A quarter-century ago, a 25-year-old bull rider named Lane Frost dropped down a bull named Taking Care Of Business on a dark, cloudy and drizzly Sunday afternoon at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.
At the final performance of the sport’s equivalent to a Wimbledon stage, the 1987 world champion bailed off the bull after 8 seconds and rolled onto the soggy soil. Taking Care Of Business then charged and plunged his ivory horn into Frost’s back. The hit caused internal injuries, ending Frost’s life within minutes, medical officials said.
Frost’s legacy lives, however, and the 25th anniversary of his death is a topic of discussion this week. He was killed on July 30, 1989.
I witnessed the fatality while reporting on the Cheyenne rodeo for the Star-Telegram. I even had the privilege of speaking to Frost briefly in the sports medicine trailer shortly before the matinee performance began.
I witnessed the accident from near the roping chutes while interviewing a cowboy who had just won the tie-down roping event. But I paused and watched Frost make a prize-winning ride. I saw him get up after being hit by the bull. He began walking back toward the bucking chutes and waved for help as he went down.
However, his accident didn’t really look that serious. I was not alarmed. But when I walked back around to the area behind the bucking chutes, Frost was on a stretcher and en route to the local hospital. And someone said he didn’t have any brainwaves.
Later that evening, the media received official word that Frost was dead. The rodeo world mourned and I well remember the feeling of heaviness.
Frost was acharismatic cowboy who became an instant folk hero after his death. His biography is portrayed in the 1994 Hollywood movie 8 Seconds, with Luke Perry playing the lead role. Today, a statue of Frost riding a bull graces the hallowed grounds of Cheyenne’s rodeo, which concluded its 118th edition last weekend.
One of Frost’s traveling partners was four-time world champion Tuff Hedeman of Morgan Mill.
Today, Hedeman heads the Championship Bull Riding pro tour, which conducted its 2014 finals in Cheyenne on July 21-22. The performances were held in conjunction with Cheyenne’s traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show.
Sage Kimzey, of Strong City, Okla., clinched the CBR’s 2014 title and pocketed $107,000 at the Cheyenne championships. He finished No. l after finishing the year with 1,698 points, 180 more than runner-up Trey Benton. Aaron Pass of Mesquite finished third with 1,260.
Richmond Champion, a resident of The Woodlands, has thrived on four rodeo circuits this season.
First, he earned $1.1 million after winning the bareback riding title at the RFD-TVs The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on March 2.
On June 21, he helped Tarleton State finish second in the men’s team race at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
Then he earned $10,000 after winning the bareback riding title at the July 18 Cinch Shootout in Cheyenne, which was part of a national series of one-day, all-star rodeos.
Finally, he pocketed $12,122 after winning the bareback riding at Cheyenne’s renowned PRCA show on Sunday.
After winning that title, Champion is ranked fourth in the PRCA’s bareback riding world standings with $66,826 and is on pace to earn his first berth to the December Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.