Pogopalooza bouncing into Pittsburgh in July

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The hottest sport on one spring is coming to Pittsburgh.

Organizers of the EQT Three Rivers Regatta announced Tuesday that Pogopalooza 2014, the Extreme Pogo World Championship Series, will come to the city July 2-4 as part of the annual summer festival.

Xpogo athletes from all over the world will descend on Pittsburgh for flips, tricks and the chance to break a few world records.

Extreme pogo stick competition added to Regatta events

The USA leg of the Xpogo World Championship Series -- an extreme pogo stick competition -- is joining the list of events at the 37th EQT Three Rivers Regatta. (Video by Nate Guidry; 3/11/2014)

"They are quickly gaining international momentum," said John Bonassi, chairman of the board for the Regatta. "To have this championship here in Pittsburgh is a great testament to our fabulous city and our world-class regatta."

Jumpers from Xpogo demonstrated their skills last year at the Regatta and are back, this time to compete. The three-day competition will crown winners in best trick, highest bounce and endurance events.

Xpogo bounced onto the Pittsburgh scene in large part thanks to the sport's local roots.

Nick Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Xpogo LLC, is a 2011 Carnegie Mellon University graduate and York, Pa., native.

Xpogo LLC is the international governing body for the sport of Xpogo.

While at the university, Mr. Ryan connected with Ben Brown, a CMU computer science professor. Mr. Brown was developing the "BowGo" pogo stick, which features a fiberglass bow in place of the standard metal coil.

Years bounding around campus turned into professional aspirations for Mr. Ryan, who founded Xpogo LLC 3 1/2 years ago.

It has quickly grown into a sport with international appeal. Pittsburgh will be the U.S. stop on the three-leg world tour.

When deciding on a U.S. host city, Mr. Ryan said Pittsburgh was quickly "at the top of the list."

"This is very exciting for us," he said. "We have roots here in Pittsburgh. All of our athletes across the United States and internationally just love this city."

Like all events at the festival, the competitions and "learn to pogo" clinics will be free and open to the public.

Visitors can see the top 30 to 50 jumpers from around the world, some coming from as far as Russia, Germany and Mexico.

Jumpers will also compete in France and Sweden.

A 2012 Smithsonian Magazine story about the rise of extreme pogo traces the history of the toy back more than 80 years, when Russian immigrant George B. Hansburg brought it to the U.S.

Back then, the toy would often break or splinter. Now jumpers can reach heights of nearly 10 feet. Their jumps are punctuated with kicks and spins, much like BMX and other extreme sports.

Among other records, Mr. Ryan said competitors will look to break the Guinness World Record for highest jump while in Pittsburgh. The current record stands at 9 feet, 7.5 inches.

With advances in pogo technology, the fledgling sport is still developing regulations. At the moment, the only equipment stipulation is that all sticks must be available to everyone and completely human-powered. Many use air pressure in place of springs.

Mr. Ryan said his goal is to make Xpogo "a legitimate, standardized sport and lifestyle," and he's excited to share it with the city.

"There is something about Pittsburgh," he said. "It's got a good vibe. I personally have a great love of Pittsburgh. We keep coming back here."

Lauren Lindstrom: llindstrom@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1964.

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