionals.
Lockwood confirmed to Wednesday that he will be riding in Round 1 against Cut The Cord (22-5, PBR UTB) at the Scottrade Center after learning he has a torn MCL in his left knee. The 20-year-old originally believed the injury to be a partial tear.
“I saw Tandy (Freeman) Monday,” Lockwood said. “It is torn worse than he thought, but I am getting a brace tomorrow and as long as I wear it, I can ride.”
Lockwood missed last weekend’s event in Kansas City, and he has been rehabbing at the Fit-N-Wise Rehabiliation and Performance Center in Decatur, Texas, with Cliff Cooper.
The third-year pro says he can’t do any further damage to the knee and doesn’t believe he is rushing back to competition to fast.
Lockwood missed seven events in 2017 because of injuries.
The Volborg, Montana, is ranked 19th in the world standings and is 6-for-17 (35.29 percent) with two Top-10 finishes.
2017 World Finals event winner Jose Vitor Leme has also been rehabbing at Fit-N-Wise, but he will not be competing in St. Louis.
Leme said he is going to miss this weekend after injuring his groin and lower back attempting to ride Cochise (1.5 seconds) during the championship round in Kansas City.
Cochise fell on Leme at the end of the buckoff.
“He knocked me down and eventually fell on top of me, hurting my back,” Leme said with the help of Miriaham Garcia translating. “It's not a very worrying injury, but I'm still in pain and I'm not feeling my best to compete.”
“I'm already undergoing treatment at the Fit-N-Wise Sports Medicine physical therapy clinic to be 100 percent ready for the upcoming Arlington event.”
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis will miss another week as he continues to deal with an injury to the ring finger on his right riding hand. The 23-year-old has yet to see a hand specialist, but he returns from a mini vacation in Jamaica later this week.
Meanwhile, veterans Fabiano Vieira (sprained left knee) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (sprained left riding hand) are also going to be out this weekend because of injuries.
Both expect to be back in time for Iron Cowboy.
“My knee is better, but I will only compete next week because my brace is not ready yet,” Fabiano Vieira said.
Joao Ricardo Vieira is a two-time Iron Cowboy champion and wants to make sure he is as healthy as possible for the upcoming PBR major event.
“I am resting for Iron Cowboy,” Joao said. “I hurt my hand in Kansas City, but it is better today. Not serious. Just sore.”
Also not competing in St. Louis is Ryan Dirteater (fractured ribs), Gage Gay (reconstructive knee surgery), Dakota Buttar (flu), Matt Triplett (reconstructive shoulder surgery), Chase Outlaw (reconstructive shoulder surgery) and Shane Proctor (personal decision).
There will be seven alternate riders competing in St. Louis – No. 36 Tanner Byrne, No. 37 Edgar Durazo, No. 38 Colten Jesse, No. 38 Wallace de Oliveira, No. 38 Bryan TitmanUeberson Duarte and No. 38 Alex Marcilio.
Titman is set to make his season debut and is in that four-way tie for 38th in the world standings courtesy of his Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour victory in Greenville, South Carolina, last weekend.
The 29-year-old rode Breaking Bad (84 points) and Bugle Boy (86 points) to earn the win. The two rides were his first of 2018 following five consecutive buckoffs to begin the season.
Titman has drawn Lightning Before (0-1, PBR UTB) for Round 1, and this will be the East Bernard, Texas, bull rider’s first premier series event since the 2015 Last Cowboy Standing PBR Major.
Duarte, who is 6-foot-2, is making his premier series debut after winning the Youngstown, Ohio, Velocity Tour eventafter going 2-for-3. The 31-year-old rode Otis for 87 points to clinch the victory.
He has only competed in two event this year after breaking his left foot and right ankle at an open bull riding event last November in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The Itambacuri, Brazil, bull rider has drawn High Roller (1-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1.
World leader Dener Barbosa takes a 419.7-point lead atop the world standings into the seventh PBR 25th: Unleash The Beast event and will faceLittle Bob (2-0, PBR UTB) on Saturday night. 
No. 124 Stormy Wing and No. 124 Mason Lowe remain in the draw based on their 2017 world standings finish. Wing has five exemptions remaining, while Lowe has two.


