FORT WORTH, Texas – Bull riding can be an unforgiving sport, especially when you face the rankest bulls in the world one Built Ford Tough Series event after another.
It’s especially tough at this point in the season – 12 events into a grueling 26-event schedule – as the injuries begin to mount among the top riders in the world standings.
That’s precisely the case for two veteran riders – Kody Lostroh andRobson Palermo – who had both intended to seriously contend for this year’s world title.
Lostroh has competed in only three events this season, while Palermo has missed four of the past seven events, including this weekend’s BFTS event in Albuquerque, N.M.
I’m a Gangster Too dispatches Kody Lostroh and scores 45 points in the championship round of the 2014 PBR BFTS Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden in New York.
Lostroh, who won the world title in 2009 and has since battled an on-going series of injuries, injured his left riding hand at the second BFTS event of the season in Chicago.
It’s been a journey of uncertainty ever since.
Originally he said doctors weren’t sure what the problem was – tendonitis was mentioned – and he received cortisone injections. However, no X-rays had been taken at that point. He took a week off and returned the following week in Oklahoma City, but said his entire hand and wrist hurt to the point that he asked his chiropractor if he would X-ray his hand and wrist for him.
The 28-year-old said he was told there was nothing unusual in the X-rays and needed to give it another week.
A week later, Lostroh returned to his chiropractor, told him the wrist had not gotten any better and indicated the pain was where the hand and wrist meet.
The X-rays were re-examined.
Whereas a week earlier the chiropractor had only looked at the wrist, this time he noticed what appeared to be two small fractures where the hand meets the wrist.
Lostroh then made an appointment with the original doctor at an orthopedic center in Fort Collins, Colo., who confirmed the fractures and said it would heal on its own in six weeks.
He admitted the entire process has been rightfully frustrating.
“It’s not really any better to be honest with you,” Lostroh said. “I took six weeks and then I got on a couple practice bulls at home and it was just as bad as when I rode the last time before that.”
Lostroh had a follow-up exam on Tuesday afternoon with the orthopedic specialist to address why his hand is not healing properly. The 10-year-veteran later said via text message that there is “Nothing new” other than he’s now scheduled to have an MRI.
Tuesday was an equally disappointing day for Palermo.
The 30-year-old had previously missed back-to-back events in Anaheim, Calif., and St. Louis, Mo., because of a sore left hamstring and then missed last week’s BFTS event in Tacoma, Wash., but had hoped to return this week for the Ty Murray Invitational.
Palermo, the only rider in PBR history to win the World Finals event three times, including back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012, had planned to get on a practice bull at his home in Tyler, Texas, before confirming his place in this weekend’s draw. However, when asked how it went, he simply replied, “Not good.”
Robson Palermo puts up 89.5 points on Crack the Whip at the 2014 BFTS Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy V in Arlington.
Palermo, who first came to the U.S. from Brazil in 2006, explained that he loaded what he called an easy practice bull into a bucking chute at his own private practice arena.
However, without even calling for the gate, he pulled his legs up, squeezed his knees and knew he needed another week of resting his sore left groin that still has a light shade of bruising.
Palermo is currently ranked 13th in the world standings and is still focused on making a run at winning his first world title. Last year, J.B. Mauney was 10th going into the second half of the season when he made his historic run at winning his first gold buckle.
“If it was a shoulder I would go for sure, but not the groin,” he said. “I was disappointed, but it’ll be OK. I’m just going to need another week.”
If he indeed returns next week in Fresno, Calif., there will be 14 BFTS events and a summer’s worth of Touring Pro Division events until the World Finals in late October.
Unlike Palermo, Lostroh has “no idea, to tell you the truth,” how much longer he’ll be sidelined. In fact, according to everyone he’s met with, his injury should have been healed by now.
But much like Palermo, the Colorado native remains positive.
Lostroh is currently ranked 43rd and is no longer in contention for a title, but remains confident he will still qualify for the World Finals. He said he’s only a few qualified rides from being ranked back in the Top 30 and, if not, he has five injury exemptions along with five World Champion exemptions.
That said he has no idea when he’ll be able to return.
“If you take six weeks off and nothing’s better then it throws a kink in my plans of when I’ll be able to compete again,” Lostroh said.
Lostroh explained no one ought to feel bad about his situation and there are plenty of other people throughout the world with bigger issues than his.
In the end, his left hand is OK in everyday use—other than when he squeezes something with his fingers and thumb, turns a doorknob or uses a shovel.
Lostroh joked that he’s quickly gotten in the habit of turning doorknobs with his right hand, but, for the most part, as long as he keeps from bending it back too far it doesn’t bother him.
He termed the injury as “not a big deal” at home – “a guy can get by with it just fine” – but it’s an entirely different story when it comes to riding bulls. He simply can’t flex the wrist backwards, squeeze it properly or withstand the pressure, torque and force of riding with it.
“I really don’t care who’s right and who’s wrong, I just want to know how to fix it,” said Lostroh. “My goal is to stay positive and keep working on something, keep working toward getting it healed, and sooner or later it’ll get there I hope.”
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: Despite the disappointment of not competing, Lostroh said it’s nice being able to be at home with his wife, Candice, and their daughter, Sheridan. The couple is expecting their second daughter at the end of April.
“That’s a blessing to have a family I can hang out with here at home,” said Lostroh, “but I wish it was under different circumstances.”
He’s also been busy around the ranch building a 40-by-48-foot gym behind their new, log cabin-style home they recently completed. The structure, which isn’t fully functional yet, has been enclosed and Lostroh is now focused on lining part of the concrete floor with rubber gym mats and the other portion with wrestling mats.
Photo by Kody Lostroh.
He will soon arrange various exercise equipment.
Lostroh said he’s also going to consult with a local trainer in developing a personal routine, which is specific for bull riding.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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