It simply wasn’t his Finals.
“Never once did I doubt myself or have thoughts, while I was getting on, of what if, or what could have been. Each moment was the moment, whether it worked out or not.”
Meier finished second in the world standings – a distant 2,906 points behind Nunes despite going into the Finals with a 1,300.75-point lead.
Nunes steadily closed that gap by riding his first four bulls, before passing Meier on Saturday night when he made it five in a row. Meier was 2-for-5 and missed the short round by 10 spots in the event average.
“I bucked off a lot more bulls than I wanted to,” Meier said, “but in the end, it wasn’t because I got pressured or that I let things slip through my hands.
“I tried my heart out the best way I could. Some rides just didn’t work out the way we hoped.”
It was still the most prolific year of Meier’s career.
A fifth-year veteran, Meier’s best finish prior to 2010 was a year ago when he finished sixth in the world standings.
His riding average this season was nearly a full 10 percent better than his career average of 46.9 percent, and he led the way with five Built Ford Tough Series wins.
After taking the lead in the world standings following his third event in Albuquerque, N.M., he held the No. 1 spot for nine weeks, including a stretch of five leading into the Finals.
After a gritty 85.5-point on RMEF Elk Country in the opening round in Las Vegas, he bucked off Braveheart and Hawaiian Ivory before making what was probably the defining ride of the year.
In Round 4, he drew Secretary of Soul, and needed a qualified ride to have any chance at all on the final day.
It was an ugly ride – just 76.75 points – but it may have been the most inspiring of the season. Meier slipped off the left side as the bull turned back toward the chute, but somehow managed to hang on 4 more seconds, bringing the sellout crowd to its feet.
“I never felt pressure,” Meier said.
If the 23-year-old was disappointed about being so close to the world title and the $1 million bonus, he didn’t show it.
Instead, he talked about what a positive experience 2010 was, as he looks forward to the rest of his career.
“This was a great Finals for me mentally,” he explained. “It showed me, at this moment, coming in No. 1 and going out No. 2 that I had the mental strength to handle my business the best way I could and not let the pressure get to me.”
In 2011, he hopes to improve his final ranking for a third year in a row.
— by Keith Ryan Cartwright
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