Bull riders thrill Steamboat Springs crowd

PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash a hit in 7th season

Joel Reichenberger
Dakota Beck rides Sunday in the Professional Bull Riding Rocky Mountain Bull Bash in downtown Steamboat Springs. Beck won the seventh annual event, pocketing a championship belt buckle and more than $5,000.
Joel Reichenberger

— Dakota Beck, a cowboy from Moses Lake, Wash., knows how to get off a bull in style.

Riding Sunday in the Professional Bull Riding Rocky Mountain Bull Bash in Steamboat Springs, he left two bulls in equally jaw-dropping style, flying from the beasts’ rumps as if shot from a cannon, arms and legs flailing until he smashed into the soft dirt of Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat.

Fortunately for Beck, he knows how to ride a bull in style, too. He recorded one of the top long-round rides in the 35-cowboy field, and, after receiving a re-ride on his initial championship-round bull, he hung on and spun his way to the event’s championship.

“He was hard to ride,” Beck said about his final bull, grinning through the dirt and blood of a hard-fought night. “I just held on and got the 8 (seconds).”

Fans packed the arena Sunday evening and were treated to nearly 50 bull rides as some of the nation’s top cowboys, clung on for wild, spinning bucking rides.

Some trips lasting longer than others.

In the event’s seventh year, organizer Judd Mortensen said Steamboat’s PBR stop proved as popular as ever, the filled stands exploding to salute good rides, good tries and even a bull who slipped a lasso and refused to give up his moment in the spotlight.

Mortensen said the event has changed in its time, to allow those fans closer to the action. Sunday’s setup cut the arena’s traditional rodeo dimensions in half, placing stands in the middle of the arena, only a line of metal fencing protecting viewer from animal.

“The PBR is about a really tight, personal and unenergetic crowd,” Mortensen said.

The theater couldn’t have played out better. Beck’s championship ride was the final one of the night, his friends firing up the crowd as he carefully wrapped the rope around his glove and gave the nod to swing open the gate.

“I like it when the cowboys win,” Mortensen said. “The last guy out wins it. It looks like we staged it, but there’s no way you can stage a bull ride. Anything could happen.”

For Beck, the win was a big one. He started on the professional tour two years ago, and Sunday’s win made for one of the biggest of his career. He took home a championship belt buckle and a little more than $5,000 in prize money.

He scored an 87.5 on the final go-around, which combined with his long-round ride for a total of 179.5. Cody Ford was second. He threw down a 90-point ride in the final round, but finished with a total of 175.5. Jordan Hupp was third at 171.

“I’ve been up here a couple of times,” said Ford, a Hermiston, Ore., pro in his fifth year.

Sunday marked his second trip to the pay window in Steamboat.

“I love it here,” he said. “I could stay here all week.”

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