The Third Annual GT Games were held last weekend in North County. This Garden Trampoline Sport is the “new extreme action sports element” which is attracting trampoline enthusiasts called Flippers, who strive to go beyond the traditional acrobatics on the trampoline. GT is taking trampoline acrobatics to a new level, allowing participants to exercise their unique style.
The games draw contestants nationwide, with 500 submitted applications narrowed down to 70 competitors this year. In 2016 interest in the sport was minimal, but each year it expands dramatically. According to Free Style Competition Association, “Three out of five teenagers watch extreme sports,” and “Acrobatics is the most popular action sport, comprising of gymnastics, trampolining, parkour, tricking, freerunning and tumbling.” Free style trampoline “is not about just throwing crazy tricks, it’s about being unique.”
At the recent games, Hugo Kittle, a junior at Coronado High School, competed for his second year and looks forward to more competition, at least until he enters college. While his front yard trampoline gets a frequent, rigorous workout, meeting new teenagers who, also, share his passion for the sport is the fun side effect. Two competitors were his guests for the competition: Thomas Hovrun from North Carolina, competing for the first time, and Tyler Welsh from Utah, who placed third last year in the 30 second Free Style for Juniors, the 12 to 18-year bracket, and third in the TRAMP game this year. TRAMP is similar to basketball’s HORSE; five failures and you are out.
Kittel had met Welsh last year, but Hovrun was a social media friend. Connecting on Instagram and Snap Chat, the three boys became instant friends before actually meeting. The camaraderie between the boys was evident as they shared experiences, laughed at funny memories, and delighted in showing me U tube videos of horrific accidents over the trampoline nets. They do fear accidents and have all had injuries, from whiplash to torn ligaments to hyperextended knee, which took a month to learn how to walk. They all cautioned, “If you don’t feel confident, don’t do it.”
They gave me a luculent explanation of the various tricks they were either performing or practicing, but in their enthusiasm the fast and furious jargon sometimes tumbled together. They do the double rotating flips, the Quads, and Tyler was working on the Quints. On ESPN they saw the world’s first seven flips. Besides the multiple flips, rotation with the flips incorporates the difficulty factor for competitions.
The boys enjoy the freestyle trampoline with no coach to limit their maneuvers. They complained about gyms and teams that kept saying, “You’re not ready for that.” At 10-years-old they were performing only the double flips, and they knew they could do more. Asked how they train, the boys said they practice an average of three hours a day unless homework or family commitments interfere. The three had practiced six hours together the day before. In the summer, Tyler said he works out 42 hours a week.
Asked about other interests or vacations, they all agreed the trampoline fills their free time. Any extra time is spent hanging out with friends. One even mentioned he would rather stay home with the trampoline and friends than go on vacation.
The boys have family support, but both Kittel and Hovrun worked to buy their own trampoline, and Welsh paid half of his. To do the maneuvers they want, the trampoline must be one of the best: AllyOOP, Tramp Master, or Acon HD 16 Sport.
“Traditional Trampoline has been around since the 1940s with the first World Championships in 1964….and was accepted in the Olympics in 2000.” However, Freestyle Trampoline is not yet in the Olympics. In contrast to Traditional Trampoline, “Freestyle Trampoline focuses on the wider spectrum of skills that are physically possible and includes not jut difficult skills, but creativity as well.” Undoubtedly, the growing popularity of this extreme sport will necessitate its eventual entry into the Olympics.