Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009 | 6:25 p.m.
They didn’t know it. Couldn’t have.
J.B. Mauney flung his hat in excitement after his ride and Kody Lostroh bounced on the back of Voodoo Child, willing to hang on for just a second longer before falling victim to the wild bull.
Mauney rode his final bull in the championship round of the 2009 Professional Bull Riders World Finals and Lostroh was bucked off just a half second before the standard eight-second mark. But going into their last rides, neither knew the 2009 PBR champion was already decided.
Sunday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center, the PBR’s next-best thing had become the best thing as Lostroh took the championship by 594 points in the tightest PBR World Finals to date.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Lostroh beamed afterward. “The last few years, guys have been kicking my butt and to finally get on top, that’s what this sport is all about.
“Some of the stuff I went through this year, it was challenging. Nothing’s ever easy. If you work hard and put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded. But no matter how much you win, there will always be obstacles ahead of you.”
For Lostroh, a 24-year-old from Longmont, Colo., one of those challenges will begin Wednesday, when he undergoes surgery to reattach a tendon in his elbow.
He injured his elbow earlier in the year, tried a brace, wasn’t comfortable with it and battled on the rest of the way.
“They told me it was pretty tore up and the brace wouldn’t let me ride the way I needed to,” he said. “So I put it in God’s hands, kept on with it and it all worked out.”
Mauney, while finishing second, became the first PBR rider to ride all eight bulls in the World Finals since the organization increased the number of rides from seven to eight in 2004.
“I come with the mindset just to ride every bull I get on,” he said. “I did everything I could and next year I’ll come back and do it again. I don’t think I’m going to retire just yet.”
Mauney, 22, has been riding since age 3, when he topped his first sheep, and is considered to be one of the up-and-comers in the PBR.
He finished first over the weekend with 715 points to Lostroh’s 624, earning just under $350,000 for his performance.
“He’ll have his world championship soon,” Lostroh said.
Lostroh took home a check for $1 million.
PBR co-founder Ty Murray said that heading into that final showdown between Mauney and Lostroh, the title had already been decided, thanks to Lostroh’s torrid run throughout the year.
Even if Mauney would have posted the highest possible score and Lostroh the lowest, the latter still would have had the lead.
“I didn’t have a clue about the points,” Lostroh said. “But to be honest to you, I didn’t care, I was still there to do my job and ride that bull no matter if I had it won or didn’t have it won.
“We all ride for this moment, and I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
During Sunday’s finals, it was announced by PBR Chief Executive Officer Randy Bernard that Las Vegas will host the 2010 World Cup next April.
“Las Vegas is truly in our heart,” Bernard said to the Thomas & Mack crowd. “With the almost $50 million in economic impact we can bring, we wanted to help out the city.”
The decision to hold the finals on April 16-18 was also made in conjunction with the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
This weekend’s contest was one of the most memorable in PBR history.
“In the 16 years that I’ve been involved with PBR,” Bernard said, “Our dream was to have a competition that came down to the very last ride.”
“This season has been battle after battle and to see these guys, this weekend, put their heart and soul out there, there really isn’t a second place here.”