By: Justin Felisko May 19, 2014@ 02:00:00 PM
PUEBLO, Colo. ― There were no national television cameras staring down at him from every angle possible when Claudio Crisostomo slowly sat himself down upon Damn It’s Good at the Denver Rodeo All-Star event last month.
This wasn’t a Built Ford Tough Series event with all of the bright lights, loud music and pressure-packed situations. Instead, it was simply Crisostomo in the chute with some of his fellow Brazilians helping the 29-year-old get situated upon his bull in front of a small crowd inside the National Western Complex.
At the time, Crisostomo hadn’t made the 8-second mark in six attempts since breaking his left clavicle in Kansas City, Missouri, when he was bucked off by Magic Train at the 4.9-second mark.
Crisostomo, with the help of Renato Nunes translating, said that his clavicle is finally healed and that he is feeling healthy.
Regardless, there was a look of concern radiating from Crisostomo’s eyes as he climbed into the chute.
“I had been feeling good, but I pray to not get hurt again,” he said. “I am just waiting for my confidence to come back.”
Crisostomo went on to ride Damn It’s Good for 71 points, declining his re-ride option after clearly being happy to have not only stayed aboard the bovine for 8 seconds, but to have cleanly disembarked pain free.
However, the ride was not the turnaround that the Brazilian was hoping for and he went on to finish the first half of the BFTS with only one ride – a 65.75-point ride on Blue Knuckle in Colorado Springs, Colorado – in 10 attempts since the injury.
The injury has gone on to define Crisostomo’s 2014 season. After originally suffering the broken clavicle in Kansas City, he missed the Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy V, before returning a week later to the Bass Pro Chute Out in Phoenix, only to get hung up on No Regrets.
With every extra buck and stomp from No Regrets came more stress on his injured clavicle.
“He is tough,” Nunes said. “He rode in a Built Ford Tough event with a broken collarbone. That is impressive. If it was any other rider, they would have taken the surgery the first event, but he kept going.”
Crisostomo would eventually undergo surgery and miss four weeks before returning to the BFTS in Billings, Montana.
“My year didn’t start really good because of the surgery, and I didn’t ride well,” he said. “I need to pick it up and keep trying and believe in myself.”
There is no better time or place then a trip home to Brazil this summer for the Barro Alto, Brazil, native. Last year, Crisostomo racked up a whopping 1,553.77 points towards the world standings during the summer break to storm from 100th in the world standings to 34th.
The 5-foot-11 rider would win his first event during his BFTS debut by going 4-for-4 in Springfield, Missouri, in 2013. It was an impressive debut, says current world leader Guilherme Marchi.
“I saw Claudio last year in Brazil,” Marchi said. “He’s a national champion. He rides so good. He is strong and rides everything.”
Crisostomo, who lives in the same building as Paulo Lima in Decatur, Texas, then qualified for the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals, finishing third in the average and 12th in the world standings.
“I proved to myself that I was good over there and here,” Crisostomo said. “I hope to get back to riding the way I did when I first started here.”
Marchi understands the mental hardship that Crisostomo is battling. In 2010, Marchi was contending for the world title, which was eventually won by Nunes, with a nagging right wrist injury.
Even when Marchi felt physically ok, the injury would sometimes weigh on his mind and lead to mental fatigue.
“It’s hard,” Marchi said. “I remember when I came to the Finals hurt. I come straight to the Finals and my first bull ride, I think a lot. ‘How am I going to feel when I ride this bull? How is it going to work for me?’”
The 2008 World Champion says that it takes more than just one 8-second ride to feel 100 percent confident. Instead, it takes three or four rides until you start to worry less about injury and focus more on covering your bulls.
Crisostomo enters the summer break 27th in the world standings and has ridden only 41.18 percent of his bulls compared to a year ago when he had a 57.89 riding percentage.
He will be competing in the Silvano Alves Invitational on June 27-29 in Pilar do Sul, Brazil, as well as many other PBR Brazil events this summer.
He knows he has work to do and plans on doing all he can to get back to top-notch riding form. He understands that winning the 2014 world title is out of reach, but he wants to work towards improving for a chance at making a run in 2015.
Marchi believes the trip home to Brazil is exactly what Crisostomo needs.
“He can get back into the race again and get his strong confidence back,” Marchi said. “It will be good for him to go back to Brazil and rest a little bit. See his family, friends and go to some of the events over there. He will come back to the United States strong.”
What is the best way to get his confidence back?
“Get on bulls and ride,” Crisostomo responded. “When you feel good, your confidence is back. No matter where you are, you ride good.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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