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Bull Bash Tradition fits perfectly with Steamboat’s Western heritage

Peyton Nelson rides high at last year's Rocky Mountain Bull Bash in Steamboat Springs. The event will take place Sunday at the Brent Romcick Rodeo Arena.
Joel Reichenberger

— Cowboys are big on traditions, and one of the longest-running traditions in Steamboat Springs will take center stage this Sunday at the Brent Romick Rodeo Area,

“I can’t believe that we’ve been doing this for 11 years,” promotor Judd Mortensen said. “It’s crazy, but I think I’ve been coming to a Labor Day bull riding event since I was 18 or 19 years old.”

It’s been more than a decade since Judd, a former professional bull rider turned promotor, and his wife Annie (Trujillo) Mortensen have been running the holiday bull riding event in Steamboat Springs. Annie, who grew up in the area and went to Steamboat Springs High School, is the daughter of rodeo legend and longtime resident J.C. Trullio. The two took over the bull riding in Steamboat Springs more than a decade ago and have built it into one of Steamboat’s longest running end-of-summer traditions.

Sunday’s competition will include a long go-a-round with 35 top bull riders hoping to score well enough to earn a spot in the short go-round that follows. The round will feature the top 12 cowboys climbing on some of the event’s top bulls with the winner taking home the biggest check of the day.

Mortensen said the format helps build excitement as the rodeo unfolds and has proven to be an entertaining event for spectators. Mortensen said fans should expect to see cowboys make it to the buzzer at this event, but said their will be plenty of wrecks as cowboys do their best to hang onto a field littered with a few hard bucking bulls.

“There are also a lot of really good bulls that the cowboys should be able to ride, and score well on,” Mortensen said. “I tried to avoid the man-killers. They don’t really have a place in rodeo and we don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Last year the event had a 50 percent ride ratio, and Mortensen said the top cowboys were scoring 88 and 88.5, which means the bulls on hand offered the competitors a chance to take home a high score.

The field of cowboys at the Steamboat event tends to be filled with experienced cowboys hoping to climb the ladder in the world of professional bullring. There will also be a twist to this event as teams of four cowboys (must include two riders between the ages of 15-18) will compete for the team bonus. Mortensen said the combined scored of a team’s four cowboys will determine a team placing. The top teams will pocket an extra shore of the $10,000 in prize money that’s up for grabs.

For rodeo fans the annual bullring event has become the traditional summer ending finale. The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and the bull riding will offer one last chance for fans to watch cowboys compete for money this summer.

The gates will open at 3 p.m. Sunday with the first bull scheduled to leave the chute at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $30 for the reserved seating in the covered-metal grand stands. Mortensen encourages people to come first because while the ticket guarantees a certain area in the arena it does not receive a specific seat. Spectators should show up early if they wish to select a specific seat in a section. In the past the arena is normally filled close to capacity.

Tickets can be purchased at the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association or FM Light and Sons. There should also be tickets at the gate on the day of the rodeo.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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