PENDLETON — Joao Ricardo Vieira left a lasting impression after his first time in Pendleton.
The Brazilian cowboy was one of the only competitors to turn in two legal rides during night two of the Pro Bull Riding Classic at the Happy Canyon Arena on Tuesday night, and was the only rider of the night to score above the 90-point mark, which he did twice.
Vieira’s round-one ride on the back of Vertigo Spy earned him 91.5 points, and his championship ride with Blackberry Smoke got him a score of 90.5 for a combined 182 points to win the PBR title.
“This city is so beautiful,” Vieira, 35, said of Pendleton. “It’s fantastic — the arena and the people. Everyone has good energy. I’d love to stay here.”
The closing night of the two-day PBR competition got off to a rocky start, with the first six riders failing to stay on their bull for the allotted time. It wasn’t until Alisson De Souza, another Brazil native, rode for 87 points that a cowboy made it onto the leaderboard.
Dener Barbosa, who also made the trek to Pendleton from Brazil, finished off the first section of riders to tie De Souza at 87 points on the back of Fleetwood Mac. Seminole, Texas, bull rider Andrew Alvidrez rode to an 87.5 to take the top of the leaderboard and held onto that spot for most of the night until Vieira took the spotlight in the event’s fourth and final section.
Vieira currently stands at No. 4 in the world and has netted $431,056 in total earnings. He said his showing at the PBR was his 80th ride of the year so far.
“It’s never easy,” he said, “but the crowd kept me going. They made me feel better. I’m so blessed to be No. 4 in the world.”
Vieira, originally from Itatinga, Sao Paulo, has been riding bulls professionally since he was 20 years old. He also earned his veterinary degree in 2007.
He was the only cowboy to earn a score during the championship round.
“You need to believe in yourself, always,” he said. “Bulls are such powerful animals. It feels so good to be able to make this my life.”
From Pendleton, Vieira ships off to Springfield, Mississippi, for his next rodeo on Friday. He’ll hit the road with a silver Pendleton PBR championship belt buckle in tow.
And to cap off his debut in the Round-Up City, Vieria left a roaring Pendleton audience with three familiar words:
“Let ’er buck.”