Mike Anderson, Deseret News
LOGAN — A teenager's determination to learn to ride a unicycle has earned him a spot among the world's best.
Kevin Kartchner, from Cache County, is ranked No. 2 in the nation for his unicycling skills, and now he's headed to Italy for the Unicon16 Unicycling World Championship.
The 19-year-old said he picked up the sport just six years ago.
"One day, I went like 20 yards and got that real exciting feeling of learning something new," Kartchner recalled.
But as his interest in the sport increased, so did his desire to move on to the more extreme side of it.
"For the most part, when I go to the skateboard parks anywhere, I'm the first unicyclist they've seen grind (the) rail or jump down stairs," Kartchner said.
Now he produces videos, showing him landing jumps, grinds and spins. He's also sponsored, with special shoes and a new unicycle on the way for his trip to the world championships.
"(I'm) hoping to take home the gold in street (cycling), and I'm just super pumped," Kartchner said. "It's kind of like my last hurrah before my (LDS Church) mission."
He's scheduled to leave for Mexico in September on a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Until then, he hopes to continue to build his reputation as one of the world's best unicyclists.
"I'm pushing myself to land new tricks," he said. "I'm pushing myself to progress."
Pulling tricks can be tough on the wheel. Kartchner often changes around two tubes a day, as he pushes himself and the unicycle.
Kartchner's signature move is a jump into the air as his unicycle takes a more than 1,200 degree spin beneath him. It's a trick he he hopes to pull off in Europe.
"I really like the feeling of being creative with how I land my tricks," he said.
Still, Kartchner said his increase in skill level over the past six years is just an example of what a bit of determination can do.
"It just goes to show you that if you put your mind to something and practice a lot, you can achieve it," he said.
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