By: Justin Felisko
LOS ANGELES – Ryan Dirteater stood inside the STAPLES Center locker room with a bag of ice taped to his upper back as he shook his head contemplating his Global Cup future.
Dirteater had just been doctored out of Iron Cowboy, presented by Ariat, with a possible thoracic fracture, and the disappointment of not being able to contend for his 10th career event win, and first PBR Major win, was fresh on his mind.
So too, though, was his status for next weekend’s 2020 WinStar World Casino and Resort Global Cup USA, presented by Monster Energy. Dirteater is expected to be one of coach Ted Nuce’s top veteran riders inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and now the 11-time PBR World Finals qualifier’s status is in jeopardy.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Dirteater will need to undergo testing in the coming days to determine if he indeed sustained a thoracic fracture, which is in the upper to middle back region, when he was bucked off by Mason’s Missouri Golden in 3.04 seconds in Round 3.
Dirteater would have advanced to Round 4 of Iron Cowboy via aggregate score, but he was unable to continue because of the injury. Therefore, eventual event winner Cole Melancon took the last spot for Round 4.
“It didn’t feel right when I bucked off,” Dirteater said. “I am just mad at myself. I don’t want to let my team down for dang sure. I just want to get this checked out, because you don’t want to play around with something like this. I hope everything checks out well and I will be alright for Global Cup.”
Dirteater becomes the latest member of the Wolves to have lingering injury questions, but his is the most pressing.
Cannon Cravens missed Iron Cowboy with a broken leg, and Keyshawn Whitehorse has missed all six Unleash The Beast events of the season because of a riding hand injury. Cravens and Whitehorse are expected to be available for Global Cup.
Dirteater – the No. 10-ranked bull rider in the world standings – is the second highest-ranked member on the Wolves.
Colten Jesse is No. 7.
The other three members of the Wolves are Cody Jesus, Stetson Lawrence and alternate Wyatt Rogers.
The injury put a major damper on what could have been quite the memorable weekend for the 2016 PBR World Finals event winner.
Dirteater won Round 2 earlier in the night with a season-high 92.75 points on Smooth Over, and the ride wound up being the best of Iron Cowboy, which netted Dirteater a $26,000 bonus.
The 30-year-old left Iron Cowboy with a total of $36,856.41.
“Like I’ve been saying, I’m excited and really motivated this season,” Dirteater said. “I watched some videos on him. I did my research. I knew that bull was going to get in the air, and was going to be real showy, and it was an opportunity to be a lot of points if I just sat in the middle. Great bull.”
Dirteater, who is retiring at the end of the season, was also honored Friday outside STAPLES Center as one of the Greatest Entertainers on Dirt alongside 1982 PRCA champon Charlie Sampson and three-time PBR World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
“That was pretty cool. I really liked that,” Dirteater said Friday. “Those are legends of the sport. To be up there with them, I guess I am one of the greats also. I have made a career in this game, and I am not done. I am living the dream, and we all live in a fantasy world up here. That was an honor for them to be able to do that for me. We have the best fans in the world, and PBR is great to us bull riders.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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