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Busted but not broken
Blankenship overcomes injuries to continue sport he loves
When local bull rider Scott Blankenship saddles up Thursday to defend his title at the 2007 Mikel J. Moreno Memorial PBR Discovery Tour event at the Yuba-Sutter Fair, he knows the danger that follows.
Among the injuries Blankenship, 23, of Smartville, has had to overcome during his bull riding career are a broken left ankle, a broken back, a broken jaw, a fractured arm and reconstructive surgery to his wrist.
In last year’s event, Blankenship “tore up” his wrist on his first ride, but managed to climb back on to eventually win the event and the winner's share of a $10,000 purse, plus a $1,000 buckle.
“I don’t know how I managed to ride the second time,” Blankenship said. “But, injuries are a part of the lifestyle and you learn to accept it.”
After the recent injury to 19-year-old bull rider Tag Elliott, who was in critical condition last week a day after surgery to repair extensive facial injuries suffered in a collision with the Flying U Rodeo bull Werewolf during an event in Utah, many people, including Hall of Fame promoter Cotton Rosser, are in favor of bull riders wearing helmets.
Blankenship, however, believes the choice is up to the rider.
“I, more or less, think it’s a preference. If your comfortable riding with a helmet, and you feel safer with it on, than you should wear it,” Blankenship said. “It’s whatever makes you feel more comfortable on the bull.
“I wear a helmet because I’ve received a few too many concussions and broken noses,” Blankenship added. “Helmets were mandatory in the juniors, so I’ve gotten used to it. I can ride just fine without it, but I get concussions when I take it off and I can’t afford to get more of those.”
Although Blankenship has worked at the Flying U Rodeo Company in Arboga in the past, he doesn’t feel his familiarity with the bulls gives him the advantage in the Discovery Tour event at the Fairgrounds, which will feature Flying U stock.
“I’m always on them (the Flying U bulls), but it’s a lot different at home than at the arena,” the cowboy said. “The arenas are larger than the pens at the ranch, plus there’s so many of them they’re hard to keep up with.”
Blankenship added that the whole environment of the rodeo can have its effect on the bulls as well.
“There’s a lot more bulls, and the fans and music come into play,” said Blankenship. “It’s hit and miss on what they’re going to do.”
Regardless if he has an advantage or not, Blankenship is looking forward to defending his title close to his home and family.
“I have a lot of family coming from Ohio who haven’t seen me ride,” he said. “I’m very anxious to get out there. I can’t wait.”
Appeal-Democrat sports assistant Andy Arrenquin can be reached at 743-0512. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org