Pitched and reported this original story.
Published online and in print in the Globe and Mail, May 10, 2012
The crowd cheered as the lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies called 11-year-old Harrison Lee to the stage in Whistler, B.C., last summer. The pint-sized seventh-grader stood centre stage, hair slicked to the side and hands clasped behind his back, patiently waiting. On cue, he unleashed his yo-yo, flinging it in a dazzling display to the rhythm of the music, catching it just in time for the final bow. The audience erupted, but Harrison didn’t seem to notice – his gaze barely left his yo-yo.
“I create my own unique combos, so they’re things that only I do,” says the unassuming but very focused little dude from Vancouver, who, less than two years after winding his first yo-yo, is on track to becoming a Canadian champion. “It’s stuff that other people haven’t seen before.”
His repertoire is now so large he says he can’t count how many tricks he has mastered.
Once introduced to the yo-yo, the dazzle of the tricks and precision hooked the shy kid. He soon picked up a basic, $10 black and blue yo-yo , but skipped past the traditional Walk the Dog and Around the World. Instead , he taught himself Brain Twister, a “front style string” trick starting with an Under Mount slung around the hands, then shooting the double-disc up through the tangle of chords and rotating it.