Sure, he catches big air and can perform full 360-degree back flips. When you find out Biff Hutchison is on a pogo stick things get interesting.
Hutchison, an otherwise typical 16-year-old Burley High School junior, started riding years ago. Like many children before him, Hutchison quickly out-grew his first pogo stick – you know the kind: plastic parts, steel-coiled spring and not intended for extreme athletes.
Which is exactly what Hutchison became: an extreme pogo rider.
Today, he has a sponsorship with nationally acclaimed x-pogo manufacturer Vurtego and recently competed on the TV show “America’s Got Talent,” but his journey began years ago when he was just a boy with a pogo stick and a vision of his future.
That vision was captured when Hutchison came across an online video of guys performing high-stakes moves on suped-up sticks. It was love at first sight and his life has never been the same.
“I saw something different, unique and a sport that was emerging,” Hutchison said.
After “getting sick” of his beginner pogo stick Hutchison got a $250 Vurtego V3 stick. He replaced tricks, like jumping up and down the stairs, with front and back flips, thanks to the air-pressure system developed by the pogo stick company.
He recently showed off those skills at the Pogopalooza 7, held this year on August 21 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After winning at last year’s event Hutchison had a title to defend.
He wasn’t disappointed with his placement in the big air category, clearing over eight-feet on a prototype hybrid of Vurtego’s V3 and V4 stick, which is still in development.
“I really think I have a future in this,” Hutchison said.
His sponsor likes to think that as well.
“He has tremendous athletic talent,” said company founder and owner Brian Spencer.
Spencer said pogo athletes making names for themselves today, like Hutchison, could do for extreme pogo what Tony Hawk did for skate boarding. With a brand to build, Spencer looks for athletes who are mature, responsible and well-grounded. He doesn’t want to see pogo stereotyped like snowboarding was, with people thinking everyone strapping on a board was a wild, partying, anti-establishment trouble maker. Those on his team are teens and young adults that parents can feel good about their children looking up to.
“Biff is one of those kids,” Spencer said. “The sky’s the limit with what he can accomplish, from managing the team to creating his own product line.”
Verda Hutchison supports her son’s passion as well, something the youngster said he appreciates, even needs, to develop his future.
“He broke his leg pretty bad last year and was out for six months but that didn’t deter him at all,” she said. “I see this sport where skateboarding was in the 70s, and it’s exciting that Biff is a part of it growing.”
She said Biff has gone from being “quiet and shy,” to outgoing and confident, growing more accomplished with trips across the country with his sponsor.
“It’s been nothing but good for him,” she said. “It’s our role to keep him real low-key. If it got to his head in an unhealthy way, we would shut it down. Hopefully, we’ll never have to cross that bridge.”
“The entire pogo community, which has a huge online presence, is like a big family. We’re a tight-knit group. There is competition between all of us, as we push the limits, but we all care about each other,” he said.
Whether its learning new tricks, posting new videos online or just hanging with his new-found family, he wouldn’t want it any other way.