|USU Freshman, Kevin Kartchner|
Utah State student, Kevin Kartchner, will be competing at Unicon 16, held in Brixen, Italy.
Described as the “Olympics of Unicycling,” Unicon is the highest level of competition for unicyclists. Like the Olympics, the venue of the event changes regularly, though it is held every two years. Past Unicons have been held in locations like Switzerland, New Zealand and Denmark, and competitors must qualify at a national level before receiving invitations to compete at Unicon.
Kartchner’s trip to Italy started in 2006 when he borrowed a unicycle from a friend’s garage. After competing in the North American Unicycle Championships in 2008, Kartchner realized he could compete at a competitive level.
“I went there and saw all the sponsored riders competing in street, and right then I was like, I can do this,” said Kartchner.
Much like skateboarding and bmx, there are multiple categories of competition in unicycling. Kartchner competes in the expert divisions of “street,” which consist of stairs, rails and boxes, and “flatland,” which showcases a rider’s skill in performing stunts on flat ground.
“I always relate it to skateboarding,” said Kartchner. “People don’t think of unicylcing as an extreme sport; they usually think of clowns. Once they see my videos, people take me a lot more seriously.”
In the six years that Kartchner has been unicylcing, he has seen the sport grow rapidly. Though he still gets odd looks when showing up to a skate park with a unicycle, Kartchner’s positive attitude and friendly disposition always attracts inquires about the sport.
“All the people that I’ve met through unicycling have been great,” said Kartchner. “I have friends from all over the world that I know from unicylcing, and we keep tabs on each other through facebook and different forums.”
Kartchner encourages people to pursue their passions regardless of how obscure that passion might seem.
“Just keep with it,” said Kartchner. “If you do what you love, then that’s all that matters.”