The 2013 PBR schedule has been released, and after an enthralling World Finals event in Las Vegas, it's time to look ahead to the biggest events of the upcoming season.
Professional Bull Riders' official Twitter congratulated the historic achievement of rider Silvano Alves in Sunday night's 2012 finale:
Congrats to Silvano Alves, the first back-to-back World Champion in the history of the sport. #PBRFINALS
— PBR (@PBR) October 28, 2012
Such an accomplishment should only heighten interest around the sport, and will help build the intrigue surrounding next year's slate. Here is a quick overview of the marquee offerings that the 2013 schedule has for the top 40 bull riders in the world.
Madison Square Garden Invitational, New York, N.Y. (January 4-6)
Fans hope to see a wildly entertaining show free of tragedy to redeem what happened in the season-opening Built Ford Tough Series event from this year.
Twenty-eight-year-old rider Pistol Robinson was launched to the ground by Carillo Cartel in the third round of his effort in January, then was trampled. That caused a femur fracture in Robinson's right leg and breaks in both his tibia and fibula in his left leg.
Keith Ryan Cartwright of PBR.com illuminated the wonderful story that sprung from these unfortunate circumstances back in June. Robinson's fellow rider and childhood friend Colby Yates began a benefit auction to help Robinson pay for the mountainous, six-figure cost of his hospital bills.
The MSG event is going to be linked to the accident for a long time, and the 2013 version will likely render an emotional atmosphere to kick off the year.
Now retired, Yates is likely to be in attendance, too.
Las Vegas Invitational, Las Vegas, Nev. (May 10-11)
The all-important lead into the World Finals will take place in the same city as the season's ultimate event more than five months prior. Riders will be battling for position at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in order to have a realistic shot at winning the sport's most coveted prize in October.
Luke Snyder won the last time the event was held in Vegas in 2011, which was the sixth win of his 12-year career. He wound up 11th in the 2012 PBR Built Ford Tough Series standings.
As compatriot and runner-up to the reigning world champion Alves, look for Guilherme Marchi to build on the success of his strong results at Sunday's Finals and make an even better run in 2013.
This event will loom large in determining how close Marchi can come to knocking Alves off his pedestal.
PBR World Finals, Las Vegas, Nev. (October 23-27)
The Thomas & Mack Center will once again play host to the most significant event on the PBR circuit.
Alves will look to become a three-time defending champion as a rider. Robson Palermo will also try to defend his event title for the third consecutive time, and notch his fourth victory at the season finale overall.
Plenty of unprecedented history will be at stake. With a staggering career ride percentage of 66.4, Alves has to be considered the heavy favorite as the reigning world champion. His best competition will likely be veteran Valdiron de Oliveira, who has the capability to make a run at the 24-year-old Brazilian for a breakthrough world championship.
Unfortunately, de Oliveira was plagued by injury, so winning sooner rather than later will be key as his career continues to wind down.
Not to be discounted are the following contenders: two-time world champ Chris Shivers, reigning Rookie of the Year Emilio Resende and experienced youngster Austin Meier, among others.
With so many emerging 20-somethings led by Alves, the PBR World Finals are bound to be as entertaining as any that preceded them.
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