PUEBLO, Colo. – An MRI on Monday morning confirmed Derek Kolbaba has torn his right ACL/MCL following his 89-point ride on Bottom’s Up in Round 1 of the Bad Boy Mowdown in North Little, Rock Arkansas.
Kolbaba told PBR.com Monday while at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport that Dr. Tandy Freeman has recommended him to take two weeks off to let the swelling in his knee go down before determining if surgery should be the next step.
“It is still pretty early,” Kolbaba said. “He wants to give it two weeks to see if that MCL will start healing on its own and see if the knee will start tightening up around that ACL. That will kind of depend on if we should do surgery or if I can get away with just doing physical therapy and riding with a brace and tape.”
Kolbaba’s third round win of the season propelled him to a fourth-place finish in Little Rock and he is seventh in the world standings.
The 21-year-old is coming off a career-year in 2017 in which he won a PBR-best five events and finished runner-up to World Champion Jess Lockwood.
Kolbaba is also riding at a career-best (41.67 percent) and is a member of Team USA for the upcoming Global Cup. If he were to be unable to compete in Sydney, Australia, he would be replaced with a coach’s pick by Justin McBride.
The Walla Walla, Washington, native said Saturday on RidePass that he definitely was feeling the pain 24 hours after his season took an unexpected twist.
This is the first time he has torn ligaments in either of his knees.
“It dang sure has a little pain there,” Kolbaba said. “I woke up this morning and it was pretty damn tight, but that is the way sport goes. It is not if you get hurt, it is when. It is one of things you can either let it get you down and hinder you or you can roll with the punches and get it healed up and come back that much better.”
Kolbaba is the latest Top 10 rider to sustain a significant injury this year.
Gage Gay was the No. 1 rider in the world when he tore his right ACL/MCL in Chicago and Ryan Dirteater was No. 3 when he fractured four ribs and bruised his lung in Anaheim, California.
Gay has begun going to physical therapy three days a week since undergoing surgery earlier this year.
Meanwhile, current No. 5 Cooper Davis is trying to ride through a partially torn ligament in the ring finger of his riding hand, No. 9 Stetson Lawrence has a fractured ankle and Lockwood has a torn MCL.
Kolbaba said he trusts Freeman’s advice and rather not rush into surgery if it isn’t necessary.
“We could do surgery tomorrow, but with that MCL being bad then they have to fix that and check the rest of the knee out and fix anything else that is loose. He said that makes the recovery process that much longer and pain and possible tightness in the knee greater. We are going to try and let everything try and heal on its own before we get too excited about what we want to do with that ACL.”
Kolbaba already has scheduled his next appointment for March 19.
“We will come back in two weeks and see what we are looking like,” Kolbaba concluded. “Then go from there.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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