By: Justin Felisko
May 26, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – Huit seconds.
Or as English-speaking bull riding fans would say, “Eight seconds.”
That will be the name of the game when Derek Kolbaba, as well as fellow Top 10 riders No. 5 Chase Outlaw, No. 6 Jess Lockwood and No. 8 Matt Triplett, head to Quebec City next week for the PBR Canada Monster Energy event.
Quebec is the first-ever PBR Canada Major and the winner of the international major will earn 300 points toward the world standings.
No other summer PBR event will offer up that many points to one rider.
“I was going to get on a bull somewhere, so it might as well be for a lot of points and money somewhere,” Kolbaba, currently fourth in the world standings, said. “You look at last year’s world title. It wasn’t very far apart. To lose it by that many points because you didn’t go is kind of all on you.”
Cooper Davis edged Kaique Pacheco for the 2016 World Championship by 488.42 points.
Winning Quebec will be the equivalent to winning a round at the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas.
The Top 10 finishers in Quebec earn points toward the world standings – 300, 120, 80, 60, 45, 30, 20, 15, 10, 5).
Quebec is one of two Canadian provinces that recognizes French as its official language, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Kolbaba once he nods his head inside the Videotron Center on June 2-3.
“It is going to be a little different,” Kolbaba said with a laugh. “They speak French over there. It is going to be weird, but it will be fun.”
The 21-year-old, breakout star has used two victories on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series – Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Arkansas – to propel himself to a career-best No. 4 ranking in the world standings as of the BFTS summer break.
Kolbaba has competed at a handful of events north of the border, but he has never been to Quebec.
“I have been to Canada quite a bit,” he said. “It is always good when you go to Canada. They got good bulls up there. It is fun going up there and seeing different parts of the world too.”
Instead of staying home and resting in his laurels, Kolbaba wants to keep the pedal to the medal since being eliminated in Round 3 of Last Cowboy Standing by Pearl Harbor.
“I like getting on a lot of bulls,” Kolbaba said. “I enjoy going during the summer. Whether it is rodeoing or going to Velocities is fun. You are only young once.”
Kolbaba finished in a three-way tie with Sage Kimzey and Brady Portenier for the Redding, California, Rodeo victory last weekend with an 87.5-point ride on O Zone.
Coincidentally, Shane Proctor actually also won the Redding Wrangler Champions Challenge bull riding with an 87-point ride on O Zone.
Kolbaba was unable to really push it last summer because of a lingering wrist injury to his riding hand and competed at only one event.
It was a frustrating development for him because at this point last year he was eighth in the world standings and only 767.83 points – the exact same deficit as future champion Davis – out of the world lead.
This summer is going to be different, Kolbaba believes.
2017 has been relatively a healthy one for him. Kolbaba is planning on attempting to gain ground on world leader Eduardo Aparecido by competing at multiple events.
Kolbaba is 1,215 points behind Aparecido in the world standings.
“I am feeling good right now,” he concluded. “That is 90 percent of it. When you feel good, you show up you are excited.”
The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider is 19-for-51 (37.25 percent) at the BFTS level with five Top-10 finishes.
“I am happy with (my first half),” he concluded. “I am always going to strive to keep pushing. Whether you are leading the World Finals or the world title right now, it doesn’t matter.
“At the end of November, if I have a World Champion buckle, then I will be able to crack a smile.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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