Capping an action-packed two days, Tanner Byrne (Prince Albert, Canada) was perfect in St. Louis to win his first PBR (Professional Bull Riders) elite series event of the 2018 season at The PBR 25th: Unleash The Beast, St. Louis Invitational, presented by Express Employment Professionals, at Scottrade Center.
Byrne, the only rider to go 3-for-3 over the two days, clinched the victory with an 88.75-point ride on Bad Beagle (Phenom Genetics/ Rothe) to win the championship round. The Canadian cowboy earned 475 world points, launching him from No. 36 in the world to No. 12, and collected a paycheck of $34,600.
Luciano de Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil) finished second over the weekend, taking him from No. 12 to No. 3 in the world standings. The arena erupted as Castro rode Shownuff (Henry Wilson/Walgren Bull Co.) for a career-high 90.25 points in the championship round. Castro earned 370 points toward the world standings and $18,450.
Young gun Keyshawn Whitehorse (The Woodlands, Texas) secured a third-place finish after he covered Gambini (Dakota Rodeo/ Julie Rosen/Clay Struve) in Sunday’s championship round for 88 points. He climbed from No. 27 to No. 17 in the world standings, earning 265 points and $11,250.
2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel (Kountze, Texas) went 2-for-3 to finish in fourth place. Teel rode Seven Dust (Jane Clark/Gene Owen) for 88.5 points in the final round of the weekend. Teel picked up 165 world points and a $8,325 paycheck.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Washington native Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington), who led the event after winning Round 1 on Saturday night with an 87.5-point ride aboard Cyclone (Blake Sharp/ Sharp Farms & Cattle/ Rio Rojo Cattle Co, LLC). Kolbaba was bucked off by Uncle Si(Meyeraan Bucking Bulls/Phenom Genetics) in Sunday’s Round 2 and by Pearl Harbor (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/ H&C Bucking Bulls) in the championship round. For the weekend, Kolbaba takes home 110 world points and $7,480.
After dispatching Kolbaba in 2.5 seconds for a 45.5-point bull score, the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event was Pearl Harbor. It’s the third time this season the big, black bovine has earned the honor.
The Top 35 bull riders in the world will now head to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the Winstar World Casino & Resort Iron Cowboy powered by Kawasaki on Feb. 24.
In other PBR action this weekend, Ryan Miller (Waterloo, Indiana) won the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour (RVT) Knoxville Invitational event Saturday night inside of Thompson-Boling Arena.
After riding Fist City (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/J.R. Scott) for 88 points in Round 1, he covered True Story (Twisted 3 Cattle Co./Cornwell Bucking Bulls) for 86 points in the championship round to win the event. He earned $7,300, 120 points toward the world standings, and a spot at the Ty Murray Invitational Presented by Isleta Resort & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 16-18.
Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour 
Knoxville, Tennessee - Event Results
Name, Round 1-Round 2-Aggr. Score-Total Points-Money Earned
1. Ryan Miller, 88-86-174-$7,300
2. Reese Cates, 87.5-84.5-172-$4,700
3. Fernando Henrique Novais, 85.5-85-170.5-$2,500
3. Jesse Tillman, 86.5-84-170.5-$2,050
5. Cody Casper-84.5-85-169.5-$1,590
25th PBR: Unleash The Beast
St. Louis Invitational
Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Missouri
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Round 4-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Tanner Byrne, 83-77.25-88.75-249.00-475 Points.
2. Luciano De Castro, 85.5-0-90.25-175.75-370 Points.
3. Keyshawn Whitehorse, 86.25-0-88-174.25-265 Points.
4. Cody Teel, 0-82.25-88.5-170.75-165 Points.
5. Derek Kolbaba, 87.5-0-0-87.50-110 Points.
6. Wallace Vieira de Oliveira, 0-86.5-0-86.50-107.5 Points.
7. Ramon de Lima, 82.5-0-87-169.50-95 Points.
8. Guilherme Marchi, 61.25-85.5-0-146.75-75 Points.
9. Brennon Eldred, 86.5-0-0-86.50-67.5 Points.
10. Cody Nance, 0-84-0-84.00-55 Points.
(tie). Ueberson Duarte, 82.5-82.25-0-164.75-55 Points.
