Published on November 01, 2013
Dennis Oppenlander is headed to Bulgaria to compete in the Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline World Championships this weekend. Oppenlander is from Regina, but practices with Jamie Olmstead at the Gymtastiks Club in Moose Jaw. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Published on November 01, 2013
Dennis Oppenlander of Regina practices at the Gymtastiks Club in Moose Jaw on Thursday prior to heading off to Bulgaria for the Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline World Championships. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Oppenlander heads to Bulgaria for international event
Dennis Oppenlander has taken the long and difficult road to make the senior national men’s double mini-trampoline team, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I had to make sacrifices with my social and school life. I wanted to be on the volleyball team, but I decided that this was more important. I gave that up and pursued this,” said Oppenlander. “I love feeling like you are flying and the freedom,”
He started in gymnastics when he was three years old and moved up through the program, which placed him in men’s artistic, but he didn’t enjoy it. He then moved into trampoline and instantly fell in love with the sport.
Now the 19-year-old Regina native is leaving Sunday for Bulgaria to compete at the 29th FIG Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships.
“This is the Olympics for his sport,’ said coach Jamie Olmstead. “This is the highest level of competition that he can achieve.”
Oppenlander had to go through an extremely difficult test in order to make the team. Gymnastics Canada sets a certain score that athletes must make in order to be selected for the team.
This year, that score was 15.6 in the degree of difficulty (DD), which he needed to make twice in competitions, including one on the national level.
“There is a ranking system and qualifications that he needs to do and he needed to hit a score. He had three competitions to hit that score, which (included) Elite Canada and national championships,” explained Olmstead. “He does two passes for that and they each require two skills for a four skill total pass for a DD requirement of 15.6.”
He attended all three competitions and hit it once at Elite and once at nationals this past summer.
“It was very exciting. I was really happy because I made it. I hit it once at Elite and I knew I needed to hit it a second time. When I did, I was super pumped for nationals. I did really well there and I rocked it. I hit it a second time and I was so psyched about it,” said Oppenlander.
Oppenlander is currently ranked fourth in the country in his position. The national men’s team went over to Portugal in September, and he finished in 14th place. They used that as training for the upcoming competition in Bulgaria.
He is the lone athlete from Saskatchewan to have ever made the national team. The other members are from Ontario and Alberta.
“The team is formed from members across Canada, but I am the only one from Saskatchewan to ever have made it,’ said Oppenlander. “It is exciting, but a weird feeling — I feel confident and happy, but I also feel like I could be a role model for younger kids to look up to. They can achieve this if they work hard and focus and don’t give up.”
Despite living in Regina, Oppenlander makes the drive to Moose Jaw often to train with Olmstead of Gymtastiks. They have been working together since 2009 and are seeing the hard work and persistence pay off.
Olmstead wants Oppenlander to succeed at the international level, but also stick to the routine they have developed together.
“The goal is (for him) to just get on the world circuit and start making a name for himself. Then, just make sure that he does the two passes that he plans on doing and staying in the box,” she explained. “He works hard and he has dedication to the sport and just achieves better things.”
Oppenlander enjoys the extra one-on-one time that he gets with Olmstead in Moose Jaw and is excited to showcase to the world what he has been working toward in the double mini-trampoline category.
“I want to hit my routines. I have been training hard for this,” he said. “I want to hit two-for-two and just do the best ... I just want to hit a new personal best.”
The competition runs from Nov. 7-10 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
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