Bull riding winner decided in final go

Bull rider Judd Mortensen couldn't have dreamed up a better way to finish the Fifth Annual Craig Bull Riding competition.

As Mortensen was wrapping up for the final ride of the evening, the announcer set it up for the crowd.

"Well folks it all comes down to this. Rider Jud Mortensen from Pyramid, Colo., is one of the best out there, and the bull he drew...well look out, because he is the best."

Mortensen drew number 788 -- Classical T -- who is the son of the world champion Mr. T, and who had gone a streak of two years without being ridden until the world championships a year ago.

The rider had his share of experience as well with years of competing on the Professional Bull Riders tour and in six world championships.

The two met and put on a show Sunday night for the crowd as the only couple to dance for the full eight seconds in the final round.

"It felt really good," Mortensen said after the ride. "Classical is one of the best bulls going right now and to give the crowd a ride to watch, I'm excited to do that."

Mortensen, who was the only cowboy to wear a helmet, finished fifth in the long run to advance to the short run, a round that didn't bring much success to the other riders. All seven riders in the final had been dethroned before the buzzer, and the bulls from Burns Rodeo Company out of Laramie, Wyo., appeared to be the kings of the ring for that night.

"Only three or four other people in the world could put on a rodeo by themselves," Mortensen said. "Burns can do that and it's great that Craig can get him here to bring in the best for their rodeo."

As far as Burns' herd goes, Classical T wears the crown. When T gets a chance to ride, his aggression has been built up all day. The bodacious bull has no one to play with all day as he is placed in a pin all by himself while the other bulls are corralled together.

"They have to keep him separated because he beats up on the other bulls," Mortensen said. "He's also worth about $40,000 so they don't want him to get beat up either."

After Mortensen won the final round, he described the ride.

"He kept trying to get me up on his head," he said. "He's no dumb bull, he knows what he has to do, but on this night I got the better."

While the champion thought his score of 85 was a little low, he only needed one point to win the final. The win gave him some confidence after spending the last two years recovering from a broken leg.

"The past couple of years, I hadn't had the strength to ride consistently," he said "I'm entered,

I'm back."

Organizer Jackie Roberts was glad to see that Mortensen "was back" and also was proud of the way the event turned out.

"I'm pleased," she said. "He (Mortensen) definitely earned his belt buckle and the boys put on a good show."

Mortensen earned a belt buckle sponsored by Timberworks, Roberts' business, and a check for $3,531.

"This might not be the biggest paying ride," he said. "But I hope the people of Craig keep supporting this, because it's a great event for this town and it brings the best bulls and riders in the region."

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