By: Justin Felisko August 16, 2014@ 01:00:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – After a first half marred by a frustrating injury to his left wrist/riding hand, 2009 World Champion Kody Lostroh flashed his championship pedigree on Friday night at the BOK Center.
A calm, confident and relaxed Lostroh recorded an 88-point ride by One Shot during the first round of the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Jack Daniel’s, and he heads into Round 2 tonight tied for second in the event average with Gage Gay.
“It is always great to start off anything with a ride, especially a second half after the challenges I had to deal with in the first half. It is always great to start fresh and on a good note.”
The ride was his sixth this year after competing in eight of the 18 first half Built Ford Tough Series events. It had been almost 11 months since he recorded an 88-point ride or higher after last doing so against I’m Your Huckleberry in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September, 24, 2013.
“I haven’t had many qualified rides this year – well many period – but I don’t think I have had any where I wasn’t hurting the whole time,” he said. “So to be able to ride one and not get off hurting real bad is a blessing and is motivating. It is more fun to do this sport when you feel good than when you are hurting.”
Lostroh’s first half woes had him sunken to 55th in the world standings at the beginning of the weekend and he had to use a World Champion exemption to compete in Tulsa.
No question about it and the 28-year-old admits he wasn’t happy about the scenario. Hence, there was no way he was going to let an opportunity to start the second half with a ride slip away.
“To be honest with you, it’s a little embarrassing to be to that point that you have to use your World Champion exemptions because I ride better than that,” Lostroh said. “I have no excuses. I had a lot of stuff happen this year, but the bottom line is I didn’t get it done so I have to use those World Champion exemptions and I am thankful for them and I am going to make the best of them.”
Lostroh rode on Friday night with a new Brazilian bull rope that was made for him by former BFTS bull rider Jared Farley. The 10-year veteran had thought about using a Brazilian bull rope in the past, but this weekend was his first BFTS event in choosing to do so.
The Longmont, Colorado, native says the switch was due to a variety of things, including a nagging thumb injury that he continuously kept aggravating with his old American rope. His thumb would normally get pinned on top of the bull’s back and would eventually swell up real bad to the point where he couldn’t shut his hand very well.
Lostroh’s new rope has a softer handle and the handle is also a little shorter.
“When I was able to try this Brazilian rope with a soft handle it didn’t want to sit me on my butt,” he explained. “It was soft enough where I could still break over and get out on front of the rope. I’m kind of getting the best of both worlds, I can still get out in front of it like an American, but I have the advantages of the Brazilian rope itself where my hand is going to stay put and not slide one way or another on that handle.”
Fellow BFTS veteran Douglas Duncan is also trying to start the second half on a solid note after dealing with an injury to his riding wrist since the first month of the season that led to him undergoing surgery following Last Cowboy Standing to repair torn ligaments.
Two rides before Lostroh jumped into the early lead in Tulsa, Duncan had registered the first ride of the second half with 86.5 points aboard Snap Back. The bull spun right into his previously injured hand and Duncan easily settled into the 8-second ride.
“It felt good,” Duncan said. “It always feels good to ride one. He still bucked, but he was more of a rider friendly bull and it feels good to get a ride under the belt and get enough confidence to go back in the second round and hopefully put three together.”
The 27-year-old began the weekend as the top alternate in the draw as the 31st rider in the world standings and will be looking to crack the Top 30 by weekend’s end. Despite the injury, Duncan already has three Top-5 finishes this year and is one away from tying his career-high of four, which he accomplished in 2011.
“It always feels better when you don’t hurt,” Duncan added. “It hurt every time really in the first half, but everybody in this locker room is hurt so it’s not really an excuse.”
Duncan got on two practice bulls on Monday and Wednesday for the first time after spending the majority of the summer training at the Michael Johnson Performance facility in McKinney, Texas, where he continued to work on improving his core strength and flexibility after dealing with hip injuries in the past.
“I got on a couple bulls this week and it all went good,” he said. “I am in a lot better shape than I was a few years back, definitely. I am pretty confident and ready to go perform.
“I set that goal to be a World Champ. My desire wakes me up every morning. I don’t need an alarm clock, so I damn sure work hard at it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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