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Blackfoot bull riding star reflects on return to Idaho

IDAHO FALLS (KIFI) - “Blackfoot’s actually a pretty good place to grow up if you want to be a bull rider.”

Blackfoot native Brady Oleson, 28, is one of the best bull riders in the world. He’s a two-time PBR world finalist who’s ranked within the top 10 during his decade-long career.

“Y’know, I had a little arena out back of my house,” he reminisced. “And we would usually find some calves or some steers to buck. My parents would be at work, and we’d sneak out there and buck the animals.”

Olesen’s first brush with bull riding came at a PBR event in Nampa, ID at age eleven.

"And at that point, I kinda realized, like, ‘Oh, I could do this for a living,’” he said. “Like, it could be my job.”

Oleson competed at the Mountain America Center on Friday in front of 4,000 fans, just 30 minutes from his childhood home. His portrait was one of two hanging from the rafters.

“At the end of the day, I’m living the dream, y’know?” he said. “It’s given me everything I have today. I haven’t worked a job in a long time.”

Oleson is currently ranked 38th in the world.

“Yeah, yeah. It’s not great,” he asserted.

“That’s far below where I’d like to be,” he continued. “To be the best in the world, I don’t know anyone who has that much natural talent. You gotta put in a lot of work. And that’s what I’ve realized, as I see myself at 38th, is I just let off the gas pedal a bit. I didn’t put in the work I should’ve been doing.”

That work, though, often comes at a cost.

“Yeah, the tooth,” he said, referring to a noticeably missing upper incisor. “Let’s see, it would’ve been March of 2022. I rode a bull in Kansas City, and I came down on his head.”

“It’s become my trademark,” he added with a grin. “‘Toothless Cowboy.’ That’s what they like to call me.”

The costs of success, however, aren’t just physical.

“You don’t see your family much, but, y’know, that’s just part of life if you have dreams,” Oleson said. “That’s one of the sacrifices of this job, I guess.”

“All the traveling, it wears on you,” he continued. “I mean, you’d think it’s pretty easy to go get on a plane and just sit, but it is exhausting.”

The exhaustion melts away as soon as Oleson gets on a bull. He admits to being something of an adrenaline junkie.

"The adrenaline will be pumping for a couple hours at least,” he said. “I think the hardest thing I’ve found is trying to go to sleep after a successful ride. You just lay there and you’re wide awake.”

Local News 8 asked Oleson to describe the feeling he gets from competing.

“I mean, a lot of people say, ‘ten feet tall and bulletproof,’” he explained. “And in a way, that is kinda that feeling. You feel pretty tough, but I mean, to me, it’s just, like, the adrenaline’s hitting you, you know you probably just won a bunch of money. Like, you’re a pretty happy guy in that moment, I guess!”

Local News 8 also asked if there’s such thing as a home field advantage in bull riding.

“I don’t really think so,” Oleson said. “I don’t think the bull cares too much where I’m from, so it’s business as usual.”

There was only one way to find out if Oleson would feed off his hometown crowd.

“He wants to win it!” the arena announcer hollered as Oleson held onto his bull with everything he had. “Let’s go!”

However, Oleson was bucked off just milliseconds before the required eight-second minimum. But he remained in decent spirits knowing he’d have another chance Saturday.

"There’s a feeling you get when you accomplish what you set out to do,” he asserted. “You stay on for eight seconds and you step off, there’s just no other feeling I’ve found that can touch that.”

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Sam Gelfand


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