BIG SKY, Mont. – Despite having passed away 27 years ago, legendary bull rider Lane Frost still continues to inspire bull riders of all ages and nationalities.
Frost has been on the minds of the riders competing at the Big Sky, Montana, BlueDEF Tour event this weekend with Saturday being the 27th anniversary of Frost’s death at the 1989 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.
All of the riders competing in Big Sky would love to honor and show their respect to Frost with a victory on Saturday night.
Nathan Schaper enters the night leading the BlueDEF Tour event courtesy of his 90-point ride on Pistol Whip Friday. The Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider said that the legend of Frost lives beyond just the anniversary of his death.
“We kind of celebrate every day because of him,” Schaper said. “We are watching him all the time on the internet. We are always looking up to him every day. Not just one day out of the year.”
Matt Werries remembers the first time he saw a statue of Frost at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“He is one of the greatest bull riders of all time,” Werries said. “I remember going to Cheyenne Frontier Days and I was probably 8 years old and they had his statue up there at the museum.”
Last year, Schaper watched videos of Frost during the 1988 Challenge of Champions on his drive to Big Sky. The Challenge of Champions pitted Frost against Red Rock in a seven-match series. Frost won four of those matchups.
Rookie and Australia native Kurt Shephard may be only 21 years old, but he too has spent his fair share of time watching highlights from the Challenge of Champions.
“He is the perfect definition of a cowboy,” Shephard said. “Every bull rider looks up to him. He is obviously a World Champion, and he had his own style and persona that none of us have. I will go on YouTube and watch his battles with Red Rock. I liked those rides.”
19-year-old Keyshawn Whitehorse added, “Him and his attitude. He enjoyed the sport. It was all passion. He brought happiness and a positive attitude to the people around him and the fans just through his rides.”
Luis Blanco is sitting second in the event standings and said he didn’t feel it was right for him to try and put into words just how special Frost was – and still is – to the bull riding community.
“I can’t say anything other than he is the best,” Blanco said. “Everybody knows who he is and how important he is for us and the sport. A lot of the bull riders are inspired by him, and he helped a lot of bull riders. You see it. At that time, everyone tried to instill the same riding style as him.”
Melstone, Montana, bull rider Nevada Newman said that a Big Sky victory would be a major milestone for him. Newman understands how big of a bull riding the 6th annual PBR event is in Montana and to win the event on Frost’s anniversary would make it that much more special.
“That is the best bull rider to have ever walked the Earth,” Newman said. “I never seen him, but I have heard stories about him and stuff. Watching the videos, he had the talent and he tried his heart out. That is what it takes to be a bull rider. You have to try. That is all it took. He tried his heart out every time.”
Newman added that Frost stands as a reminder to every bull rider just how dangerous the sport really is. Frost’s death keeps every rider humble.
Frost was only 25 years old at the time of his death.
“It definitely shows it is a dangerous sport and you can die,” Newman said. “Even the best bull rider in the world can die. It was an eye opener to the bull riders. It gave us a little more respect for the sport too.”
Jay Miller met Frost’s parents, Elsie and Clyde, at the Clovis, California, Touring Pro Division event a few years ago.
“Someone told me who they were and I walked up to them and shook their hands,” Miller said. “(Lane) is a legend. He will always be remembered as one of the best bull riders to ever be. He didn’t get to fully carry out his full career like he could have. We always remember him and he is a name everybody knows.”
Like nearly every bull rider, Tyler Harr watched the movie “8 Seconds” repeatedly as a kid growing up in Slovak, Arkansas. The movie deserves a good portion of the credit to bringing Frost’s legacy to a larger audience and for continuing to teach young kids about who Frost was.
The PBR held its inaugural season the same year (1994) in which “8 Seconds” was released.
“He was a great bull rider,” Harr said. “This is a sentimental time for all of us. This is the 27th anniversary. He is somebody we all grew up watching or hearing stories about, watching the movie. I don’t know how many VHS tapes and DVDs of “8 Seconds” I wore out.”
Frost won the 1987 PRCA bull riding championship.
Cooper Davis, who begins Saturday third in the event standings, said, “It would be pretty special to win on the anniversary. That being so long ago and still being such a big deal today.
“He is one of the greatest bull riders ever,” Davis concluded. “Every guy here has looked up to him at some point in their life. I had seen something on Facebook that they still had his hat from his last bull riding in 1989. That guy has helped the sport out so much just by his legacy. Not everybody got to watch him ride – I never got to watch him ride – but anyone that has ever known anything about bull riding is going to know who Lane Frost is.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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