Extreme pogo-ists coming to W.Va. Strawberry Festival

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BUCKHANNON — Extreme pogoing is coming to Buckhannon for the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.
A trio of skilled pogo enthusiasts will be in the Grand Feature Parade but will showcase their more difficult maneuvers during a Main Street performance at 9:15 p.m. Friday, May 19, 8 p.m.  Saturday, May 20 and during the exhibition at 5:30 p.m. in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday.
Michael Mena is currently the number two extreme Xpogo athlete in the world. He is scheduled to come to the festival with Nick McClintock, co-founder of Xpogo, and Russell Kaus.
“In the shows, we have pogo sticks that jump anywhere from 4 to 10 feet in the air,” he said. “We do backflips and tricks and all kinds of crazy things that most people don’t know happen on pogo sticks.”
In the parade, the Xpogo trio may be able to do a few flashy tricks here and there, but it is the street performances where their creativity and skill go to the top.
The performers will use a high jump bar.
“Sometimes we put people under the bar and we will jump over them,” he said. “We like to mix it up and change it around. If the crowd gets excited then we get excited and we do cooler stuff.
Mena, who is originally from Orlando, Fla., started pogo sticking at age 12 years old.
“I was bored,” he said. “I had done pogo sticking when I was younger but I found a pogo stick in my garage and started messing around with it, doing tricks.”
Mena then Googled extreme pogo sticking which led him to xpogo.com and he saw that extreme pogo sticking was a thing.
McClintock who had been pogo sticking before Mena rediscovered the pogo stick, helped invent extreme pogo sticking in the late 1990s.
Mena said the sport has grown tremendously since that time.
“The pogo sticks got bigger and the tricks got way crazier,” he said. “Things have changed a lot since then.”
Mena has been doing shows for almost six years and competes.
“The sport is getting crazier and crazier every year,” he said. “Where it was 10 years ago compared to where it is now is so different, it is hard to compare.”
Mena has placed second in the world championships for the last four years.
“That is my goal to get first,” he said. “I have gotten second enough times to where I’m pretty sure first is just around the corner.”
Mena recently claimed the world record for the highest front flip on a pogo stick over a 10-feet 2-inch bar on April 17 on his first try. The previous record was 10 feet by Biff Hutchinson set in March.
“I wasn’t expecting to get it and it ended up working out,” he said.
When training to break a record or compete, Mena said he puts a lot of effort in, pogo sticking a few times a week.
Shows are the best training tool because that is when the pogo stick athletes are performing hard tricks up to three times a day, he added.
“That’s the best practice,” he said. “The things that we do in the shows are not easy.”
And for the Strawberry Festival show, Xpogo will be bringing plenty of tricks to the delight of the audience.
“They can expect to see a lot of weird tricks they probably haven’t seen before,” he said.
“We do backflips four or five in a row, front flips, synchronized pogo sticking where we do tricks at the same time.”
Mena said he is so used to the performances now but watching the audience reaction is great.
“Everyone is very caught off guard about the whole thing,” he said.
Xpogo recently made the move from New York City to Pittsburgh, Pa.  For videos, photos and more information on world records, visit www.xpogo.com.

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