Published Friday, May 9, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Updated Monday, May 12, 2014 | 11:02 a.m.
The fourth-annual Professional Bull Riders’ Last Cowboy Standing, part of the 2014 Build Ford Tough Series, features the world’s Top 50 bull riders and rides into Mandalay Bay Events Center today and Saturday.
At Last Cowboy Standing, the Top 50 bull riders, the biggest lineup of any BFTS competition, ride bulls with the goal of making the 8-second buzzer. If a rider stays on for 8 seconds, he continues to compete; if he’s bucked off, the competition is over.
The bull riders continue to compete until the last cowboy standing, and the winner takes home a prize of $100,000. I spoke with top Nevada professional bull rider Markus Mariluch, who hails from Elko, over the phone ahead of Last Cowboy Standing.
How did you get started in professional bull riding, and how long have you been competing?
I’ve been competing for nine years now. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, since I could walk. I helped my dad raise sheep, calves, horses. I’ve been a cowboy my whole life.
I started calf riding, steer riding, then bull riding and really enjoyed it and turned it into a professional career.
Was your family supportive when you began your professional bull riding career?
Very supportive. I come from a family of riders — my dad, my Uncle Jerry was a pro bull rider. Every uncle or cousin does something in bull riding.
What do you hope to accomplish at Last Cowboy Standing on May 9 and 10 at Mandalay Bay?
I hope to ride every bull and win. It’s a big payday as the winner, and I have home-field advantage. It’s exciting because we’ll be riding some of the rankest bulls.
You’re from Elko but you live in Texas, right?
I live in Texas, but I get home quite a bit to Nevada. I’m kind of a gypsy and split my time between the two places. I’ve lived in Texas the last five years and have no family here. All of my family is in Nevada, but living in Texas is central for my career.
I’m about the only bull rider in Nevada, but there are hundreds here in Texas and a lot of opportunities for practice and competition. This is a bull rider’s world.
How often do you compete each year?
I’m gone almost every weekend year-round. I’ve competed in Canada, Mexico Brazil and Australia. I’m currently getting my passport to compete in China.
What are your preparations before a competition?
It’s become a routine now to come home and work out a few times a week. Monday is a recovery day after getting beat up on Sunday. I’ll use practice bulls if I’m riding like crap. Then it’s ropes, spurs, riding pants and chaps right before go time.
What’s the best part of your sport?
I enjoy the competition of the bulls. You’re getting on the rankest bulls, the rankest suckers. There’s no other feeling in the world like it. It’s me vs. the beast.
The most difficult?
What has been your worst injury?
I’ve shattered my face, broken my arms, broken my ankles and ribs. Dislocating my shoulder rotator cuff, that was the worst, in 2012. And last year, I broke my arm and had to have plates and screws. I was out a couple of weeks.
How much longer do you plan to compete?
I am 28 now, and I have fix to six years left in me. I’m deciding what I want to do next.
How often do you make it to Las Vegas?
Six or seven times a year for PBR and NFR events. I’m back next weekend for Helldorado Days. I have a brother who lives there, so I see him.
What do you like to do for fun while you’re in Las Vegas?
The roller coaster at New York-New York. Stratosphere. I want to check out the High Roller. Mandalay Bay’s swimming pool, golfing, and I gamble a little bit here and there — but I’m not a big gambler.
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Last Cowboy Standing is at Mandalay Bay Events Center beginning tonight at 8 and Saturday at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling (800) 745-3000 or at the Mandalay Bay box office.
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Update: Mariluch had a solid performance at Last Cowboy Standing, making it to the final Round 4 with 2008 world champion Guilherme Marchi, 2010 world champion Renato Nunes, veteran Sean Willingham and two-time world champion and defending Last Cowboy Standing champion Silvano Alves.
Marchi was the only rider to cover his bull in Round 4, scoring 89.5 points atop Rango, becoming the Last Cowboy Standing (his first title), winning $100,000 and regaining the No. 1 spot in the PBR world standings. Mariluch finished third.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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