uni "figureskating" or "freestyle"?


Last night I saw some videos from a unicon and I saw what looked like figure skating on unicycles.  They were mostly women who were mostly asian, and all had 20's, but anyway they did a routine to music, and I thought is was one of the coolest things ever!  This one girl did a kick up mount not onto the pedals, but onto the crown/fork!  Then they could all easily stand on the crown/fork while gliding, and one could even stand on the crown/fork and backwards glide! Unispins were a simple trick for all of them along with siderides, and they could spin really fast in place, just like figureskaters!  It was so cool to see them do spins, and glides, and side rides, and then unispins, and ohh man I was amazed, and so....

What is this sport called?

Do any of you participate in this? It seems like most of the people who speak on the forum are trials/muniiers (which is also awesome).

If you do, I have a bazillion questions and complements!

This is freestyle artitic unicycling of which you speak. It is popular in many places. Infact, here in the twin cities that’s about all people do, besides about 10 who do muni type riding as a side style of riding.

The asian women you mention were mainly from the Japanese team and they were more like age 9-13. That makes it even more truly amazing. Here’s a picture that I keep on hand to explain what we saw at UNICON 2002. This picture was taken in the practice gym at Mt. Si High School during UNICON last summer.




amazing! I just started unicycling 4 months ago, and I just recently saw this freestyling. I thought my learning to one foot ride was an accomplishment, but now I feel so inferior seeing those Japanese girls doing all that amazing stuff! I bet they can even muni and trials ride with the best of 'em, or atleast do it well.

wow o wow

hmmm, actually I dont think almost any of the top freestyle riders from japan (or at least the ones that were are unicon) have even even tried trials, or Muni. I could be wrong, but since I didnt see any of them after the freestyle was over I only saw a few, and I sure didnt see any competing at the Muni day. I know the good riders here are mostly too afraid of getting hurt, or just dont like the idea of getting dirty, or something.

Of course Max, muni and trials is probably not dainty enough for them, but just imagine how high they can jump, after seeing them do unispins and jumping 360’s, I bet they could trials pretty well, but they wouldn’t be caught doing that, just like a figureskater wouldn’t play ice hockey, though they’d probably be good at it. (If you do freestyle like those Japanese girls and muni and trials correct me.)

I certainly do, but not up to that level yet, nor will I ever be, by choice. I’v started to grow board of just riding around in a gym and so I was one of the first to take up trials as a favored form of riding. I was a level 7 rider before I had even heard of trials really, which ended up helping my trials skills get better, faster than had I not been a freestyle junky. I’m sure If they saw it and really wanted to learn, they could, but I just dont see that happening. just like the 4 level 10 riders I see frequently could easily (well, relativly) get good at the basics of trials riding. but my disscussion is leading where your not intending it to go, and I will revert back to the subject. There are a few (actualy Alot) of pictures of freestyle riding and other types in the gallery from the great event known as the midwest regional convention, located here: http://www.ocphotos.net/mp_includes/index.asp You might enjoy them if you havent yet seen them. And yes, there is more than just freestyle.

Edit: hmm link not working properly, just hit photos on the side, then midwest regionals.

I dont think I agree that being a good freestyle rider makes you a good muni rider, or even an ok trials rider.

Its all about pratice and praticing what you like to do. Freestyle riders pratice that because they enjoy that. Same as Muni and trials riders pratice what they like to do. Yes there is some cross over with skills but because you can stand up glide doesnt mean that you have the skills to do a 5 foot gap or the nerve to ride on a railing over a pitt of sharks. (I call dibs on the first to ride over a pit of sharks if anyone has a spare tank a pool would work too… and a few sharks laying arround in their back yard that they want to lend me)

The skills required to do trials and Muni are completly different than what are needed in freestyle. Its like if you compair bikers the best flatland rider out there probably isnt the best dirt jumper or fastest cross country or road rider out there. There might be some who are good and take the time to branch off and become good at lotts of different things. But being good at one doesnt make you good at the other. When was the last time you saw Lance Armstrong do a double back flip on his bike over a spine.

