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5 Questions for … the Rodeo Champs

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What does it take to produce two world-class rodeo stars? Brothers Olin and Jake Hannum credit their dad and deep Utah roots

By Ellen Ranta Olson

Rodeo champs Jake and Olin Hannum may occasionally disagree, but the brothers always have each other’s backs. Photo by Sarah Wight.
Rodeo champs Jake and Olin Hannum may occasionally disagree, but the brothers always have each other’s backs. Photo by Sarah Wight.
  1. What’s the coolest thing about a rodeo?

Olin: If you’ve never been to a high school rodeo in Utah, you’re missing out. People talk about the Utah rodeos all over the world — they’re always amazed that you can manage to get that many people to come together in one place without a beer stand.

  1. And the most misunderstood?

Olin: That it’s inherently dangerous. Without rules and regulations, almost anything is dangerous. If you didn’t get an owner’s manual and take classes to drive a car, driving would be dangerous too. People that just go buy a horse and don’t realize that the animal can think for itself and do things on its own. They don’t realize that knowledge is power when it comes to rodeo.

Jake: That’s why we put on clinics, so we can help people that want to be a part of it but didn’t grow up with a dad who rodeoed. Just like a football or basketball clinic, they help you learn how to ride your horse a little bit, get some understanding of what’s expected of you and how to do it quickly. When it comes to our sport, faster is better.

  1. What’s your relationship like as brothers? Are you competitive with each other?

Olin: We do different events — I steer wrestle and Jake does calf roping — so we don’t really compete with each other. We grew up doing this together, with our dad [ProRodeo Hall of Fame member Jack Arnold Hannum] coaching, so we’re comfortable together. I know how Jake will handle almost any situation.

Jake: Sometimes we argue or disagree, but as brothers we always have each other’s backs.

  1. Olin, why did you pursue steer wrestling? And Jake, why calf roping?

Olin: Initially, we really just learned from our dad. I played football in high school and college, and found that steer wrestling is physical like football — it pushed me in the same ways.

Jake: Olin is a lot bigger than me, and that strength and size helps with steer wrestling. Our dad trained us to do all-around events, which allowed us to figure out which we liked best and were good at. Calf roping is more technical and doesn’t require as much strength. I had more success with that early on and success definitely drives what you’re into.

  1. How do you deal with nerves?

Jake: After you’ve done this enough, the physical ability and muscle memory just takes over. It takes time to get to the point where it is second nature, but you gotta get there. Eight seconds is so quick, you don’t have time to think things through. It needs to become automatic.

Olin: The unique thing about our sport is that when you do have nerves, you can’t hide it. When you’re riding a live animal, they can sense the tiniest fly on their back, so you better believe they can sense your shaking legs. You just have to learn to control it.

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