CHOTEAU – Flint Rasmussen was tired. Cold and tired, to be exact.
Arguably the most famous name in professional rodeo, Rasmussen was back in Montana for the holiday season, spending valuable time with his daughters, Paige and Shelby, and enjoying a much-deserved break before the new year. What Rasmussen was not enjoying were the below-zero temperatures and multiple feet of snow.
Thursday, Rasmussen leaves the chilly tundra of his home state for the heat wave of New York City, which is currently under a winter storm warning until early Friday morning. That’s perfect timing for Rasmussen and the Professional Bull Riders to make their stop in Madison Square Garden for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, an event won by Montana world champion Jess Lockwood just last year.
Lockwood will be one of the biggest draws to the 2018 opener, but fans continue to fill the stands to watch Rasmussen, the makeup-wearing, singing and dancing adult teenager who boasts a prestigious 30-plus-year career in the rodeo entertainment business.
“If you would have told me 15 years ago I would still be doing this and almost 50 years old, I say almost, I might have called you crazy. But I feel good. I work out every day,” Rasmussen said. “Nobody has stepped up, I guess, that can do it like I do. I fit the PBR style really well and I like my job. I like the cities I get to go to.
“Listen, (this weekend) I’m going to be out in front of 15,000 people per night in the middle of Manhattan in the most historic sports arena in the world in Madison Square Garden. Why quit yet? Right? It’s fun. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s hard to be away a lot, and it has been hard to be away, but it’s like you have your job, I have my job. I’ll keep rolling a little bit longer.”
In every PBR arena one can find children impersonating Rasmussen, from the makeup to the Cooper Tires jersey and cowboy hat. Others wave around his officially licensed bobblehead. Teens and adults dance with the former track and field coach in the aisles, and everyone in attendance dons a grin at Rasmussen’s in-arena antics.
Other arena entertainers strive for what Rasmussen has: an exclusive deal with the high-octane, huge payout, rock concert with bull riding in between PBR. The “toughest sport on dirt” boasts some of the most dedicated fans in the country, something Rasmussen has seen in tenure with the organization. But someday, a different funnyman will take center stage, only when Rasmussen can no longer handle the mental and physical grind, but who that entertainer will be is uncertain.
“I’ll tell you, there’s a guy that does the Velocity Tour, which is the tour below (the Built Ford Tough Series), a kid from North Carolina, Matt Merritt, he does a great job. I told him, ‘I don’t care what you do, I just know you’re screwed when I leave.’ I say that tongue in cheek,” laughed Rasmussen.
“But just in case people don’t watch the PBR,” he continued, “it’s a little different than a rodeo. It’s not just that the clown shows up and comes out once in a while. I’m engrained in the production, I’m on the production team that comes up with openings and does everything. I will say, once I’m done in the arena, I probably will remain employed with the PBR in some aspect. I’ll be around. I just love the production part of it and the show part of it. It was my avenue to be in the entertainment business and be somewhat of a little rock star, so I’ll keep at it.”