PUEBLO, Colo. – World No. 4 Kyler Oliver spent all of last week at home in Roy, Utah, hoping that when he walked into Dr. Nicholas Spina’s office Monday in Salt Lake City, he would finally be able to take off the neck brace he has been wearing since April 2.
Instead, Oliver received shocking news he was not necessarily prepared to hear this week.
Dr. Spina confirmed that Oliver, in fact, did fracture his C6 vertebra when he landed on his head following his ride aboard Chiseled for 91.25 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and that he would need to keep his neck brace on for an additional 10 weeks.
Just like that, Oliver’s world title aspirations came to a screeching halt, and he will have to miss the World Finals for a second consecutive year.
“It is so frustrating because this year should have been my third World Finals,” Oliver said. “But, on the bright side, I am not paralyzed, and I can still ride. That wasn’t my last bull ride. That is something we can take for granted until you sit down and think about it.”
According to Oliver, Dr. Spina informed him that he will be out anywhere between 4-5 months. Oliver, though, is hopeful he can cut that recovery time in half, and he already has a follow-up appointment scheduled in the next four weeks.
Spina is a member of the University of Utah Department Of Orthopedic Surgery. He specializes in degenerative, traumatic, and oncologic conditions of the spine, including lumbar stenosis, cervical myelopathy, and scoliosis.
“It is not the news I was expecting at all,” Oliver said. “My neck doesn’t even hurt at all. I heal fast, though. It’s my superpower. I will probably be more like two or three months.”
Oliver was amidst a breakout season this year after shutting down his 2021 campaign last February because of reconstructive left shoulder surgery. Oliver had ridden 16 of 38 bulls on the premier series this year and won the first UTB event of his career – the PBR Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden in New York City. Oliver’s ride on Chiseled also helped him tie with Dalton Kasel for his first career 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
The 22-year-old had evolved into a world title contender in 2022, and he is still only 192.5 points behind world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira.
Oliver’s priority now shifts with curiosity to the 2022 PBR Team Series Draft, presented by ZipRecruiter, on May 23 at Texas Live!
Oliver had just signed his official draft declaration documents that weekend in Sioux Falls, and he hopes his injury will not send him spiraling down draft boards. He is the second rider currently in the Top 5 with injury clouds around his draft stock – No. 5 Mauricio Moreira is currently dealing with a hip injury.
A four-month recovery would have Oliver, a potential first- or second-round pick, out for the first three or four weeks of the 10-week PBR Team Series season. All eight teams qualify for Championship Weekend in Las Vegas, so a team could benefit from taking a patient approach with Oliver.
“This sucks with the draft coming up,” Oliver said. “Even if I’m not back for the first team event, I should be back well before Team Finals (Nov. 4-6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas).”
What would Oliver say to potential teams considering drafting him next month despite his injury?
“I will be back and be really hungry to ride,” Oliver said. “I will probably come back and put on a show. I am already missing it this week. All I want to do is spur on one this week. Don’t count me out and forget about me in the draft. I will be there. Whatever happens, happens. All the teams are going to be bad-ass.”
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media