Re: Fastest 100m on a uni
Peter Rosendahl won the first Men’s Individual Artistic title at the International Unicycle Convention (UNICON I) in 1984. He was followed closely by Sem Abrahams and not-so closely by me. Sem’s dad never got over the fact that Sem didn’t win, and Sem never competed in artistic again. Teresa Hemminger (now Abrahams) won the women’s title. Sem’s performance was great, but Peter’s was better.
He practiced his butt off the whole two weeks leading up to the conventions (USA Nationals first), during which he stayed at my house and hung out with the local unicyclists. At the USA convention, he and Teresa won the Pairs competition, though they did not win at UNICON (Debbie Jones and I did).
He had studied martial arts and was very flexible. One of his tricks was to ride or idle while pulling one of his legs high up in the air with his hand. He had worked a summer at a theme park as a stuntman in a wild west show. He used to get shot and fall off a building several times a day. He wanted to be Clint Eastwood, and we got a laugh out of his Swedish-accented Eastwood impressions.
I met Peter in 1982 in Germany, as we both studied artistic bicycling in the international training course offered by Hans Born. He was 15 at the time, and had driven down with his grandfather (from Sweden) in their Volvo. The three of us drove together to a unicycing competition while we were there, but got lost on the way back, finally ending up in Darmstadt. After 10:00 pm, everything’s closed and it’s hard to ask directions when you don’t speak German!
I took a picture of Peter on one of our afternoon tours, I think in Ludwigshafen, riding down a wall made out of vertical logs stuck in the ground. Each log was about 4" diameter, and they curved downward at a fairly steep angle. It was published in On One Wheel at the time. That’s another picture I should dig up and scan.
I showed him the kick-up mount, which had first been seen (by the hobbyist unicycling community) that summer at the USA Nationals by Daniel Dumeng. He picked it up and ran with it, and sent me a 1982 Christmas card with an excellent picture of him doing a kickup while juggling three torches, in a field of snow. The warm vs. cool colors made for a great picture.
Peter was already a professional performer at that time, and had learned many of his skills from Joakim Malm, Peter Holmgren, and Hakan Furuskar in the Stockholm area. Joakim was the inventor of coasting, and he and his friends pioneered gliding, seat drag, and several other skills.
Peter had already challenged the Guinness 100 meter record earlier that year by breaking the then record of 14.89 seconds from a standing start. But his record was from a flying start, and the Guinness people didn’t take interest.
He was very fast in 1984, but didn’t win the 100 meter races. He did however walk the wheel a whole mile, which is the furthest I’ve ever heard of. We had a “walk-a-thon” competition at UNICON to see who could go the furthest in 15 minutes (without a dismount of course). He didn’t win that, but stayed on to complete a full 8 laps around the indoor track.
The only other USA or IUF competition he made it to was UNICON IV, 1988 in Puerto Rico. He was flown in just to compete in the Individual Freestyle event, and had to leave a few hours later to get back to his fulltime performing job at Busch Gardens Tampa. That Freestyle competition was the best one ever up to that point, and very close among the top three. But Peter came in second, in a narrow loss… to me! Third place was Josue Barreto. That was my proudest Freestyle moment.
Peter worked at Circus Circus in Las Vegas for quite a while, and used his signature sideways zig-zag giraffe. That’s a giraffe unicycle that goes up, makes a 90 degree turn to the side for about 2’, and goes up again to the pedals and seat. To ride it in a straight line it must be on an angle, but when he went into a spin on it, it would appear to stand up straight. I never saw his performance, but have seen a video of it.
I have a “collectible” coin cup from Circus Circus in 1995, that shows an image of him with that unicycle. But he was no longer performing there by then.
I last spoke to Peter many years ago, when he was still living in Las Vegas. That was probably before my trip there in 1995 (for the IJA Festival). I last saw him on TV a couple of years back, setting a jump roping record on what I believe was a Guinness TV show. He did it in great style, appearing to be barely holding on during the last few seconds of the 1 minute time limit. That record has since been broken by members of the Twin Cities Unicycle Club.
Peter has also held the backwards distance record, going something like 45 miles in a day. That sounds like fun. He also broke the “smallest unicycle” record several times I think, which may count for a few others. But I don’t know the full list of his 8 records.
Hope that was interesting reading!