Members of Idaho Falls' jump rope team to show off skills at Paris Olympics - East Idaho News

Members of Idaho Falls’ jump rope team to show off skills at Paris Olympics

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Photo: Courtesy Proform Airborne; Video: Proform Airborne shows off their skills ahead of a visit to the Paris Olympics. | Kalama Hines,

IDAHO FALLS — When a new sport is being considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games, it is set for a showcase as an exhibition sport.

Later this month, when Paris takes center stage in the sporting world with the 33rd Olympiad, it will include an exhibition of competitive jump rope. Among the select contingent of athletes chosen to represent the sport and their nations is a group of five who will also represent Idaho Falls.

Members of the Proform Airborne Jump Rope team, which brought home more than 10 gold medals and four titles from the National Championships in Salt Lake City last month, received an invite from the Olympics following the week-long event.

“It’s so exciting. I’m very excited to go to the Olympics” said Preston Ballard, an 18-year-old member of the Proform team who was chosen for the Olympics. “It’s been a dream, for always, that we’d get there.”

As an exhibition event, Proform coach Monica Foster explained, jump ropers will not be competing against others for world titles or gold medals, they will instead be competing with others to show the game’s worth as an event and competition. The goal, she continued, is to drum up support from spectators for the event.

Competitive jump rope, Foster said, has been around for decades, but has only recently taken strong hold in the United States.

“At our last Nationals last week in Salt Lake City, we had 450 athletes that competed. It’s a growing sport but it’s still quite unheard of in a lot of areas,” she said.

“Jump rope has become my mission in life,” Foster added. “I love to showcase it to people. It brings so much joy, kids always love it. It is something that kids can do for very cheap.”

The Proform team is made up of more than 30 athletes, from 7 to 29 years of age.

Proform Airborne Jump Rope
Courtesy Proform Airborne Facebook

Hailee Ward, 19, has been competing with Proform for 13 years and said that she took up the sport after watching a free clinic when she was 6. Hailee’s younger sister, 16-year-old Ashlyn Ward, joined her sister when she was 9.

The elder Ward sister will join the Proform Olympic representatives in France after winning a gold medal at the National Championships. Alix Beattie, another veteran with Proform for 11 years, won her first individual gold at this year’s Nationals, to go with several group golds.

Beattie and Ballard, who has been with Proform for nine years, will also represent their team, city, state and country at the Olympics.

Ballard also has some international competition experience to go with several National medals. He competed in the World Championships in individual freestyle — a showcase of tricks that could be described as gymnastics with a jump rope — and finished third.

It wasn’t a gold, but Ballard holds his World bronze alongside his National golds.

“It was third, but it was in Worlds so it was cooler,” he said.

Along with the team events, like the double-dutch showcased in Paris and the individual freestyle, competitive jump rope features a speed event in which competitors are timed for number of jumps in set intervals — most commonly 30 seconds.

The winner at this year’s National Championships, Ballard said, had his right foot jumps counted at 106. Because the speed jumps are done more like a run, though, this means the winner jumped 212 times in 30 seconds.

Ballard compared that to the training videos of boxer which have, more than once, taken social media by storm.

“The videos of boxing — I’m always interested when I see them — they use really long, big ropes, and they’re just swinging their arms for big jumps,” he said. “We’ve got these thin wire ropes and they’re short so you bend over. It’s way faster.”

Anyone interested in more information about Profrom can visit the website or Facebook page.