BEHIND THE SCENES: He’s talented guy one
13 April 2003
Grand Forks Herald
© Copyright 2003, Grand Forks Herald. All Rights Reserved.
When Jamey Mossengren graduates from UND in May, he will fold up his 12-foot unicycle and put it in the trunk of his Chevy Corsica. Then, he plans to head west. Maybe Denver, maybe Seattle. Wherever he can use his degree in mechanical engineering and look into a new sport of mountain unicycling, along with rock climbing and skiing.
Mossengren, who is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, has been seen around Grand Forks from time to time on his unicycle, which lifts him high in the air. He’s been at pep rallies, Boy Scout shows, parades. He won the UND Sioux Talent Search two years in a row. He is one of the best unicyclists in the nation - placing fifth overall in world competition last year. In 2000, he was first in his age group in the standard artistic category in international competition in Beijing.
One of the most common questions he gets is, “How do you get on that thing?” The next question is how he gets off. To get on, he needs two or three people to hold the unicycle while he climbs up the pegs on the back.
To get off, he either jumps or falls.
“Whichever comes first,” he says. “Sometimes, you have to find a little hill. Like a cat, you always land on your feet. It’s really safe.”
He’s been unicycling for 11 years and has had only scrapes and bruises - and one sprained ankle.
Mossengren owns five unicycles. He designed and constructed his 12-foot unicycle in his Machine Component Design Class. It’s the first one he ever has seen that he can break down and carry in his trunk. He did all of the strength calculations and the cost analysis. And he earned an A for the project.
Mossengren began riding a unicycle as a boy when his family would go from Blaine, Minn., to visit his Grandmother Shirley in St. James, Minn. She had picked up a unicycle at a garage sale for the children. And Mossengren and his older brother, Lonnie, and sister Amy would have contests. When he was in Middle School, Mossengren joined the Twin City Unicyclists Club - one of the largest in the world. He would practice 10 hours a week.
His enthusiasm for the unicycle hasn’t waned during his five years at UND. When he comes to campus, a unicycle is with him. He managed to get into Hyslop Sports Arena at least once a week to practice. He has competed all over the world and looks ahead to more competition. He will be in Minneapolis-St. Paul at the end of July when the unicycle club hosts a national competition. He saves the money he earns from appearances to use for trips to compete in unicycle events.
The category in which Mossengren competes is standard artistic - similar to figure skating’s artistic category. Both include music, costumes and tricks in their creative routines. He has competed in the United States and several foreign countries. Mossengren works hard at breaking stereotypes about his sport. “People think it’s all about clowns and circuses, and it is not.”
Five years ago, Mossengren rode with 35 unicyclists across Minnesota to raise money for charity. The trip lasted 14 days and covered 500 miles.
So, along with his engineering degree, Mossengren takes with him the ability to juggle flaming torches while atop his 12-foot unicycle. He’s enjoyed his years at UND.
He wants to learn more about the new sport of mountain unicycling. “Basically you go down hills and get timed like mountain bikers. It’s starting to get pretty big on the West Coast,” he says.
Mossengren will walk, not ride, across the stage when he is awarded his diploma in May. With his family in the audience will be his grandmother, Shirley Mossengren, who sparked his interest in unicycles.