Flint Rasmussen’s NRA roots run deep
By JOE KUSEK
June 14, 2023
When Flint Rasmussen announced his retirement from the arena in January, the Professional Bull Riders built a whole campaign around the decision.
Billed as “Flint’s Last Dance,” the game-changing Rasmussen was showered with well-deserved adulation at every stop, culminating with the PBR World Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Some day in the future, Rasmussen will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
But watching Rasmussen, sing, dance, deliver one-liners and make people laugh was nothing new for one set of rodeo fans.
Fans of the Northern Rodeo Association always have one undeniable bragging right:
We saw him first.
Before Rasmussen was the most popular funnyman in western sports, before he was selected the PRCA Clown of the Year for eight consecutive years, he was a small-town teenage college kid trying to scratch a powerful itch to entertain.
Like the world-class cowboys and cowgirls before him, Rasmussen learned his craft at NRA events across the state. Some jokes worked, some did not. He learned there was a time to be funny and a time to be quiet.
The 1986 graduate of Choteau High School worked many of those NRA Rodeos with his older brother Will, then an upcoming announcer. Now Will Rasmussen is also at the top of the food chain for those working behind the microphone.
“My knowledge of rodeo came from the NRA,” said Rasmussen, now living in Billings.
His roots with the NRA run deep.
His father Stan is a long-time announcer and past NRA president. Mom Tootie is a former rodeo secretary and timer.
“My mom said I grew up on the steps of an announcer’s stand,” Rasmussen said.
One of his most vivid memories was coming to First Interstate Arena in Billings in seventh grade for the NRA Finals. “It was the biggest building I had ever been in,” he said.
Not many years later, was entertaining those same fans in the same building.
Family discussions around the dinner table centered around rodeo. The youngest son, even then, had his own ideas of bringing change.
“I remember it was a conversation with Will and Dad,” recalled Rasmussen. “The gist was they (rodeo clowns) all do the same thing. I said, ‘I can do that.’
“I told them I think you can engage the crowd more. This was before music was a big part of rodeo. This was all conversation … I was never looking beyond this being a summer deal.”
Rasmussen helped bullfighter Loyd Ketchum blow up an outhouse in Lewistown. “It was awesome,” he said. His full first rodeo was Superior, working with his brother.
“The NRA, it’s where my dad worked, where my mom worked,” he said. “For Will and I, we would treat NRA rodeos like our own show. It’s where we could perfect our craft.”
Stock contractor Don Jacobs of Jacobs Livestock Rodeo out of Great Falls, hired Rasmussen to work all their rodeos the following summer.
Rasmussen spent five summers with the NRA. Along the way, he graduated from Montana Western and was a teacher in Havre.
“I started to develop a character. My own style started to come through,” he said.
He made the jump to the PRCA and became the exclusive entertainer for the PBR in 2006.
And the NRA connection has continued through his daughters Shelby and Paige. Shelby was a Triple Crown winner for the Northern Women’s Rodeo Association, winning year-end titles in barrel racing, breakaway roping and all-around cowgirl in 2016. She was also runner-up in the all-around cowgirl standings in 2015 and 2018.
Paige, a collegiate goat tying national champion, finished seventh in the 2022 NWRA breakaway roping standings.
“The NRA has been the basis for everything we’ve done,” said Rasmussen.
The Mountain Health Co-op Tour in northeast Montana was very good to Tucker Zingg.
The veteran cowboy from Crow Agency swept the bareback title at Culbertson Frontier Days and The Wild West Days in Poplar. He was 76 points in Culbertson, matching the NRA high score for early in the season and 68 points in Poplar for his two first-place checks.
The weekend for Boulder barrel racer Keslie Wolfe was decided by two-hundredths of a second. She finished second to Victoria Netzer of Sidney by one-hundredth of a second at Culbertson and won at Poplar by the same scant margin over Julie Brown of Helena. Only two-tenths of a second separated the top five finishers in Poplar.
Winners at Culbertson were: Tucker Zingg, Crow Agency, bareback; Parker Mothershead, Joliet, saddle bronc; Kelly Murnion, Jordan, bull riding; Sterling Lee, Rhame, North Dakota, steer wrestling; Gavin Beattie, Helena, tie-down roping; David Madison-Mike Forest, Peerless, team roping; Victoria Netzer, Sidney, barrel racing; Morgan Foss and Sierra Lee, Rhame, North Dakota, breakaway roping; Sidnee Heinmann, Helena, junior barrel racing; Mac LaDue, Trenton, North Dakota, senior men’s breakaway roping; junior breakaway roping, no qualified times.
Winners at Poplar were: Tucker Zingg, Crow Agency, bareback; Quanah Glade, Miles City, saddle bronc; Dawson Murnion, Jordan, bull riding Jack Cornwell, Glasgow, steer wrestling; Carson Stevenson, Hobson, tie-down roping; J.R. Winter-Shane Bessette, Great Falls, team roping; Keslie Wolfe, Boulder, barrel racing; Ashley Koenig, Manhattan, breakaway roping; Tye Brown, Helena, junior barrel racing; Bailey Billingsley, Glasgow, junior breakaway roping; Darryl Crowley, Poplar, senior men’s breakaway roping.
Cowboys and cowgirls will load their rigs for the southwest part of Montana with Mountain Health Co-op Tour rodeos in Gardiner and Wilsall.
Gardiner is June 16 and 17 with 6 p.m. performances each night. Wilsall will have 6:30 performance on June 17 and close with a 2 p.m. show on June 18.
Ahead on the schedule are Polson (June 23-24), Big Timber (June 23-24) and Opheim (June 25).