There are a lot of sponsorships in sports; some make sense, some are a bit of a stretch, and few just leave you scratching your head.
The one PBR officially introduced today with Can-Am, maker of the workhorse Defender lineup of side-by-side vehicles, is a perfect marriage of toughness and performance, made in the dirt.
This Sunday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the coveted gold buckle and million-dollar bonus that the new PBR World Champion will receive includes another very sweet award – a badass 2020 Can-Am Defender side-by-side vehicle.
Fans are already familiar with the bright yellow Can-Am cage on the center of the dirt that has been a part of PBR events in the second half of this season. Can-Am unveiled a new element of their PBR partnership today at bull housing behind South Point Hotel and Casino by introducing their new rider ambassadors, Chase Outlaw and Derek Kolbaba, along with funny man Dale Brisby
“As a bull rider, you want to be partners with a company that’s a tough as you are and believes as much in you as you believe in them,” Kolbaba said.
Kolbaba said it’s important for bull riders to have some down time in a sport that punishes more than muscles and bones.
“Bull riding is grueling – physically and mentally,” he said. “It’s cool to go home and just cruise around your place, getting away and forgetting about everything.”
But having a shot at the Defender that goes with the buckle won’t be all fun and games for Outlaw. He’d use it to pull his welding machine and tote sacks of feed on his Arkansas ranch as well.
Until then, there’s business at hand in Las Vegas on the second day of World Finals.
The four-time Unleash The Beast event winner this year rode Foghorn Leghorn for 88.50 points last night in T-Mobile Arena, tying for second in the round and earning 152.2 world points.
“You can’t tell yourself good job, because your job ain’t done yet,” Outlaw said. “You ride this one, you still gotta ride the next one. You can’t be satisfied.”
The World No. 3 bull rider, 1,715.83 points behind Jose Vitor Leme, could score more big points tonight with a match up against Magic Train.
Magic Train, owned by Matt Scharping, dispatched Outlaw here in Las Vegas at the PBR World Finals two years ago. He is a beautiful bovine with a knack for generating very big scores that can take a round.
Marco Eguchi rode Magic Train for 94 points in Round 2 last year in Las Vegas before being knocked out cold. World No. 1 Leme scored a gigantic 94.5 points on the bull in the 2017 championship round.
Outlaw knows each chance to win rounds and make up ground in a fierce Championship race is a gift, one from the Man upstairs himself, he says.
“I’ve had a couple of real bad injuries, one the could have ended my life and would have ended 90 percent of bull riders’ careers. But I’ve yet to accomplish what I set out to do in something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid,” he said.
“The good Lord gave me the chance to continue. Each time I crawl in there (in the bucking chute), it’s a fight, and it could be a fight to the death. You just let that fuel the fire. What don’t break you will make you stronger.”
Since that injury – at Cheyenne Frontier Days when Outlaw was jerked down and broke 30 bones in his face requiring a total of nearly 24 hours of surgery – he’s been seeing each day on the tour as a gift.
And there’s no bigger gift in his sport than to ride at World Finals.