No, it’s not a bird, or even a plane – it’s Elmira resident Nathan Shuh, twisting, turning and flipping through the air on his trampoline.
He is fresh from competition in Odense, Denmark for the 24th Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competition in December, and he says he learned a great deal on his trip.
“In Denmark, there were a few things I saw that I would carry into my training,” he said. “In training, there is a lot more focus (from other countries). I like to go into training pretty open-ended, but the other countries seem to be very focused. They say, ‘I am going to do this on this turn, or that on that turn.’ They are a little more specific in their training.”
In Odense, Shuh finished his routine, which in a trampoline competition, is an important thing. He finished two routines in Portugal at the Loule Cup.
“To say you have finished your routines is a pretty big deal, because in trampolining you never know what is going to happen,” he said. “You can fall at any given moment. It is a very fickle sport that way.”
Loule and the World Age Group Championships were Shuh’s first international competitions, an experience he says helped him see how other gymnasts work.
“It was a really eye-opening experience, just to see the talent there is around the world, and how much of it there is as well,” he said. “Just the different methods in training that you see and the competition – it was really interesting. It was a good competition.”
He says there were a few things at both meets that he would like to improve, and that is what he is going to spend the next year doing. Shuh has officially entered the senior competition category after celebrating his 18th birthday. The new age group also presents new challenges.
“The senior category is the highest level that anyone can go in the sport of trampoline. It is against the very best athletes in the world who are vying for those Olympic spots. You are competing at the world championships as opposed to the World Age Group Championships,” he said. “The difficulty requirements are a lot higher. I am just kind of testing the waters at this stage. I am just going to be putting a few upgrades into my routines and just see how it all goes.”
With a new year and new competition category ahead of him, Shuh makes it a point to thank all of those that made it possible for him to follow his passion, including the community of Elmira.
“There is so much support in my hometown. I am really proud to be representing everyone who is supporting me,” he said. “I am just so grateful for all that people give me. It is a very weird sport, but for people to give me that, regardless, is amazing.”
He also credits his trainers and teammates with helping him maintain his dedication and improvement on the trampoline.
“We work really hard and we push each other a lot,” he said, adding that the competition is what keeps him coming back. “I just really like the satisfaction of finishing routines and the competition. It is a lot of fun. I really like the coaches as well. It is just a really amazing training environment.”