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Olympic Trampolinists Fly
News Bytes 08/4/2021 13 Comments

Nicole Ahsinger is an American trampolinist. She is one among a few in a small group of Olympians whose sport is akin to flying.

“You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re about to drop, your heart drops a little bit, and you get the butterflies? That’s what it feels like every time I jump,” she says.

Trampolinists shoot sometimes 26 feet up—higher than a two-story building. They flip, twist, turn, and land back on a trampoline smaller than a parking space. Then they immediately soar skyward again. A routine of 10 jumps, each demonstrating a different trick in the air, lasts less than a minute.

Last week, Ivan Litvinovich of Belarus claimed the men’s gold medal. In the women’s competition, China won both gold and silver: Zhu Xueying got first place and Liu Lingling was second.

“It’s almost like you’re driving your own roller coaster,” says Bryony Page, a British trampolinist who won the bronze medal in Tokyo and the silver in the 2016 Olympics.

Scores are partly based on how much time jumpers spend flying. A laser underneath the trampoline captures the time spent in the air and calculates a point total, rounded to the thousandth of a second. The higher they soar, the higher their score.

Where did this sport come from, anyway? In 1934, an American gymnast named George Nissen went to a circus. He was awed that the acrobats tumbling into safety nets used the bounce from the net to propel themselves into their next trick. Nissen built the first trampoline.

Trampoline as a competitive sport was added to the Olympics for the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.

The sport keeps spectators on the edges of their seats. If athletes flip too much or too little, they can land out of control with the force of falling from the top of a two-story building.

Page has been public about her struggle with “lost-move syndrome.” That’s when aerial athletes forget, sometimes mid-air, how to do the skills they’ve always done automatically. Athletes in trampoline’s sister sport, artistic gymnastics, call this phenomenon the “twisties.” (This is the condition American gymnast Simone Biles says she experienced when she withdrew from team competition last week.)

She describes panicking upside down as she plunged back toward the trampoline. She had to slowly retrain her skills and her mind to override the anxiety.

“When you get lost in the air, it’s one of the most terrifying experiences you can have,” says two-time Olympic gold medal trampolinist Rosie MacLennan of Canada.

Even with the danger, these athletes still love the feeling of flying.

But despite that wonder of flight, trampoline doesn’t get much attention in most of the world. These athletes hope gradually to bring the spotlight to the high-flying sport.

(Aliaksei Shostak of the United States competes in the men’s trampoline gymnastics qualifier at the 2020 Summer Olympics on July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

Wow! That is amazing!!!! 26 feet?!?!?!?!?! I mean, I can jump high on my trampoline, but not that high!!! I bet the trampolines they are on are made to be really really bouncy so they can get that high. I wonder how much they are allowed to jump to gain height before their routine starts?

:)

We watched some of the mens trampolining! It was a little terrifiying, the thought that they might not hit the trampoline

3rd Comment

I want one of those trampolines!! I just wont jump that high!

We watched one where the guy

We watched one where the guy went too far on the edge and a leg went through where the springs meet the trampoline.

@Kiara

That has happened to me, but then again I wasn't jumping 26 feet in the air. But that would be so fun to go that high!!!! Think how many flips you could get in! XD

Sounds like fun!

Sounds like fun!

26 feet?

Oh gosh!! Incredible!

This is Wyn

I do Gymnastics and have been on a Gymnastic trampoline. The tighter the trampoline is woven the higher you bounce. The one I was on I only went about 7ft in the air but it was fun.

@Wyn

Really? That is interesting! So it does not really have to do with the springs? So if the mat is a really loose weave and you can see a lot of holes and through it, then it does not bounce as high, but if it is really tight and you can hardly see through it, it will be higher?

@ Riley/This is Wyn

Yay, the tighter the weave the higher you go (I 'm petty sure that's how it works). But there is something they run and do flips on and that is a big mat with springs under it so that they can jump high on their flips.

This is Mylee

@Wyn i use to do Gymnastics and been on the trampoline . But I didnt know that about it ,that's cool !! Sycronized Trampoline is my fav !!

This is JENNA

Trampoline is very interesting to watch. I am glad they made it an Olympic sport.

@Kaewyn

Ok! That is very interesting! Neat!

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