BIG SKY, Mont. – Nathan Schaper wasn’t even born yet at the time of Lane Frost’s tragic death on July 30, 1989, but 26 years later, Schaper is just one of many bull riders still being affected by Frost’s legacy.
The No. 5 bull rider in the world is a huge Frost fan and he usually watches Frost highlight videos every couple of weeks.
“Man, I still look up to him and I think most do,” Schaper said. “Growing up as a kid, he was everyone’s hero and to this day I still watch tons of videos of him on the Internet. He was just a great cowboy and a great person, someone you should look up to.”
Schaper had even recently watched the epic showdowns between Frost and Red Rock during the 1988 Challenge of Champions before heading to the Big Sky BlueDEF Velocity Tour event.
Frost successfully covered Red Rock four times over the course of their seven meetings during the challenge.
“It was awesome,” Schaper said. “That was a really good bull for that time, and he still would be a really good bull, and Lane rode him perfect both ways every time. I think he gave a lot of other guys problems, but Lane rode him flawlessly.”
Schaper is currently third in the event average in Big Sky heading into tonight’s second round.
The event can be watched exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Schaper believes Frost has remained so popular and well-known among the latest era of bull riders and fans of the sport because of his personality. Yes, the movie “8 Seconds” and his World Championship success played a factor, but it was the way that he handled himself that led to such a long lasting legacy.
It is partially why the current World Champion contender and 24-year-old from Grassy Butte, North Dakota, remains humble in his own pursuit of a gold buckle.
“It is amazing. I just think it is the kind of person he was,” Schaper said. “No matter what you do and how many World Championships you win, at the end of the day, it is the people you meet and how you treat them. That is what life is about.”
Big Sky Round 1 winner Cooper Davis said he actually watched some videos of Frost on his way up to Big Sky this week after they kept popping up on his Facebook newsfeed and throughout social media as fans began to remember the legendary bull rider on the anniversary of his death at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“You hear about him and everything you hear about him is a good story,” Davis said. “I actually watched one on the way up here. It was a video of pretty much some of his best rides and his last ride. It will make you think about all of the sacrifice you make to be a bull rider and do something you love to do.”
“He sounds like he was an all-around good guy and somebody you would want to meet,” Davis later added. “If I were to ever meet anybody that has passed in bull riding that is probably one of the guys I would want to meet.”
Davis, like many young bull riders still do today, can recall watching the movie “8 Seconds” two or three times a week.
Stetson Lawrence, currently 11th in the world standings and tied for fifth place in Big Sky, said “8 Seconds” is only the start of it.
Young kids watch the movie and are left craving to learn more about Frost, so they now YouTube videos of him and see how great of a bull rider he was.
“It is just the way he went about bull riding,” Lawrence said. “He always lived life on the edge and didn’t care. Those Red Rock challenges were just amazing. The videos of those are just historical. He was just a calm guy. He seemed collected and didn’t let much stuff get to him. Genuine cowboy. A good-hearted bull rider.”
Frost’s impact stemmed much farther than just the hubs of bull riding in the United States.
His popularity is international.
Dave Mason said that any kid that rides bulls or rodeos in Australia can recite lines from “8 Seconds.”
Mason joked that he has watched the movie “4,000-million” times.
“We watch them and he is probably one of the best that has been and will ever be,” Mason said. “Anyone that rides bulls and doesn’t know Lane Frost’s name hasn’t been around long enough. He always had a smile and he enjoyed what he does. I think sometimes in this day and age people forget that. Watching that makes you realize you better like what you do or else you are wasting your time.”
Bryan Titman said that everyone – bull rider or not – could learn from Frost’s legacy.
“He is someone we all want to be,” Titman said. “We all take the time to meet these fans and he took the time to get to know them and make the sport what it is.
“He had the warmest heart.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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