Its apples and oranges we are both fruit but completly different branches of the sport.


Maybe Chex, but it doesn’t hurt. I met Carol Bricker–a former freestyle uni champion–in Moab, riding on the Slickrock Trail. It was her first MUni-riding experience…ever…and she totally rocked. She rode most of the trail…ups, downs, and overs, while also taking home several of the “games” awards, all while doing it on what appeared to be a standard street unicycle.

Why did she ride so well on a very challenging trail? It wasn’t because she had practiced off-road riding…it was because she had control of her instrument. All the basics still apply, IMHO.

Riding other disciplines makes you improve your overall control. I got much better at unicycle hockey when I took a 6 month break from playing because I was riding loads and loads of muni, which got me used to controlling the uni and throwing it around a lot. So muni definately helped my hockey skills.

Several people have said bike trials riders learn’t to unicycle very quickly when they had a go, different skills, but with many similarities. There’s also quite a few high level road bikers now who’ve crossed over from mountain biking.

Okay when you take totally different ends of the spectrum, like road biking and high level dirt jumping, people aren’t automatically good at both. But in unicycling, there’s much more crossover between say trials and freestyle, okay freestyle doesn’t involve the big jumps, but stillstanding, uni-spins, general riding and just being in control of the uni is all very similar.



Unfortunately, many of the top Japanese riders had to fly back to Japan the day after the UNICON 11 freestyle competition to prepare for their national championships, which were being held the following weekend. That’s why you didn’t see very many Japanese riders in other events later in the schedule.

Tom Daniels

Kazuko Ugi and her sister Emi were at the trials event on that last Friday. They didn’t compete but Kazuko did ride the beginner’s downhill trail. We bundled her up in Brad’s safety gear and she borrowed Ben’s Monty for the ride. She was so great when she finished, never had tried anything like that before and had a great time doing it. It was a real thrill for her.

Then she wanted to try trials. So we held on to her hands while she tried to ride a utility pole. It was great. She halfway laughed and screamed something in Japanese during her short ride and had us all laughing with her. Kazuko and Emi are two very fun people. Hope to see them again in Toyko.


At one level, that picture alone is enough to make me think I’ll never be a good unicyclist. Wow!

I can’t recall the source of the quotation but: “The amateur practises until he can get it right; the professional practises until he can’t get it wrong.”

Anybody performing at the level shown in the picture is in a hugely different league from most (if not all) of us in this forum. And they’re thinking about more, and doing more, with every move they make.

By comparison: when I started to learn fencing, there were two things to think about in the lunge: arms goes straight, then the legs do their bit.

Later, there were extra bits to think about: the arm goes out as the back foot hits the floor; the sword hand turns over; the leading foot stays in line…

And now there’s the diffence between the accelerating lunge and the explosive lunge; the step lunge, and so on. In a few months, I may have extended my list of 2 things to concentrate on, to 20 things, just for that one movement. But I’ll be doing the first 15 things on the list ‘automatically’, only needing to revisit them in practise occasionally to prevent sloppiness creeping in.

The same could be said of the basic ‘double step’ in Morris dancing, or approaching a junction on a motorcycle, or playing a musical instrument…

So anyone performing professionally on a unicycle is almost certainly practising and refining details that you and I wouldn’t even know were there to be practised and refined!

I suspect for most MUniists, it’s (almost) enough to ride the trail at a reasonable speed with no UPDs; for most trialsists, it’s perhaps enough to make the gap or the drop without falling off; for beginning freestylers, the mere fact of idling one footed is an achievement, and so on. How many MUniists try to ride the same trail better, rather than finding a harder trail instead? How many trialsists keep perfecting one particular gap, rather than looking for wider and higher gaps? And so on…

But the professional would want every detail to be perfect. In MUNi terms: to ride the trail by exactly the chosen route, reading the trail a long way ahead, and never having a ‘nearly moment’; in trials terms: making the gap or drop and landing EXACTLY where you planned, in perfect balance, every time; in freestyle terms: making the perfect transition between skills every time, and always doing exactly the right number of pedal strokes, and never having to change the routine by even a stroke; and so on.

