Professional Bull Riders Chicago Invitational at Allstate Arena, January 12
Photo: Max Herman
Chicago hosted even more bulls than usual Saturday night when the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series brought an international cast of cowboys and tons of ornery livestock to Rosemont's Allstate Arena to put on a rip-snorting show. The Chicago Invitational will conclude today starting at 2pm as riders wrap up week two of a season-long quest to win big cash prizes and the series' golden belt buckle.
Various championship riders from the American West and South, South America, Australia and Canada attempted to complete eight-second, one-handed rides atop various spirited bulls for two hours Saturday to qualify for the invitational's final round today. Although there were some impressive spills, most of the gritty young riders held on, sometimes in thrilling style. The best ride of the night, which came toward the end, was turned in by Marco Eguchi, who was competing even though the left side of his face is "temporarily" paralyzed, as the announcer put it, after he was recently stomped by a bull in Brazil. Thankfully, no riders were gored or crushed at the Rosemont event, though it seemed miraculous every time a rider rolled clear of the one-ton beasts pistoning their back halves up and down as they bucked around the arena. (Most of the riders wear helmets, but some hit the arena with only cowboy hats on their heads.)
In addition to top-level displays of bull riding, the event packed lots of family friendly entertainment into the commercial breaks, led by versatile rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen, the Benny to these Chicago bulls. In fact, the interstitial activities, including a zamboni-like re-grading of the arena dirt by a Cat, was similar to the fun found at the United Center during breaks in the Bulls and Blackhawks action. With all 35 riders taking a spin around the arena today followed by a championship round featuring up to 15 contestants, the PBR tour, now in its 20th season, is one of the best ways to check out what bull riding's all about.