Bull rider Tag Elliott returned to EnergySolutions Arena on Tuesday night for the first time since a near-fatal accident in 2007.
Elliott, who is from Thatcher, Utah, was one of only two contestants to complete their eight-second ride during the fourth performance of the Days of ’47 Rodeo.
Although his score of 73 won’t be good enough to cash a check, Elliott’s effort underscores the remarkable comeback he has made since suffering a gruesome head-to-horn accident six years ago at the Days of ’47.
For Elliott, returning to EnergySolutions was not a big deal.
“I don’t remember anything about the night I got hurt,” he said, “so it’s just like any other place, really. Everybody is telling me this is where it happened. But if they wouldn’t have told me, I don’t think I would have known.”
Elliott was two days shy of his 19th birthday when he drew a bull named Werewolf at the 2007 Days of ’47 Rodeo.
After the accident, Elliott was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent 10 hours of surgery. Many other operations and procedures related to his injuries followed during his amazing recovery.
Elliott was sidelined from rodeo for 20 months, but he never considered quitting.
Last year, he finished 15th in the world and qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo, where he placed in two rounds.
“It was cool,” Elliott said. “I didn’t have as good a [rodeo] as I was hoping to have. But it was a good experience and, hopefully, I can get lucky and make it back there.”
Elliott currently ranks 24th in the world with season earnings of $29,912. Since only the top 15 on the money list qualify, he has some work to do to punch his return ticket to Las Vegas.
Earlier this season, he won rodeos at Fort Mohave, Ariz., and West Jordan, Utah.
“The winter was pretty good,” said Elliott, “but lately it’s been pretty off — pretty slow. I hope I can pick things back up.”
As far as his return to EnergySolutions Arena, Elliott looked on the bright side, which is an attitude that has served him well over the years.
“This,” he said, “is the first time at this rodeo I’ve ever stayed on.”
If you go
O What • Days of ’47 Rodeo
Where • EnergySolutions Arena
When • Wednesday
Time • 6:30 p.m.
Tickets • ESA box office, Smith’s Tix
INSIDE • Tuesday’s results on Page D6.