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July 16, 2012

World champion jump roper visits Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — When most people think about jump roping, they tend to think of it as a simple cardiovascular exercise or recall memories of playing double dutch on the playground when they were children.

Not Peter Nestler.

"I'm going for a world record of the most jumps in a minute on a unicycle," he said.

The seven-time world champion jump roper performed to a packed room full of grandparents, parents and children at the Stillwater Public Library on Tuesday. The applause in the room was deafening when Nestler took the stage. He performed in Stillwater a few years ago and told those in attendance, "I'm happy to be back with you guys."

The stunt double for Adam Sandler in the movie "Jack and Jill" began his program by showing the audience "simple" tricks such as triple unders and quadruple unders. Adults and children "oohed and aahed" as Nestler displayed his more advanced tricks. The audience really became excited when Nestler brought out his unicycle. The children watched attentively as he jumped down the stairs, off the stage and performed various other tricks with the one-wheeled contraption.

His love for performing was evident as he interacted with the audience.

"I need some volunteers," he said.

Little hands eagerly shot up across the room and a chorus of "Pick me! Pick me!" permeated in the air.

Thirty-two-year-old Nestler said he has been jump roping for 25 years.

"When I was in second grade, I saw a team do a demo and I was fascinated. I wanted to learn how to jump rope."

"Of course, I was really bad at first," he laughed. "But, I put a lot of effort into learning and joining a team. It really took me a long time to get good at it."

When Nestler was 17, he was offered a job to jump rope professionally in Chicago. He left his native Alaska to pursue the sport.

"I wasn't making hardly anything at all, but at 17, you're going to pay me to jump rope, I was like, 'Awesome! Let's do it!,'" he said.

Nestler spends 10 to 11 months of the year traveling around the world showcasing his jump roping skills. He has performed in every state except Maine and has traveled to 18 different countries.

"I just like going places and performing for new people," he said. "The enjoyment I get out of the demonstration is the whole idea of them [kids] seeing something and going, 'wow.' I want to make them think, "How can I utilize the skills and talents that I have."

Nestler said he hopes to inspire the children in his audience to simply get away from the television and try something new.

"I'm always interested in getting kids out there and doing something," he said.

Nikole Kelty, children's librarian, said the audiences have really enjoyed Nestler's performances.

"I think the kids enjoy the tricks themselves and realize that can be done and go home and practice it themselves and get away from the TV and get outside and get more active," she said.

Helen Gappa brought her granddaughters Jacelyn, 7, and Jessica, 3, to watch Nestler. Gappa, a retired teacher, said she and her granddaughters are regular attendees at library functions.

"We love coming to the library and experiencing new things," she said.

Gappa said she really enjoyed Nestler's message.

"I like him and I like what he's telling the kids and everything," she said. "Even though he has asthma, he still jump ropes, and he told the kids to just keep trying and trying."

Gappa said her oldest granddaughter loves to jump rope and will probably try to incorporate some of Nestler's tricks into her jump rope practice.

"Oh, we'll definitely be trying some tricks when we get home," she said with a smile.

Nestler's performance was part of the library's "Summer @ Your Library" program, which seeks to encourage children to continue reading throughout the summer. Kelty said the library has more events scheduled for the summer.

"I'm hoping our next couple of performers will be just as good," she said.

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