By: Justin Felisko
July 30, 2017
BIG SKY, Mont. – It was a few weeks after Cooper Davis had won the 2016 World Championship when there was a package for him in the mail.
Davis, unaware of what the PBR had sent him, began to rip open the box to see what lay inside.
The newly minted champion found a plaque with his name engraved on it for winning the Lane Frost / Brent Thurman award, which is given out annually to the bull rider that posts the single highest-scored bull ride during the PBR World Finals.
Davis won the accolade courtesy of his 91-point ride on Catfish John in Round 5 of the 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals, which helped earn him the 2016 World Championship.
“That is probably the coolest thing aside from winning the world that I ever won,” Davis said. “I didn’t know anything about (winning) the Lane Frost deal until a few weeks after the Finals. It was really cool.”
Davis has a small trophy room at his home in Buna, Texas, and made sure to hang the plaque up with all of his belt buckles, trophies and other significant awards from his bull riding career.
Still, the Lane Frost plaque is one of the most important awards in that room, and Frost will surely be on Davis’ mind Sunday during his return home following this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Big Sky, Montana.
Sunday is the 28th anniversary of Frost’s death at the 1989 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.
“That guy has helped the sport out so much just by his legacy,” Davis said last year. “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.”
To have an award named after him still pulls the heartstrings, Davis said this weekend.
The third-year pro sees Frost videos come across his newsfeed on Facebook all the time.
“Any time he pops up I watch them, but it has probably been a year since I watched “8 Seconds,” Davis said.
Following Frost’s death, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert invented a protective vest for bull riders.
Davis called the invention one of the most underrated advancements in bull riding history.
“The vest has saved a lot of people’s lives,” Davis said. “If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if I would be riding bulls. The vest is a great, great idea and has really helped the sport more than it is given credit for.”
It surely helped Davis during the 2016 World Finals.
Right after learning he had clinched the world title, Davis attempted to ride Gangster’s Wildside during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. His first ride attempt as a World Champion didn’t go well, and Davis was bucked off in 2.73 seconds and sustained broken ribs.
If not for the vest, Davis understands things could have been much worse.
“The helmet and vest, and all that preventive stuff, things can still happen, but they eliminate a whole lot of the shot. A lot of people think that is just a half inch vest and it doesn’t do anything, but basically what it does is it absorbs and sends the shock all throughout the vest. You are only getting a small percentage of it.”
Davis also avoided serious injury in Big Sky this weekend. The 23-year-old injured his ankle when Mental Revenge stepped on him after Davis had rode Chad Berger’s bull for 86.5 points in Round 2.
After icing his ankle in sports medicine, Davis attempted to ride Fire & Smoke in the championship round but wound up being bucked off in 3.32 seconds.
Davis finished fourth overall in Big Sky with a 2-for-3 performance. He had ridden The Fugitive for 82 points on Friday night.
The No. 10 ranked rider in the world standings earned 30 points toward the world standings.
Davis is trying to join three-time World Champion Silvano Alves as the only back-to-back champions in PBR history.
Whenever he re-watches his Catfish John ride, it is a reminder of what he is still capable of doing.
“I watch it all the time,” Davis said. “It always comes across my newsfeed. I watch it quite a bit. It makes you feel like, ‘I can do it.’ When you are sitting out like I have these last few months, and watch things like that, it makes you want to do it again.”
The ride wasn’t Davis’ best, per say, but it has been the biggest so far of his young career.
“It was probably one of the sloppier bull rides I ever made and been 90 points on,” Davis said. “As far as meaningful, that was probably the most meaningful ride I ever made and the most pressure situation I made a ride in.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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