Sunday, July 02, 2000

Gymnasts with a bounce


Trampoline gives tumblers more air

By Pete Holtermann
Enquirer contributor

        A week-long glimpse at the future of gymnastics closes today as the 52nd annual USAG Trampoline & Tumbling Championships wraps up at Cincinnati's convention center.

        Youngsters, some as little as eight, qualified for the national meet in their home states. This week they have competed in different levels of competition in three unique events — tumbling, trampolining, and the double mini. Tumbling is an event where the athletes make a tumbling pass down a long runway of mats. On the trampoline, height is important, but the crispness with which an athlete can do flips is what scores points. For the double mini, the gymnasts run to a trampoline, jump on, do one flip, then do another as they dismount. All three are events where physical prowess isn't necessarily the most important thing.

        “The unique thing about our sport is that we're not specific to a particular body type,” National Judging Director Patti Connor said. Rae Buchweitz, 12, of West Chester took home a silver medal. She trains for 12 hours a week at Kristi's Tumbling & Trampoline.

        “It's for fun really,” Buchweitz said. “I've been doing this for seven years. I still like learning new skills.”

        Kristi Huff, Buchweitz's coach, has worked in the sport for 20 years and has seen it grow in popularity. “The sport has tripled since I've been involved,” she said. “I expect a big Olympic boom.”

        In Australia this September, trampolining will be a medal sport at the Olympics for the first time.

        Buchweitz will work to qualify next year for the World Championships in Denmark, and then she might try for the 2004 Olympics.

        In the meantime, she'll be going for medals in tumbling and the double mini today at the convention center. The competition begins at 9 a.m., and the finals start at 2 p.m.

       



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