Xpogo: Springing Up a Sport

A child's toy has never been so intense. Or graceful. Pogo stick stunts

A pogo stick may not have been the safest toy to start with, but it certainly wasn't designed to launch riders 9 feet in the air. At least, not at first.

"We took the tiny little sticks that everyone sees that are toys, basically, and we just decided that we were going to create a sport out of them," said Nick Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Xpogo.

Xpogo is a budding extreme sport on pogo sticks. But they aren't the same dinky sticks you bounced on as a kid. They're sleekly engineered, high-propelling stunt sticks.

The thrill of the high-flying startup sport caught the attention of athletes like Tone Staubs, who began teaching himself tricks when he was 13. Now 20, he's one of the top contenders, a pro member of the official Xpogo team.

"I just saw tricks on the internet of people doing videos," Staubs said. "I started trying everything I saw, and just never put it down, never stopped. It's a pretty awesome feeling to know you can say you're one of the best at something in the world."

Though the fledgling sport is only about 14 years old, it's gained a lot of traction. The 10th annual Pogopalooza competition this year drew thousands to watch the stunters flip and fly through the air.

And who wouldn't want to watch these athletes in action? Some of the pogo stick world records are mind-blowing.

The highest jump flew well above 9 feet, and so did the highest backflip. Jumpers have spiraled through the air 16 consecutive times without mistake. Staubs holds the record for most jumps in a minute, at 266— more than 4 per second.

"When Xpogo started, it was non-existent," Ryan said. "And now there's a lifestyle developing around it, and it's crazy to see."

IWI Athletics added Xpogo to Bridge Day's extreme adventure lineup, sponsoring team members to show off for the crowds.

"We've been to 17 countries around the world and we've never seen anything like this," Staubs said. "It's pretty wild."

Xpogo was a perfect fit for Bridge Day, which already highlights extreme sports working to be more accepted. For BASE, it's showing the sport as it is to the passionate leapers, not as its portrayed in the media. For Xpogo, it's finding a spot among the limelight of well-established sports.

"Our goal is to grow a sport, and we're not there yet," Ryan said. "We're close. We're here with Red Bull, and with these amazing athletes who are going off the Bridge, and we're all kind of part of the same community, so it's very fulfilling," he said.

The landscape is still shaping up for Xpogo, so if you want to jump onboard (on-stick?), there are plenty of tools to help you learn to Xpogo. Ryan recommended starting on the website.

"It has everything. All the athletes, all the videos, all the sticks. It's a great place to kind of enter the world of it."

That's Xpogo.com. Who knows, maybe you're the next pogo pro, getting your start solo, just as Staubs did.

"I worked hard for it, and now I'm here," he said. "I can't imagine any other life right now."