Who Will Be the St. Paul Bouncing Girl? One of the highlights of the St. Paul Winter Carnival is a performance by the Bouncing Team. Fourteen men pull a round, canvas blanket tight, a woman rolls on, then they rocket her into the air. It's a competitive process to get on the team. Fortunately, no one has ever been dropped, team members say.
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Who Will Be the St. Paul Bouncing Girl?

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Who Will Be the St. Paul Bouncing Girl?

Who Will Be the St. Paul Bouncing Girl?

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Finally today, to St. Paul, Minnesota's Winter Carnival, which is in full swing, has been for more than 120 years.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And so has the St. Paul Bouncing Team. Here is how the sport of bouncing works. A girl sits on a blanket and a bunch of folks grab that blanket and toss her into the air as high as 30 feet.

Producer Todd Melby dropped by the tryouts.

Mr. GREG GUSWILER (St. Paul Bouncing Team): Okay. My name is Greg Guswiler and I'm on the board of directors for the St. Paul Bouncing Team. The general gist of the bouncing team consists of a blanket that's made of kind of a canvas awning material with some padding in between it. It's about eight feet in diameter with 14 sets of handles on it. We equip it with 14 guys, and then we roll one of our bouncing girls on there and get them in sync with everyone, and have a cadence of one, two, up she goes. And then we rocket our bouncing girl up in the air, 25 to 35 feet in the air.

Ms. JAMIE BERG(ph): I am Jamie Berg and I am 123 pounds. And it's recommended that you're, I believe it's 110 pounds or less. The lighter she is, the higher she flies. But people that weigh more than me can still fly pretty high.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HERD: I am trying to be the St. Paul bouncing girl. This is my third time trying this. The first year I was absolutely terrible. I went up. I screamed my head off. I fell on my face. It was so funny. I laughed so hard. The second year I did really well and I made it into the top three. So this year I just hope I don't fall on my face.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MARY ADAMA(ph): My name is Mary Adama and I weigh 116 pounds. This has been a goal I've had for a really long time, to try out for the bouncing team. I was going to do it when I turned 30, but I was really busy with toddlers. And then I was going to do it when I turned 40, but I was extremely busy with teenagers. And now I'm 50 and I'm all out of excuses. So I meet the age requirement, which is to be over 21. I am. And they prefer you're under 120 pounds, and I still am. So I thought, gosh, if I don't do it now, it'll never happen.

Unidentified Man: Now, how this works tonight is the judges rate the ladies on height, poise, and how they handle themselves on the blanket. If I can have all the contestants meet Dawn - there she is - meet Dawn. All the contestants please meet Dawn, and we'll get started here in a little bit. Thank you.

DAWN: So they let you get on and they bounce you a few times - practice bounces - so you can get the feel of it. And then they'll say ready, begin, one, two. And after two, they're going to launch you, and it's up she goes. And then when you're in the air, we want you to do just a straddle jump, you know, try to look poised and have fun. And there's no reason to look at the blanket because they're going to catch you. This bouncing team can trace its history back to 1886 and no one has been dropped.

Unidentified People: One, two, up she goes.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Woman #1: You did great.

Unidentified Woman #2: You did great.

Unidentified Woman #3: God, I'm just shaking. I'm shaking.

Unidentified Woman #4: Oh my.

Unidentified Woman #3: I know. It's different than you expect.

Unidentified Man: The 2008 bouncing girl serving three years is Ali Luken(ph).

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man: Ali, have a bounce.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. ALISA LUKEN(ph) (Winner): It's Alisa Luken, or I go by Ali. And I weigh 108. It's a freefalling feeling. You have no control. And I think that's the hard thing for a lot of people, is you don't have any control. So it's all on the guys. And as soon as they launch you up, it's away you go. And it's just a matter of kind of hanging out in the air, having like no gravity kind of a thing. So...

Unidentified Man: One, two, up she goes.

(Soundbite of cheering)

COHEN: Our story on the bouncing girl was produced by Hearing Voices. To see photos and video of the team's star bouncing girls flying through the air, go to npr.org.

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