Big bucks rule at Fair bull riding
Steamboat Springs — Mostly, it was a night for the bulls.
The third annual Jake Booco Bull Riding event at the Routt County Fair drew a big crowd to the grandstands and cowboys from across the country, including a few big names with National Finals Rodeo appearances on their resumes.
They all watched as bull after bull tossed their would-be riders high and hard.
Well, most of them watched, anyway.
Hayden’s Chad Day couldn’t watch for at least the first half of the competition.
The 39-year old rodeos decidedly part time these days, but now, just as when he was young, he can’t watch a competition until he’s taken his turn.
“I can watch after I ride,” he said, “but I can’t watch before.”
Day, a 1995 Hayden High School graduate, aspired to be a professional bull rider during his time at Hayden High School. He got his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit, but it never quite worked out. His talent didn’t develop enough to serve his dreams, and after three years, he mostly gave it up.
“Mostly” is the key word there.
Day has returned to the sport for short, sporadic bursts through the years, riding five or six times per summer in competitions in the area. Booco’s local bull riding invitational has given him the perfect excuse to ride in his hometown the past three years.
He’s quick to insist he hasn’t entirely given up on the dream of riding under the Las Vegas lights in the National Finals Rodeo, though the thought did come with a wry grin. It’s been 20 years since he rode hard for a summer, but he simply can’t give it up entirely.
“I love the adrenaline rush,” he said.
Thursday, he waited behind the bucking chutes, not watching the competition but simply waiting for his turn.
Finally, it came, and it lasted about 7.5 seconds.
Day’s bull turned into him, just the way he’d hoped. He hung on tight, and as it spun, and the hometown crowd cheered. He finally lost his footing from his spurs, however, and slid off the bull and into the dirt. The eight-second buzzer sounded before he’d even landed.
He was able to put it in perspective. He lasted longer than he had the previous two summers in Hayden. It wasn’t a qualifying ride, but few Thursday were. The overall winner was Brian Larson, a cowboy from Erie who registered a ride of 87.5 in the long round.
Only one of 12 riders successfully rode a bull in the short round, Hayden’s own Kaiden Decker. He scored in at 72, however, allowing Larson to hang on for the win.
Day didn’t get a second chance, but that didn’t ruin his night. Bull riding’s not his life, nor is it his career or his obsession. It’s a hobby, and Thursday, he soaked up his spin.
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