Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2006

Local youths to show off wheelbarrowing on TV

Tonight Show’ appearance set for Friday

January 19, 2006

Two local youths will be on the "Tonight Show" Friday to show off a peculiar new sport. They will be performing tricks with wheelbarrows, or what they like to call "freestyle wheelbarrowing."

The sport consists of jumping, spinning and dancing with a wheelbarrow. As if that weren't an odd enough spectacle, the freestylers, David Bowman and Marcus Journey, will each use a wheelbarrow in a synchronized 30- to 45-second routine.

Bowman, a junior at Shawnee Mission North High School, said they discovered freestyle wheelbarrowing last year when they were "bored and should have been studying for finals."

It began when Journey, a senior at Basehor-Linwood High School, pushed another friend down a dirt ramp in a wheelbarrow, prompting Bowman to joke, "freestyle wheelbarrowing!"

The next day, Bowman said, he searched Google for the term and found a British Website devoted to wheelbarrow freestyling.

During the next few weeks, Journey and Bowman experimented and practiced their new passion, and soon the two were appearing in church talent shows -- once in front of several hundred people. In late May or early June, someone suggested they should send a video of their unusual pursuit to the "Tonight Show." That night, Bowman e-mailed the show. They received a reply the next morning asking about their routine.

"We were totally surprised," Journey said. "They said they didn't quite know what it was."

To clear up the question, the two went to the J.C. Nichols fountain in Kansas City and shot their act on video, he said.

They sent the video in and received an invitation to appear on the show, complete with airfare and accommodations for them and their parents to Burbank, Calif., where the show is filmed.

Journey said he didn't feel nervous about appearing on national television, but Bowman said the prospect was a "little nerve-wracking." They've also been told that host Jay Leno would spend about five minutes talking to them on the program.

For their network appearance, the two have worked to develop a routine that fits the allotted performance time (30 to 45 seconds).

The new act involves fewer tricks than their usual routine, but stresses a more smoothly synchronized style, Journey said.

Bowman said he and Journey have gone through several wheelbarrows. The rigors of the stunts take a toll.

Now, the performers reinforce the wheelbarrows with crossbars on the bottom and larger washers to ease the wear and tear on the metal. They also have painted a few, and prepared a couple especially for their appearance on Leno's show. They planned to ship the wheelbarrows to avoid having to dismantle them and take them as check-in luggage on their flight.

If you miss the act on television, Bowman and Journey's strange obsession can be seen on the Internet on Bowman's blog, http://freestylewheelbarrow.blogspot.com, which also is featured as a link on Wikipedia on the "Extreme Wheelbarrow" page.

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