12. Paulo Ferreira Lima, 86.25-0-0-86.25-50 Points.
13. Stetson Lawrence, 0-83.75-0-83.75-45 Points.
14. Mason Lowe, 0-83.25-0-83.25-35 Points.
15. Lindomar Lino, 82.75-76.25-0-159.00-25 Points.
16. Dener Barbosa, 0-82-0-82.00
Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-0-0-0.00
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0.00
Marco Antonio Eguchi, 0-0-0-0.00
Jess Lockwood, 0-0-0-0.00
Brady Oleson, 0-0-0-0.00
Chase Robbins, 0-0-0-0.00
Tye Chandler, 0-0-0-0.00
J.B. Mauney, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Emilio Resende, 0-0-0-0.00
Rubens Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Edgar Durazo, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Marcilio, 0-0-0-0.00
Colten Jesse, 0-0-0-0.00
Bryan Titman, 0-0-0-0.00
Juan Carlos Contreras, 0-0-0-0.00
Stormy Wing, 0-0-0-0.00
2018 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast World Standings
(Place, Rider, Events, Wins, Top 5's, Points, Total Winnings)
1. Dener Barbosa, 14, 1, 7, 1,455.00, $68,445.00
2. Claudio Montanha Jr., 13, 0, 5, 1,035.83, $59,741.67
3. Luciano De Castro, 8, 0, 2, 885.00, $46,183.50
4. Ramon de Lima, 12, 1, 2, 845.00, $49,275.00
5. Ryan Dirteater, 6, 1, 1, 825.00, $55,490.00
6. Cooper Davis, 8, 1, 3, 820.00, $105,984.14
7. Guilherme Marchi, 8, 1, 1, 753.33, $58,503.33
8. Stetson Lawrence, 10, 0, 3, 715.00, $39,361.78
9. Gage Gay, 3, 1, 1, 700.00, $109,425.50
10. Cody Nance, 8, 1, 1, 648.33, $88,337.27
11. Derek Kolbaba, 12, 0, 4, 645.00, $88,909.32
12. Tanner Byrne, 10, 1, 1, 617.50, $47,275.50
13. Valdiron de Oliveira, 11, 0, 3, 574.16, $26,031.67
14. Cody Teel, 11, 0, 3, 562.50, $76,920.95
15. Jose Vitor Leme, 11, 1, 4, 507.50, $46,649.58
16. Kaique Pacheco, 11, 2, 2, 492.50, $50,311.66
17. Eduardo Aparecido, 10, 0, 2, 463.33, $30,686.66
17. Keyshawn Whitehorse, 13, 1, 4, 463.33, $29,122.73
19. Marco Antonio Eguchi, 7, 0, 1, 430.00, $22,300.00
20. Joao Ricardo Vieira, 10, 0, 1, 375.00, $32,378.11
21. Jess Lockwood, 8, 0, 1, 345.00, $19,905.00
22. Brennon Eldred, 7, 0, 2, 337.50, $68,848.54
23. Dakota Buttar, 9, 0, 1, 332.50, $25,134.30
24. Fabiano Vieira, 9, 0, 0, 252.50, $22,308.39
25. Brady Oleson, 11, 1, 5, 245.83, $22,977.29
26. Chase Robbins, 11, 0, 4, 230.00, $30,140.94
27. Wallace Vieira de Oliveira, 13, 1, 1, 227.50, $28,766.07
28. Tye Chandler, 15, 2, 4, 217.50, $18,391.09
29. Lindomar Lino, 11, 2, 3, 215.00, $15,787.20
30. J.B. Mauney, 5, 0, 1, 210.00, $13,900.00
31. Cody Campbell, 12, 1, 1, 198.33, $17,565.00
32. Paulo Ferreira Lima, 9, 1, 4, 195.83, $21,495.81
33. Emilio Resende, 7, 0, 1, 180.00, $12,975.00
34. Ueberson Duarte, 3, 1, 1, 175.00, $7,585.00
35. Aaron Kleier, 6, 2, 3, 170.00, $15,077.97
36. Lucas Divino, 4, 2, 2, 160.00, $10,325.81
37. Reese Cates, 9, 0, 3, 152.50, $12,600.00
38. Rubens Barbosa, 13, 0, 3, 150.00, $23,029.61
39. Silvano Alves, 10, 0, 1, 145.00, $15,826.66
40. Edgar Durazo, 7, 1, 1, 135.00, $14,725.87
41. Alex Marcilio, 8, 0, 1, 120.00, $9,872.24
41. Colten Jesse, 9, 1, 1, 120.00, $8,193.33
41. Ryan Miller, 5, 1, 1, 120.00, $7,300.00
41. Bryan Titman, 7, 1, 1, 120.00, $6,950.00
45. Fernando Henrique Novais, 6, 1, 2, 110.00, $5,893.79

Austin Dillon uses last-lap pass to win Daytona 500

Austin Dillon prevailed in a game of Survivor played at 200 miles per hour, winning the Sunday’s Daytona 500 fiercely and unapologetically after turning race leader Aric Almirola in the third corner of the final lap.
