NEW YORK (AFP) — Ten of the top US rodeo riders showed off their skills on the frozen streets of New York on Thursday, by straddling and trying to stay on top of a raging bull.
Organizers brought in more than 100 tons of dirt to set up a mini pen on the city's sidewalks for the first of its kind one-hour display promoting a weekend of bull-riding action at the Madison Square Garden arena.
The riders, most sporting Stetson hats, cowboy boots, chaps over their pants and speaking with giveaway Texas and Montana drawls, braved temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) for the show to crowds of bemused onlookers.
The riders' aim was to stay on the back of a rip-snorting bull, each weighing up to a ton, for eight seconds. They were awarded points based on their performance.
"It doesn't matter how cold it is. We're in downtown New York City -- it doesn't get any hotter than that," said Justin McBride, the 2007 Professional Bull Riders world champion, who was helping to commentate the event.
"You can't blow a whistle and stop this. You're up against a 2,000 pound (907 kilogram) animal and it can get pretty rough sometimes," he said.
Kasey Hayes, a 22-year-old bull rider from Kansas, brushed off the frigid temperatures after falling off his steer before the eight-second mark.
"It's a little bit cold but when you're up on top of a bull it doesn't make any difference, the adrenaline's going," he told AFP.
He said it was hard to tell how New Yorkers would react to the sport, which is mostly popular in the western parts of the United States.
"I'm really curious. I hope they enjoy it," he told AFP.
One person who was not enjoying it was Edita Birnkrant, part of a handful of protesters from the group "Friends of Animals," who dismissed the event as "a pathetic spectacle of misguided macho nonsense."
"It's so ridiculous that this is happening in New York," she told AFP. "It's all just a sick, pathetic farce. This is an embarrassment for New York. They torment these animals and inflict pain on them to make them buck," she said.
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