MENOMONIE — To ride a unicycle, UW-Stout sophomore Shelley Kovacic advises learning to fall.
“Falling makes you better,” the business administration major said. “You learn from it. You have to learn to fall. Balance is one of the most important things to learn, no matter what style of riding you are doing.”
Kovacic, of Hudson, could be seen on campus last spring riding her unicycle to and from classes.
“I get a lot of questions,” Kovacic said. “I’m always happy to answer questions and let people try it out when I have time.”
Kovacic is a member of the Twin Cities Unicycle Club, which has about 300 members.
“We’re definitely a family-oriented club,” she said. “We’ve taught people from 2 years old to 80 years old to ride. Anyone can learn.”
When she was in fourth grade 11 years ago, Kovacic started riding a unicycle when a teacher at her Montessori School in Hutchinson, Minn., taught an elective course on unicycling.
After the class, a unicycle club was formed.
“I absolutely love unicycling, meeting new people and trying out different ways to ride,” said Kovacic, a Hudson High School graduate. “There is always something to learn.”
This week Kovacic will be among the competitors taking part in the North American Unicycle Competition and Championships in Livonia, Mich. As part of that competition, she will be part of the nearly 20-member artistic freestyle group from the Twin Cities club.
“It’s a lot like a dance routine,” Kovacic said of freestyle unicycling. “It’s very artistic.”
She also will compete in races, jump competitions and in unicycle hockey at the national competition.
In 2016 Kovacic qualified in unicycle hockey to compete at Unicon, the international unicycle competition held that year in Spain.
“It’s amazing to see the most talented riders in the world,” she said.
Kovacic has been recognized nationally as the best female urban rider, which includes being able to do obstacle jumps.
Lars Jorgenson, a senior majoring in industrial design at UW-Stout, said he enjoys watching Kovacic ride her unicycle. “It’s something you don’t see every day,” said Jorgenson, also of Hudson.
Kovacic plans to keep unicycle riding for the rest of her life.
“There is always something to learn,” she said while demonstrating a koosh maneuver, or going backward.