EAST VILLAGE — The sport of pogo-stick riding reached new heights Saturday as Pogopolooza 10 took over the basketball courts at Tompkins Square Park.
In the competition — the largest pogo stick event worldwide — pogo-stick riders impressed crowds with aerial stunts done between 10-foot bounces. And the pogo sticks themselves aren’t your average playground toy — competitors used larger, high-performance models meant to get more air.
“Pogo is no joke,” one organizer said. The event was held in part to qualify riders for the finals rounds for the World Championships of Extreme Pogo, which are set for Sunday in Union Square.
Extreme pogo riding is a relative newcomer to the sporting scene, organizers said.
Xpogo, which manages the Pogopolooza championships and a team of professional extreme pogo stick riders, was founded 12 years ago and has since coordinated a variety of international exhibitions, including one at the 2012 Olympic games.
Pogopolooza 10 drew pogo stick riders from 25 states and a host of different countries, most between the ages of 16 and 20.
Saturday, riders competed in a series of five-minute qualifying jams, impressing judges with their creativity and technical stunting skills. Competition categories include Big Air, Tech, Best Trick and High Jump.
“I’ve been going hard all week,” first-time Pogopolooza competitor Nic Patrino, from Pennsylvania, said. “I’m ready to throw down some big tricks. I’m pumped.”
In between heats, pogoers also attempted to break a series of world records, including most consecutive no-feet jumps and most consecutive back flips. One professional rider, Tone Staubs, a 20-year-old from Danville, Ohio, broke his own world record for most jumps in one minute, beating his previous PR by 4 for a total of 269.
Aside from the professionals, event-goers also had their own opportunities to bounce at Pogopolooz’s free jump area.
Joe Bosco, of Westchester County, attended to the event with his wife and sons, 10 and 12, both of whom were trying their luck with pogo sticks.
“It’s awesome. My guys got inspired and wanted to do it themselves,” he said. “They have pogo sticks at home, which they ignored.”
He guesses that won’t be the case now.
Sunday’s finals will be held in Union Square’s North Plaza from 1 to 5 p.m.