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The somersault long jump

May 5th, 1974 — Rey Delago from Spokane Falls Community College introduced the somersault long jump to Vancouver during the 1973 Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park. The technique was an attempt at creating a breakthrough in the event much the like the Brill Bend (sometimes called the Fosbury Flop) did to high jumping. It didn’t quite work for Delago who finished 8th. More about the technique which has since been banned after the pictures below.

May 6th, 1974 -- Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

May 6th, 1974 -- Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

May 6th, 1974 -- Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

May 6th, 1974 -- Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

May 6th, 1974 -- Vancouver Relays at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

Excerpt from Sports Illustrated July 29th, 1974 …

… the technique is not that new. The somersault long jump had been written about and discussed before the last Olympic Games by Tom Ecker, a coach and authority on biomechanics who is the flip’s No. 1 advocate, if not its modern-day originator. Author of Track and Field Dynamics, Ecker says he never heard of the flip before 1970, when he wrote his book. Since its publication in 1971, however, he has talked to a coach who says he saw it performed in 1947 and has heard from another reader who claims to have seen it in 1925.
Ecker’s advocacy engendered little response until last year, when Pole Vaulter Dave Nielsen, a student at theUniversity of Iowa, took up the somersault long jump for fun. A Swedish-born American citizen who had never been more than a mediocre long jumper, Nielsen improved his conventional best by a foot to 22’6″ with the flip. At a meet in Stockholm he demonstrated the technique for Hans Lagerqvist, the Swedish vaulter, who later enlightened the Germans, among others, by demonstrating the flip over television. Shortly thereafter, 32-year-old Bernhard Stierle of West Germany adopted the technique, flipped 7.5 meters (24’7�”) and somehow was credited with inventing the thing.
While others may have tried the flip before the ’70s or gained more recent notoriety with its use, Ecker was the first to explain its technical advantages through the laws of physics. Ecker claims the flip has undeniable dynamic advantages over conventional jumping, not the least of which is reduced wind resistance, because of the compact manner in which the jumper tucks his body together. The biggest plus, however, is that the flipper utilizes forward body rotation, while rotation is what most hinders the “normal” jumper.
Whether he knows it or not, once the conventional jumper leaves the board, he is fighting “the principle of the hinged moment,” which sounds like a daytime TV serial but is a physical law. It says that when any object is moving and one end of it is stopped, the opposite end continues moving at an accelerated rate to produce rotation. Because a long jumper’s foot is stopped on the board for about .12 seconds while his upper body is still moving, the forward rotation will dump the juniper on his face unless he compensates with the hitch kick, the hang, or some other counteracting body movement. Even with those techniques, which are difficult to learn, rotation is diminished only temporarily.

Updated: April 18, 2014 — 5:45 pm
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