Arnold Obscura: Tori Boggs in Jump-rope

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
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From the February 28, 2013 edition

By the time Tori Boggs showed up last fall for freshman year at Ohio State — where she was recruited on a full academic scholarship, mind you — she had already racked up a lifetime’s worth of accolades, traveled the globe and printed business cards that identify her as, among other titles, a motivational speaker.

It’s a lot for a 20-year-old, but Boggs has been rope-skipping the whirlwind since age five, when she was first entranced by a jump-rope competition in her native West Virginia.

“I was hooked at first sight,” Boggs said.

Since then, she’s become a nine-time world champion and earned world records in Three Minute Speed (984 jumps in three minutes) and Triple Unders (the goal is to complete three rope rotations while airborne; Boggs did this 330 times straight without error).

This has been her life. She has witnessed jump-rope’s gradual expansion and played a huge part in it, leading camps, clinics and workshops everywhere from the slums of Kenya to the isle of Cyprus. She rattles off facts about her sport as effortlessly and effervescently as she skips Double Dutch. She’s not just a world-class rope-skipper willing to compete on a broken leg; she’s a smiling ambassador willing to do anything for the cause, even teaching the competition how to beat her.

“You’re telling them how to do these tricks, and you’re giving them advice on training,” Boggs explained. “For any other sport, you’re like, ‘Why would you do that?’ But that’s where the mentality is very different. In jump-rope, you want to spread the sport. You want to spread the jump-rope borders. And to do that, you have to be open about these things.”

Along with expanding outward comes development from within. Boggs and other leading rope-skippers constantly push the limits, crossing new physical thresholds in objective power and speed categories (think track and field) while inventing new moves in the subjective, performance-oriented categories (think gymnastics and figure skating).

Boggs’ studies fold into her pastime. A physics major and potential engineering transfer, she’s studying rope-skipping’s impact on joints to develop better injury treatments as the sport becomes more strenuous.

Speaking of strenuous: She traveled every weekend last semester, but with classwork ramping up, she’s staying home more often this winter. Conveniently, the inaugural Arnold Jump-rope Competition this Saturday and Sunday is in her own backyard.

Not that she minds life on the road: “I want to be in Cirque du Soleil,” Boggs said. “That is, like, my ultimate dream.”