Ten of the 40 drivers who started the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ season-opening event finished on the lead lap in a race that featured eight cautions and three massive wrecks that eliminated many of the strongest cars in the field.
After a huge push from Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. down the backstretch on the second and final lap of overtime, Dillon tagged Almirola’s rear bumper when Almirola moved up the track to block him near the entrance to Turn 3.
Almirola’s No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford turned sideways and tagged the wall as Dillon sped past in the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet bearing the No. 3, the car number that carried the late Dale Earnhardt to his only victory in the Great American Race 20 years ago.
“I did what I had to do there at the end,” Dillon said. “I hate it for the No. 10 (Almirola’s) guys. We had a run, and I stayed in the gas. It is what it is here at Daytona.
“This is so awesome to take the No. 3 car back to Victory Lane. This one is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those (Dale) Sr. fans. I love you guys. We are going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year!”
Racing for his grandfather, Richard Childress, Dillon got his first victory in last year’s Coca-Cola 600. That was a fuel-mileage win. Sunday’s quest for the Harley J. Earl trophy was a rough-and-tumble affair. Dillon said before the race that he liked his chances. He liked them better when he lined up fourth for the final restart and reacted when the race came to him.
“I knew we were in a good spot,” Dillon said. “And I have to thank Darrell Wallace, Jr.—he did a great job. Finishing one-two with ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) engines. What a day. Thanks, Darrell, for that push. I had to make it happen in the end.
“I said (after) my first win I couldn’t beat it, but this does. My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There is a lot of pressure on me to perform, because I’ve had a little bit of everything. But I like that pressure. The same with the No. 3. There is a lot of pressure behind that.
“But I’m willing to take that and go with it. I’m just thankful for all the people that support us along the way—Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can’t thank the Lord enough for this opportunity.”
Wallace ran second, 0.260 seconds behind Dillon and .002 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Denny Hamlin, who led the field to green to start the overtime but, as the only Toyota driver on the lead lap, couldn’t find a drafting partner in the two-lap shootout that decided the race.
Wallace posted the best finish ever by an African-American driver in the Daytona 500, surpassing the 13th-place result of NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in 1966.
Joey Logano overcame a myriad of issues to come home fourth, and Chris Buescher secured a fifth-place finish in his No. 37 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet.
The finishing order, however, did little to reflect the bulk of the race. Seventh-place finisher Ryan Blaney led 118 of the 207 laps but suffered damage to the nose of his No. 12 Ford in a 13-car pileup on Lap 199, the wreck that sent the race to overtime.
That accident also ended the winning chances of 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, who was jousting for the top spot as the end of regulation approached; pole winner Alex Bowman, who ran patiently in the top five for most of the event; and Martin Truex Jr., the defending series champion.
Notes: Dillon’s victory was the first for Chevrolet’s new Camaro ZL1 race car, which was introduced into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season… A six-car wreck on Lap 102 knocked Danica Patrick out of the race. She ended her NASCAR career with a 35th-place finish. Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and pre-race favorite Brad Keselowski were eliminated in the same incident… Jimmie Johnson’s lost his third No. 48 Chevrolet during Speedweeks in a nine-car collision on Lap 60 that also KO’d the strong Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez… Kurt Busch won the first 60-lap stage and Blaney the second. Blaney leads the series standings by six points over Dillon and sixth-place finisher Paul Menard.