London 2012: Trampoline

Published On July 12, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

Tell me about trampoline:

The newest of the three gymnastics competitions at the Olympics, trampoline is the one you’re probably going to wish you could try. The first modern trampoline was originally made as a tool for tumblers and other athletes. Even astronauts have used trampolines to train, but in 1964 the sport got serious and the first ever Trampoline World Championships were held right in London.

It made its debut at the Games in Sydney 12 years ago, and the sport is one of the most fun to watch, as competitors reach heights of up to 10 meters and tumble through the air.

What’s up with scoring?

This summer, 16 countries will each send one man and one woman to compete in trampoline with just two medals available: one for men and one for women. Gymnasts perform 10 skill routines with a variety of somersaults and twists. Judges score based on difficulty, execution and time of flight, with deductions for penalties.

Men’s and women’s competitions feature a qualification and final round, with two routines performed in the first round and just one in the final round. Of the two routines performed in the qualification round, one focuses on simplicity and precision while the other has no limitations. 11 judges determine who advances to the final round.

How do players qualify? 

Athletes qualified through two events. The first was the World Championships held in Alabama in November 2011 and the second was the Visa International Gymnastics event held at the North Greenwich Arena in Olympic Park in January 2012.

International players to watch:

China’s Lu Chunlong and He Wenna dominated in 2008, taking the gold in both the men’s and women’s competition. Both athletes return to London this summer to defend their titles.

Jason Burnett and Karen Cockburn of Canada also return to the Olympics after medaling in Beijing, as they both took home silver medals four years ago.

With the top four athletes from Beijing back for the London Games, it will be stiff competition for competitors looking to edge them out for a spot on the podium.

Americans to watch: 

Savannah Vinsant and Stephen Gluckstein are the two Americans competing in trampoline gymnastics this summer. Vinsant, 19, is from Texas and Gluckstein, 22, hails from New Jersey. Both athletes won all three meets leading up to the Games, taking most of the guesswork out of who would be representing the U.S. on the trampoline in London.

Gluckstein is a three-time national champion, but missed the 2008 Games after faltering at Olympic Trials. Vinsant and Gluckstein have the opportunity to bring home the U.S.’s first-ever medals in trampoline.

Talk like an Olympian:

Barani – a move consisting of a front somersault with a half-twist.

Fliffus – a move consisting of a double somersault with at least a half-twist.

Triffus – a move consisting of a triple somersault with at least a half-twist.

Rudolph – a move consisting of a front somersault with 1½ twists. Rudolphs are sometimes known as a “Rudy”.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.