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Derek Kolbaba in the opening during the second round of the Built Ford Tough series PBR World Finals.


Nov 132017

Shortly after cofounding the PBR, Cody Lambert said the only thing people need to know about the elite televised PBR tour is that it’s a young man’s game.

“If you can’t understand that, you’re just stupid,” he later added.

That was never more true than in 2017.

The average age of the Top 5 riders in the PBR world standings was 23 years old, including Monster Energy rider Derek Kolbaba. The 21-year-old native from Walla Walla, Washington, finished the year No. 2 in the world after arriving in Las Vegas the top-ranked rider in the world.


“It’s awesome to be able to ride with them guys,” said Kolbaba, who spent much of the year inside the Top 10 before making moving into the Top 5 for good with a late-season surge.


“As cold and as terrible as it was last season, this makes it so much more fun. It’s been an awesome second half with some lows, but a lot of highs. That’s what’s fun about the sport. One weekend you can be cold as ice and the next weekend you’re on top. It’s been pretty darn fun. Bull riding is a very humbling sport and, I guess, that’s why we love it so much.”


Kolbaba had a breakout year with five elite event wins.


He also pocketed more than $359,000 on the season.


Fellow Monster Energy rider Chase Outlaw also recorded several career-bests in 2017.


The 25-year-old recorded six Top 10 finishes at elite PBR events to close out the season, including a seventh place finish at the World Finals. In all, Outlaw recorded 13 Top 10 finishes at the elite level of competition and another 11 events at lower level events along with a win at the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


However, despite being a career-year, Outlaw was not satisfied with a sixth place finish in the world standings.


At 30, J.B. Mauney is not only an experienced member of the Monster Energy team, his pair of world titles and the more than $7 million earned in the arena make him one of the most accomplished riders in the 24-year history of the PBR.


His 10 Top 10 finishes, which did include an event win in Billings, Montana, left him with his lowest ranking since his rookie season. He finished the season 25th then, while he was 16th this year.


He tied a career low of riding in just 15 elite PBR events.


“Nobody likes doing it,” said Mauney, who miraculously compete at the Finals in spite of missing the entire second half of the season after having his shoulder completely reconstructed. “Anytime you’re sitting at home it pisses you off. It aggravates you.”


Mauney wasn’t the only exception to the young man’s rule.


2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, 35, finished 23rd in the world standings. Marchi is poised to compete in the PBR for a least one more season, while 23-year-old Gage Gay is just now entering the prime of his PBR career.


Gay recorded six Top 10 event finishes at elite PBR events.


The 2018 season once again kicks off with the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden on January 5, 6 and 7. The New York City event takes place at Madison Square Garden.