Freed McBride riding easy

Professional bull rider Justin McBride rode last weekend at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with the shoulder of his free arm — the one he needs to maintain balance — heavily taped. He went 0-for-3.

When the PBR World Finals shifted to the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday, McBride opted to go without the tape.

That decision may contribute greatly to McBride winning his second world championship today beginning at 11:30 a.m.

McBride made it three straight rides at the Thomas & Mack on Saturday night when he won his second consecutive round by scoring 91.50 on Berger & Ryken’s Bad Action before a crowd of 17,502.

"I couldn’t do any worse," McBride said of the slump, before shunning the tape.

"That bull never quit trying," he said of his Saturday ride. "He jumped as hard at the end as he did on his second jump."

McBride’s hot streak has him leading Brazilian Guilherme Marchi, 14,128 season points to 12,361.25 as projected by where each would place in event aggregate standings heading into today’s final rounds.

Marchi rode his fifth bull of six Finals rounds Saturday and the projections had him just .25 of a point behind McBride before the former UNLV cowboy got on his bull.

"Justin’s was a very good ride," Marchi said. "He’s a tough boy."

McBride said his shoulder doesn’t hurt when he rides.

As dangerous as it is to master a bull for eight seconds, the theatrics of Saturday’s opening ceremonies posed a greater risk to McBride.

He rode in on horseback for introductions wearing a harness attached to wires that catapulted him off the horse and onto a stage. The only problem was he missed the stage.

"I hit it every time in rehearsal," he said, adding he won’t be repeating the stunt.

Especially the day before he can win a championship and its $1 million bonus.

The top 15 in the world standings after today’s round will return in what will determine the season champion. They will face the top bulls from the past two weekends.

FINALS TITLE — Wiley Petersen is out of contention for the world title but leads the event’s aggregate standings.

Petersen, of Fort Hall, Idaho, scored 86 to tie for seventh on Kaycee Simpson’s Red Alert, a 13-year-old competing in his final PBR event.

Petersen and Marchi are the only riders to have completed five rides.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0247.

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