And I would guess that, just as a classically trained musician can bang out a folk melody or a jazz standard, but a jazz musician or folk fiddler couldn’t just play classical without lots of practising (if at all!), unicyclists of the standard described could transfer their skills fairly rapidly and successfully to any other Uni discipline. Perfection in one discipline, and the control of mind and body that that engenders, would be a passport to success in MUni, trials, and so on.

Perhaps they’d only every be brilliant in one discipline, but they’d be damn’ good in the others.

Was that a bit of a rant? Sorry. :0

Re: uni “figureskating” or “freestyle”?

joemarshall <joemarshall.mqq2z@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
> Riding other disciplines makes you improve your overall control. I got
> much better at unicycle hockey when I took a 6 month break from playing
> because I was riding loads and loads of muni, which got me used to
> controlling the uni and throwing it around a lot. So muni definately
> helped my hockey skills.

Conversely- when I started to ride muni I was mainly a hockey player. I
found the tight manovering and fine direction control needed in Muni
easy to cross over from Hockey which needs the same skills but on the flat
rather than on a slope.
I still rate my first muni down hill as one of my top 5 decents ever. I
just stayed on top and kept it pointing down the hill , or so it seemed
at the time. I now realaise how much fine conrol I was puting in and am
impressed I picked such a good line. beginers luck maybe.


Union of UK Unicyclists
By and for UK riders

Re: uni “figureskating” or “freestyle”?

I worked on freestyle unicycling for around 6 years. Quite a few of the posters here do or have done a lot of freestyle. The main reason the forum has a bit more of a focus on offroad is that Muni lends itself to a lot of discussion on what equipment to buy, how to approach different terrain etc. The freestyle questions still pop up occasionally but there are many more Muni questions posted. (Remember the days when you got 15 posts to the newsgroup a week?)

Also Muni is something you can easily enjoy and do by yourself whereas freestyle skills are a lot harder to develop in isolation. Isolated riders tend to post more than people who are surrounded by unicyclists each day (they just ask another rider their questions instead). For example TCUC has around 350 members of which only a handfull post here. By contrast New Zealand has very few active unicyclists but a good percentage of us post to or read this group because we are relatively isolated.

Feel free to post your Bazallion questions. Search the archives first though. Another reason freestyle topics don’t come up as much as that most of them have been very well covered over the past 7 years or so of posts. Freestyle unicycling is still developing but it is more mature than Muni.

You may be interested in getting the video “One wheel no limit” from Unicycle.com It shows a lot of footage from practice sessions at TCUC. It will give you an idea of some of the things possible in freestyle unicycling, how to learn them and what people look like when first learning a skill as well as what it looks like when perfected.

nope, gotta disagree with you there. Being a good freestyler will make you a better MUni or Trials rider. Also, being good at the dirt skills can make you a better freestyler as well.

Both disciplines use balance, and involve variations on the same piece of apparatus. For today’s riders who get into MUni first, they always seem to reach a point where they feel they need to learn to idle and ride backward to improve their MUni skills. One-footing helps as well. And riding with the seat out (at least hopping) is essential for serious Trials. Any skills that involve slow riding are especially helpful for negotiating obstacles.

I wonder what video universacycle saw? Where did it come from? Was it UNICON 11 (last summer)? I’d like to see a good video of that too.

I liked Mikefeule’s descriptions of the comparisons between freestyle and offroad skills. Do we ever try to ride the same trail “better?” Sure. When you have a trail you really like, you can try to ride it faster, or with the least # of dismounts, etc. When riding through a difficult line on any trail, once one line is completed, we sometimes try different ones. This often involves the more specific challenge of choosing an exact line and trying to follow it.

