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Rodeo: Bull rider Tag Elliott continues amazing comeback
Rodeo » Five years after a bull nearly killed him, Tag Elliott is one of the world’s best riders.


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He recalls arriving in Salt Lake City from Cheyenne and meeting his parents, who brought him some fresh clothes.

He remembers watching traveling partner Dustin Larsen compete one night before his ill-fated ride.

At a glance

The Tag Elliott File

Event » Bull riding

Born » July 22, 1988 in Brigham City

Current residence » Thatcher, Utah

Career earnings » $148,566

College » Southern Idaho (equine studies)

Career » Won Extreme Bulls (Division 2) at Austin and Pocatello this season. … Placed 30th in the 2011 world standings with earnings of $34,155. … In 2010, earned $50,680 and placed 28th in the world after winning at San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; San Dimas, Calif.; Grace, Idaho; and Herriman, Utah. … Missed 2008 season and participated on a limited basis in 2009 after being severely injured at the 2007 Days of ’47 Rodeo. … Utah state high school champion in 2006.

Personal » Single. … His father, Steve, was a professional bareback and bull rider. … His brother, Zach, is a bull rider who finished 33rd in the 2009 world standings. … Graduated from Bear River High School, where he wrestled, qualifying for the state meet four times. … Enjoys hunting and helping work the family cattle ranch. … Favorite movies: Clint Eastwood Westerns.

This week’s PRCA rodeos in Utah:

Days of ‘47 Rodeo » 7 p.m.

June 19, 20, 21, 23, 24

Maverik Center, West Valley City

3200 S. Decker Lake Drive

Pioneer Days Rodeo » 7:30 p.m.

June 19, 20, 21, 23, 24

Pioneer Stadium, Ogden

668 17th Street

Fiesta Days Rodeo » 8 p.m.

June 20, 21, 23, 24

Fairgrounds, Spanish Fork

475 South Main Street

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Finally, he recalls having a brief conversation at the arena with bareback rider Kaycee Feild and his Hall of Fame father, Louis.

Otherwise?

"Nothing at all, really," Elliott said. "I just woke up, three or four days later."

Before regaining consciousness, Elliott underwent 10 hours of reconstructive surgery. It was needed because every bone on the right side of his face had been broken, including his jaw and eye socket. Most of his teeth had been knocked out. An artery had been severed.

"I’ve had a few fatal [auto] accidents," Higham said. "This looked worse than any of them."

Eventually, Elliott was sidelined for 20 months. Procedures related to his injuries are ongoing. Still, the former wrestling star at Bear River High School never considered quitting.

"There wasn’t much change in my thinking," Elliott said. "This is my job. This is how I make a living. There wasn’t any question whether or not I’d get on [a bull] again. It was just a matter of [doctors] telling me I could."

Elliott credits his family, especially his mother and father, for helping him return to bull riding: "They’ve been 100 percent supportive. They said, ‘If you never want to get on another one, that’s fine. But if you want to, that’s perfectly fine, too.’ "


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Elliott resumed a limit schedule in 2009. He finished among the top 30 in the world in 2010 and 2011, when he earned nearly $85,000.

This season, however, has been his best since the injury.

After winning Xtreme Bull events at Austin, Texas, and Pocatello, Elliott has already earned $35,875. He ranks 15th in the world standings.

"It’s going all right," Elliott said. "Not as good as you’d want. But it’s close, I guess. I feel pretty lucky about it. We’re staying healthy and I’ve drawn some nice bulls at the right time."

The top 15 money-winners in each event qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in December, meaning Elliott finds himself in contention for his first postseason trip to Las Vegas.

"It’d be cool," he said. "It’s everybody’s goal — what everybody has in mind. It’s not going to be the biggest heartbreak in the world if we don’t make it. But it’s definitely something you work toward."

luhm@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sluhm



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