Dec 6, 2010 8:33 PM by Zach Thaxton

Local gymnast/acrobat remembered as gifted athlete, free spirit

Bo Frese's YouTube page says it all.  A gravity-defying, free-spirited gymnast and acrobat to the very end.  Frese, 37, died late Sunday night after breaking his neck performing an acrobatic maneuver at ArtSports World in Colorado Springs.

Frese, a state champion in the floor exercise as a member of the 1992 Doherty High School gymnastics team, was performing a two-and-three-quarter front flip from about 30 feet high onto an area of padding Saturday afternoon, but during the landing he fractured a vertebrae, lost consciousness, and the following evening was removed from life support with family by his side.

"He loved to take risks, he loved to live," said Ken Polaski, Frese's gymnastics coach when he attended Wasson High School from 1989 to 1991, "but he loved to live in a risky situation because that made him live even more."  The Wasson men's gymnastics team won a state championship during Frese's freshman year in 1989.  He transferred to Doherty High School for his senior year in 1992 and won an individual state championship in the floor exercise event.  After high school, Frese immediately began traveling the globe and dabbling in a variety of extreme acrobatic adventures, including cliff diving and performing with acrobatic troupes.  Frese was visiting Colorado Springs briefly to attend to an ailing family member when he died.  For the past year, he had traveled with a professional acrobatic troupe in Europe and had last been living in Belgium.  Polaski says Frese's talent was evident at a young age.  "He would come and work out from the time he was, I'm guessing 5th grade," he said.  "He was one of the young prodigies that could tumble really well and ended up being a real solid gymnast."

Far beyond his skill and creativity as an athlete, Frese was an unflappable free-spirit, Polaski says.  "He's one of the most happy people you'd ever want to meet," he said.  "He was fun to be around because he was always upbeat and nothing could get him down."  Polaski says Frese was keenly aware of the risks involved with his high-flying acrobatics, but thought that life should not be spent worrying about what could happen rather than enjoying every moment alive for its inherent worth.  "If you can apply the joy of life that he had -- just for life itself -- anybody could benefit from that kind of joy," Polaski said.


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