Previewing the Sports You Know Nothing About: Trampoline

The badminton of gymnastics

China Canada 2012 Olympics trampoline London

Trampoline.     Photo: cmaccubbin/Flickr

HOW DOES IT WORK?
There are 16 competitors. They each perform two routines: compulsory, which is a pre-set group of skills/moves, and free, which must contain 10 different recognized maneuvers. Each routine consists of 10 jumps/bounces. The top eight advance to the final round, where they each perform one free routine, which determines the winners and first and second losers. Judges—there are 11—score the contestants on difficulty, execution, and flight time. There is only an individual competition. The medal dates are August 3 (men) and 4 (women).

HISTORY
The first trampoline was a piece of walrus skin that a bunch of Inuits would hold tight and use to throw each other in the air. Yet, trampoline didn’t become an Olympic sport until 2000. So, only six gold medals and ... *shakes abacus* ... 16 total medals have been awarded, ever. Russia and China each have two medals, tied for the most, while Canada is gold-less but leads the total-medal count with five. If only the trampolines were made of ice....

WHO IS THE BEST?
This is pretty much the badminton of gymnastics-type sports. China is the best, and they should win both golds and multiple medals in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Dong Dong and Lu Chunlong will each be disappointed not to take home gold in the men’s competition for China. On the women’s side, He Wanna of China is the favorite, and her fellow countrywoman Huang Shanshan should also challenge for gold. Canadians Karen Cockburn and Rosannagh MacLennan could also win gold, but they probably won’t because [hockey joke].

DOES THE U.S. HAVE ANY CHANCE?
Probably not. Savannah Vinsant is the lone female competitor for the U.S. The 19-year-old finished in seventh at the 2011 World Championships and a similar finish in London would probably be considered a success. For the men, 22-year-old Steven Gluckstein will represent the U.S. but is not expected to reach the podium. The American trampoline medal drought will continue, and honestly it should because trampolines are for children and we have better things to do, like not qualifying for Olympic soccer.

SUGGESTED READING
Rosannagh MacLennan Bouncing to London,” by Rachel Brady

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