Xpogo’s apex is a Pogopalooza. The word is so fantastic my font went neon. It’s OK, now. But for the past 11 years Pogopalooza has unleashed an array of competitions, demonstrations, and lessons in all things pogo. If you happen to be in Helsingborg, Sweden August 29th to 30th, drop in to the next Pogopalooza performance.
Did you know there’s an Xpogo Stunt Team 2014? They've landed mostly everywhere on the planet, 17 countries that they know of, and have rocketed to a couple of fifth-dimensions, no doubt.
Teams today come by pogo naturally. Way back in the roaring 20’s the Ziegfeld Follies pogoed in their shows.
CEO of Xpogo, Nick Ryan, says the pros make a fair living - mostly from appearance fees - and Idaho, home of the Idaho Potato, houses a hotbed of Pogo performance in the name of one Biff Hutchison who stands and sticks as the world’s number one in this extreme sport, and is financially quite well off, thank you. He’s described as mild mannered. Wasn't it US president Teddy Roosevelt who said talk softly and carry a big stick?
At first glance, watching a stunt team highlight reel evokes stirrings of want. One wants to do that. It sure looks like fun. And the performers look fit. One figures they've been hardened against sea sickness, what with all the somersaulting-bounding forwards and backwards and ricocheting off trees, stairs, and abutments they do.
You know a sport is going somewhere when it has its own verb: pogoing. Could we say they pogoed yesterday? Is that acceptable? Probably, because the sport lends itself to flexibility in format and function. It seems to be limited only by imagination.
Rule of thumb, number one, for any pogo wanna be? Start with a solid surface. Not that the rest is incidentals, but without a solid surface you are going to slip, slide, or splat. Keep elbows out and hug the knees into the stick. You’re quick. You are now a master - and you’ll amaze us with the stick flip via the kick whip. However, the spot of the pegs in this trick has a lot of legs, that is, it will take quite some time to get it down pat. Solid surfaces don’t preclude slanted surfaces. But wait a week or an eon before you muster up the courage to try going off on a tangent and bouncing off on an angle.
Maybe try reverse tricks and HooHas first. Or sample some stomps and stalls, mounts and grabs. Try a slick trick like the Saran Wrap and finish off with a hard trick like the Rigor Mortis. But it’s probably best to begin with a Froggy Wiggle medium-level trick before you jump into the hard ones.
What gets weird, and wonderful, is when the pros pogo from behind their backs. They can switch the stick as fast to that position as one can flick a Bic. Sometimes they’ll sit on the handle, or have both feet on one side. They do this so nonchalantly, you think the move looks easy – but inherently, you know it’s not.
Here’s a move for show. Take your basic high jump bar. Now go pogo over it. Now clear 8’ 6.” If you did, you just might be Michael Mena. Or soar over a 9’ 7.5” high bar like our aforesaid Biff Hutchison did. That mark set the world record in December 2013.
Is that history? Undoubtedly the bar will be pushed higher, literally and figuratively with the fast growing sport.
Hey! The future is here. COOLIGANS is seven minutes of zany tricks and zesty attitude.
These acrobats of attitude and altitude are called riders or jumpers. There is "pogofred". He is known for doing not only the most consecutive back flips but for tutoring the younger jumpers. Fred Grzybowski is 25. Jake Gartland "Garts" has the most consecutive front flips while a man with WAY too much time on his hands, Gary Stewart, jumped on his stick for 20 hours and 20 minutes consecutively. It was the height of the year 1990. (The reunification of Germany took a close second.)
For those that like their challenges short and snappy, grab a skipping rope and get your pogo stick. Stand on your stick, wedge it firmly between your legs and have the handle rest above your crotch. Your hands won’t touch the pogo stick because they’ll be busy working the rope. This will just take a minute, and when you have skipped 131 complete revolutions while pogoing over the skips of the rope, you’ll be the new Guinness world record holder.
Pogo, extreme of otherwise, may not be as popular as World Cup soccer, or as chic as the Triple Crown, but it does hold our fascination, because it looks so simple, and does hold our appreciation, because it can be done on any hard surface, and yet it’s hard to do if you want to be a pro. It hearkens back to times when fun seemed clean and pristine, but it’s a mainstay today, hotter than ever, and one wonders if it’ll grow and grow - as it pogoes with the flow.