Guinness World Records Day 2023 set the stage for two pogo stick stars to battle it out for a record… and the ultimate bragging rights.
Xpogo members Henry Cabelus and Michael Mena (both USA) went head-to-head for the highest backflip pogo stick jump title, and it was Henry who came out victorious.
The extreme sports athlete, who competed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, leapt into the air to perform the stunt at a height of 3.07 m (10 ft 1 in).
Henry and Michael battled to break the existing record title, which had stood at 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in) since 2012.
“Me and Mena have been neck and neck at most competitions for the last few years,” said Henry.
“He did really well at the competition a couple of years ago, but I’m a little younger than Mena so I may have a little more energy in my legs.”
Michael, who has been pogoing for over 20 years, says the battle has been a long time coming.
He prepared himself for the competition by jumping as high as he possibly could.
“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been going out and just jumping as high as I can and just doing the highest backflips that I can,” said Michael.
“That’s the basis of the record and all I could really do is practise jumping as high as I can and get my body ready for it and hopefully that’s all I need.”
However, achieving the record title isn’t just about going high.
Wil Weiner, who runs Xpogo, says many factors play a part in accomplishing the perfect pogo stick jump backflip.
“There’s so much precision and control and just timing the take-off, when the flip happens, and what that arch is going to be,” said Wil.
You really need an advanced level of knowledge of your body and the pogo stick.
On the day of the record attempt, the bar was set at 2.92 m (9 ft 7 in).
Michael immediately cleared it, instantly breaking the record title.
Henry then attempted but failed to clear the bar.
The bar was then raised to 3.07 m (10 ft 1 in), and after multiple unsuccessful attempts by both athletes, Henry cleared the bar cleanly and broke Michael’s record, which had been set less than 30 minutes prior.
The bar was finally raised to 3.13 m (10 ft 3 in), and although Michael came close multiple times to clearing the bar, he was unable to break Henry’s newfound record.
Although the feat took an incredible amount of skill, Henry says it felt like luck was on his side.
However, he is confident that he can attempt an even higher jump next time.
“Mena and I really honed in on how we’ve got to do it in the future,” said Henry.
“By the time we got our technique down, we had already used up so much energy so when we’re coming with fresh legs with that technique, I think we’ll have some more luck next time.”
Henry has been pogoing professionally for over 10 years.
“I started jumping on the pogo stick when I was in first or second grade,” he said.
It wasn’t until I was just about to turn 13 that I got my first air-powered pogo and that’s when I’d say I really got into it.
He’s also been performing flips for a long time.
“I actually have the Guinness World Records title for the most consecutive backflips on a pogo stick, and that’s at 22 backflips,” said Henry.
“I’m also tied for the record for the highest forward flip pogo stick jump.”
Over the years, Henry has broken nine bones while pogo stick jumping, including four in his face.
He says the most important factor to consider when competing is the surface of the ground.
“My biggest fear is slips and when you’re going upside down with a lot of momentum like trying to break a high jump record, you have to make sure the angle you’re laying at is proper,” he said.
“If you land at a steep angle, it’s really easy for your head to hit the ground before your hands can get anywhere to help you.”
However, on the day of the record attempt, Henry says he was not worried at all about slipping because the surface was grippy.
Although Henry says he had mixed feelings about having to compete against his close friend, he was thrilled to have broken the record title.
Wil says many pogo athletes grew up playing a variety of other sports.
“A lot of them grew up doing skating, BMX, parkour, and for whatever reason pogo kind of clicked,” he said.
“It really is this kind of island of misfit toys in the action sports world.”
He hopes that Henry’s record title will inspire people to give pogoing a try.
“I think anything that’s kind of amazing or worth doing, there is some level of difficulty whatever it is,” said Wil.
The difficulty and the danger of it makes it really small but really exclusive and exciting for those that are a part of it.
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