Carol Bricker’s claim of no MUni experience was her being modest. Or, perhaps, her separating today’s version of off-roading from what we did years ago with our “street” unicycles. She competed in the first-ever UNICON offroad race, at UNICON IV in 1988. But we didn’t call it MUni then; it was “UMX”. Carol has tons of unicycling experience, but it’s all from before MUni became a word, and before she settled down and started raising a family. Those skills are evidently still there.

The balance and versatility of freestyle skills definitely carry over to MUni and Trials. I highly recommend learning some additional skills if you’re interested. For universacycle, check out the competition rulebooks to find out more of what we’re all about in those indoor competitions:


Re: uni “figureskating” or “freestyle”?

On Thu, 1 May 2003 12:26:51 -0500, Mikefule
<Mikefule.mrg8o@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>And I would guess that, just as a classically trained musician can bang
>out a folk melody or a jazz standard, but a jazz musician or folk
>fiddler couldn’t just play classical without lots of practising (if at
We once had a purely classically-trained violinist apply on a vacancy
in our folk music group. Yes she could ‘bang out’ a folk melody, but
it didn’t sound folksy at all. Your other examples perfectly brought
home the point you were making but this was just one example too many

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Mosquito repellents don’t repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito’s sensors so they don’t know you’re there.

Re: Re: uni “figureskating” or “freestyle”?

We’re moving away from the topic, but here I must repeat my point. I have played in ceilidh bands; I have performed with a traditional dance team for 20 years. Our team has a classically trained violinist. He can play folk, jazz and ragtime like nobody’s business.
We also have some exceptionally experienced (professional/semi-professional) self-taught musicians.

The classically trained musician can ‘knock out’ a folk melody, a jazz melody, whatever. The self-taught but highly experienced musicians struggle with anythig more sophisticated than folk.

I agree that the classical training doesn’t help with the folk style or idiom, but it does give the musician the technical skills to play anything. The idiom/style comes from practising in the idiom/style.

Our classically trained fiddler soon learned to tap his feet and slur his arpeggios. The self-taught folk musicians haven’t soon learned to play a countermelody or improvise a descant.

So back to the unicycling: a highly skilled freestyler could transfer many of the skills and disciplines to MUni or trials. A keen amateur MUniist or trialsist can’t just transfer those skills to professional level freestyle.

Re: Re: Re: uni “figureskating” or “freestyle”?

In general I think Mike has some valid points, but I also think it goes both ways. An expert MUni or Trials rider will be able to pick up freestyle skills at least as easily as an expert freestyler can pick up MUni or Trials.

My observation at MUni specific events is that the best MUni or Trials riders also happen to be able to do the most freestyle skills.


Fortunately hours in the seat benefits every future hour you spend uni’ing around. There are probably a lot of analogies one could come up with, but unicycling is unique from one perspective: the amount of potential improvement is always huge. Just unicycle everywhere, over every surface, to your own ability.

From my brief experience, quick learning depends on choosing the conditions for practicing. Practice has to be efficient. That means the unicycle and the environment have to be helping you learn the skill. Freestyle skills don’t include a bunch of jumping, but a lot of important skills are included. I would argue that it is easier to learn a lot of skills on a flat, smooth surface, on a 20" unicycle. Once learned there, you can more easily transfer the skill to a rough or scary terrain.

Muni and Trials are both very challenging skill areas. The element of danger is more difficult to quantify, the risks can be unknowable in a sense. Being able to deal with that aspect, plus the technical aspect makes these genre very appealing and exciting. Perfecting your skills in this area require the same drive as in freestyle. It is your drive, your desire and your dedication that will in the end determine how good you get. But don’t compare yourself to anyone else. That is even more impossible than figuring out which genre of unicycling is best for you. Try 'em all!