Columbia Falls bull rider Matt Triplett is once again set to represent his country as the United States hosts this year’s Professional Bull Riders Global Cup event in Arlington, Texas next month.
Triplett, who rode in last year’s event in Australia, is among the 14 U.S. riders picked to compete in the 2019 challenge.
“Just being able to wear that red, white and blue — it’s an honor,” Triplett said. “It means a lot and I don’t think there is any better feeling that getting to represent your country. We are going to come into there ready to rock and roll and take advantage of being the home team and having the home crowd behind us.”
A 2010 graduate of Columbia Falls High School, Triplett was ranked in the top five in the world rankings in 2015 before a pair of shoulder injuries set him back. After two shoulder surgeries, Triplett returned to competition in 2018 and finished 13th in the PBR world standings. He is currently ranked No. 22.
Triplett was scheduled to ride at the inaugural Global Cup event in Edmonton, Canada in 2017, but his shoulder injury kept him sidelined. Triplett did ride in the 2018 event in Sydney, Australia, finishing ninth overall and second among U.S. competitors. The U.S. won the Canadian event, but came in fourth in Australia, behind Brazil, Australia and Canada.
Each year, the host country is allowed 14 riders while visiting countries field teams of seven. The host team attempts to defend its piece of the Global Cup trophy and a vial of its home soil.
So far, the United States and Brazil are tied, each holding two pieces of the trophy. The United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Mexico each have teams competing for the cup.
The Arlington event will feature a pair of seven-man teams from the United States, the “Eagles” team, which features U.S. born riders and the “Wolves” team, featuring riders of Native American heritage.
The unique format of the Global Cup gives riders a chance to compete as a team, something many of them have not done before.
“It’s kind of a cool deal for bull riding. Usually, we just go head to head against the bull and it is an individual sport. This gives us a chance to become a team. It’s awesome because all of us that are on the U.S. team are already like brothers to one another,” Triplett said. “I feel like coming into this competition, we have the strongest team to represent the United States so far.”
For Triplett, who grew up watching his dad, Pat, ride bulls, the Global Cup is just another chance to have fun while doing what he loves.
“My dad rode bulls, so I grew up watching and looking up to him and I wanted to do exactly what he was doing. I played other sports in high school and they all taught me about hard work and dedication. If you put in the work, you will get good results,” he said. “I’ve taken some hits, but I am holding up. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.”
The PBR Global Cup will take place Feb. 9-10 at AT&T Stadium.