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For several days, all eyes were focused on Pittsburgh as world leaders gathered in the city for one singular event.

No, not the "Group of 20" summit. We're talking about Pogopalooza--the sixth-annual world championship for pogo stick enthusiasts, held in Pittsburgh from Aug. 19-22. The local organizer was Nick Ryan, a junior in Carnegie Mellon's philosophy department and an avid pogoer.

Pogopalooza showcases so-called "stunt pogo" or "extreme pogo," a relatively recent phenomenon that challenges athletes to do more than hop in one place. Instead, pogo athletes compete to perform the highest jumps, best tricks and even the fewest jumps per minute. More than 300 people attended the main event in Schenley Plaza, not far from the CMU campus, to see 50 contestants face off.

Four athletes at Pogopalooza also tested new versions of BowGo, an extreme pogo stick developed at the Robotics Institute. Invented by H. Ben Brown, a project scientist in the RI, BowGo employs a fiberglass bow that provides five times more "bounce to the ounce" than any similar steel spring.

BowGo was an offshoot of technology developed at the RI to enable robots to climb obstacles. Although BowGo is not yet commercially available, Brown is negotiating with several companies to bring it to market.

It's got the smoothest ride of any "extreme" pogo stick on the market, according to Ryan, and allows pogo athletes to clear jumps higher than nine feet.

First photo: Ben Brown talks about the science of BowGo with an audience at Carnegie Science Center.

Second photo: A visitor to the Carnegie Science Center tries out a mini version of BowGo.

Third photo: Jake Fagliarone, a 15-year-old pogo athlete from Florida, demonstrates BowGo on the Mount Washington overlook.

Additional photos: Pogo athlete Curt Markwardt jumps on BowGo on the platform at the Patrick Fagan Overlook on Grandview Avenue on Mt. Washington.

  • All photos: Ben Glatt, courtesy Tanner Research Inc.
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Jason Togyer | 412-268-8721 |